Introducing our Alumni

Alumni Corner

In this series we introduce some of our alumni; What are they doing now, how they have applied the things they learned during their studies in their careers and what message they have for our students.

Alumni:

NIKLAS GUSTAFSSON
MA in New Media 2010

So what are you up to nowadays?
I am currently working as an Senior UX designer at Rovio Entertainment, designing user interfaces and interactions for mobile games.

My daughter keeps me pretty occupied outside office hours, but despite that I’m trying to find some time to do some sketching and perhaps taking on some larger project at some point again.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
Having my MA thesis animation featured in the Finnish Design Yearbook as well as having one’s name mentioned in the prominent design and architecture magazine Domus was a thrill.

Another milestone I consider significant was making the mobile game Zip together with fellow Media Lab alumni, Martin Gimpl. Although the game disappeared pretty quickly into the depths of the Appstore and didn’t exactly become a monetary hit, I’m still very proud and satisfied over the end result and think the project itself was a great experience. A big thanks also to all the medialabbers who helped to test the game and us give valuable feedback.

Overall, I’m also very happy over being able to land a job where I can combine two things that I feel passionate about and which I focused my studies on at Media Lab: Games and UX design.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
I got to know extremely talented and ambitious people from different disciplines in art, design, technology and academia, all sharing a common interest in all things “new media”. Being able to work together with these brilliant minds is one of the most interesting and memorable things I have taken with me from my time at the Media Lab.

Looking at it from a more curriculum point of view, I learned to look at the modest stuff I do from a more disciplined design perspective and set it in a broader context of design. I was also lucky to be able to pick up the basics of animation.

How do you see your future?
I see my future as a designer as positive. People that are able to make sense of and create meaning in the increasingly digital world we live in and design interfaces with the human user in mind seems to be still in demand.

New technologies appear, new visual styles and trends in interaction come and go. As a designer, you have to constantly update yourself and follow what’s going on. However at the same time, being empathic and having some understanding of the basic human psychological and cognitive principles combined with a design thinking approach is a pretty good foundation that all the other buzz rests upon. And a lot of this more fundamental knowledge I was able to gain during my time at the Media Lab.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Take your time and experiment. Try out things you might not otherwise do. Get to know people with other backgrounds and from other disciplines both inside and outside the Media Lab. Media Lab gives you the freedom and means to tinker with things you might not later on be able to do. Seize the opportunity and take advantage of the possibilities that Media Lab offers.

TAPANI JÄMSEN
MA in New Media 2011

So what are you up to nowadays?
If you’re interested, see: https://fi.linkedin.com/in/tapanijamsen
Around four years I’ve been working at Veikkaus Ltd (Finnish National Lottery) as an ICT Design manager for the Sports Games business. I gather and analyze the business and the customer value of the business requirements, coordinate design of the Sports Games Business and describe, maintain and develop the services and the business architecture.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
During these year we have completely renovated the UX of the fixed odds betting (Pitkäveto ja Live-veto)  in Finland. I’ve been in an active coaching role in the project teams both in Live Betting and Pitkäveto Betting renovations.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
My areas of specialization include e.g. methods of customer-driven concept development, service design, and Kanban and Scrum practices in day-to-day work. My MA thesis focused on creative design communication, and I constantly strive to improve communication practices in teamwork and leadership tasks.

How do you see your future?
I am very inspired and happy in my work. Lately we were probing for new interesting business and service ideas for Finnish sports games customers and developing synergies when all the three existing gaming entities (Fintoto + RAY + Veikkaus) were combined into a new Veikkaus company at the 1st of January 2017.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Whatever you do, embrace and adopt agile work methods. Design for people and with people, with love ♥

KSENIA AVETISOVA
MA in New Media 2010

So what are you up to nowadays?

I started at MLab in 2005, and graduated at 2010. The plan was to do it much faster, yet one adventure called after another and it took few extra years to finalize the work on the master thesis project. 

I am working in Tieto, Customer Experience Management startup. Currently leading the strategic innovation program called Tieto Experience Hub, focused on cross-industry collaboration, design thinking and customer-centricity. As customer experience consultant, together with my team I am working on guiding traditional businesses through digital transformation by developing new service models and operating methods in close collaboration with other partners and end-customers. We had been also envisioning the future of different industries in light of VR / AR / MR taking over our world. One example is the retail vision demo we’ve launched at Slush16. We’re also looking into the effects and opportunities of the positive disruption brought to us by the latest tech advancement, and creating the top customer experience on top of those.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?

This has been a tough questions to answer =)

Work-wise, I am proud to have been driving change in each single project that I’ve worked on. In most cases we’ve been doing something completely different, or new, and always had to figure out the way to go. And we did. It makes me believe that in the past I’ve been creating the future we live in now, and right now – I’m creating the future that is yet to come. And in my type of digital craft it’s never about personal achievements – it’s a team effort. And I am grateful to have been working with most amazing and inspiring people over the years, at multiple offices of Fjord, then Accenture and finally Tieto.

In terms of personal life, me and my husband are broadening our limits of patience every day with our two wonderful kids, who are 6 and 4 now. To sum it up – keeping on track with career and having happy family in balance – is the top achievement. Adding up few side projects on top of this will be the next level.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?

Drive for exploring the realms of digital media and pushing its limits. Truly, MLab has equipped me with valuable experience, skills, connections and friends.

The most important takeaway from my New Media studies is both philosophical and practical. It is realization that there are numerous ways of expressing thoughts and all of them are good as long as we get the message through.

How do you see your future?

It’s bright and shiny. Few things are boiling up, as always. So stay tuned. Get in touch, who knows – maybe we are destined to affect each others future? @lisagri

 

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?

Do what you love. If you doubt for a second that what you are doing is in sync with your passion – review your approach to life.

 

Yes, yes, easier said than done. So a short follow up ,)  Find how to connect the things you have to do (like work) to your passions. Be creative, never allow established conventions to keep you within their boundaries. Push the limits. Re-write the rules of the game.

 

PETRI KUITTINEN
MA in New Media 2006

So what are you up to nowadays?

