Aalto University: Industrial Engineering and Management in Finland turns 100 years


The President of the Republic of Finland, K. J. Ståhlberg, appointed Bernhard Wuolle an Industrial Management and General Engineering professor at the University of Technology on Sep 22, 1922. Wuolle’s appointment can be celebrated as the establishment of the discipline of Industrial Engineering and Management (IEM) in Finland. The field has become a significant engineering field worldwide and is studied in most of the world’s best technical universities.

By education, Wuolle was an engineer who graduated from the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Polytechnic Institute in 1900. He completed his skills at the Technical University of Berlin with electrical engineering studies. Thus, he was quite a versatile expert. Before entering the professorship, Wuolle served as the Director of the Finnish State Railways and the National Railway Board. He worked to electrify Finland’s railway network as early as in the 1920s.

Currently, the Industrial Engineering and Management field produces the greatest number of graduate engineers of all technical fields in Finland. The IEM programs are the most sought-after engineering programs at Finnish universities and traditionally the most difficult to get into. It is typical for these programs that they build on the scientific elements of industrial systems engineering and focus on solving relevant management problems across industries.

At Aalto University, the Industrial Engineering and Management program focuses on selected areas of operations management, strategic management, product innovation and management, and engineering leadership in technology entrepreneurship. A central goal is to educate technology-savvy engineers to develop new technology ventures and take an active role in transforming technology-based businesses. The learning objectives emphasize students’ ability to act as problem solvers in an entrepreneurial spirit and to become reflective practitioners who have the sensitivity to develop interpersonal interaction, and a broad vision to understand the systemic and complex challenges of technology ventures, as well as the desire to continuously learn management and leadership-related issues, especially in contexts that require engineering skills.

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