Maikki Roiha is writing a master’s thesis in chemistry in collaboration with Nokia

Chemistry student Maikki Roiha of the University of Helsinki is working on her master’s thesis in collaboration with Nokia Corporation. She is studying immersion, specifically the opportunities and challenges of using immersive 360-degree videos to teach chemistry on virtual school trips.

“I began to work on my thesis last June, first completing preliminary assignments and the training periods associated with the business collaboration.”

Roiha has been writing parts of her thesis almost from the start, typing up the literature review as soon as she had collected her data.

How to establish business collaboration

Roiha says that the key to business collaboration is networking. Connecting the academic and corporate worlds requires an active approach from the student.

“You have to network. Talk to your thesis supervisors about your interest in business collaboration, as they may know potential partners.”

If this does not work, students can contact companies of interest directly. Alternatively, they should keep track of their university’s job-seeking portal for thesis commissions.

Showing an interest can make the difference

Roiha is interested in exploring an educational technology initiative and using it in chemistry teaching. This type of basic research almost inevitably produces intriguing results.

“I particularly appreciated the chance to witness the development of this kind of technology from the corporate perspective.”

“I was able to participate in other areas of product development too, such as the research-based design of website texts and the compilation of marketing material. Collaboration with experts at Nokia was fascinating, as it gave me the chance to learn more about the culture in a big company and connect it to the academic world. It was a brilliant opportunity to be part of the Nokia work community and meet experts from a wide range of fields.”

Tips for thesis writers

Roiha advises students to choose a topic that interests them and not to be afraid even if they know nothing about it in advance. She also recommends that students create a schedule, take breaks and not aim too high.

“Make a clear schedule to write, for example, Monday through Wednesday from 9 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon. This gives you structure and helps you get started. Take breaks and recharge your brain by getting up and stretching. Fit hobbies into your calendar and respect it,” she says.

The text you write need not be perfect from the get-go. In fact, striving for perfection early on may prevent you from getting anything done.

“In the most difficult moments, it’s enough to open the document for just 10 minutes. This will help you overcome the biggest hurdle – getting started. If you can then keep up the momentum, great! If not, return to the text later.”

Free time and immersion

In her free time, Roiha enjoys physical activity and being outside in nature. Every now and then she plays the guitar.

“Concentrating on activities like these is a great way for me to relax my mind.”

When asked what immersion means, Roiha explains it is about being deeply involved in something, or giving the user a heightened sense of presence in the environment.

“In a virtual environment, you can enhance immersion, for example, with VR glasses or 3D audio. You can increase immersion further by adding interactive elements or visualising the user’s real-world hand movements in the virtual environment.”

Cornerstones of collaboration with Nokia

Roiha has enjoyed her collaboration with Nokia. She has developed new skills and received technical support, supplementing what she has learned at the University.  

“Nokia gave me free rein to test the company’s immersive technology solutions in the context of my choice. I learned to use them better and got help when I needed it. In turn, I’ve been able to offer Nokia my expertise in educational research and provided useful knowledge through my research.”

Skills learned at the University and elsewhere have equipped Roiha well for planning, coordinating and implementing a project with multiple partners.

“I’m grateful to everyone who has given their time to support my project. Big thanks to the HelsinkiALD team and Doctoral Researcher Alexander Weiß, Senior University Lecturer Sami Hietala and Senior Engineer Sami Heikkinen. Thanks also to ChemistryLab Gadolin, all research participants and the persons supervising my work at Nokia and the University.”

The Finnish version of this article has been published on the LUMA Centre Finland website.