Topic outline

  • Welcome to Mechanical Engineering in Society!

    General Information

    Quick links


    The teaching team of the course includes prof. Tua Björklund, MA Senni Kirjavainen, MSc Floris van der Marel and Raimo Vepsäläinen. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to contact the team at

    Why this course?

    This course is about what engineers can do: to explore how you wish to contribute to challenging, reimagining and shaping society. This does not mean you already need to know what you want to do as a professional engineer. This course is a chance to explore potential avenues. We will discuss examples and aspects of engineering careers to see what resonates with you, who you wish to be as a professional, and then how to get there, how your time at Aalto can prepare you for this.

    Learning outcomes
    1. be aware of the breadth and impact of the mechanical engineering field, both in academia and in industry
    2. know how your field connects to a variety of economic, environmental, and societal issues
    3. be able to articulate how your own unique professional profile equips you to contribute productively
    4. value the importance of collaborating effectively and of communicating your ideas clearly

    How to pass this course?

    The course provides 5 credits upon completion. The Language Centre's course 'LC-0400 Communication skills: integrated speech communication course L' is integrated into this course. No need to enrol, participating in their three workshops awards 1 more credit upon completion. Thus, in total, you can get 6 credits.
    The assignments largely determine your grade. Attending the lectures, quizzes about the videos and homework are all compulsory; failing to do these results in points being deducted from your final grade.


    Attending all lectures is compulsory, as group and pair work happens in class in this course. Missing more than two results in 0,5 points being deducted per session. If you miss more than five, you will have failed the course. All lectures are on Friday from 9.15 - 11.00, except for the one in the orientation week.

    Videos and quizzes

    Before most sessions, watch the videos available on MyCourses and do the quiz related to these videos. These videos help to connect the course topics to the advanced study topics and careers in engineering. For each quiz you fail to submit before the session, 0,3 points will be deducted from your final grade.


    After four of the lectures, there is an individual task you need to submit to apply and dive deeper into the topic of the week. These tasks will always be mentioned in those lectures in addition to being marked in MyCourses. For each homework you fail to submit before the next session, 0,6 points will be deducted from your final grade.

    The homework assignments are: 

    Graded Assignments

    This course has two major assignments on your meaningful impact and learning opportunities as a mechanical engineer which will be graded. They are:

    Note that both of these assignments have hard deadlines - returning them after the deadline will automatically result as a fail, and would fail your entire course. Plenty of time has been given to complete both assignments, and they have a detailed grading rubric to make it clear what is needed to pass the assignments (and hence pass the course).


    If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact the teaching team, at The teaching team consists of prof. Tua Björklund, MA Senni Kirjavainen, MSc Floris van der Marel and BSc Raimo Vepsäläinen.

    What sessions do we offer?

    Module 0. Mechanical Engineering in Aalto

    Week 0. September 6th to September 12th

    1. 'Lecture Week 0. Intro and welcome': Getting to know the course mechanics (Wednesday 8 September 9am - 12noon)

    Module 1. Mechanical Engineering in Society

    Week 1 and 2. September 13th to September 26th

    1. 'Lecture Week 1. Societal linkages 9.15 Fri 17.9.': Hearing from industry representatives about societal linkages; then apply this to your company case (Friday 17 September)
    2. Pitching workshop with the Language Center: Why and how would you like to contribute to your company case as an effective and impactful engineer? ('Book a Pitching workshop (Language Center)')

    Module 2. Mechanical Engineering and Innovation

    Week 3 to 6. September 27th to October 24th

    1. 'Lecture Week 3. Framing 9.15 Fri 1.10.': Becoming more competent in framing problems so that we can rapidly come up with multiple solution directions. (Friday 1 October)
    2. 'Lecture Week 4. Ideating 9.15 Fri 8.10.': Enhancing your familiarity with ideation tools and getting comfortable with exploring various design directions. (Friday 8 October)
    3. 'Lecture Week 5. Prototyping and testing 9.15 Fri 15.10.': Understanding the reasons to prototype, practising making your ideas tangible and conducting a rapid test. (Friday 15 October)
    4. 'Lecture Week 6. Formulating next steps 9.15 Fri 22.10.': Being able to interpret insights from tests, and sharing early learnings and experiences effectively. (Friday 22 October)

    Mid-term Essay

    Week 7. October 25th to October 31st

    'Graded Assignment Week 7. Mid-term Essay'. Be sure to start writing on time, as this is one of the two graded assignments that largely determine your grade for the course. 

    As your essay is needed for the peer-review homework, returning the assignment after Friday November 5 9.00am automatically results in failing the assignment, and hence the entire course. The essay can be submitted already from October 22nd onwards, to make sure not to put it off until the hard deadline. There is no class 29.10., so we recommend you use this time to write the essay.

    Module 3. Mechanical Engineering and Industry

    Week 8 to 11. November 1st to November 28th

    1. 'Lecture Week 8. Capabilities in Engineering 9.15 Fri 5.11.': Identifying what industry capabilities are currently being sought and how this relates to your existing and desired capabilities. (Friday 5 November)
    2. CV workshop with the Language Center: Articulating how your own unique professional profile equips you to contribute productively. ('Book a CV workshop (Language Center)')
    3. Pitching workshop with the Language Center: Professionally presenting your skills, knowledge, attitude and purpose "interview" ('Book a Pitching workshop (Language Center)')
    4. 'Lecture Week 11. Industry panel discussion 9.15 Fri 26.11.': Understanding industry viewpoints on needed capabilities and possible trajectories. (Friday 26 November)

    Module 4. Your Mechanical Engineering

    Week 12 and 13. November 29th to December 12th

    1. 'Lecture Week 12. Planning your future 9.15 Fri 3.12.': Planning your remaining time at Aalto, and setting learning and development goals to work towards becoming the mechanical engineer you want to be. (Friday 3 December)
    2. 'Lecture Week 13. The future of engineering 9.15 Fri 10.12.': Getting excited about potential futures as a mechanical engineer in society. (Friday 10 December)

    Final Essay
    'Graded Assignment Week 14. Final Essay'. You have until January 14th to submit it. This is one of the two graded assignments that largely determines your grade for the course, so remember to check out the grading rubric!
    If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact the teaching team,