The first engineering students graduated from the Double degree-program in mechanical engineering
The first engineering students graduated from the Double degree program in mechanical engineering of Lapland University of Applied Sciences and the Austrian FH Technikum Wien.
The graduation ceremony was held in Kemi on Monday, May 31, 2021. Graduation certificates were handed over by Riitta Rissanen, Rector of Lapland University of Applied Sciences.
In her keynote address, Riitta Rissanen thanked the hard-working and conscientious students who, despite the Covid-19, have completed their Double Degree degree according to the plan:
- We need new, young engineering professionals with an international background. Despite the different year, we hope that the study time here in Lapland has been rewarding. Of course, we hope to have more Double degree graduates and international students here in the future. International partnerships and students are important to us and are an essential part of the quality of teaching.
Ari Pikkarainen, the coordinator of the Double degree program, is also satisfied with the graduation of the first engineering students:
- Hard work and high motivation have carried the students through the year. Students can be happy with their performance and they set a good example for others. They have been really hardworking.
Markus Sieberer, Markus Mayer and Nicole Körner from Austria and Hansi Strobel from Germany came to Kemi in August 2020 as part of the Double degree program in mechanical engineering. The program is based on an agreement between Lapland University of Applied Sciences and FH Technikum Wien, in which selected energy technology students can go from Vienna to Finland and mechanical engineering students from Kemi to Austria to study at a partner school for an academic year.
Studying in an international group expands your horizon
New graduates are happy to study at a partner school:
- It is very expansive to study in another school, because this program provides an opportunity to study mechanical engineering, which is different from energy and environmental engineering in our own school, says Hansi Strobel.
Nicole Körner agrees and continues:
- Studying in the Double degree program provided an opportunity to study in English in particular in the technical field and to improve our English language skills. Especially nowadays, proficiency in English is important in the field of engineering.
Markus Sieberer values the double degree produced by Double Degree-programme and continues:
- The past year has been a valuable experience for all of us, because living abroad for a year definitely changes people in a positive way. We’ve really learned a lot of different things; language skills, social skills, skills related to the engineering profession and much more.
Markus Mayer is also positively surprised:
- We have learned to work independently and I myself have been surprised at how motivated we have been. I have learned to manage and organize my own work independently.
The opportunities for Finnish students to internationalize at home improve when the group has international Double degree students, says Ari Pikkarainen:
- When there are international students in the group, Finns must also learn to communicate and think about things in English. This improves language skills and broadens thinking as students learn different ways of doing things from international students. Studying with international students improves the atmosphere and brings new perspectives.
Picture 1: Rector Riitta Rissanen, Engineers Nicole Körner, Markus Sieberer, Markus Mayer and Hansi Strobel and Senior Lecturer Ari Pikkarainen.
The matter of trust
There are also differences between countries. One of the differences is Finland's low hierarchy compared to German or Austrian educational institutions. Teachers are easily approachable.
- It is amazing that you can call the teachers by the first name here, starting from the first day, says Hansi Strobel.
Nicole Körner also says that the amount of independent studies in Finland is quite different from that in Austria.
- Here you have to independently look for information, create solutions and make decisions. But you can also get guidance if you want, adds Nicole.
Markus Sieberer and Markus Mayer confirm the same:
- In Finland, it is great how independently students study and teachers trust what they do. Confidence is also reflected in the fact that students can work quite freely in laboratories. It’s easy and effective when the relationships with the staff are so immediate.
Picture 2: Graduation ceremony was held in Pränni-restaurant.
The academic year also included challenges
Although the new graduates are all positive and laughing, there have been challenges in the studies during the year:
- At first, it was challenging to find a suitable topic for my thesis, says Hansi Strobel.
- For me, the first couple of months of the polar night were challenging, when it was always dark and grey. But I managed, adds Nicole Körner.
Markus Sieberer says that he was surprised at how independent the studying was:
- At first, it was a bit challenging to motivate oneself to work when I had to find out things independently. Eventually I took it as a challenge, and I never felt completely lost. Guidance and support were available if I wanted to.
External temptations can sometimes bring their own challenges to studying:
- The work list looked awfully long somewhere around November and December and it was sometimes difficult to motivate oneself to study. We made some trips in September and October in Lapland and when I knew what was around, it was sometimes challenging to focus on studying when I just wanted to go on a roadtrip, smiles Markus Meyer.
International students need support in a new environment
Good student services help international students to adapt in a new location:
- We have international services that help to adapt to the community and student tutors who support international students. Teachers and instructors also support and guide students. It is very important that support and guidance services are available for students coming to the new country right from the start, says Ari Pikkarainen.
The students agree with Ari:
- Student tutors have become like a family to us! We want to keep them, everyone are laughing.
Dreaming of returning to Finland sometime
In future plans, new engineers will either to work or study for a master’s degree at home or abroad.
- In any case, we will come back to Finland sometime again, the new engineers assure us all together.
Program coordinator Ari Pikkarainen is satisfied with the Double degree program:
- It has really been a privilege to be involved in this program and to see the development and learning of these students. These graduations are a kind of culmination of the cooperation between our partner school and Lapland University of Applied Sciences, and next Fall we will see the continuation of this programme with four new Austrian students.
Picture 3: Happy new Engineers.