So what actually happened?

written by Otto Linna

This story’s idea is to explain from course’s main organizer’s point of view how the course Energy – Our Collective Effort initially came to be and with some pictures, hopefully show how it eventually turned out. The Helsinki Local BEST Group, like every other of the 95 BEST groups all around Europe, organizes a course every year with the goal of educating the participants in the given field of study, networking with foreign students of the same academic interests and getting to know the organizing country’s culture and student life. The total academic length of 26 hours also means that the course participants are granted one ECTS credit for their studies. The course took place from 4th until 12th of October 2015.

Last years course about startup companies was successful, but this time building the course academics around energy seemed natural, as I already had some insights and contacts to potential lecturers and companies in the field. The course maintained the popularity of the previous years, and received a total of 268 applications, the third highest number of the 16 courses of the season and only behind courses in Rome and Barcelona. Additionally, we had the unique chance to accept two participants from Canada through cooperation of BEST and it’s Canadian equivalent, CFES. As a result, we selected 23 participants and four co-organizers , who didn’t participate in the academic events but helped us keep the daily routine of the course organized. A total of 18 different nationalities were represented in the course.

Espoo Innovation Garden became the main corporate partner and they provided good insights about the possibilities for entrepreneurship and innovation offered by Espoo and the innovation hub around the Otaniemi campus. Other companies involved in the course were the Helsinki energy company Helen, that provided the course participants with a visit to the Katri Vala heat pump station and St1, which showcased the new innovative geothermal plant being built in the Otaniemi campus. Additionally, Nokian Panimo provided refreshments, Danone provided yoghurts and other snacks, HSL supported with public transportation fees and Wärtsilä provided Power Supply Challenges-books, that is closely related to the academic topic of the course. The actual academical content was put together with the help of Peter Lund, one of the most high-profile professors in the field of energy in the country. The main agenda of the lectures were to give the participants a good basic overview of renewable energy, the changes of the energy sector in the future and also look at the phenomena related to energy from the perspective of social sciences and economics. The course syllabus eventually became the following:

  • Course opening by Espoo Innovation Garden, Tuula Antola
  • The role of nuclear energy in the future energy mix by Jarmo Ala-Heikkilä Dr.Sc.(Tech), Aalto University Department of Applied Physics
  • Europe’s energy future by Doctoral Candidate Sinan Kufeoglu, Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering
  • Energy poverty and it’s solutions in emerging low-income markets by prof. Minna Halme, Aalto University School of Business
  • Renewable energy – general analysis by prof. Peter Lund, Aalto University Department of Applied Physics
  • Socio-technological questions in renewable micro-generation by Jouni Juntunen Dr.Sc (Econ), Aalto University School of Business
  • Electricity and consumers by Anna Sahari, Doctoral student, Aalto University School of Business

Corporate visits were the following:

  • Visit to the Katri Vala heat pump station, Helen Oy
  • Visit to construction site of St1 geothermal plant in Otaniemi, St1 Deep Heat


In addition to the academical content, we organized social events every day and did our best to immerse the participants in the Finnish culture and student life of the tech students in the Aalto University. The first academic events were to begin on Monday, 5th of October and most of the participants arrived on the previous day. In the evening of the arrival day, we organized Sitsit, that involved eating a three-course meal, drinks and singing traditional Finnish (and in this case also foreign) student songs.

The course started with the traditional Finnish student table party, Sitsit

The course involved a total of seven lectures and five of those were held at Energy Garage, a new learning and innovation platform operated by Aalto University School of Science. The lecture hall, kitchen and the cozy groupwork spaces met the demands of our course perfectly and were also well-received by the course participants. The first actual event of our course in Energy Garage was the official opening of the course. Tuula Antola, a representative of Espoo Innovation Garden talked about Espoo as platform for entrepreneurship, innovation and startups and also gave a good presentation about the city and the Helsinki Metropolitan Area in general. Afterwards we continued with groupwork for the following day’s lecture.

Tuula Antola, a member of BEST around the time of the inception of the whole organization, gave a presentation about Espoo.       

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Energy Garage was used for the most academic events of the course, such as lectures and groupwork.

After the afternoon’s lecture by Jarmo Ala-Heikkilä we carried on with preparations for the International Evening, where every participant set the traditional food and drink they had brought from their home country available for everyone to enjoy.

The Belgian, Greek and Portuguese tables in the International Evening.

Some Slovakian delicacies.

Tuesday’s academic schedule included lectures by Sinan Kufeoglu and Minna Halme. Topics of the lecture by Kufeoglu were electric power reliability, the European Internal Electricity Market and the challenges Europe is facing in respect of energy self-sufficiency. Professor Halme’s topics in turn were how energy frugality hinders the economic growth in developing countries and it’s possible solutions. The participants had studied the topic in advanced and prepared presentations about existing low-income energy solutions. After another day of work, it was time for our participants to experience the Finnish saunas. We had reserved five saunas from the campus area, including a sauna with a firewood-heated hot tub, a sauna build inside a van, a sauna tent, and a quick swim in the chilly Baltic sea.