I work as a lecturer of Information Technology at the HAMK University of Applied Sciences. Over the years I have been teaching wide variety of topics from programming to games, from photography to digital audio, from web design to user interface design in general, from mobile platforms to cloud computing. I like my work because I constantly need to study new things at alarming rate and try to keep my students informed on the latest developments. My students also show me things I would not have discovered myself.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?

Producing two healthy, curious kids. My 3rd kid is on the way, estimated day of delivery in Oct 2016. You can see my kids in my YouTube channel, which has gotten quite popular, soon almost 2000 daily views and the channel is less than 1 years old:

https://www.youtube.com/user/petrikuittinen/videos (Most of my YouTube videos are Littlest Pet Shop “animations” and other kid friendly short videos in Finnish language)

I worked also as a lead programmer for a video navigation tool based on 360 degree panoramic images. I wrote all the tools, image processing code, touch screen UI library etc. I was one of the lead designers and the only programmer for a life simulator. Sadly the family, dating and relationship part of the this mainly study, work and entrepreneurship level simulator were censored out in the published version. I find the idea of simulating of complex human relations fascinating.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?

Media Lab managed to broaden my perspective significantly. I got to meet really great people from Finland and abroad and learn from them. I also got to do many things, which I might have not done otherwise. A good educational institute pushes their students to experiment new things, try new stuff, learn things deeply.

How do you see your future?

Busy with family, but also busy writing. Still gaming. Still teaching. Still designing stuff. Maybe making films (especially screenwriting, cinematography, editing and directing for them), making TV shows (!), making own music, writing books, be part of creating a truly compelling game experience. Maybe get involved in politics, but so far I am not happy with any political party.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?

Please don’t condemn people based on their opinions or political views. Be open minded and study even those things which might at first appear “wrong” to you.

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ANNA KEUNE
MA in New Media 2010

So what are you up to nowadays?
I am currently a doctoral student in the Learning Sciences Program at Indiana University’s School of Education, and a Graduate Research Assistant at Dr. Kylie Peppler’s Creativity Labs (http://creativitylabs.com). 

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
Studying for my Masters was a special experience that I would not want to miss. However, it was not the end of my learning journey. Since then, I have had the opportunity to collaborate on projects that spoke to my interests and the pleasure to work with inspiring people who are motivated by similar purposes.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
The Media Lab has been an inspirational place, where I could make many meaningful connections to insightful people across disciplines and nationalities. Working on interdisciplinary and international projects helped me work towards identifying my personal research interests while being emerged in design practice. Learning alongside passionate peers and encouraging mentors provided me with a wealth of experiences and concrete examples to draw from and ground my work in today.

How do you see your future?
Having traveled to and lived in different corners of the world, I see my future as connected as ever. I am looking forward to learning new and exciting things and to share my understanding with my peers.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
On a theoretical note, looking at design as a way to erase challenges (opposed to fixing problems or finding solutions) helped me frame my design practice towards more personally meaningful purposes. On a practical note, documenting and sharing my work throughout my design learning process has been a wonderful way to reflect on my personal development, to identify themes to narrate my journeys, to illustratively augment academic and professional applications, and to connect with likeminded people.

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SVETLANA MARASH
MA in Sound in New Media 2009-2011

So what are you up to nowadays?
I came to Mlab in 2008 as a minor student. I graduated in 2011. In the meantime, I worked on a project in Systems of representation group, as a research assistant.
I live in Belgrade now. Some weeks ago I came back from CTM festival in Berlin where I had my new installation exhibited and immediately after coming back, I started working on a new piece I’m composing for Austrian Kunstradio-Radiokunst in co-production with Radio Belgrade. This new work is completely different from the previous one, so it’s a bit difficult…I had to change the mindset completely, very fast.
So, basically, I’m sitting in my home studio working many hours a day.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
That (most of the time) I can make a living from doing just art/music.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Many things! In Mlab, I learnt exactly what I needed, I got equipped with many worthy skills without of which I couldn’t do what I do now. Beside these technical things, I also learned how to work on collaborative projects with people from different fields, which I find so important. I learnt that working hard pays off. I learned to listen carefully and respect other people’s opinions and I opened my mind to new ideas that are not necessarily coming from the field that I work within.

How do you see your future?
I have no idea. I will be doing music, that I know.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
You are in one of the best school for media arts, use it. Collaborate with students from different departments. Take the courses outside of your own department, they will bring you fresh ideas and definitely will serve you sometimes in the future. Don’t hesitate to ask the teachers anything you want to know, they will tell you. Dress warm and take vitamin D, haha.

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ADELE ASUNCION
MA in New Media 2004-2006

So what are you up to nowadays?
I’m a UX Designer. Currently conceptual phase of a project. Slightly before this I was the Lead UX Designer at Rovio Entertainment Ltd. on the Toons.TV product line from concept till all the products you see out with Toons.TV (ioS app, Android, SmartTV, AppleTV, etc) :)

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
Having worked on 2 open source mobile operating systems, Maemo 5 on the N900 and on MeeGo, on the N9. Also, Toons.TV because it’s gotten a couple of awards and has over 6+ billion views and counting. The product has found its niché area and it allowed me to really focus on designing for all. – But, most importantly, having worked with many, many great, intelligent, and respectable people from different disciplines that I have learned from. 

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Well, most importantly I made a lot of life long friends through Mlab. I’d have to say in most of the teams that I’ve worked in, there’s always a Media Lab alumni there as well :) But, studying at Media Lab really gave me the opportunity to really be creative and “tinker” in different areas in digital media. Through Mlab, I found what I like to do as a profession. 

