Thursday, 31 May 2012

First International Week in Research, Development and Innovation at TAMK

The RDI International Week 2012 took place in April and the participants from all around the Europe gathered to discuss about the three main themes of the week: wellbeing, technology and culture.

Check out the TAMK R&D Blog to find out more about what happened and to see the photos:

Finland, Finland, Finland, The country where I want to be

For some people summer starts when you have had the first ice cream, the first beer at a terrace and swimming in a lake. For me a certain sign of ending semester is the exchange students who slowly but surely start to pack their things, clean their flats and take planes back to home without ticket to return. 
Before they left, I had a chance to talk with some of them about their exchange and their experience to remember.

Jekaterina, Anastassia and Zsófia in front of the main entrance
 I interviewed few of the exchange students who arrived in the beginning of this semester and now have amazing five months in Finland behind them. Zsófia Teleby from Budapest College of Communication and Business, Hungary and Jekaterina Zaporozets and Anastassia Kodalashvili from Tallin University of Technology, Estonia were telling me about their unforgettable experience on Tuesday afternoon after they had taken care of all of the official things they still had to do in TAMK before departure.

First question that you always tend to ask from a Finn to a foreigner in Finland is of course “Why Finland?”
Zsófia, who attended media program here in TAMK, had chosen Finland for her exchange because she wanted to go for the Northern countries and her school already had a partner agreement with TAMK. She loved the snow here but the extreme cold temperatures we experienced during the winter made her sick which was not enjoyable. 

Jekatirina had visited Finland before but wanted to stay here a longer period to see how is the country really like and get to know more than what you can experience during only few days stay at a time. She also told that the fact that generally speaking Finland has better education than Estonia encouraged her to come here for her exchange. For Anastassia exchange in Finland was more like a dream come true since she has always wanted to live here and plans to come back to study more after she has graduated from the degree she’s studying at the moment in Estonia. Both Jekaterina and Anastassia studied International Business in TAMK.

According to Anastassia and Jekaterina the biggest difference between Finland and Estonia is that people in Finland are more closed than Estonians. However all three girls were praising the helpfulness of Finnish students especially in ProAcademy. They told that they always got help when asked both from our degree students and other exchange students. Especially Zsófia was impressed about it and told that she has not experienced the same kind of supporting in Hungary at all. 

All of the girls had been enjoying the student life in Tampere and especially vappu festival on 1st of May had been unforgettable for them. They recommended Lapland as the “must” visit location in Finland and told that they have been travelling quite a bit during their stay. Finland is located bit far from the central Europe and the opportunities to visit a lot of countries while living here are not that many but Zsófia recommended visiting Stockholm and Tallin. Both are a boat trip away from here and can be visited during a weekend. Zsófia had also visited Turku and told that she had enjoyed the town a lot. From Tampere Anastassia suggested Pyynikki tower and Jekaterina and Zsófia agreed with her that the tower is really beautiful place to visit.   

Thibaud in front of the Incoming Students Office
On Friday afternoon I met Thibaud Launay, from Business School of Amiens, France who was attending our International Business program as an exchange student this spring. According to him the best course was definitely Business Game where you had to be focused and be on your toes all the time. In Thibaud’s opinion the course was really fun and good way of studying in a game mode. To Finland Thibaud ended up after his schools’ premature election. He wanted to go to Australia, but his school only has two placements there and he didn’t get selected to either of them. So his second choice was Finland and it has been the best “disappointment” of his life so far: Thibaud told that he doesn’t regret coming to Finland at all and these five months here have been the best time of his life. 

Thibaud was interested in Finland because it is so different from the other European countries; we have a lot more snow than many other places and this time of the year is just amazing with all the light we got. He said that it is a new experience to go to bed when it is again getting light in 3am. Also for Thibaud Lapland had been the best experience with the Northern Lights and tons of snow. He also recommended traveling around and visiting some neighbor countries that are not that easy to reach from the southern Europe.

Most of the exchange students have left Finland already with plenty of new friends and memories for a lifetime. The Incoming Coordinators of International Services are already working for the next semester and at the moment they are going through the exchange applications for autumn 2012. Again the amount of exchange applications hit the records and it seems that during the autumn TAMK will receive more exchange students than in any semester so far.
 The International Services will welcome the new exchange students in the main orientation on 20th to 24th of August 2012.   

