Before his tenure at KONE, Matti Alahuhta, D.Sc. (Tech), worked for Nokia for over 25 years, most recently as a member of the Executive Board and executive vice president of Nokia. The other Aalto University board members are among the top names in research, industry and academia. Opening doors to the world "I have headed global business operations for 25 years and have monitored development on different continents. And I am convinced that Finnish universities are in need of renewal. Similar changes are also under way elsewhere in Europe," says Matti Alahuhta, Chairman of the Board of Aalto University, and president and CEO of KONE Corporation. A global manufacturer of elevators and escalators, KONE has annual net sales of EUR 4.6 billion and its class B shares are listed on the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki Ltd. Alahuhta believes that Aalto University will open a new world of opportunities for international collaboration. "The higher quality and increased diversity of education not only benefits students and the academic community, but also society in general. Students can enjoy higher quality education and flexible educational opportunities. Researchers gain better resources, and the business world and other employers gain more skilled employees." "Karaoke is a good icebreaker with some students. Our movie theatre is a former environmental conditions laboratory and the air-conditioning equipment is still in place. So we can adjust the temperature and humidity of the room to match the movie we are watching. If needed, we can create a jungle atmosphere," Hannula says. Fun and imagination gets results. Throughout the academic term, the Design Factory holds courses related to product development, design and conceptualisation, and numerous international research teams work there. Supporting partners from the corporate world have offices on the Design Factory's premises. Space is also leased to start-up companies envisioned to bring synergy benefits. Goal: interdisciplinary identity The Design Factory creates a common spirit and identity for the new university and for the employees and students of different backgrounds working under its umbrella. You'd have to be an incurable sort with no sense of humour not to feel comfortable in the building. "Students of economic sciences are ecstatic about the new convergence and about the fact that the new university will get adequate resources right from the start. There are a lot of applicants for the interdisciplinary science and art courses," notes Elli Leppisaari, who represents economic science students in the new university's Council of the Student Union. Henri Lönn, an aircraft technology student, agrees: "The new university challenges the entire Finnish university system to evolve to a new level." The most critical voices against university renewal have been heard from the University of Arts and Design Helsinki. It is largely an issue of identity the artists would prefer to stand out as their own group. "There is no doubt that the art students will also benefit from the wider range of opportunities for minor disciplines. The generations of students change quickly, and I believe that the new art students in a few years will feel completely at home as Aalto students," says art education student Ilmari Arnkil. Z 10 PHOTO: SAMI KULJU
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