The official launch of Aalto University took place in Finlandia Hall and at the Contemporary Art Museum Kiasma in Helsinki this past Friday, January 8, 2010. The new university combines three leading Helsinki-area universities in the fields of art and design, economics, and science and technology, and aims to become a world-class institution of teaching and research in these fields.
Following the opening address by Finnish President Tarja Halonen, Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said in his speech that the task of Aalto University is to provide answers and to react to opportunities in a world increasingly affected by “the technical culture”. This culture, according to world-famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, has an increasingly wide impact on all civilizations, societies and natural environments.
According to Vanhanen, Aalto University should answer needs of global companies. In so doing the university will help to prevent brain drain from Finland and to attract talent from abroad. “Aalto University is a global regionalization project from the world to Finland,” Vanhanen reminded the audience.
Aalto University President Tuula Teeri noted that the university “has been granted more freedom, but also given the responsibility to build a world-class university in Finland.” One of the most significant inputs of the university is the tenure track career path system. Starting this year, Aalto University will be opening 20-40 new tenure track positions annually, Dr Teeri announced.
Dr. Teeri continued that Aalto University can recognize excellence of an individual by promotion to a distinguished professor category, the Aalto Professor. She announced that the first nomination in this category had been awarded to Professor Risto Nieminen from the Department of Applied Physics, one of the two most successful units of the university.
Aalto University combines the former institutions of University of Art and Design Helsinki, Helsinki School of Economics and Helsinki University of Technology as Aalto University School and Art and Design, School of Economics, and School of Science and Technology, each located on their own campus in the Helsinki area. The student body numbers approximately 17,000 and staff 4,300 including 300 professors.
Three platforms or "Factories" combine the expertise of the different Aalto University schools: (1) The Design Factory is a new open environment for research and education in product development. (2) The Media Factory is an open network bringing together researchers, teachers and outside partners specializing in media and communication. (3) The Service Factory brings together the service-related expertise of the Aalto University schools.
An international assessment has identified a number of fields within Aalto University with world-class research. These are: computation and modeling, materials research, design, and ICT and media.