How do you see your future?
Next question :) j/k. I find this difficult. I’m not sure where my physical location will be. I’ve stayed in Finland for the past 12 years! I’m really interested in neuroscience, mycology (yes, still!), electrical engineering, gastronomy, horticulture and food production. Maybe I’ll take one of my hobby interests and combine it with what I know now, who knows. If you know let me know :D

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Have fun, embrace your inner creativity, stay rational, don’t be afraid of failure (well, not saying you should fail on your studies but, just don’t be afraid of it :P), move fast and continue to learn, learn, learn.  

roope

ROOPE RITVOS MA in New Media 2003-2007

So what are you up to nowadays?
Currently I’m working in facilitating up and kick-starting collaborative innovation projects between companies, universities and public sector, trying to find out how to exploit and what’s the real-world future like with new emerging technologies like internet of things, robotics, gamification, urban interfaces.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
Things I learned at Medialab: The designer focus: every project and every artefact right now under work is always the most important, and this is good. I’ve planned and set up some EU high-light “smart city” projects receiving quite nice media attention in e.g. Guardian, produced a 3D virtual world featured on BBC frontpage, and produced and started projects on a variety of things from how to get autonomous buses to the streets, to improving middle-aged mens sexual health with digital games, to improving the independent living of the elderly with IoT and service design.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Friends and attitude. Ability and methods to look and think sideways. Skills to kill your darlings, go beyond JAWS and embrace the fuzziness. Actually thinking about what you do. Asking why. Embracing Dziga Vertov and the beauty of the 8bit.

How do you see your future?
Older. And the bloody Medialab “new media and digital technologies” will be EVERYWHERE with these IoTs, VRs and whatevers. Quite a lot of things to do!

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Don’t believe everything they say. Explore outside the basic curriculum. Stay in the school as long as you can. Also try out the disgusting-looking stuff in the courses menu.

svennoben

SVEN NOBEN MA in New Media 2005-2009

So what are you up to nowadays?
While I studied, I founded my current company Signfuse (then toiminimi) to fund my life and studies in Finland. Nowadays I’m working for Signfuse (www.signfuse.com) fulltime. I feel very lucky and grateful to be able to work for myself.

Signfuse has a focus on creating new media in sign languages. To give you an idea of my work, we have recently released a museum guide app for iOS and Android in sign language, we’re currently creating an iBook for kids in sign language and we’re creating several websites with a sign language interface. As you see, my work is almost everything in sign language that you can relate to medialab.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
I think that’s founding my own company and getting a fulltime employment out of it. That’s the most fulfilling achievement for sure.
Oh, and to work globally is very fulfilling too. Thanks to the fact my focus is very specialised (sign language media) I’m being consulted all over the world, from Singapore to Washington DC. Oftentimes this involves travelling.

I think working on a project abroad tickles me most. I think it’s fantastic to get to know a different culture better and to adapt our projects to match them. It makes me feel like a little boy again, discovering the big world outside.
I think I should add; as a sign language person, I’m part of Deaf culture, and that culture is oftentimes more strong than the cultural differences that exist for example between me and an Malaysian Deaf person. It is usually very easy to conversate with other Deaf people, to connect with them and even to make jokes, notwithstanding our different nationality, exactly because we share the same deaf experiences and visual languages.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Studying at medialab has been such a wonderful experience. A truly international classroom we were, with only about 50% of them Finns. That made for a great atmosphere to be whoever one is (no pressure to behave like a Finn, haha) and where I felt really home as a Deaf person, because I wasn’t the only one who was different. I was just Sven. It truly helped me to open up and to blossom. There was even a Deaf teacher (Antti Raike)! Amazing!
Apart from the cultural background of the other students the educational background of the people was also very different, by which means there was a huge potential to exchange different perspectives, knowledge and support.
The courses were great too, as they were very much directed as projects, which were a fantastic way to prepare myself for the real working life.
I think I have so many great things to say about Media Lab. It has simply had a huge impact on both my personal and professional life.

How do you see your future?
That’s a difficult question, because the scene of the internet and its media is changing really quickly. Several new companies have become hot and then dissapeared in a timeframe of as little as 5 to 10 years. I think it’s important to invent oneself regularly. It’s important to accept change, and to play with it. It’s probably easier to play with change when one has several different projects, because they will react differently to change, and then it’s easier to let go of projects that don’t match the future well. Thus, my professional future is pretty inpredictable, and personally I will just be open to what the future will bring me.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Oh yes, please do enjoy Media Lab to the fullest. It’s a magical time, soak up everything you can, and you’ll have a fantastic take off into the professional world!

artokellokoski

ARTO KELLOKOSKI MA in New Media 2004-2006

So what are you up to nowadays?
Since I graduated from Media Lab I’ve been working as a designer and front-end developer in various projects. Currently I’m working as an UX/UI Designer in Verkkokauppa.com and I’ve also been adventuring in a role of scrum master. Change management and agile methodologies are something that I also find interesting in my work and something I look forward focusing on in the future.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
Work wise I would say being continuously employed doing what I love to do. I’ve had great job opportunities where I’ve been able to learn new skills and explore into new roles. Other than that, I think my family is the biggest achievement for me up to date.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Getting to know all the great people comes to my mind first. Professionally media lab was a big turn for me. In the long run I learned that my work is more about the people than it is just about technology. Tight collaboration with people with different skills can really make something truly valuable. I learned to value people foremost.

How do you see your future?
I’m quite sure that my work, personal life and managing everything that comes along with it will keep things interesting. I continue to approach new things open-mindedly and aim to stay curious to learn new things. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to try out some ventures outside of digital media as well at some point.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Take advantage of all the things Media Lab has to offer. Get to know new people and spend time with them. Enjoy what you do and experiment with new things; even the strangest opportunities can open up new possibilities with great outcomes. Don’t forget to go outside of Media Lab as well.

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REHA DISCIOLGU
MA in Sound in New Media 2009 – 2012

So what are you up to nowadays?
I am working as a UX Designer at an IT company that specialises on airport management systems. Meanwhile, I continue my education at MediaLab as a PhD student. I am doing research about environments where the digital and the physical is entwined.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
I took part establishing design and cinema departments in a university. In the scope of that work, I had coordinated an international agreement with USC Cinematic Arts. Additionally, I had chance to collaborate with well known producers and artists. 

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
I think the best thing I took with me is the people that I have met, become friends and worked together. I learned many things from them.

