Everyone was talking about Vappu even weeks before May Day. There were big numbers in Otaniemi campus, counting down to Vappu. In the beginning, I was really confused about why people were so excited about May 1st, International Labour Day. In my home country Taiwan, it’s the day that labor rights are under examination, sometimes there is a labour protest against the government, not a day for cheerful celebration. Also, university students in Taiwan have nothing to do with Labour Day, simply enjoy a day off without special activities.
This is part 2 of a blog post telling about my participation in the course Sustainable Global Technologies (SGT) Studio at Aalto University. To read the first part, scroll down.
The time in Dhungetar was valuable for all of us. It felt like we spent several weeks there and we became familiar with some of the locals. In the evenings after all the official tasks were done, we had long conversations on cultural differences and life with our fellow students from AITM and during the days we all tried to find some own time to reflect on the experiences we were having.
On Saturday we left Dhungetar and we spent a day travelling through Nuwakot, visiting the famous Nuwakot palace of the king Prithvi Narayan Shah who united Nepal some 250 years ago. We also visited a chaotic marketplace and festival in a town close by and had lunch on the way. In the evening we arrived to Kathmandu and on Sunday we had a day of rest and touristing around in Thamel where our apartment was situated.
We are all keen on ﬁnding our true calling in life. Sometimes, we stumble or we lose directions in the way. The wise greek philosopher Aristotle gave us the guidance – ”where the needs of the world and your talent cross, there lies your vocation.” Here comes the question: “How does university education help you ﬁnd the calling?” Aalto University has different programs in line that support students explore future career paths during their studies.
This Spring I am doing the Sustainable Global Technologies (SGT) Studio at Aalto University, which is a cross-disciplinary course focusing on connecting sustainability and technology in developing context. As part of our studio course my team did a two week field trip to Nepal now in March.
The studio course started officially in January but I met my team members and our mentor already during last Autumn to learn to know each other and start applying and looking for grants and potential sponsors for our project. What is exciting and really interesting about the Nepal project is that we built it up from scratch. It is a pilot project, meaning that there is no earlier collaboration established in Nepal through the SGT course. We decided on our topics and partners ourselves and it has been really interesting to see how far 5 ambitious and motivated students can get (with a lot of help from others!) in 3 months.
Our main topic is to look into reconstruction practices after the earthquake that hit Nepal in 2015 and made 1 million people fall below the poverty line. We are especially interested in knowing how successful reconstruction projects have been conducted and how the information related to reconstruction has been communicated to the beneficiaries and inside the organisations.
The teekkari cap is an auspicious symbol of the teekkari (technical student) lifestyle. It has a very rich history dating back to 1893. It is a summer cap which can be worn from 1st May (wappu) to 30th September. Special permission is required to wear the cap outside of these dates. But what if you were not born and raised in Finland? Does it mean you can never get this cap? Well, not really.
But in order to get the cap you should first integrate with Finnish culture, most importantly teekkari culture. So as a student at Aalto, you can get the teekkari point card from your respective guild and start filling in the points by attending a variety of events and doing a whole bunch of different things that are part of the teekkari lifestyle. The points on the card are divided into different sections, and I’ll go over all the sections and major events required to get a teekkari cap.
Whether you are into technology or IT, or for that matter in product development, Silicon Valley is the one place that would come in mind as a work place which would definitely be a life event for you that will be really hard to check in the wish list of yours. Reason for this could be that stakes are high in the most advanced research tech companies and margin of failure is low. What would it take you to get this dream come true? Yes, you heard this right! Aalto University has the solution for you. ME310 is a platform where you learn to apply the product development concepts at whole new level with real life projects offered by companies which are looking for solutions to problems that will make the world experience more comfortable for all of us.
In Aalto University, there are many project-based courses that provide valuable opportunities for students to work with real clients. For 2018 fall semester, I take the advanced studio course in Creative Sustainability master’s program – Design for Government, which utilizes design approach to tackle complex challenges of the government and public sector. This year our clients are Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Metsähallitus. The project aims at establishing a clear profile for national hiking areas and attracting more visitors. In order to help students gain a better understanding of national hiking areas, the course subsidizes every student for a site visit to Evo, which is about 90-min drive away from Helsinki.
My team organized a two-day field trip in mid March. On the way to Evo, we were talking about wild animals living in Helsinki city. I was surprised that foxes can be seen around the suburbs. Then and there, a handsome fox crossed the street in front of our car and stared at us curiously. What amazes me the most in Finland is the nature is always so close and stunning.
As part of my master’s studies, I participated in PatternLab ‘18, the annual textile and surface design project in Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. This year, our group of designers sold over ten percent of our collection. We had abundant sales with our loyal customers in the domestic market as well as strong sales at the largest international trade fair for home and contract textiles, the Heimtextil fair in Frankfurt, Germany.
“The work that has been done over the years has now really begun to bear fruit. Especially the decision to strengthen the PatternLab brand among consumers a couple of years ago has been a really good solution. Sales were great last year, but this year we have sold over 50 items in a very short time. It is a great achievement for this freelance designers’ collection”, rejoices Adjunct Professor Maarit Salolainen from Aalto University.
During my visit to my home country, I had the pleasure to introduce Aalto University’s master’s programmes to several students from Veritas University in San Jose, Costa Rica. My aim was to raise interest about Aalto’s study opportunities and build a stronger collaboration between the two countries as a student ambassador of the MA programme in Creative Sustainability.
Costa Rica and Finland are two very different countries. Yes, I’m sure you might be thinking about one having warmer temperatures than the other, but the truth is that they both share something in common: nature. By building on this similarity, I then introduced Finland and the master’s programmes of Aalto University to all the students. I wanted from the very start to literally “break the ice” and the fear of experiencing a cold country. As I once heard in Finland, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing”.