In the last podcast of IoT Rapid-Proto Labs, Haaga-Helian’s Nella Kelkka and Martti Asikainen discuss about the project’s lessons and the future of similar projects

You can listen the podcast from our Soundcloud page:

Martti Asikainen: Welcome to our podcast. This podcast is part of the Erasmus+ funded IoT Rapid Proto-Labs program, which is tasked to create new IoT talent in Europe.

In the program, students from different European universities had the opportunity to contribute to real-life business cases with IoT.

My name is Martti Asikainen and here in the studio with me is Nella Kelkka from Haaga-Helia.

We are here to discuss the IoT Rapid-Proto Labs, which is coming to an end in June, right?

Nella Kelkka: Yes, that’s right.

Martti Asikainen: Welcome Nella!

Nella Kelkka: Thank you for having me.

Martti Asikainen: How are you?

Nella Kelkka: I’m excellent, thank you. This has been a really interesting project and I’m happy to be here to discuss our learnings and results.

Martti Asikainen: How long has this project taken now?

Nella Kelkka: This project started already in 2018 and it was originally planned to be a two-year project. So, it was planned to end at the end of 2020, but because of the coronavirus, we had to prolong it with extra six months.

MA: Yeah, I can imagine it was quite a task to organize everything in a time like this. Everything had to go online and I presume there were a lot of X factors included?

Nella Kelkka: Yeah.

Martti Asikainen: So, Nella, could you tell me in your own words, what is this IoT Rapid-Proto Labs about?

Nella Kelkka: Yes, so the original idea was to have students from different nationalities and different majors collaborate on the IoT projects for businesses. So SMI’s and startups. To put that concretely, to create IoT prototypes for businesses.

Martti Asikainen: So, basically the task was to bring the right people to the same table and figure out what they could do together?

Nella Kelkka: Yes, totally. So, we had ICT students from Haaga-Helia, design students from TU Delft from the Netherlands, and hardware students from the University of Trento from Italy.

Martti Asikainen: That sounds interesting. You yourself work on the communication field, right?

Nella Kelkka: Yes.

Martti Asikainen: So, I assume there has been a huge learning curve for you as well since you had to work with so many moving pieces?

Nella Kelkka: Yes, definitely. It has been quite an experience to work with experts from so many different fields. And IoT isn’t, as a communication specialist..

Martti Asikainen: Everybody has their own language and vocabulary.

Nella Kelkka: Yeah, exactly. So, to actually understand the different experts and to communicate about their results in a, like, in a way that a regular person can understand it too, it has been a really, really nice experience and learning curve for me as well.

Martti Asikainen: Yeah. What kind of projects there have been during the IoT Rapid-Proto Labs. Could you give us some examples like what have you guys been doing?

Nella Kelkka: Well, the recent example of a student project is a project for the city of Helsinki. In the project, students planned or designed this kind of Bluetooth system for memory patients in a nursing home. That can help to monitor the patients’ whereabouts so that they could be safe and..

Martti Asikainen: Still enjoy their lives a little bit more freely?

Nella Kelkka: Yes. So, they could move around more freely at their nursing home, and it’s a more homelike environment in that case. But at the same time, knowing where the patients are, is a safety issue.

So it was a really interesting project in that sense and a great example of how technology can improve somebody’s quality of life.

MA: Yeah. That sounds fascinating and I bet it was really interesting for the students as well to design and plan something like that.

It’s a completely new idea here in Finland. I read, that there have been some solutions like this in Holland, but in Finland we never had anything like this before, right?

Nella Kelkka: Yes.

Martti Asikainen: So, I was interviewing some professors from TU Delft and they said that this project has broadened their vision and helped them adapt new models of working and ways of working. Has it been the same here at Haaga-Helia, especially for you?

Nella Kelkka: Well, of course, when it’s an international project, there has to be this kind of remote collaboration aspect already. That being said, of course, it was also emphasized and taken to another level during COVID-19.