How do you see your future?
Exciting! I do not have an exact schedule for the future. However I have lots of projects in my mind. I hope I can realise all of them. That is what MediaLab does to you. Your mind is always busy with the projects that you are dreaming of.  

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Be a part of the collaborative and outspoken culture.

Attend as many course as you can. Different subjects will let you explore yourself and will help you to find out what you want really. Also take courses from other departments and other schools.

Make good use of MediaLab library. I just realised it is a huge opportunity to find almost every hardware you may need, just in seconds. 

Apart from courses, try to be involved in the projects, even in user tests. 

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KATI ÅBERG
MA in New Media 2001 – 2005, Muunto/Transfer programme

So what are you up to nowadays?
I’m working as a freelance producer for a wide range of things related to media art. Currently I’m writing a strategy for the long term archiving of media art for the Media Art Network of Finland, funded by the Ministry of Culture. I’m also producing a sound art installation for next Autumn and a Nordic network project for distributors of media art in five countries. In 2014 I produced the Media Lab Helsinki’s 20th anniversary events. It was nice to come back to the Media Lab community again. One of the reasons I prefer to work as a freelancer is the option it gives me to do my own artwork between jobs and also to spend at least a month most winters fulfilling my other passion: globe trotting (http://kati-on-the-road.blogspot.fi/). I’m currently starting a new art project, which should be finished in 2017.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
Proud as I am of my artwork and the projects I’ve produced, I think one of my most important achievements has been managing to maintain a good balance between the various things I’m passionate about: managing to make time also for my own artwork and travel and being lucky enough to have a broad range of interesting projects to work on. Working freelance keeps me on my toes, it keeps working life fresh and interesting, it enables me to meet so many lovely, talented people. A motivated working group is a truly inspirational working environment.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Studying at the Media Lab was a time of experimentation and broadening horizons. There was good support for trying out new things, interesting courses and above all, some great group work with other students. I formed lasting friendships and new networks. My time at the Media Lab gave me the confidence and the skill set to do my own art work. I think the humane, multicultural vibe at the Media Lab was an source of inspiration in itself. 

How do you see your future?
I hope to be able to keep up my artistic practice on top of my other work. At times I hope I could spend less time at the computer and more on human interaction or creating something concrete and tangible. I hope life will continue to offer fresh challenges and an opportunity to learn with each new project.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
This is probably the best time you will ever have to do far out things, experiment, create lovely things for their own sake, broaden your knowledge base. Enjoy the technical infrastructure and the possibilities it gives you – believe me, you will miss them once you graduate. Form friendships and play with ideas. Above all, enjoy!

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SAMI LANU
MA in New Media 2002 – 2009 (the last ”Muunto-group”, so I was working full time during my studies.)

So what are you up to nowadays?
I’m independent digital strategist working mainly for couple of key clients. I also teach and take part to the research projects in Saimaa University of Applied Sciences.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
Working with great people and great brands like SEK, YLE, Habbo Hotel,Visit Finland and Satama.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Contacts and motivation.

How do you see your future?
Interesting, Challenging in inspiring way, Bright

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Connect. With people, ideas, attitudes, movements…

Puoli Seitsem‰n

PAAVO HÄIKIÖ
MA in New Media 2002-2005

So what are you up to nowadays?
At the moment I am working as a journalist in the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE. I host my own radioshow every weekday from 3 to 6 pm at Radio Suomi, which is the most listened to radioshow in the greater Helsinki region.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
My greatest achievements since graduation, besides having my own radio show, has been producing three successful TV-shows, one of which (Staraoke) has won the only Emmy-award ever by a Finnish television program. (The Interactive Program -Emmy in the year 2007.) I was also awarded the prize for the best radio DJ of the Finnish Broadcasting Company in 2015.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
The most important things I learned during my Mlab studies are: 1) Creativity is something you have to, and can, nurture. 2) You can do miracles with a small group of talented and motivated people. 3) Trusting yourself in knowing that you are as capable as anyone as long as you work hard.

How do you see your future?
My future will involve… heck…

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
My message to the students of Mlab is that it is totally up to you how much you learn. There is no limit, but you have to walk your own path and build your own curriculum and not only focus on the things presented to you. Find the courses you want to take, and talk yourself in wherever they are. Also: do an exchange period abroad!

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HELENA HYVÄRINEN
MA in New Media 2003-2007

So what are you up to nowadays?
I am working as a executive Producer at Forum Virium Helsinki, which develops new digital services in cooperation with companies, City of Helsinki, other public sector organizations, and Helsinki residents. The aim is to create better services and new business, plus to open up contacts for international markets.  In addition, I’m developing interactive narration and drama in different kind of media and scripts for audiovisual formats. My roots are still strongly in University of Arts Crucible Studio, which studies storytelling systems in the context of interactive and performative media environments, technologies, and cultures. I was working there as a scriptwriter and producer after my graduation and that time was extremely valuable.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
It was a total pleasure be part of the Accidental Lovers an interactive TV show for Finnish broadcasting Company YLE. That was a really hands on experience how to lead new format with creative team. Loved it! Extremely different kind of experience was Eurovision Song Contest 2007, Helsinki, where I was creating Helsinki Host city service, which was a visual media experience for event visitors. As my heart is strongly in media community services, I was privilaged to lead Stadi.TV pilot, which was  a new and open-minded way to bring together professional programmes and user-generated content. It was a mix of content produced by citizens, a team of professionals and partners.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Media Lab’s open minded and international atmosphere still follow everywhere I go and every productions I create. Media Lab was for me well done improvisation, where I was able to throw the digital ball and for sure someone caught it, every time. That atmosphere delivered incredible amount of productions, which were all crossing boards in artistic and scientific levels. Further, my priority in every single productions and piece of art I create, will always be the dramaturgy, narration and user. We still should listen Aristotle! Thanks Media lab for reminding me that!

