Science pushes shipyards

Meyer Turku And RMC team up with Aalto University in a quest for future innovation

article picture: Science pushes shipyards


Future maritime expertise goes hand in hand with quality research and education. Finnish shipyards seek collaboration with universities in order to boost innovations and profitability via academic means. Another key concern is making sure that the maritime sector will continue to benefit from academically trained experts. Aalto University recently announced two significant collaborations with the shipyards of Turku and Rauma.

In December 2019, Aalto University and Meyer Turku Oy signed an agreement that will strengthen and develop multidisciplinary research and education collaboration as well as give a boost to expert co-operation. In connection to the agreement, Meyer Turku CEO Jan Meyer commented that the shipyard is constantly looking to attract new talent and therefore there is a need to be present at Aalto campus and in the academic lives of the students.

According to Ilkka Niemelä, President of Aalto University, the agreement forms another link in “a long chain” of co-operation between the Turku shipyard and the university, which brings together cutting-edge research, high-quality education and stakeholders from the marine technology sector.


What does the collaboration mean in practice, then? – The key idea is to increase multidisciplinary student projects, master’s and doctoral thesis projects as well as joint seminars and workshops. Meyer Turku’s career paths and marine technology employment opportunities will also be made visible at the Otaniemi campus, explains professor Pentti Kujala from Aalto University.

Professor Pentti Kujala

“Research collaboration will continue and expand in several areas, including materials research and steel structures, information and communications

technology and digitalization, hydrodynamics, ship safety, energy efficiency and solutions that support sustainable development,” Kujala lists.

In addition, Aalto University’s brand new MarineX project will be developed into a new research forum and collaboration platform for the maritime industry and marine technology. This will serve to strengthen the university’s leading position in marine technology research, Kujala believes.

“With MarineX, we are trying to figure out what that unknown factor – or X – could be that will be the future differencemaker for the marine sector,” he explains the ideology of the project. With strong trends such as sustainability and digitalization shaping also the fortunes of marine, it is vital to keep searching for the “next big thing”.


“When we talk about experiences that cruise ships provide in the future, for instance, it makes sense to tap into the imaginations of the younger generations. Our students can certainly help in discovering totally new perspectives.”


In February 2020, Aalto University concluded a new collaboration agreement with Rauma Marine Constructions Oy (RMC). The two partners will start planning a long-term joint program on research and development this year. The program will focus particularly on developing technologies that can improve the environmental and safety aspects of maritime transport, resulting in reduced carbon footprints, utilization of new fuels and further developments in vessel safety.

Jyrki Heinimaa, President and CEO of RMC, says that the Rauma shipyard wishes to remain at the “forefront of new development” with regard to the construction of passenger car ferries, multipurpose icebreakers and government ships. “The environment and safety are absolutely important to us,” says Heinimaa.


Professor Pentti Kujala comments that this agreement will continue the close collaboration between the Rauma shipyard and the Otaniemi scientific community that began roughly 40 years ago.

“The confidence we have built over the years in our joint development work can be put to good use, as we seek solutions to problems related to ship safety and the environmental impact of ships,” says Kujala.


Aalto University has always placed major emphasis on marine technology and research, investigating, for example, the responses and strength of ships in a complex physical environment where ice and wave induced loads are present. The Aalto research teams also look deep into systemlevel issues at the scale of shipping systems and fleets as well as individual ships and their subsystems. The focus is – in addition to passenger ships – on ice-going ships and, more and more, impacts of autonomy into shipping.


Around the world, marine tech solutions are developed in various universities, but Aalto adds a powerful “Northern Dimension” to the mix, studying the behavior of ships and structures in ice. Arctic marine research focuses on ice loads on ships and structures, on ship performance and on ship safety, explains Kujala.

“We can conduct extensive full-scale trials onboard ice-going ships and we can also utilize the Aalto Ice Tank which underwent a 8 million euro upgrade last year,” he says, adding that the need for ice-going vessels has not diminished due to climate change.

“As there is less ice, activity in the Arctic seas can increase.”

By: Sami J. Anteroinen

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