As technology has become a part of solutions to global issues, it has also created new challenges. Technology is more than just an isolated field for engineers; it is closely linked to people’s daily lives. The engineering education that will start at the University of Jyväskylä in autumn 2021 will provide the labour market with new experts who hold the degree of Master of Science in Technology (diplomi-insinööri). Their competence is based on solutions and innovations produced in collaboration between information technology and human sciences. When insights into technology and human sciences are brought together in a responsible way, it will lead to human-oriented solutions that ease people’s daily life, says Vice Dean Lauri Kettunen, who is leading educational planning in the Faculty of Information Technology.
Nowadays, every area of society is touched by information technology in one way or another. During the past decade, IT has become an integral part of the everyday activities of people and communities.
“For example, in the fields of arts and culture, information technology is a priceless tool. IT-based cameras, audio recorders and software for image and audio processing have made the arts more democratic, and anyone can nowadays produce technically professional level photographs, films or music”, says Vice Dean Lauri Kettunen.
It is important that education stay at the forefront of this development. Taking full advantage of technological possibilities calls for better understanding of human beings and human communities. We need to foresee what people expect from technology and why, so that we can create services that respond to their needs.
“We all probably have experience of software and IT systems that were designed on the machine’s terms”, Kettunen says.
“The emphasis is shifting, and has already shifted, to services that operate by the terms of people.”
The University of Jyväskylä is multidisciplinary and offers a comprehensive selection of educational fields. In the field of information technology, a student may focus on expert or managerial positions or aim at entrepreneurship to pursue one’s own vision.
“The University provides a variety of educational possibilities ranging from natural sciences to sport and health sciences or from business and economics to journalism”, Kettunen explains. “All fields use information technology and offer unexplored possibilities for multidisciplinary endeavours. The new engineering education is based on this insight.”
Global lack of experts
The new education that will begin in Jyväskylä is a pioneering effort in terms of combining human sciences and technology. The students will pursue studies in information and software engineering as well as their choice of other studies from the wide variety offered by the other faculties.
“The engineering students may include interesting modules in their studies from, for example, the domains of sport and health sciences, music, arts, culture, psychology, learning technologies and pedagogy or business and economics,” says Professor of Practice Janne Roslöf, whose work on curriculum planning started this autumn.
“Similarly, information and software engineering studies can be geared toward a range of application areas.”
Roslöf has strong expertise in the development of engineering education and educational management. In starting the new education, there has been close co-operation with the stakeholders. Discussions are underway with the business community, other units providing higher education in the field of technology, and public administration organisations.
“The new education in information and software engineering enables a wide variety of career paths. There is lack of experts in this field also internationally”, Roslöf says.
Multidisciplinary studies develop flexible thinking
The combination of engineering and human science studies is based on a multidisciplinary approach. The idea is that in addition to the logic, methods and practices of IT, a student becomes familiar with other academic approaches to human beings, technology and society.
“The studies help you understand how the world is perceived and analysed in different fields”, says Lauri Kettunen.
“This kind of multidisciplinary understanding is essential for creating new solutions and innovations. This multidisciplinary approach is supported by studies in mathematical-logical reasoning to enhance coherent thinking.”
Marja-Leena Laakso, Vice Rector of JYU responsible for education, feels that multidisciplinary education strengthens solution-focused thinking.
“Experts who get accustomed to look at phenomena from different frames of reference during their studies are considerably more flexible in their thinking, and thus also more skilled in situations where solutions need to be found for diverse interfaces between human life and technology,” Laakso says.
How can the new technology experts change the world?
“The list of needs is endless! Our graduates can change the world by creating services and systems that ease daily activities and make life more human-oriented for an increasing number of people,” says Lauri Kettunen, in summary.
“Examples can be found everywhere, ranging from early childhood education and school up to care services for the elderly, for instance. Already now, things and systems are undergoing changes, be it for tools, vehicles, travelling or food delivery. Nowadays, wherever there are people, there are clumsy and less user-friendly devices and gadgets. Human-orientation is in great demand.”
Subscribe to the JYUnity newsletter
Get latest articles from The University of Jyväskylä’s stakeholder magazine into your email. You can cancel your subscription at any time.