How do you see your future?
Fantastic and Bubbly! I see myself having a class of Chambange at Milan with my dear friend Mika Lumi Tuomola (the funder and artistic director of Crucible Studio) picturing the new paths of narration and digital spaces.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Be brave. 
Look up more than down. 
Co-operate. 
Be brave to co-operate in new kind of ways. 
Be brave but humble.
Be humble but strong. 
Believe yourself, but make mistakes. 
Make many mistakes. 
Don’t be afraid of mistakes.
Change the world. 
And let digital media help you with that.
Let media Lab help you with that.
Make new friends cross the departments
and let Kipsari help you with that.

 

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WESA AAPRO
Minor student 2003, MA in New Media 2006

So what are you up to nowadays?
I work for Yle Finnish Broadcasting Company, creating media things for children.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
I have been lucky in some competitions a few times, but I can’t really call that achieving anything. Also my business things have ended up as anti-achievements, so I have to say my kids.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Media Lab is not years ahead of time, but years to the side of time. Because of the twiggly nature of time, the things you do in Media Lab may or may not be relevant at some point in the future. I managed to do many things in Media Lab and they have been relevant in surprising situations.

How do you see your future?
I will create more media things, hope to be successful in more competitions and try to get new business ventures working. Keep raising my kids.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Hi current students of the Media Lab.

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VIRVA EMILIA AUVINEN
MA in New Media 2008-2009,  Visual Researcher at Crucible Studio, 2010,  3 month

So what are you up to nowadays?
I am Sr. Ux and Interaction Designer at “HERE a Nokia business” in  the Berlin Consumer product Design team, Germany. HERE is a mapping company and builds navigation, mapping and location experiences which connects a broad range of devices and software with intelligent maps. My daily job is  to take care of user experience and interaction design of map application that guide people whether they are driving, walking, taking public transit or just traveling around the globe. My work consist of illustrating the user journeys, creating the use cases and identifying the key user needs and then translating the findings to the usable and marketable product features.
 
What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
The biggest achievement for me is that  after many years of working in the digital design field, I still have passion towards my profession.
 
One of the milestones that makes me happy are the awards that I got. After graduating from Media Lab, I submitted my thesis work  “Touch the Unreachable – Looking for Finnish identity”  to the Media and Technology Standing Professional Committee of the American Association of Museums (AAM) MUSE Award competition and I won the Golden prize in Los Angeles in 2010. In 2011 my personal project called “Isabella – The Secret Recipes” edutainment concept won the Grand given by European Commission – Information Society and Media.
After 3 years of working at Nokia, submitting the first patent for Smart Guidance was a great proof of how a good team work gives excellent results.
 
What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Media Lab was a place that encouraged to explore and tryout things that you are not familiar with. I had the possibility to jump to unknown areas and create something great out of it.  I believe in the multidisciplinary  teams and collaboration. Learning and understanding this in Media Lab has been really beneficial in my later working career. Also in Media Lab I learned to look at problems critically from different angles, to challenge and  to push boundaries of design to new levels.
 
How do you see your future?
Working in the digital technology industry the future is changing constantly. As a digital designer I see my future as mediator who translates complex technologies into simple solutions that serve basic human needs and make the everyday life more joyful and stimulate new discoveries.
 
Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Explore and try things that are unfamiliar to you. Iterate solutions that are uncomfortable as it encourages you thinking. Media Lab gives you a possibility to try diverse disciplines, so just take advantage of it. Learn to collaborate with people from different nationalities and  backgrounds, will help you in future.  And last but not least, learn to tolerate critique, change and uncertainty.

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MARIANNE DECOSTER-TAIVALKOSKI
MA in New Media 2001-2003

So what are you up to nowadays?
I have a position as Media and sonic arts lecturer at the Centre for Music and Technology of the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki since 2007 and I’m working there as the head of the department since 2013 (for five years). On the top of this I try to continue my work as an artist and develop new skills in sound art performance and its relation to multi-sensorial spatiality. I’m also the lucky mother of two children.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
That I’m still alive after all this crazy work and looking always for new things to learn with our students. The art of keeping things balanced is something they don’t teach you at school but you have your whole life to learn it… and it is the most important skill to develop I believe.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
All. Self confidence in my artistic and production skills, design thinking, multicultural group working skills, adaptability to different working environments and multi-background teams, learning experiences as basis for my teaching, confidence in experimental methods, I can’t list it all…

How do you see your future?
I hope I’ll still live tomorrow and I’ll try to grow all the things I have started with my colleagues and make them worth the effort we put in them everyday. I’ll try to make a bit more space for artistic and research activities in a near future.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Work hard and enjoy what you do in the Media Lab, because it is a very special environment for learning and developing your many different skills and creating the structures and specialities you’ll be able to found your future work on. I do not know many places like that one. Also you’ll get a lot of support from its community at any point, so be an active member of it.

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MARJA HONKAKORPI
MA in New Media 2001-2003

So what are you up to nowadays?
I jumped into entrepreneurship a couple of years ago when I founded Fugu Media Oy. My main job is to help “old” media to survive and succeed in digital age. I do consulting, strategic planning, project managing and concept design. I’ve also been involved with start up -scene in a smaller scale. While my work identity is strongly in digital development, I’ve learned a great deal from good old print-, news- and broadcast media and learned to love good content and storytelling.

 
What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
I’ve had some great career opportunities and good leadership experience in major media houses like Sanoma and Yleisradio. I also had an amazing year in fundraising area as an executive director of Yle Helps Foundation and Red Nose Day campaign. But the biggest achievement of all, of course, is making a living as an entrepreneur. It’s not easy, it’s sometimes very frustrating, but most of the time I find it rewarding and couldn’t be happier at the moment.
 
What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Courage and tools to think outside of the box. Good friends and networks.
 
How do you see your future?
I hope to remain my agile way of renewing my role in media business as well as curiosity towards new things. Would love to work with good content the rest of my life, from different angles. But right now I just live day-by-day and the only future I see is the next interesting project.
 
Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Don’t rush back into day job: enjoy experimenting and experiencing new stuff and making a difference.
 