Text & Pictures: Sanna Hosike

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

TAMK logo animations

TAMK Information Services ordered and Animation and Visual Design Workshop created animations
with the theme of Tamk's logo. The Information Services decided to reward three of those. First price
goes to Anna-Kaisa and Albert who may now start their summerly hiking with a brand new Tamk back bag.
Sabrina is hiding behind the second price while Alexandra is holding her third price in her hand.

Congrats to Anna-Kaisa, Albert, Sabrina and Alexandra.

Click on the links to see the videos:

Anna-Kaisa's and Albert's video:

Sabrina's video:
Alexandra's video:

Monday, 28 May 2012

Study Trip to Spain

Sustainable Tourism management course in Castellon, Spain.

I wish to start from explaining what is this intensive program about? So TAMK University of Applied Sciences collaborates with Universitat I of Spain and University of Salford in UK on organization of intensive program in the field of tourism. This intensive program takes place once a year and lasts for 2 weeks. And host university is defined by turns, so this year program took place in Castellon, Spain in the end of March.

“Le Cordeliers” by Juan Ripolles, Castellon, Spain. Many Spanish people don’t like this kind of modern art. But it is so colorful and positive.

Application period for the Spring 2012 was announced in the end of October 2011. I decided to write a motivation letter. In the program could take part just 14 student from each university.
Participants of the IP.

When I received the information that I got a place and I was really excited. It supposed to be my first time in Spain and my first time participating in the intensive course.

Before the trip we had info sessions and in teams we were doing presentations about home country which we were representing.

Time was passing quickly and finally long-awaited moment arrived we came to Spain. Spain greeted us cheerily. Spring sunny days were so contrasting comparing to cold snowy Finland. During 2 weeks it was raining just once, so it was no way to complain about the weather, what is really common thing in Finland.

Spring mood. That was so easy in Spain to get more positive and motivated - all you need is just to look around.

Spain amazed me. Castellon, the city where our program took place is situated in the Valencian Community. It’s close to the sea and mountains. That is such good location, although it is not really touristic because other places in Spain could offer more opportunities and activities for tourists, there is a huge competition there.

We arrived on Monday, 19th of March and next day the official program started. Corse contains lectures, trips to destinations, group work, final presentations and final report. We were divided into groups, each group contains 2 persons from each University.

Working on our project.

The main task was to analyse 3 different destinations and think out some major and minor proposals for sustainable development of the destination. The destinations to analyse were Sagunto, Castellon and Morella. We had study trips to destinations. First time in my life I was not just enjoying beautiful locations, not just admiring sightseeing but studying and analyzing destinations from the professional point of view. I consider this experience very important for me.

Lunch in the Restaurante Casa Roque in Morella.

Work in team is a very usual way of implementing assignments in the Tourism Degree Program in TAMK. But this time it was a bit different for me. Program took just 2 weeks so schedule was quite busy and I spent many days in a row with my team, we were always together. And during this project we united and teamed up, I never felt that kind of closeness and mutual understanding with my teammates during other project although I had many of them. I appreciate the chance to meet and to work in team with those people.

My team.
Schedule was tight but that is logical for the intensive program. It was planned very well. So I appreciate the efforts which were done by our teachers. Host University also did a great job. We did not have any dramatic changes in the program, delays etc. although southern countries are famous for their disorganization. We had enough of time to work on our project. Trips were managed very well, in every destination we had appointment in the City Hall with mayor of the city or other high-ranking official. On weekends we had self-study time. I spent Saturday in Barcelona, because I dreamed to see it. And Sunday we spent on the beach in Castellon, it was too cold to swim but warm enough to take sunbath.

Palm trees and sea on the background.

So during the IP program we had to study a lot but we have also time to enjoy Spain. It was a good balance between study and rest.

Study time in Castellon. Beer is sold in cafeterias of the University Jaume I. Just 1 euro for 2 small bottles, or even for 3 bottles in the special hours.

