This is no regular school day for Maia and Sylvi, two secondary school pupils from Helsinki. For two weeks, their classroom extended beyond school walls to VTT, one of Europe’s leading research institutions. As part of the TET (‘introduction to working life’) period, they ventured into the world of research and innovation.
Over their two-week TET period, Maia and Sylvi got to dive deep into some of the most groundbreaking areas of research. Together with VTT’s researchers, they explored the future of smart and sustainable food design, discovered the impact of biotechnology in creating renewable products and immersed themselves in the revolutionary world of the metaverse – and much more.
When asked about their initial expectations of working in a research environment, both Maia and Sylvi echoed visions of endless paperwork, monotonous meetings and a cold, detached atmosphere. Yet, they were in for a pleasant surprise. The reality was a friendly environment, a realm of constant learning and fascinating insights into diverse fields – and delicious lunches, they add.
“We were particularly delighted to find that everyone was so approachable and eager to explain to us what they do at VTT. Even amidst their busy workdays, the researchers took the time to answer all our questions and give us a glimpse into their research.”
The human side of research
During their TET period Maia and Sylvi gained a newfound appreciation for the depth of dedication that goes into research. They witnessed firsthand the time and effort that VTT’s researchers pour into projects, and it struck them how much of our daily life is influenced by this work. From wind power to biotechnology innovations, they realised that this research not only shapes our everyday experiences but also brings widespread benefits to all.
The warm environment at VTT was another unanimous highlight. Both noticed that VTT’s researchers value each other’s work and praise their colleagues. ”It's great to see that the atmosphere is welcoming and everyone can be themselves,” Maia commented.
Addressing tomorrow's challenges today
Whether it's addressing urgent global issues like climate change or working on medical breakthroughs, VTT’s endeavors echo the potential of research. When asked how they would explain VTT’s importance to their peers, Maia suggests: “VTT is a research organisation where they do brilliant and meaningful work. They're fixing problems that matter now, ensuring we don’t have to deal with worse situations in the future.”
After their TET period at VTT, Maia and Sylvi are inspired by visions of the future. Should they pursue research, Sylvi dreams of advancing clean energy and sustainable food solutions to address climate change. Meanwhile, Maia aspires to work on treatments for life-altering diseases.