Aalto University training programme helps ABB employees to prepare for the green transition

ABB's business success is based on the continuous development of its employees' skills and knowledge. The Aalto University Lifewide Learning pilot gives ABB employees the opportunity to update their knowledge of power electronics.

Marjukka Puolakka, 13.12.2023

Aalto University has long helped ABB ensure the continuous development of its staff’s capabilities. The increasing importance of the green transition to the company’s business creates a growing need for access to the latest knowledge in power electronics.

The green transition is rapidly electrifying society. Products and devices based on power electronics are key for applications such as hydrogen production, electric transport and shipping, as well as wind and solar power generation"

‘The green transition is rapidly electrifying society. Products and devices based on power electronics are key for applications such as hydrogen production, electric transport and shipping, as well as wind and solar power generation,’ says VP Matti Kauhanen, Technology Manager of ABB Drives.

ABB’s Head of Talent and Learning, Ismo Laukkanen, adds that ‘there’s so much new knowledge being created today that life-long learning is absolutely essential. The power electronics training pilot is a good example of how a university’s academic training offerings can be agilely tailored to a company’s business needs.’

Launched in September 2023, the training is designed for ABB’s employees working in Finland. The aim is to update their knowledge of power electronics and provide a strong foundation for those who haven’t previously studied the subject.

‘We developed a training course that can be meaningfully completed alongside work. Each course module has clear learning objectives, and the topics are covered in such a way that you can immediately transfer what you’ve learned to your own work,’ says Hanna-Riikka Myllymäki, the Director of Lifewide Learning Development, Partnerships and Public Affairs at Aalto Executive Education (Aalto EE).

Online learning, simulation exercises and face-to-face meetings

In a unique educational model, Aalto degree courses providing deep technology competence are tailored to the needs of companies. This training was designed through close collaboration between Aalto EE, Aalto University and ABB.

‘It’s based on two courses in power electronics from Aalto’s Master’s programme, which have been slightly condensed. Combined with an employee’s own work experience, the training gives them a good basis for applying what they’ve learned in their area of expertise,’ says Professor Jorma Kyyrä, who leads the Department of Electrical Engineering and Automation at Aalto University.

After the in-person kick-off event, the studies continue with independent online learning modules. Both courses also include an online simulation assignment. Face-to-face meetings are held at the middle and end of the courses.

‘During these meetings, students are encouraged to discuss what they’ve learned and to spar with each other. ABB employees also appreciate the fact that the get-togethers are a chance to get to know each other and network with other employees,’ says Myllymäki.

Three credits are awarded for both courses.

Continuous learning alongside degree education

ABB Group is a technology group with around 105,000 employees across more than 100 countries. ‘Every seventh ABB employee in Finland develops new products, services or technologies. We’re constantly recruiting new talent from universities, providing us with the latest research knowledge and expertise. ABB Finland plays an important role within the Group in terms of core competences, as Finland has an excellent education system and very good cooperation between universities and companies,’ says Laukkanen.

However, Laukkanen stresses that there will be a greater need for continuous learning for employees in the future, alongside degree training. At the same time, he says, ABB has a strong culture of continuous development which is appreciated by its staff.

Employees actively seek opportunities to develop their own skills and identify the knowledge needs of their teams."

‘Employees actively seek opportunities to develop their own skills and identify the knowledge needs of their teams. As a company, we also systematically seek to identify future talents and provide good opportunities for their development,’ says Laukkanen.

Myllymäki points out that ‘skilled employees are the lifeblood of an organisation today, and providing continuing education is important for an organisation’s competitiveness. On the other hand, individuals also have a responsibility to develop their own skills and knowledge, and they must be able to devote their own time to this.’

One of the areas with a rapidly growing demand for new knowledge is the hydrogen economy. Hydrogen Cluster Finland aims to make Finland one of the world’s leading hydrogen countries. ‘ABB has a lot of the technology needed for this and plays a key role in implementing new innovations in the hydrogen economy. New skills based on continuing education are also strongly needed in the areas of digitalisation, data analytics and artificial intelligence,’ says Laukkanen.

The self-study versions of power electronics training offered to ABB personnel (Micro-Certificate in Power Electronics and Micro-Certificate in Converter Techniques) are now also available as open courses for all lifewide learners. 

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