Credits: 8

Schedule: 10.09.2019 - 04.12.2019

Contact information for the course (applies in this implementation): 

Main teacher and course coordinator:

Janne Halme, D.Sc. (Tech.), Docent, University Lecturer

New Energy Technologies, Department of Applied Physics, Aalto
University School of Science

Visiting address: Puumiehenkuja 2, 02015 Espoo, Finland (Office:
N217), +358 50 3441695, Skype: halme.janne


Ras, Professor

Soft Matter and Wetting,
Department of Applied Physics, Aalto University School of Science

Centre of Excellence in Molecular Engineering of Biosynthetic
Hybrid Materials, +358 50 432 6633

Course assistant

Hedar Al-Terke, Doctoral Candidate

Soft Matter and Wetting,
Department of Applied Physics, Aalto University,

+358 50 501 9604

Teaching Period (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

I-II Autumn (2018-2019, 2019-2020)

Learning Outcomes (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

This course sets out with generic content to examine creative thinking and the ability to evaluate new ideas for solving problems that could be resolved through the development and use of functional materials by large companies and for everyday use.
Following a short introduction to functional materials, students will work in a group project with the mandate to review the existing cutting-edge research on the physics and chemistry of nanomaterials, to evaluate the society’s need for relevant material functionalities, and employ creativity techniques, design thinking, and effectuation thinking principles originating in the entrepreneurship discipline to design next-generation of functional materials, to develop novel fabrication processes for functional materials as well as to conceive new uses of functional materials in ways that solve actual, big problems for society or communities. Following the completion of the course the students will be able to develop the following knowledge and skills:
• Develop their knowledge on creativity and opportunity recognition techniques
• Develop their knowledge in processes through which they can involve market trends and end-user needs and wants in developing functional materials and designing their use
• Develop their creativity and opportunity recognition skills by working on a real problem
• Develop their ability to identify the consequences of decisions and plans regarding the development of functional materials in their commercial use and in their potential to resolve everyday problems
• Develop their ability to think beyond boundaries and challenge existing practices in developing and using functional materials and generate new ideas
• Develop their ability to use integrate technical knowledge and market trends in developing new insights in the use of functional materials
• Develop project management and team work skills in teams with heterogeneous background
• Develop their ability to use cutting-edge research method and techniques in creating new value by reconceptualizing the use of certain functional material to solve problems and by developing business models that can demonstrate how this value could be created.
• Develop market research skills  
• Develop their skills in planning, executing and reporting laboratory work
• Develop their presentation skills in delivering presentations for research and commercial audiences

Content (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

The objective of the course is to enable students to provide a fundamental understanding of the use of functional materials and materials properties in creating value for solving an existing problem. By being involved in a group project that spans over several months the students will have the opportunity to link the project management process of working in the field of functional material with business and commercialization aspects. The course introduces basic background on the field of functional materials, and core frameworks on opportunity recognition and value creation in the entrepreneurship discipline (effectuation, business models, design thinking, creativity). Building on this knowledge content, students will be then asked to identify a real problem and explore how (exiting, modified, recombined or new) functional materials can resolve these problems. During this phase of the project the students will work in groups to integrate cutting-edge research in the field of functional materials with market trends, primary research with industry experts, end users, companies and third parties (governmental organizations, universities etc.) addressing the identified problem to inform its solution. In the next phase of the project, the students will work in the lab to incorporate the knowledge from the primary market research to advance/modify/combine or develop new functional materials to address the problem. In the third phase of the project the students will be coached on developing a business model that captures the value that their solution creates, as well as a plan on how their solution could be commercialized (i.e., licensed, spun out as a startup, sold as IP to existing company). More primary research and engagement with end users and industry experts will be required to validate the students’ solutions.
During the course the students will attend: teaching sessions to be introduced to the core content of the course, workshops and coaching sessions through which the students will practice work life practices and basics of project work (planning, schedule, targets).

Details on the course content (applies in this implementation): 

The detailes of the course organization in fall 2019 will be provided elsewhere.

Assessment Methods and Criteria (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

The course includes contact lectures where the teachers or invited lecturers provide knowledge and insight to the topics related to the group work. Also coaching and supervision take place in the group works. Mostly the course includes group work and individual work where the groups look for solutions to problems from material and technology points of views connected to innovation and entrepreneur mindset. The students will do customer interviews, development work and demos in order to find options for solutions, test and analyze them. A special attention is placed on innovation, business and entrepreneur mindset and tools to look for commercial utilization of the solutions.

The group project, group’s blog and an individual reflective essay summarizing the detailed reflection journal (self-assessment diary) are requested for new skills and challenges in creating values.

Assessments are project planning (10%), intermediate reporting and pitching in discharge sessions (30%), final pitching and report (30%), self-assessment diary (20%) and the blog (10%). The performance of each student in all sectors are evaluated and assessed individually. The grade of the group work assessed is the same for all group members.

Workload (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

The work is divided into contact teaching and coaching, small group activities and independent study by the student.
30h (2x2h/wk): Contact teaching and coaching
110h: Group work
76h: Independent study

Study Material (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Literature will be informed and/or provided in the course.

Prerequisites (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Basics courses completed on chemistry, physics and material science.

Grading Scale (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 


Registration for Courses (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Registration via WebOodi.


Registration and further information