Pioneers of the Aalto community awarded at the Hugo Gala

Hugo-Gala. Foto: Henri Heilala

On the evening of Friday 7 Dec 2018, a diverse group of the Aalto community’s active operators gathered in Smökki to celebrate the first Hugo Gala in history. The Gala celebrated the Aalto community and its pioneers, but this time, we were not talking about individuals but bringing to the limelight the amazing accomplishments of the associations operating in the Aalto community.

What is the Hugo Gala and where did the idea come from? “Individual persons are often awarded at annual celebrations. We now wanted to thank and award specifically associations and groups for their amazing accomplishments and the work they do for the community,” explains Kaisa Talvitie, the Aava member in charge of community, of the origins of the Hugo Gala.

During the autumn, Aava collected suggestions of parties deserving recognition. Suggestions could be left in previously defined categories, which were new students, sports and wellbeing, integration of international students and interdisciplinarity. In addition to these, it was possible to suggest a different category.

A large number of suggestions was made. It was difficult to decide on winners as there were plenty of good and well-reasoned applications. “It feels like we really hit the right nerve. There are associations that do great work but have not previously received recognition for their toil. We were able to meet this need with the awards of the Hugo Gala,” says Kaisa.

In the end, seven awards were handed out. One of the awardees was Radiodiodi, who received the award of Community Builder 2018. “Radiodiodi enables the outward visibility and audibility of the community. They work to make others look good and have their voices heard while remaining in the background themselves,” reasons Talvitie about Radiodiodi’s award. A list of all award recipients can be found at the end of this story.

Radiodiodi fick priset Årets gemenskapsbyggare 2018 Foto: Henri Heilala

The Hugo Gala was organised by Aalto University Student Union’s Aalto Community Section Aava. The plan is to make the Gala an annual tradition.


Further information: Kaisa Talvitie, Community Section Aava’s member in charge of community,


Awards handed out at the Hugo Gala on 7 Dec 2018:

Community Builder 2018: Radiodiodi

Internationality Innovator 2018: Polyteknikkojen partioklubi Teepakki ry

Aalto Community Bridgebuilder 2018: Hosts and Hostesses 2018

Paving the Way for the Aalto Community 2018: Aalto Beer Pong ry

Freshman Education Trailblazer 2018: Nuoret Designerit ry

Student Wellbeing Pathfinder 2018: Teekkariratsastajat ry

Interdisciplinary Pioneer 2018: Otanko ry

Otaniemi Night of Arts succeeded beyond expectations

Picture taken by Satu Räty

On 6 Oct, Otaniemi Night of Arts gathered Aalto people, Aalto alumni and residents from the area to celebrate creativity with more than 50 interartistic subevents.

Otaniemi Night of Arts had something in the programme for all ages, from architectural tours and outdoor cinema to a vocal group matinee and a rap night. Many of the workshops enabled participants to express their own creativity, for example, by painting park benches or welding car parts into a sculpture. In addition to students, an exceptional amount of families and Aalto alumni were seen moving around Otaniemi.

Among the guests was also the Mayor of Espoo, Jukka Mäkelä: “This is so much fun. I really wish from the heart that Otaniemi Night of Arts is continued and expands further.”

Aalto Vice President Petri Suomala, Mayor of Espoo Jukka Mäkelä and Espoo Council member Saara Hyrkkö queuing up for the Free Painters’ paintball art wall. Photo by Heikki Isotalo

A district event is not created overnight. Otaniemi Night of Arts has been under preparation at the Student Union’s office ever since February.

“In terms of the setup, the event went smoothly, and it was great to see the festival attract people of all ages,” says the event’s producer, Executive Manager for TOKYO and AYY’s Advocacy Expert for ARTS students Tero Uuttana.

Otaniemi Night of Arts was a celebration of volunteer work. The programme and practical setup were arranged by the fifty involved communities and associations and around twenty volunteers.

“Without the community’s input, we could not have made Otaniemi Night of Arts happen,” remarks the Board member responsible for Artistic Activities Julius Luukkanen.

Host of the Chemistry Guild Lotta Wallinmaa presents a chemically-executed lava lamp. Photo by Heikki Isotalo

Host of the Chemistry Guild Lotta Wallinmaa directed the lava lamp workshop, which proved to be a hit with the audience. “This is a really quite simple demonstration of how acids and bases behave in a water solution,” says Wallinmaa of the workshop’s content. The number of participants reaching into hundreds exceeded also Wallinmaa’s expectations: “We’ve had to wash up some glasses and recycle oil.”

Associations wish you welcome

On Wednesday 5 Sept, the semester was kickstarted with the Aalto Party, at which 106 associations operating within Aalto University Student Union showcased their operations to new students. In this story, active association members give pointers on things that can be done in the Aalto community.