During these 2 weeks I saw a lot of beautiful places, I met a lot of interesting people, I started to know better my classmates, I learnt a lot of new things in my field of study. I will keep memories in my heart about this trip. I fell in love with Spain, so I set a new target for me: I wish to go to Barcelona for my next practical training, although before that I should improve my Spanish, because it is hard to manage things there without Spanish, but I have one year ahead for that. España, Hasta luego!

Text and pictures: Elizaveta Nazarova

Michal Jirásek

A Meeting with Michal Jirásek

Michal Jirásek, 22, is an exchange student from Czech Republic, Brno, which is the second largest city in the country. Brno is almost double the size of Tampere with its 400 000 inhabitants. Michal is studying International Business here at TAMK for a full academic year and is heading back home on May. He revealed some of the reasons why he chose Finland in the first place.

-          In my home country, Czech Republic, Finland has a really good reputation when it comes to its education system. I had visited Scandinavia several times before, and liked it, so I preferred to go somewhere north. This is my first time in Finland though.

In addition to his International Business studies, Michal was part of New Factory Demola's project. Demola is situated in Tampere’s idyllic Finlayson area. Demola connects capable students with real know-how to real life companies, whose operations need polishing or there is a specific problem to be solved. Students often work in multicultural teams with clear work distribution and roles.

Michal acted a project manager in a team that worked for SportOnline, a service designed to organize ice hockey tournaments for young players.

Michal got the first influence of Demola already during TAMK’s orientation days, before his actual business studies. Annually 400 students partake in Demola’s operations and projects. However, not everybody gets in, because there is a selection process.

-          It is important to show that you are enthusiastic about doing a certain project. I was applying to be the project manager, but I also mentioned in the interview - as our project was about a sports website – that I am interested in sports myself, too, Michal explains.

Demola has clearly invested in comfy and innovative premises. There are plenty of couches lying around, clever banners on the walls and all the work stations are equipped with top-notch technology, not to mention the inviting coffee room.

-          The first time I went to the Demola premises I felt as though the scene was from movies, a really innovative feeling, Michal says.

In Demola the students do not have a saying in assembling the project teams. Michal did not know who he was going to work with before the first team meeting at Demola premises, led by Demola’s own supervisor. This kind of an arrangement emphasizes tolerance and good interaction skills between the participating students. In Michal’s case the team consisted of two Spaniards - Alicia Fernandéz and Diego Pinedo Escribano - and one Indian, Simon Ranjith. The team also had one Pakistani member, but he decided to give up on the project halfway through. The unfortunate event shook the team’s grounds at first, but Diego and Simon were able to take over his tasks and the team could continue to operate without any major issues. Michal also pointed out that there was not any quarrel about the roles within the team. Everybody had a pretty clear vision of their skills and the roles formed accordingly.

SportOnline, the company the team collaborated with, is currently only focusing on ice-hockey. However, Marko Vihriälä, who worked as a supervisor and SportOnline’s representative in the project, revealed the company is planning on expanding its services in the future to other sports as well. These sports would include at least football and floor ball.

SportOnline’s task to the project group was to make the website appear more appealing, optimize its services and enhance the front-end user experience, a factor in which the company clearly was lacking. Michal describes the most fundamental issue as follows.

-          At first the whole company page included just a few paragraphs and it was not designed nicely. It was not representative.

Michal’s group had regular, weekly, meetings to evaluate the team’s progress and catch up with timely issues. Their supervisor actively participated in meetings to give insight and feedback.

-          He (Marko) was almost in every meeting, which was a somewhat different situation compared to other teams, Michal says.

Despite being actively present Marko gave the group plenty of own responsibility and decisive power.

The group also had a Demola supervisor, officially named ‘facilitator’. It is a standard procedure and each group operating in Demola gets one. It is through him the reporting to Demola takes place.

Michal’s team divided the work in three main packages for them to work on; outlook & business, homepage and tournament site. According to Michal the homepage was relatively easy to renew and did not take too much time. However, the actual tournament section of the site was the most challenging one.

-          Creating the homepage was not that difficult, because it was a static page mostly containing text. The tournament site was more difficult, because it included databases for instance, explains Michal.

