Why do research if no one gets to know the results, asks Jaakko Paloheimo

By January 3, 2013News

Jaakko Paloheimo is a project manager at the Department of Forest Products Technology where he spends time on the development of wood products and wood construction, but he also works in interdisciplinary projects at Aalto University. That was what his last summer was like when he coordinated the CHEMARTS cooperation project for the students of the School of Chemical Technology and the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. In addition, Paloheimo is involved in a national forest sector development project as well as the renewal of the bachelor’s degree programme at the School of Chemical Technology, where he wonders how education could be linked to summer work in industry and with on the job training for students.

Bring research out of the dark and into open spaces

Paloheimo believes that more benefit is derived from research if it is spoken about as openly as possible.  Open and transparent research topics and results encourage discussion and cooperation between researchers, and the exploitation of research results in surprising contexts. While research and technology develops so should working and study methods develop and evolve at the same rate.

’What are the benefits of doing years of great science, which in the end is only known to a very small group of insiders? ’ Paloheimo asks.

According to him, the key is to meet colleagues, and not only close the door and concentrate on your own work alone.

’Of course, research also requires quiet corners where you can go deeper into your research. But it is just as important to get out of these corners and tell people about the results and to discuss them with others,’ observes Paloheimo.

According to Paloheimo, open spaces where you can meet others are also needed alongside quiet corners for researchers. These include for example the Learning Hubs established at the Otaniemi campus, which are intended as workspaces as well as being places for casual encounters. Paloheimo is currently thinking of their own Learning Hub for the Department of Forest Products Technology.

The best solutions are based on strong interdisciplinary work 

Interdisciplinary activities and innovation often go hand in hand. Although there are already a lot of cross-disciplinary events and publications at Aalto University, they should, according to Paloheimo, be of even higher order. Conferences, seminars and workshops are concrete ways that researchers can meet and in Paloheimo’s view they should bring together researchers from the extremities of different fields of research.

’Imagine what sorts of ideas could arise out of talk between space technologists and wood converters,’ he says enthusiastically.

Interdisciplinary cooperation should already be started during studies. In Paloheimo’s vision of an ’ideal case scenario’ for example, doctoral thesis research at the School of Chemical Technology would be done hand in hand with a candidate writing a thesis on marketing. In this way the results of the research would even in their infancy have included or experienced a marketing plan and could thus spread more effectively for wider general use.

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