Associations at Aalto Party. Photo: Aleksi Leskinen

Altogether, there are more than 200 associations operating within AYY. Some of them are closely related to specific study fields, but there is also a vast number of leisure-time organisations operating in Otaniemi that are open to all Aalto people.

One of the newest Aalto associations is the Aalto Formula Team, founded in early 2018. Its goal is to build an electric racing car fit for the Formula Student competition in collaboration with the whole university.

“There’s much more to this than a car driving around the race track. Student marketing, business collaboration, electrical work, materials choices, design… If you have the skills, you will get to use them,” promises Kalle Kekäläinen, secretary of the Aalto Formula Team.

Some of the Aalto associations have more history behind them. The association for electronic media, OUBS, continues the traditions of the cable channel that went by the name Otaniemi Underground Broadcasting System and now focuses on the live streaming of student events, for example.

“With us, you’ll get to learn a lot about videography. You don’t need to know anything beforehand. At all gigs, you’ll get full instruction, you’ll get to film on your first go and to edit on your second,” promises Ville Tuominen, president of OUBS.

Not all associations focus solely on one hobby; there are also other themes that can unite Aalto people from various study fields. GAYY brings together Aalto’s LGBT-spirited students and aims to bring acceptance and good vibes onto campus. The association has organised, for example, a rainbow-sitsit and a get-together to watch the Eurovision Song Contest.

“Some of the guilds in Otaniemi can feel male-dominated and a bit macho. Students might feel that they won’t find other LGBT people or that they cannot come out in the big guilds. For them, GAYY is an easy place to come to,” says Jarna Verho, president of GAYY.

People visiting OUBS’s tent. Photo: Aleksi Leskinen

AYY’s association register is alive and growing all the time.

During 2018, in addition to the Aalto Formula Team, the ranks have been joined by, for example, the heat-enjoying Polyteknikkojen Saunaseura (the Polytechnicians’ Sauna Club), the Aalto Artificial Intelligence Society who focus on AI, and the Chinese Student & Scholars Association at Aalto University uniting students with a Chinese background.

Active association members are hoping that lots of new students would fearlessly investigate the activities. The threshold for joining has been made as low as possible. Doing an online search of the association’s name already gets you to a good start.

Many association websites offer the chance to become a member for free, and it is possible to keep track of your association’s events by following Telegram groups and newsletters, for example. Introductory evenings will also be organised for new members during the autumn.

Partygoers at Aalto Party. Photo: Aleksi Leskinen

But what will make busy students spend their sparse leisure time on association activities? Active association members mention that you can gain experiences through the activities which cannot be gained in lessons or even in the dos of your own special status association.

“Thanks to various video projects, I have attended events that I would otherwise not have gone to. I have been able to see all the cool things that can be accomplished by a large group of people,” says Tuominen.

“You see things actually moving forward here. We got the formula idea from nowhere around the end of November. Now, we have facilities, teams, sponsors and cooperation with the University. And the car design is progressing, too!” adds Kekäläinen happily.

“The best thing is networking and getting to know people from different schools through the association. My perspective on Otaniemi has broadened and I have noticed that I had no reason to worry. People really are very open here,” says Verho.

There are more than 200 subject organisations, guilds, sports clubs and hobby clubs operating in the Aalto community. Get to know the whole selection and find yourself a new hobby or a suitable club on the List of Associations page.

Otaniemi Night of Arts invites you to enjoy art on campus


For release from 22 Aug 2018

Aalto University Student Union combines forces with student organisations and sets up Otaniemi Night of Arts, an interartistic art festival, on Saturday 6 Oct. The free event is aimed at all residents of the metropolitan area and celebrates the creativity and teekkari spirit of the Aalto community.

Otaniemi Night of Arts is a new kind of art festival organised for the first time on the Otaniemi campus of Aalto University. The event, taking place on the first Saturday of October, is characterised by student initiative and a broad conception of art.

“We wanted to create an event concept that would enable students to contribute something to the programme that’s creative, free and uniquely theirs – a bit like the Helsinki Night of the Arts,” says Julius Laakkonen, who’s in charge of artistic activities on the Board of the Aalto University Student Union.

Lava lamps and orchestral schlagers on the programme

There will be around thirty subevents during the Otaniemi Night of Arts, all free of charge.

The programme includes, for example, different types of music, dance, media art – and a painting to be collectively coloured in using paintball guns. Other events combining technology and art include a lava lamp workshop and a work of installation art to be collectively welded onto a car rim.

“We were delighted with the wide variety of event registrations. The programme includes events we would never have expected, let alone be able to come up with ourselves,” laughs Luukkanen.

The full programme of the Otaniemi Night of Arts will be published in mid-September.

The student community shows its creativity

Otaniemi Night of Arts is part of Aalto University Student Union’s theme year, the Year of Art. Its purpose is to highlight the collective creativity of Aalto University’s interdisciplinary student community.

