Focusing on digitalisation and energy
The Multidisciplinary Institute of Digitalisation and Energy (MIDE) research programme predates the creation of Aalto University, as it was launched in 2008 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Helsinki University of Technology.
“While it predates Aalto, its philosophy is a perfect fit for Aalto’s, according to Tuija Pulkkinen, Dean of the Aalto School of Electrical Engineering, one of the schools particularly closely associated with the programme.
“MIDE is based on two broad themes and 11 competitively selected projects that range from carbon nanotubes through hybrid machinery, LED lighting and fuel cell electronics to 3D virtual worlds. While these represent some very different areas of research, they’re all linked by the cross-disciplinary way that they’re organised and their focus on synergies, not least with industry.
“The breadth of the different subjects being covered in MIDE also reflects the interconnections that exist within a single field today, such as energy. And it's designed to engage the potential inspiration and enthusiasm that can come from bringing people together from different specialities and getting chemists to talk to electrical engineers and programmers to talk to social scientists and so on.”
The underlying aim of the five-year programme is to strengthen the competitiveness of Finnish industry, research, and training on the global market, and benefit education in the fields concerned. MIDE’s focus on digitalisation is designed to explore the potential that ICT offers in generating new ways of thinking across virtually all fields of technology, while its energy focus is designed to address more basic areas of research linked to improving how efficiently and sustainably the world generates, stores, distributes, and uses energy.
Helping turn good research into good business
Good progress has been made on the various projects, says Pulkkinen, and the programme’s first doctorates are expected soon. Positive progress has also been made on extending synergies with the business world through the Bit Bang course on entrepreneurship and services for doctoral students. This is being run within the MIDE programme and is concentrating on building skills such as teamwork, global perspectives, and foresight.
“Good research does not result in good business automatically. Nor should it, necessarily,” continues Pulkkinen.
“But what’s important is that people in the research world have a better grasp of what’s needed to turn good work into viable business opportunities – if that’s the way they want to go and it’s the way the research is taking them. After all, of the thousands of students that pass through a university like Aalto only relatively few stay in the academic world after graduating.”
|Aalto University’s School of Electrical Engineering specialises in areas such as automation and systems technology, electronics and information technology, power engineering, wireless communications engineering, and bio-information technology.