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MIKA TUOMOLA (R.I.P. 1971-2016)
MA in New Media 1994-1997 (the first ever MA in New Media class)

So what are you up to nowadays?
After working as artistic director in many interactive audiovisual media productions, for example, in Coronet Interactive, ICL-Fujitsu and Interactive Institute, Sweden, I returned to MLab in 2001 as visiting artist, and we started the New Media storytelling research production group Crucible Studio <http://crucible.mlog.taik.fi>, the director of which I still am. In February this year, I attained a professorship in Communication Design at Scuola del Design, Politecnico di Milano <http://www.design.polimi.it>, and will move to Milan in September to start yet another research line on narrative (I was also founding the Narrativity Studio in Interactive Institute in 1999). Crucible Studio continues in MLab in the hands of its deputy director, senior researcher Pia Tikka, until further notice, and I expect to continue to collaborate with the studio. My last, on-going Crucible Studio research production, before the departure to Milan, will be “Antikythera” <http://crucible.mlog.taik.fi/productions/antikythera/> that I started to work with poet Saila Susiluoto in 2013; it will be launched in Media Centre Lume on Fri 21 Aug 2015 together with Saila’s “Ariadne” book.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
I was touched that our MLab graduation project, web drama “Daisy’s Amazing Discoveries” (1996, with my class mates Marja Vainionpää & Aki Kivelä, produced by Heikki Leskinen) got into the New Media history book “Digital Performance – A History of New Media in Theater, Dance, Performance Art, and Installation” by Steve Dixon (MIT Press 2007). While “Daisy” opened the doors to Interactive Institute and ICL-Fujitsu, my own research into “Drama in the Digital Domain – Commedia dell’Arte, Characterisation, Collaboration and Computers” (Digital Creativity Vol 10 No 3, Swets & Zeitlinger 1999) in Coronet Interactive – Heikki’s company that I joined in 1997 – lead me to teach e.g. in University of Cambridge CUMIS, nowadays DIGIS <http://www.expressivespace.org>. The publications based on and the successes (and failures) of “Accidental Lovers”, interactive dark musical comedy for television (Yle National Broadcasting Channel 1 2006-7), confirmed the importance of production-based research of storytelling in New Media, while I formulated lifelong companionships with many nm2 research project <http://www.ist-nm2.org> colleagues and my co-creators, like MLab graduates Leena Saarinen (script), Minna Nurminen (editing) and Helena Johansson (née Hyvärinen). I’m also very proud of all the artists, scientists, designers, programmers etc. and their research productions that Crucible Studio has been able to support <http://crucible.mlog.taik.fi/productions/>. The most important achievement of ours must have been the establishment of international networks that are able to continuously produce cutting edge research productions in the field of New Media narrativity.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
The “hands on with minds on” attitude, vital importance of cross-disciplinarity in New Media design, critical discourse in making things (introduced with particular poignancy by professor Minna Tarkka, who was also my thesis supervisor), people networks, gumption and self-discipline – and I learned to love storytelling and drama even more, while expanding its areas of application.

How do you see your future?
Exciting. I cannot wait to see myself as a Milanese local three years from now, hopefully somewhat skillful in Dante Alighieri’s language (that I must now learn): I love the language, location, people, design, culture, history, Dario Fo, Piccolo Teatro, La Scala, Verdi, food and wine there – among so many other things I expect to discover. Considering the next steps in art, design, research and production, “qui ho quanto basta per farne altri!” (“I have the mold to make more!”), to quote Caterina Sforza <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caterina_Sforza>, a former Milanese.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
“Follow your bliss,” in Campbell’s <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Campbell> words (from the first MLab course I taught as visiting artist in 2001): “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning of life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” <http://mlab.taik.fi/myth/>

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LEENA SAARINEN
MA in New Media 1998-2001. Researcher 2004-2008.

So what are you up to nowadays?
I work as production manager in The National Library of Finland and develop digital library services. My work has to do with the accessibility to information, digitization of cultural heritage, open data and cultural data.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
Other than being part of the Accidental Lovers interactive Television production produced in the Crucible Studio I am really tempted to reply only: surviving in the real world. These are good times to have a designer’s education in the job market because more and more disciplines need broad design knowledge and ability to turn that into products and services. However, it can be a tough and lonely job if you end up in a working palace where other than design paradigms and attitudes are dominant disciplines. But I think I have managed to make a difference in the service development in the odd places that I have found myself in.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
I deeply believe in the benefits of multidisciplinary teams and collaboration. I learned critical thinking and ability take a grasp at vague ideas and complex issues and turn those into reality. I left the Media Lab full of confidence in my skills and courage to use them.

How do you see your future?
At the moment I don’t think about future with clear goals. I might keep working in the public sector at least as long as there is important work to do with the practice and politics of equal access to information and the open data movement.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Experiment as much as you can during your studies because trial-and-error is one of the best learning methods. Work hard and make friends. Also as a smaller matter, the Media Lab has the best “toys”! Take it from someone who works in the public sector, I really miss state-of-the art computers, all new and best software and gadgets and gimmicks. Not every workplace can offer that. Enjoy them while you can.  

 

Christer Nuutinen Potrett 2015 MLAB

CHRISTER NUUTINEN
MA in New Media 1998-2002


So what are you up to nowadays? Despite my strong education in all things interactive, I’ve ended up working mostly in traditional media. I have worked as an illustrator and graphic designer for television and print. The illustration has taken more and more precedence, since I appreciate the craft and straightforwardness of the projects. Never say never, though, and I’ve kept myself up to date on the development of the digital media.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
Tons of good work, as a sign of which I received Finnish Illustrator’s Association’s collegial Kaiku Award in 2013.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
The best thing about Media Lab was that it was truly interdisciplinary, bringing together people with different and very special skills. Working in an environment like that is the thing I truly miss, since now I do most of the work on my own.

How do you see your future?
Media, not to mention human society is re-arranging itself quite rapidly. I’d like to be part of the process of turning things the right way around.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
I urge you to recognize and appreciate the treasures Media Lab offers. It is one of those places with true vistas into some possible futures.