Tuesday’s sauna event included the Car Sauna.

In Wednesday the course was already halfway through and the scheduled lectures included analysis of renewable micro-generation by Jouni Juntunen and renewable energy generation technologies in general by Peter Lund. In the evening, the participants got the very unique chance to see some astounding northern lights above Helsinki.

This picture was taken in Otaniemi by one of the course participants. © Kateřina Vašíčková

Thursday was completely free of any lectures, so we headed to Helsinki early in the morning. First we visited the underground Katri Vala heat pump station operated by Helen. Harri Hillamo and two other company representatives presented the unique and energy efficient heat plant and gave a tour around station, it’s machinery and the massive underground tunnel network. After the visit, we spent the rest of the day seeing the sights in the sunny Helsinki. First we took a ferry to have an adventure in the beautiful island of Suomenlinna and the rest of the day was spent seeing the other prominent sights around the city, including the Senate Square, Temppeliaukio Rock Church and the Esplanadi park.

Exploring the tunnels below the city at the Katri Vala plant

The whole group in Katri Vala

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Sightseeing Helsinki. © Kateřina Vašíčková

Friday was the last academic day and contained a lecture by Anna Sahari about electricity and consumers, a written exam and a brief visit to the St1 Deep Heat geothermal plant being build in Otaniemi. The exam included questions from most of the lectures of the course and was required for the ECTS-credit. At St1, we inspected the hole used for reseraching the rock formations underground.

After the excursion, the official academics of the course were over and it was time to prepare for the weekend trip. Finnish people traditionally spend time on their summer cottages, so we reserved a beautiful lakeside cottage from the city of Espoo, located in Nummi-Pusula, far from any outside distrubances for the authentic Finland-experience. The cottage involved a firewood-heated sauna by a lake with a beach, canoes and rowing boats, and a beautiful typical Finnish lakeside views in it’s full Ruska colors.

The autumn leaf colors were in their full glory during the course

The view from the cottage sauna

We got the chance to go rowing around the lake

…and bake some Finnish korvapuusti. © Kateřina Vašíčková


Thank you to everyone who made this course possible!

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otto So you’re intererest in our Autumn Course 2015? My name is Otto Linna and I’m the Main Organizer of this course. It’s my first time as an MO and I’m really excited for having this opportunity to organize a course full of interesting academic events, company visits and of course unforgettable evening activities! As an energy technology student, I’m sure the cool stuff the professors and companies have to offer will blow your mind. Our courses so far have been beyond imagination in awesomeness and also very popular, so I hope you really put a lot of effort to make your motivational letter the best and give everything you got to help make this Autumn Course amazing in the case of being accepted! your MO, Otto

Helsinki, the capital of Finland. The northern pearl of the Baltic sea, full of mystery and unspoken wisdom. Helsinki and Finland in general are known from their innovative energy solutions mostly spawning from the age-long problem of coping with the cold climate. The country’s reputation as the frontrunner of innovative applications is also visible in energy: How does for example heating buildings from waste heat from wastewater treatment or large-scale cooling of buildings in the summer without air conditioning sound? The Autumn Course will include teaching from one of our high-profile professors, not forgetting the fun: campus life, city rallying, wild parties with Salmiakki and Minttu, forest adventures and of course our famous sauna crawling. Get a great overview of innovative energy viewpoints and learn it from the BEST!

Aalto University’s main campus is situated in Espoo which is the second biggest city in Finland. Espoo is a garden of innovation and adventurous experiences – Espoo Innovation Garden. This refers to innovative, common ways of working and a culture of collaboration and co-creation; it’s a communal way of thinking and doing things. Espoo Innovation Garden is a growing and developing ecosystem that offers diverse services in the area that includes Otaniemi, Keilaniemi and Tapiola. It is the home of the biggest innovation hub in the Northern Europe with thriving international companies, the hottest Startup Sauna on the planet, various cultural activities and sports clubs as well as a renowned community of scientists and researchers. Science and technology, business, arts and sports all make the Garden flourish. In our Innovation Garden high-tech business and nature are well in balance.

Content and topics: Energy from the viewpoint of different disciplines. Lectures, workshops, project working.

Learning goals and objectives: The participants will learn basics of innovative energy systems, renewable energy and the importance of knowledge from different disciplines such as sociology, law and economics in energy engineering applications.


We are happy to announce our cooperation with the following institutions and industrial partners!



Student Union

Product Sponsors





For questions please contact Otto.

otto Main Organizer | otto.linna[a] | +358 400 57 9923
mail BEST Helsinki | | best-h[a]