And since this is a student project and students are heavily involved in creating the prototypes for the companies, so, of course, and especially in teaching there had to be changes of teaching and learning methods.

But also for me, because I had to stay on track with what kind of projects are going on and how to spread the message about the results, it was..

Martti Asikainen: Task itself.

Nella Kelkka: Yeah.

Martti Asikainen: But it’s really nice this kind of like pan-European collaboration. It’s getting more and more common nowadays. And I guess, we can all learn from each other.

We all have our own methods and own systems, and some of them work better and some of them work worse. So, I think, even Haaga-Helia has learned a lot from this project.

When I was interviewing some professors from our university, many of them said that they got so much from this. They never thought for example designing and so, how much it matters in everything that they do.

And we don’t teach designing in that sense here at Haaga-Helia. So, this has been a good learning curve for our teachers as well.

And I also guess, that they now have more encourage to approach this kind of projects, to approach other universities in Europe, and to do stuff together.

Nella Kelkka: Yeah. Now that we all have this kind of more versatile and concrete vision of what kind of expertise is needed in this kind of projects.

We know how to look for the partners and make sure that we take into consideration these moving parts. IoT is a perfect example of how you need to have the actual device, you know, the Bluetooth stuff.

You can that I’m no expert on this kind of technical stuff, but still, you need to have the devices and then you need to have the software to actually have the data to create the solution.

And of course, if it’s not designed well it doesn’t meet its purpose why it was created if it doesn’t create value or some kind of information.

Martti Asikainen: It has to be more concrete. And then there is at the same time the pedagogical side of it. Like how you teach this stuff and how you approach teaching in this kind of situation, which are really, I would call them more like work-life based than traditional teaching.

Nella Kelkka: Yes. So, the University of Leiden is responsible for curriculum creation for this kind of project-based learning.

So, it has been a learning curve also in that sense what has to be taken into consideration when teaching in this kind of like projects, where you get new information and new methods and actually still need to create something.

Martti Asikainen: I can agree with that. So, now the project is coming to an end, and, what are your general feelings?

Nella Kelkka: General feelings? I think it has been really rewarding in a sense that, that kind of competencies the students have gained for example.

And IoT in general in Haaga-Helia was something quite new or something that wasn’t in our curriculum before the projects. At least not in such a strong manner.

So, I think that’s a really great experience, and also this international network we have gained from the project is something that I’m sure we will all cherish.

Martti Asikainen: Benefit in the future? Yeah.

Nella Kelkka: Yes.

Martti Asikainen: I can imagine. I heard that there is some event still coming for, considering this. Would you like to market it a little bit?

Nella Kelkka: Yes. Yes, please! So, we have a final event. So, IoT Rapid-Proto Labs final event takes place in 8th June. It’s a Tuesday and you, our dear listener, are most welcome to join us!

So, basically, we are sharing our learnings from this project in a more detailed manner. And of course, it’s still a good networking opportunity for companies, for academia, and for students.

If you are interested in IoT and maybe have some experience or would like to have some experience, please come and join us!

Martti Asikainen: Yeah, I think that was all, right? I read the program of the event and I could recommend it to everyone. There are going to be really interesting people telling really interesting stuff.

So, it could be fascinating even to people who are not that much into IoT or don’t really understand what IoT means. It’s a good place to learn it.

Nella Kelkka: Yes, definitely. I have to still highlight that we have a really excellent keynote speaker, Antti Merilehto, who is, at least in my eyes an AI guru.

So, he will be our keynote telling concrete examples of how to create value with AI and IoT. So, that’s another great reason to join us and to learn.

Martti Asikainen: Inspirational.

Nella Kelkka: Totally.

Martti Asikainen: Thank you so much Nella for joining me today and thank you to all the listeners. Is there still something you would like to say or?

Nella Kelkka: No. Thank you for having me and thank you for partners for this amazing ride that we have had together. So, looking forward to our next adventure.

Martti Asikainen: It’s been a good one.

Nella Kelkka: It’s been a good one.