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OUTI KOTALA
MA in New Media 2002-2006

So what are you up to nowadays?
I’ve been an entrepreneur and freelance consultant since 2006. I’m designing experiences. My background is in graphic and user experience design.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
Leaving my job and becoming an entrepreneur opened a whole new world of cooperation, innovation and creativity to me. I’m also very proud of my artistic curricula: doing art has introduced me to interesting places and people both in Finland and abroad.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Ability to think differently.

How do you see your future?
My future profession will be connected to value creation & value visualization, innovation and artistic experiences.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
With everything you do, start with “Why?”. Remember that most important stuff is not related to doing, but being – being what you are.

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TEPPO KOTIRINTA
MA in New Media 2002-2005

So what are you up to nowadays?
I’ve been a design entrepreneur for more than ten years now, running Nordkapp (www.nordkapp.fi) with other co-founders. I’m the Principal Designer, which in practise means I’m the lead designer multi-disciplinary, multi-company, design-developer teams which create user friendly products and services.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
The biggest achievement professionally must be the creation of aforementioned company Nordkapp, which is one of the leading interaction and user experience design agencies in Finland. Our clients include all the biggest companies in their relevant fields in Finland, and we continuously work with international clients and projects too. We’ve won multitude of awards along the way. Of those, as far as the company goes, most precious were winning the Emma Award (Finnish Grammy) for work in advancing digital music, various international competition shortlists for redesigned city information, and a Red Dot Award for a personal banking product. Our stuff has also featured on Wired, Fast Company and Computer Arts magazines. Most happy I’m still be about the fact that so many great designers and developers have decided to work with us.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Of course other students from very varying backgrounds and the varied course curriculum were great. I got exposed to many things I had not considered before. But I especially enjoyed the very ad-hoc nature of course projects and teams that we worked in. Hacking together hardware and software with brilliant people to produce something new was very enjoyable, hard and very educational. Some of that vibe still lives on in our own company’s work methods and culture. Most life changing thing was my exchange study time in Melbourne, Australia at Swinburne University. Being very far away from Finland, allowed me to concentrate on design for an extended time without any considerations about work or routines back home. Once I came back I quit my day job and became a full-time design entrepreneur. Medialab and Australia were the final catalysts in this transformation.

How do you see your future?
I see my professional life very much in line with the progression of Nordkapp. It continues to provide avenues for personal and professional growth as it gets bigger and bigger and expands abroad. In someways it’s similar to Medialab, as one gets to work with talented people in ever changing technological landscape and challenging projects. There’s no hierarchy, only freedom to do the best work you can. That’s what I signed up for, and I’m excited to see where this path takes us.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Participate in courses you know nothing about, try every weird idea for project and build something you don’t know how to build. It’s probably a good idea to study abroad too. But do graduate, instead of hanging around forever. There’s interesting things to do out there too, and a lot of demand for Medialabbers. There’s also a new kind of startup mentality in Finland that didn’t really exists back in my time. Ride this wave as some of your group project ideas will be great enough to start a company for. God knows, we almost invented Twitter.

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BRENDA CASTRO
MA in New Media 2005-2007

So what are you up to nowadays?
I have been trying a bit (or a lot) of working life in Finland, working as interaction and user-interface designer at Nokia and then at Suunto. Now it’s time for a bit of new adventures and so I am moving to the crazy, hot, and humid land of Pho soup! Me and my boyfriend will be working for Atlassian in Vietnam’s office, while getting the chance to experience a very different culture, see many new amazing places, and keep learning all kinds of stuff.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
As a designer I know that everything we do has some room for improvement, but when you have been working long and hard for a project there is this amazing feeling of achievement when it finally sees the light, specially when positive feedback arrives. Two projects I’ve been designing for industry have given me that special feeling of great achievement: First one was a service we designed some years back at Nokia, it was a social-location service which got some very nice reviews, besides, it was not only handy but also fun to use friends everyday. The last project I was designing for was the most recent diving computer from Suunto, this was a very challenging project, I learnt a lot I am very pleased with the first results.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
I feel that graduating from Mlab gave me, besides the good pack of knowledge, the freedom and confidence to take design and professional challenges in life. Mlab people has taught me a lot, not only staff, but also classmates with that lovely diversity that always had something new for me. It is difficult to put it into words, and I think I haven’t yet been grateful enough for what Mlab gave me, but I’ll keep on working on those achievements to make Mlabbers proud of me ;)

How do you see your future?
Less commercial work, more content! There are some small side projects that are cooking up and will hopefully help make this world a bit better… When we manage to make a living while making our world a better place, then we’ll probably quit commercial jobs ;)

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
You are privileged, take advantage of it! Meet all the amazing people around you, try new things, experiment with different subjects, and make something big! Good luck!

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TIINA KNUUTILA
MA in New Media 2000-2005

So what are you up to nowadays?
I live in San Diego, CA and just started my own media production company called Present Media (www.present.media) mostly serving non-profit and political clients in the US.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
I worked creating videos for Barack Obama from 2009-2011 for his website in Washington DC. That was an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Critical thinking, ability to think outside the box. During my time, I feel like most of the things we discussed were still hypothetical and in the future, and it was up to us to imagine what the next 10 years would look like, and it has been interesting to follow which of those things became reality and which turned out to be totally different. It was an inspiring time for me as the whole new media field was so new that we could just come up with the craziest ideas and just see what sticks, kind of like any startup.

How do you see your future?
I will be slowly growing my business here in California, but I would like to also try teaching at some point. I’d like to be able to pass on some of the things I’ve learned and also see what younger folks are doing and thinking.

Any messages for the current students of the Media Lab?
You are at a very special place. Let your heads be in the clouds but also remember that at some point you will have to be making a living in the real world. I would encourage you to have some practical ideas about what you’d like to do after you graduate and are no longer supported by student allowances or loans.

