This article first appeared in BTS Issue 3.

By Adam Idris Lim Wei, Sophomore (Class of 2021)
Engineering Product Development

What was an iconic Finnish cultural experience you had?

Bubble tea and mala unite the masses in Singapore, in Finland it is sauna. Sauna is quintessential to Finnish life; they have meetings and catch up with friends in the hot room. In fact, the sauna room is traditionally the first thing built in a house. I had the chance to join a sauna in Finland. It is truly magical how a little bit of steam can turn strangers into best friends.

The Market Square is one of Helsinki’s most popular attractions, here you could find souvenirs and traditional Finnish food

It is “Everyman’s Right” to walk freely in the Finnish forest. Many locals enjoy picking berries while doing so. 

Muikku is a traditional Finnish dish. You eat these little fish, bones and all. 

What were the key skills you picked up?

The Aalto Venture Program (AVP) adds a third diamond of entrepreneurship to the double diamond model of design thinking. I learnt to conduct market research, create viable business models and pitch to potential investors. Furthermore, as we were from different majors, such as anthropology and industrial design, the ideas we came up with were meaningful on a multidimensional level.

At the heart of Aalto University is Dipoli, a building designed by renown Finnish architects Reima and Raili Pietilä in 1966

Teams discussing on their business model. We had to generate a viable business idea and pitch it in three weeks. 

As part of our user-based research, we had to interview the people at Flow Festival – one of the most anticipated festivals in Europe

Were there any challenges that you overcame?

Being alone was a scary thought. I remember staring at my passport after clearing immigration at Changi, thinking how crazy it would be being in Europe all alone. All that disappeared when I met my course mates, they were a friendly bunch and we’d often hang out at the parks after school. We were close knit, and we adjusted to the new environment together – all while cursing in Finnish and designing in Adobe XD.

During a weekend, my friends and I decided to hit one of the smaller parties in town – the Kallio Block Party. There, homegrown musicians entertained the crowds.

How has your education at SUTD impacted your experience in Finland?

SUTD had already taught me about design thinking, which was expected of us in the first half of the programme. This came in handy during the ideation process. In the later part of the programme, I thought about my 03.007 Introduction to Design project and how it would have been different if I had viewed it through the lens of making it into a real business.

Team assessment in the Nuuksio forest

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