What if a doll’s house would operate on solar power? 

Year after year, the Electrical Engineering Workshop is one of Aalto’s most popular courses. It teaches first-year students manual skills, problem-solving and confidence in one’s own abilities. 

Computers crushed the status of electronics as a hobby already in the 80s. For this reason, the majority of students participating in the workshop start from zero. 

‘When starting the course, many are not able to imagine how splendid the final results will be. In addition to teaching manual skills, the purpose of the course is also to teach first year students to solve problems and have confidence in their own abilities’, says long-time workshop leader Lecturer Kimmo Silvonen, who goes on to list examples of the students’ skilful works. 

‘The doll’s house fitted with solar panels was fun. The energy produced by the panels was stored in a super capacitator, which was then used to power the lift and the motorised window blinds. One of the most memorable and challenging was the spinning LED display. It was made up of separate LEDs, which when correctly programmed formed a colourful 3D animation, just like a video.’ 

The workshop participants have a number of tools at their disposal, including five 3D printers, a laser cutter, a milling cutter and a circuit board production line. Dr Silvonen considers it important that students get to test out different tools and devices as well as smallma-scale manufacturing techniques. Their importance for Finnish industry is growing, as Asian mass production is replaced more and more by tailored products made closer to the user. 

The Electrical Engineering Workshop also partners with the Aalto Venture Program (AVP). The goal is to encourage thinking about entrepreneurship inside organisations. 

‘Not everyone needs to start their own start-ups. Instead, small groups can develop and test out new things inside an existing company.’

About Sähköpaja

  • The Electrical Engineering Workshop is a combination of a laboratory and a workshop and is aimed at first year students. During the course, students work in groups to build electronic devices which require the use of both electronic circuits and programming, and in most cases also mechanics. 
  • The half-year course is compulsory for all students of Electronics and Electrical Engineering and Automation and Information Technology, but it also attracts many students from Aalto’s other technical fields and a number of arts students as well. 
  • The course emphasises practical work, searching for information, and interdisciplinary cooperation. The Electrical Engineering Workshop works together with the Aalto Ventures Program (AVP) and Design Factory. Many school groups also visit the course. 
  • Working group: Kimmo Silvonen, Keijo Nikoskinen and several course assistants.