Go to main content Go to search
Page updated 17.6.2016

The 12th International CDIO Conference started with great enthusiasm

The international CDIO Conference in Turku was held in sunny Turku. It is clear that engineering educators involved in the conference got many new ideas and elements to develop the education in their home countries in future, at least judging by the discussions you heard in the corridors.

Being involved in CDIO means that universities have an international development network of engineering education and that they are all aiming to help the education better meet the needs of working life.

Text: Johanna Stenroos-Vuorio, Communications Leader

In total there were 31 countries represented and more than 330 people visiting the Conference in Turku. The CDIO Student Academy was held at the same time with the Conference, and it gathered 30 students in Turku to solve the challenge MeyerTurku had to offer.

“Analytic and inspiring keynote sessions, interesting posters, well-organized workshops and Academy Students’ work done with good results. What can I say – it was a pleasure for Turku University of Applied Sciences to host the Conference. Thank you, it was nice to have you here”, states Dean Juha Kontio from the Turku University of Applied Sciences.


The First Conference day started with the Keynote of Mark Somerville

It was the first conference day that got people enthusiastic. First, Dean, Doctor Juha Kontio welcomed everyone, in the role of Conference Chair. After that, Doctor Ron Hugo helped with kicking off the CDIO 2016 Conference.

Rector and President Vesa Taatila from Turku University of Applied Sciences continued, and his welcome speech really started the show although we could not get the typical Finnish summer weather (some rain, wind and a little bit of snowflakes) for our conference guests, as he apologized.

The first keynote speaker, starting the whole show, was Doctor Mark Somerville who started his speech with getting the audience to know each other. He asked the audience:

“What are the key challenges in engineering education today?”

This is how the conference guests answered that question: motivation, assessment, activating students, more risk taking, social network, retention etc. So, it showed that people had quite a consensus when considering the question in general.

According to Somerville, the last two decades have seen enormous efforts around the world to transform engineering education. Most of these efforts have focused on two key components: curriculum and pedagogy. And they have made real change:

“CDIO, for example, has grown from a three-school effort to more than 100 members today”, defined Somerville.

There are difficulties of course, and for instance if we want to make students develop into innovative, creative, and effective engineers who can thrive in the challenging times ahead, we must pay as much attention to culture and to values as to curriculum.

“Students can do things they shouldn't be able to do.
And that is the thing we have to remember.”

The Second Day in Turku and the ICT City Venue

Conference co-chair Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen started the second conference day. She mentioned that these kinds of conferences always provide some brand new ideas for everyone bring to their home countries.

After the welcoming words it was time for our second keynote speaker. Doctor Riitta Rissanen higlighted university and industry co-operation and student centered learning. Dr. Rissanen began by telling about universities of applied sciences in Finland and the role of Arene (the Rector’s Conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences) in this entirety. She also discussed university and industry co-operation and student centered learning as a whole.

Doctor Rissanen told that there are 26 universities of applied sciences in Finland, operating closely with industry, society and business. Universities of applied sciences (UAS) comprise the higher education system together in Finland with research universities, general universities, and universities of technology and arts.

- The mission of UAS is to carry out applied research in close co-operation with the world of work, society and regional development, and also carry out innovations and boost entrepreneurship in various levels in higher education and research. Many UAS have developed new pedagogical solutions to reach this goal in practice, e.g. using the framework of CDIO, said Rissanen.

- We don't teach engineers to listen and think, but to act, make solutions and
not be afraid of making mistakes, ended Rissanen.

“It is certain that Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences are ready for CDIO, most of them do it already without knowing it”, crystallized Juha Kontio after the keynote.”


The Third Conference day in Turku started with two keynotes

Doctor Ruyta Kawashima from Tohoku University (the first University in Japan which has accepted female students) was the first keynote speaker on Wednesday.

Doctor Kawashima talked about the concept of smart ageing in a super-ageing society. He told how researches have showed brain deactivation when using different kinds of entertainment such as watching TV, playing video games and using smart phones. In the keynote, he explained experiences of industry–academy collaborations and the efficacy of some systems for seniors, as well as for young university students.

