Studies at Xamk
During my last year of high school in Saint-Petersburg I applied for various different universities of applied sciences in Finland and was happy to be admitted to Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences which later became Xamk.
I had been studying Environmental Engineering for 3.5 years there and gotten acquainted with environmental and quality management systems, studied various pollution and treatment processes in addition to the basics of modern treatment and renewables technologies.
Studies at Aalto University
During the last couple of years of my bachelor’s degree studies at Xamk, I was getting more and more interested in water, wastewater and sludge treatment technologies and the whole industry around that. As for my practical training, I was working in an environmental laboratory in Saint-Petersburg sampling and analyzing drinking water and wastewater from different sources. Later, in HSY’s Viikinmäki Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant of the Helsinki Region, I was working within the framework of my bachelor’s thesis study getting deeper into water treatment technologies and participated as a Project Engineer’s assistant in optimizing a full-scale pilot plant process.
All the earlier studies in Xamk and experience gained in laboratories and HSY influenced my choice of further studies very much. In the end, I had become extremely interested in engineering and water treatment technologies, and the programme of Water and Environmental Engineering (WAT) in Aalto University offered a curriculum to fulfill these needs. In addition, a friend of mine had started studies in this master’s degree programme one year earlier and I only heard positive feedback from her about the WAT programme at Aalto.
Why postgraduate studies?
I personally felt that the bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering that I earned at Xamk in 2018 and the knowledge I received there would have been enough to start my early career path, but it turned out my endeavours were unsuccessful (either due to not so fluent Finnish or lack of experience). I wanted to develop myself further and at the same time wished to seek which area of expertise I should concentrate on more. I though Aalto’s master’s degree in WAT would be the right choice in that situation and I was not mistaken.
Were you able to benefit from your prior studies?
For a majority of the courses at Aalto, I was able to utilize what I achieved at Xamk and I felt that I understood and handled many topics and lab work better than students who’d completed bachelor’s degrees in scientific universities. On the other hand, some topics that required more scientific insight, calculations or some modeling, were more challenging for me. However, in the end, I managed well and my master’s thesis was based on both laboratory and modeling exercises and results.
What is the difference between a university of applied sciences and a scientific university? How do the studies vary?
At Aalto, studies were indeed more focused on the theoretical background behind the processes, design and engineering, which was sometimes missing in university of applied sciences studies. Xamk was able to provide me with a lot of great practical experience and excellent basics of a wide number of technologies and fields whereas Aalto’s master’s program in Water and Environmental Engineering was very useful for me in order to make my understanding of theory to be in line with my practical know-how.
What kinds of benefits did you gain through the study path Xamk – Aalto ?
Personally, I think that through this path I was able to fill in gaps in my knowledge, observe more real-life industrial cases, visit plants, meet a lot of professionals from both commercial and scientific fields and organizations and study something very different regarding my specialization in water engineering. For instance, for my minor subject at Aalto, I chose a set of business courses for non-business students. This package indeed has been very helpful at my current work, it has helped me understand sales, marketing and organizational management issues in theory and apply that understanding in practice.
Another important point to mention is that after my first year of master’s degree studies at Aalto I got a job offer from Outotec and have been working there happily for 1.5 years already. I was able to study in the evenings and write my master’s thesis in order to graduate in time within the 2nd year of master’s studies. I graduated from Aalto in July 2020 and now I am working for Metso Outotec full-time, but in parallel I am writing a scientific article for a journal since it is always great to develop your professional and scientific skills.
What kinds of tips would you like to give for students of university of applied sciences who are thinking of continuing their studies at a scientific university?
I would strongly recommend that the students of Xamk tackle the two added years of master’s studies in a scientific university. This couple of years will really help them to understand in which area they would like to develop themselves as well as to expand their network of professionals and fellow students. Students should also bear in mind that the master’s programs in scientific universities have more study places available for the graduates of scientific universities than those of UASs. This means that you need to be passionate about your studies and prepare to present justification for your selection when applying for a master’s degree programme as well as have a certain number of relevant courses under your belt from your bachelor’s degree studies that will meet the criteria of university master’s degree studies (don’t forget a good average on grades as well!) Once you are admitted, it will go easy and smoothly. I am sure everyone will enjoy it as I did.
My work at the moment
I am working as a consultant for Academic Work Finland Oy performing the duties of Application Engineer at Metso Outotec. Basically, I am involved in engineering, sales and research duties in the unit of minerals processing technologies. I am involved in the development of complex technological solutions for industrial water treatment and tailings handling within the mining industry, supporting sales cases and implementation projects in Europe and Eurasia for both metals and minerals businesses. Also, when needed, laboratory and pilot scale test campaigns in-house and on-site are in my list of duties
The regular day usually consists of several meetings to discuss team plans, proposal preparations and requests for quotation from customers. Also, long technical and sales related discussions on the ongoing cases take place daily. The most important thing is to understand the needs of the customer and find the best solution to treat the water effluent or waste from the mining plant and determine how we can engineer and deliver that best solution. Every case is usually different from the previous one and needs an individual approach. That’s why I love this job, it is full of learning opportunities every day.
Bachelor of Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Xamk
Master of Science (Technology), Water and Environmental Engineering (WAT), School of Engineering, Aalto University