President Ilkka Niemelä: ‘We are ready to take on the challenge of lifelong learning’
At the opening of the academic year, also the new Väre building was opened at the heart of the campus.
In his opening address for the academic year 2018-2019, Aalto University President Ilkka Niemelä underscored the growing need for lifelong learning: ‘We need to rethink the scope of our educational activities and the role of continuous education. The clock speed of working life is ever increasing and current degree cycles are simply too slow to keep up. We already know that most of today’s graduates and professionals will have to update their competencies over their careers, which are getting longer and longer as average life expectancy increases.’
According to President Niemelä, ‘Lifelong learning is a big societal challenge which Aalto University is ready to take on. We have to lead the way.’
President Niemelä made note of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture moving to the remarkable Väre building at the centre of the main campus. ‘We are very close to achieving our dream of a diverse main campus in Otaniemi, with various disciplines, identities, cultures, and partners all in the same place.’ He also gave a warm welcome to the new students joining the Aalto community.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Culture Anita Lehikoinen also gave her greetings at the opening ceremony: ’In its own way, Aalto symbolizes—both for its founders and critics—the reform of the entire university system in Finland in the midst of a major international recession. By its very existence, Aalto challenged the research and higher education world to regenerate. The first ten years have shown that Aalto University has well met its expectations.’
Chair of Aalto University Student Union (AYY) Noora Vänttinen, pondered in her own address:
’Would Aalto be such a home that encourages cooperation, not competition? A home where diversity is seen as a richness and we would face each other with appreciation and respect? A home where you don’t have to worry or be ashamed of any personal feature? I think Aalto can and will be just such a place.'
Olli Ikkala appointed Aalto Distinguished Professor
President Niemelä appointed Professor Olli Ikkala from the Department of Applied Physics at the School of Science as an Aalto Distinguished Professor, in recognition of his significant scientific merits. His research is focused on developing functional materials based on hierarchical self-assemblies, biomimetics, and materials that come from nature.
Professor Olli Ikkala is a prolific researcher and he has had a strong impact on the international scientific community. Professor Ikkala has ca. 300 articles, which have been cited over 15 000 times. He has been awarded twice the Advanced Grant of the European Research Council and the Academy Professorship of the Academy of Finland. At the ceremony, Professor Olli Ikkala gave a talk on biomimetic materials and multidisciplinarity.
Aalto Act of the Year is CERES competence centre
The Aalto Act of the Year for 2018 was awarded to Professor Orlando Rojas, Senior Grant Writer Outi Söderberg and Project Manager Kati Miettunen for their effective collaboration in forwarding cutting-edge research in renewable raw materials. This spring the CERES competence centre for the materials bioeconomy, a joint venture between Aalto University and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, received the Academy of Finland Flagship funding.
Speech by President Ilkka Niemelä (pdf)