Doctor Kawashima pointed out that in today’s society, entertainment (such as games, TV programs, movies, and so on) directly affects the human brain and mind.

“It is certain, that we can’t deny people to use the TV etc. So, what is the solution?”

After pointing out the risks, Doctor Kawashima showed some forms of entertainment that can activate the human brain with beneficial effects on cognitive functions.

On Wednesday, the second keynote speaker was Mr. Benedict Cheong from Temasek Foundation of Singapore, a non-profit philanthropic organization set up by a Singapore investment company, Temasek. Mr. Cheong presented a state of mind of a non-profit philanthropic organisation and learning points from Temasek Foundation’s work. He also told the audience about their strategy in supporting technological education.

“Don't take money from donors who compromise your values. However, look for mutual interests, offer new models that are achievable, take ideas, but don't change the core idea.”

The Student CDIO Academy was a success

The CDIO Academy Innovation Competition is held each year at the international CDIO conference. It is a student conference within the larger conference with design experiences and a project exhibit. This year the Academy students heard the topic of the challenge from the ambassador of MeyerTurku.

The teams, which consist of 4–5 students, develop solutions for a given challenge. This time:

“MeyerTurku challenged students to discover, define and develop the next
breakthrough innovation for cruise ship business. Whatwould make a person to take a cruise in 2025, be happy about it, and to become a frequent cruiser?”

The solutions itself might be related to different service concepts, digitalization, resource efficiency, robotics or the Internet of Things and means of gamification. The best teams were rewarded in the CDIO Academy Awards & closing session on Wednesday.

The winner was Group Shipbots, who won the Academy competition.

- You all can be very proud of yourselves for having done a good job, said Environmental Manager Jaana Hänninen from MeyerTurku.

Matthew Murphy from the University of Liverpool, representing CDIO in the jury, analyzed the winning team from the educational perspective:

- You have done an enormous job. So much work has been done in these three days, said Murphy.

Another winner in the competition was the University of Calgary, winning the best University prize! Congratulations for both teams!

The Academy students were also writing blogs, where you can follow their work on the cruise ship 2025 challenge!

The CDIO Initiative is an innovative educational framework for producing the next generation of engineers. The global network is organized into different regions: Europe, North America, Asia, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand and Africa. Each region is supervised by one or several regional leaders. Turku University of Applied Sciences has been a member of CDIO since 2007.

The Keynote Speakers

Dr. Mark Somerville is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics, and Special Advisor to the Provost at Olin College. He has also collaborated extensively with other institutions, including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, TU-Delft, The University of Texas at El Paso, Purdue, INSPER, and others, to spread change in engineering education.

Dr. Riitta Rissanen is Executive Director of The Rector’s Conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences, Arene. She has a banking and finance background from the 90s after graduating as a Master of Business Administration. After receiving her teacher’s qualification in 1995, she started as principal lecturer, later on as Head of Research and Vice-President at Savonia UAS. Riitta did her PhD in education science (Working-life based Thesis in UAS Learning Context) for the University of Tampere in 2013.

Dr. Ruyta Kawashima is a Director of Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University from 2014. He has succeeded in developing and spreading the use of a new system to improve the cognitive function of senior citizens suffering from senile dementia as well as healthy people by top-down application of the findings of basic research involving functional brain imaging. Through industry-university co-operative Research & Development, he succeeded in developing a new category of industry with the concept of “train your brain,” and created educational, publishing, IT, and entertainment industries to improve brain function.

Mr. Benedict Cheong is the first CEO of Temasek Foundation of Singapore. Before this, he was the CEO of the National Council of Social Service of Singapore, where he served for nine years from 1998 to April 2007. He also worked with the Singapore Government in the Singapore Police Force for fifteen years, from 1982 to January 1998, where he held various appointments at headquarters and in the operational units. He currently serves on the Medifund Advisory Council of Singapore and on the boards of non-profit organizations Caritas Singapore Community Council and Temasek Cares of Singapore.