Hence, the festival is being organised by a combination of students from all Aalto schools as well as several student associations from hobby clubs to guilds, i.e. the subject organisations of the students of technology.

The free event is aimed at all citizens. The organisers hope to welcome as many people as possible at Otaniemi to enjoy the creativity of the Aalto community.

“At the Student Union, we see daily that the Aalto community is capable of a multitude of things. I’m excited that we can now invite the whole metropolitan area to get to know the artistic, surprising side of our community,” remarks Luukkanen.


For more information and interview requests, please contact Tero Uuttana, Student Advocacy Specialist for ARTS students , 050 520 9439 or

The event on Facebook:

Presenting AYY’s Emergency Housing Coordinator

Larissa Haggrén. Photo: Riikka Koskela

Once again, the demand for student accommodation spikes as the new students arrive on campuses. At AYY, newcomers lacking accommodation will this autumn be assisted by Emergency Housing Coordinator Larissa Haggrén. The art education student has previously worked in AYY’s member services at the now-closed Arabia service point and also been actively involved with student associations. “I’ve been helping out new students quite a lot even before through my work and association roles, in my current position I’m just mainly focusing on housing services,” says Haggrén.

Haggrén anticipates a similar demand for emergency housing as in previous years. For now, there have only been a few lodgers, but with September approaching, there are more and more inquiries. “The service is most useful for international students who cannot get to apartment viewings before they arrive in Finland. We can’t make flats appear out of thin air, but we are doing our best,” ensures Haggrén.

The task of the Emergency Housing Coordinator is to give advice and tips on looking for an apartment, as well as informing people about emergency housing. However, emergency housing is only used as the last option, as there are limited places available. Haggrén also points out that a place can only be reserved a maximum of three working days before arrival. “If emergency housing is decided upon, I’ll arrange picking up the keys and other practicalities with the student.”

Haggrén advises new students with no prearranged accommodation to keep their search criteria as broad as possible. In addition to AYY and HOAS, it’s worth looking for apartments elsewhere, such as the private market. “The broader the criteria you can give, the better the chances of finding an apartment. Studios are the most requested housing type, so if you’re looking on your own, it’s definitely worth applying for a room in shared apartments as well and, if possible, bigger apartments too.”

If you can’t find permanent accommodation straightaway, staying in a hotel or a hostel, for example, might be a temporary solution. Haggrén encourages anyone who is concerned about their accommodation situation to get in touch with her. “There’s not much room in emergency housing and we can’t make any definite promises, but we aim to find a place for everybody who needs one.”

The Emergency Housing Coordinator can be reached until 28 Sept 2018. Her contact details and more information on emergency housing can be found here:

New Project Coordinator helps the Aalto community develop

Project Coordinator for community and organisational structures Elina Nieminen has started working at the Aalto University Student Union’s Central office in the beginning of August. The Coordinator, whose post lasts until Christmas, will be working together with existing members to develop the structures of the Aalto community.

Student organisations are a true passion for Elina Nieminen, who is studying Educational Sciences at the University of Helsinki. Her CV includes an impressive number of different organisational posts even before joining AYY.

”I started off as a tutor and was quickly immersed in organisational activities. I’ve acted as, for example, the President of the student organisation for students of Home Economics, Kopeda, and the cooperation organisation of students in the Faculty of Educational Sciences, Condus, as well as the Vice Chair of the Student Organisations Committee at the Student Union of the University of Helsinki,” counts Nieminen.

For the past year, Nieminen was on HYY’s Board, where she was responsible for events, organisational communication and volunteers.  Her work at AYY will involve the same themes.

“I’ve always liked the Aalto community and its spirit. It’ll be interesting to get to develop it and learn something new at the same time – I’ve never been working on a project like this before, you see.”

The work of the Project Coordinator for community and organisational structures includes conducting interviews and conversations to figure out how the structures of the Aalto community and the cooperation of the student union and the associations within it could be developed.

“The exact outcome of the project is still a mystery, as all development suggestions will be thought up together with the community. After that, the suggestions will be presented to the Board and Council of AYY who will decide how to proceed with them,” explains Nieminen.

The aim of the project is a more unified student community in which the students of the different schools will be taken into account as equals even better than before. The student union wants to support the organisations within it in developing the community.

“Different kinds of student history and lots of different traditions come together in AYY. I hope to be able to listen to the whole community and ask the right questions so that everyone can tell me what would serve them best.”

Nieminen is aware that many members of the student union hold the student community close to their hearts and that the planned changes to the community’s structures might raise questions, concerns and objections.

“There might be changes ahead, and change is always accompanied by a variety of emotions. The idea is not for me as an outsider to come here to tell you how things should be done. Instead, I hope that the members of the Aalto community will join me in brainstorming about its development,” says Nieminen.

“The Aalto community is one of a kind. It cannot be taken for granted that people will be willing to put in this much voluntary work. I get excited by people and really look forward to getting to work and to know the community better!”