Michal had never acted as a project manager before in his life. Especially at first he faced a lot of challenges and did some natural mistakes. Michal had some issues in the beginning to fully understand his role and obligations within the team. However, gradually he learned about things and really felt he was getting better and better at guiding the team.

Michal Jirásek

The SportOnline project is now finished. With some problems in financing the company has not been able to buy the license, at least not yet. The company was, however, happy with the outcome and Michal group’s work was well received. More important than the finished product, Michal thinks the process as a whole was the most beneficial for the company, as it generated plenty of valuable ideas and insight.

Michal is happy he decided to choose Demola and feels he has learned a bunch along the way.

-          To be fair, working there was really hard at first, but now I feel I have a better understanding in several different fields now.

Michal is leaving for Czech Republic at the end of May. He has enjoyed his stay here and wishes for bearable weather conditions for the rest of his stay.

Text and pictures: Joona Jylhälehto, Trainee at Tampere University of Applies Sciences


Exploring Demola

During my studies here at Tampere University of Applied Sciences, up until recently, I had a very thin knowledge of the New Factory Demola and the way they function.

I had a chance to take a closer look a while back when I visited the facilities together with TAMK’s International Coordinator Janne Hopeela. We also had an international guest with us, Mr. Blain Lambert from Fontys University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands.

Blain came here to strengthen the ties between Fontys and TAMK. He wanted to get some influences to bring back home, which he could then use to renew and enforce various projects and modules. One of Lambert’s former students, Clemens Pietza is an exchange student at TAMK. He is currently working on a project in Demola, so our visit was a good chance for them to catch up and swap news.

Demola is based in Tampere’s beautiful Finlayson area. It is a conjunctive platform for students and real-life companies. Companies approach students’ project teams – normally multicultural - with real-life problems. The project teams then try to come up with new solutions and concepts to tackle the issues. If the designed solutions are eligible for business use, and they do have a tendency to be so, the involved companies can buy the rights off of the teams or license the finished product. The pattern is safe for students, because before the possible sale all the immaterial rights stay with the project teams.

Demola premises.

Demola accepts circa 400 new students annually. The academic year is divided in autumn and spring semesters, from September till May. The period between May and August is called InnoSummer, which is an awarded summer job campaign aimed for TAMK, TUT and UTA students, who are interested in project-focused summer jobs. A couple of dozen students are selected each year for InnoSummer.

When we first set foot in the Demola premises it was the positive overall vibe and atmosphere that stroke me first. Comfy couches, inviting work stations and colorful livery were all factors that gave out a good first impression. The place definitely seemed innovative.

We were given a tour around the facilities by a Demola representative, Bernard Garvey, who told us some basic information about the office facilities and the way things are performed there. The premises were bright and spacious, equipped with latest machinery and software. According to Garvey, Demola has plans to expand its operations abroad, such cities as Budapest and Stuttgart. Bernard himself has previously studied International Business at TAMK and graduated. He works in Demola as an international contact person.

We later met and sat down with Clemens Pietza to discuss Demola and the project his group was working on. Clemens and Blain also had the chance to swap news and discuss school-related issues.

Clemens Pietza & Blain Lambert.

Clemens works together with a few Finns and he said the process has run relatively smoothly. He explained there are some occasional differences between Dutch and Finnish working methods and ways of communication, but it is only natural with different nationalities working together. Their project partner is Insta Group, a rapidly growing high-tech company, which is divided in two core departments – Insta DefSec and Insta Automation. DefSec is the one the group is collaborating with.

Insta DefSec, according to its abbreviation, specializes in defence and security technology. It has both domestic and international customers, which it provides with communication systems, information networking and security.

Clemens and his group were assigned to develop a new approach to configure and maintain a large communication network. It is a subject that requires plenty of technical know-how, maybe sometimes to an excess. Therefore, Clemens’ group tries to come up with a relatively simple, interesting, yet usable concept for such system. The goal is to smoothly operate a communication network in dynamic environments. Project like that requires good engineering skills and know-how of the programming language Java, for instance.

After our short - yet mind broadening – visit to Demola there is no doubt Clemens, together with his group, has a great possibility in succeeding in the project. Demola offers great surroundings for it.

