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HEAVYWEIGHTS networking starts at university The multidisciplinary approach of Aalto University brings different sectors together and facilitates networking, says Doctor Hannu Seristö, vice president of Knowledge Networks at Aalto University. By JORmA lEPPäNEN Photo By ANTTi KANgASSAlO t the beginning of 2010, the Helsinki School of Economics, Helsinki University of Technology, and the University of Art and Design Helsinki merged to form Aalto University. Academic circles around the world have kept a close watch on the university's launch. "This merge is considered bold and interesting. Technology and economics have always meshed at the world's top universities, but adding the design component is something new. Everyone is excited about it," Seristö says. The universities that make up Aalto have engaged in collaboration for a long time. "Amongst other things, we have had a common minor study programme in which an engineer, an architect, a designer, and marketing and financial experts work together on implementing a project for a company. This has been very popular with students; and companies have been satisfied as well." Seristö notes that it is important for young people to learn to work together early on. "When different sectors converge already at the university level, the students learn to respect each other and to trust the professional competence of others. This also helps in creating networks and in developing interaction skills." A global view on things Globalisation, says Seristö, is one of Aalto University's most significant goals. "It's important to include foreign student participation in joint master's and research programmes. We are aiming to increase mobility: strengthening our relations with leading universities around the world so that students, researchers and professors have opportunities to work and study abroad and, respectively, so that foreign students find their way here. "We plan to have a small number of genuine, strategic partnerships in important core competence areas. We are pursuing partners in America, Asia and Europe." Aalto University is also placing a strong focus on recruitment. "We are creating teaching and research programmes that have international appeal. We must make our international campus attractive because competition for the cream of the crop ­ professors and students alike ­ is fierce. Our goal is to be amongst the world's best and most interesting universities." 31

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