Text and pictures: Joona Jylhälehto, Trainee at Tampere University of Applied Sciences

DIGISOMEMAR IP 2012 – a GRAND experience

DIGISOMEMAR IP 2012 participants from 20 countries enjoying a break at the lake in Lomasaari Marttinen, Virrat

14 April was the day I would fly to Finland, not knowing about all that would lie ahead of me. I knew that I together with 3 fellow colleagues had to give a presentation about how social media had been applied in the Netherlands and that I would participate in various workshops, ranging from ICT subjects via marketing and media communication subjects to business subjects in the intensive programme “DIGISOMEMAR IP  - Digital, social and mobile media in marketing, internet and IT applications & management of M- and E-business”, organized by Tampere University of Applied Sciences, TAMK. I spent the first 2 days in Tampere, a city so fresh and clean that I couldn't keep wondering why there weren't more people living there. The city itself was not densely populated in my eyes and most of the food I saw in restaurants was either organic or lactose-free, a nice change as that was totally new for me! Even though I live in a small village in the Netherlands, I immediately felt at home as the people were friendly and the city was quiet but buzzing. In the hotel I was welcomed by Pirkko Varis, the enthusiastic and caring coordinator of the IP with whom I had had e-mail contact before. 

Dutch, Irish and Lithuanian students working on Think Today assignment - joy with designer products of waste material

After an intensive city tour in Tampere I left, together with more than 60 students, for Virrat, where we could stay for the coming 10 days. The first few days were, as the programme already was named, intensive and immensely enjoyable as I had the chance to talk with students from various countries. Over the next few days, I was able to learn from their cultures, their way of presenting and the way they behaved. One of the reasons why I love intercultural communication is that it makes me relativate my own culture, but the strange thing was that everybody in the IP was not that different than I. Open-minded, willing to learn, and willing to learn from each other's ideas is the way I can describe the atmosphere during the IP. I never would have thought beforehand that I would meet such a large group with such a similar mind-set, it was truly enthralling for me to experience. 

During the IP the students and teachers presented several issues and cases, digital, mobile and internet marketing, programming, social media, how data could be analysed and applied within companies, as well as more creative subjects, like Flash and 3D cinematography. I know I'll never look at a 3d movie the same way ever again! 

Of course, after the hard work done during the day, it was time to have fun during the nights. Especially during those nights, I' had much fun discussing my own customs, languages, politics and even religion with people from all over Europe. It felt great to be able to do that without having the feeling that I would be judged because of that as everyone had respect for one another and everyone could be themselves. I also have great respect for the way the IP was organized as everything was taken care of; trips to the supermarket, to the legendary Pub 66 and the tour through the TAMK. 

All and all, a great, no, not great, GRAND experience. I would certainly recommend everyone who has the opportunity to participate in Pirkko's IP not to even hesitate for a second and sign-up for it. I also would like to take on this opportunity to thank Pia and Pirkko for all the hard work they have done for me and all the other students, who are, no doubt, immensely grateful to have had this experience in their lives. It has certainly changed my life as I had the opportunity to encounter people from different courses. Because of the IP in Finland, I have even started to think about pursuing a master’s degree in a more creative setting; that is what has become clear for me, during those 2 unforgettable weeks. Kiitos paljon! Echt een ongelooflijke ervaring! 

Yvonne Hülsmann
International Business and Languages student at Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, Zwolle, the Netherlands 

Pia Dag
Marketing and International Business student
TAMK Virrat, Finland

Information about the IP:
DIGISOMEMAR IP  - Digital, social and mobile media in marketing, internet and IT applications & management of M- and E-business was organized 15-26 April 2012. The coordinator of the IP was Pirkko Varis from TAMK Virrat. 16 universities and university of applied sciences from Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, UK and Finland participated in LLP Erasmus Intensive Programme. More than 80 students and staff members altogether joined the IP. The IP included presentations, workshops and visits. In addition, an assignment from the company Think Today was done by several student groups, who gave proposals for marketing communications, web site design and social media to be used in international marketing. Students lived in wooden houses at a lake in Virrat and could have genuine sauna, lake and other experiences of Finnish culture.