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RICHARD VON KAUFMANN
MA in New Media 2006 – 2009

So what are you up to nowadays?
While still a Media Lab student I co-founded Zipipop together with fellow mlabber Helene Auramo.  What started off as a web 2.0 company soon became Finland’s firsted social media agency, mainly as a result of Zipipop being the first Finnish company to make Facebook apps. Zipipop merged with a communications agency in 2013 and is now known as Influence Agency Zipipop Freud. In this context I have worked on both external and internal sides of social media for many of the biggest brands and government organizations operating in Finland; including F-Secure, Skanska, Ministry of Employment & the Economy, Niras and TATA Consulting Services. My main volunteer project over the years has been Shadow Election where we have been running various experiments in over 12 countries to explore how social media could be used to encourage democractic participation and level political playing fields.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
Establishing Zipipop as a significant player in the Finnish communications industry has taken seven years of hard effort and by that measure my greatest achievement. In the context of Shadow Election reaching over 130,000 combined global Facebook fans has also been a significant success.  We are now looking for fresh and energetic faces to help us take that project forward. In recent times I have every much enjoyed helping out at Startup Sauna – particularly coordinating the Sauna Safari  event held in Kenya early this year.  And I am currently seeking sponsorship so that an extended Sauna Safari can also be take to Ethiopia and Uganda in 2015.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Going to Media Lab was a life changing opportunity. I have never had much challenges in regards to being shy about pushing forward ideas; however, Media Lab gave me a whole new expanded tool set, and enhanced design-based philosophical approach, to help improve the chances of making ideas a reality. The network of alumni friends continues to play a significant party in my personal and professional life.

How do you see your future?
The future lies in continuing to cement Zipipop Freud’s current position, and I would like to see us grow into the area of consulting senior management about the need to adapt to the ever changing, inexorable and fundamental impact of both social media and digitization on all aspects of business. Half of our clients are already global brands, however, I would like to expand the work we do outside of Finland.  We are currently working on a Nordic social media strategy for a major global brand and, fingers crossed, this will be a good case-study to expand our own global aims. In addition, I want to oversee the successful transition of new blood into the Shadow Election project and help continue the development of the new social advocacy concept and future parallel politics ideas.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
At least during my time there was never any question of Media Lab students not putting in the hours and I guess that’s still the same.  One thing, however, that I really enjoyed was the ability to do some cross-department courses, and in retrospect it would have been good to do some studies in the social sciences, since social media and making social apps is all about adapting or changing the way people behave, so it seems a bit neglectful not to study human social behaviour more deeply. I did, however, very much appreciate taking part and getting credits for a life drawing class.

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CILLA LÖNNQVIST
MA in New Media 1999-2001

So what are you up to nowadays?
I’m just back from a one-year holiday (mostly travelling with my family in Asia) and have been given an assignment at Yle to make the company more data-driven and agile. Big task, but I’m enthusiastic about it.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
Continuously getting the awsome opportunities I have gotten, ranging from the Yle Areena lead to being head of planning for all Yle’s finnish radio channels… and being brave (or foolish) enough to jump in and take the chances.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Other than getting to know great, innovative people, getting the base for taking a run at almost anything that comes up.

How do you see your future?
Hard to say, lots of changes around every corner, I assume. But I’ll face them with great optimism.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Enjoy, make friends, test anything you can. Aalto is a great laboratory for that :)

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RICHARD LAPINGTON
MA in New Media 2004-2006

So what are you up to nowadays?
I am the Audio Lead at Remedy Games – my current project is Quantum Break. Basically as Audio Lead I manage the audio department and set the audio style for our games – plus make sure we are hitting our deadlines and benchmark targets.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
Being continually employed and shipping a couple of big games :)

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Apart from great memories and great friends, I guess Media Lab gave me the time to learn what I needed to know to be successful in my career.

How do you see your future?
Honestly I have no idea – probably a big chaotic mess much like now, there are a few things I’d like to achieve still but I’m not tempting fate by mentioning them here. To put it simply I really like what I do now and want to just get better and better at it.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Follow your dreams with passion or Failure is always an option … you choose which :)

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JUSSI PASANEN
MA in New Media 2001 – 2003

So what are you up to nowadays?
I have built my career in user experience research and design and currently work as the Principal UX Designer at a leading super regional bank in Melbourne, Australia. I enjoy spending time with my wife and kids, and my friends both here and in Finland.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
It has been an eventful decade, with one key decision being my move from Finland to Australia. I have lived in Melbourne since 2005. I did a successful professional transition from software development into interaction design after graduation and have worked in the UX field ever since. I also ran my own UX business here for a few years. Today, I am happy with where I am both professionally and personally.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
I always considered the collision of ideas and people from different backgrounds a real strength of Media Lab. It is a truly multidisciplinary environment, which helped me develop professionally and prepared me for working abroad. Another thing I enjoyed thoroughly was our curiosity and the experimental nature of the projects that we worked on. With businesses today focusing on start-ups, design thinking and improvement through learning, it is fascinating to think back and see the connections to what we studied and worked on at Media Lab over 10 years ago. Ultimately the biggest thing for me was my exchange studies at Swinburne University. I had the best time, both academically and personally, to the extent that I ended up making a permanent move to Melbourne.

How do you see your future?
I will be continuing my adventures in experience design, growing as a person and learning with – and from – our kids.

Any messages for the current students of the Media Lab?
Be a sponge, take it all in, not just the information but also the whole experience. Spend a lot time working on ideas and building things with others. Connect. Enjoy the ability to experiment and ‘fail’ (read: learn) in a non-commercial environment. Take your time to study; there’s will be plenty of time spent working later on. And go study abroad, although the risk is that you might not come back…

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ZEENATH HASAN
MA in New Media 2004-2007

So what are you up to nowadays?
I am in the final stages of gaining a doctoral degree in Media and Communication Studies at K3 I School of Arts and Communication, Malmö.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
I have self-initiated participatory, collaborative initiatives for urban governance and sustainable food practices with citizen collectives, institutional bodies and design schools. I have continued with my freelance work as an ethnographer for technology companies. And I have been raising hell with the little red devil on my shoulders (see accompanying image).

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
Learning while doing at the MLAB has helped carve out the skills + knowledge based practitioner in me. Collaboration with peers, presentations at international fora to diverse audiences, studio based work and an open teaching environment has been MLAB’s way of creating an enabling experience for me.

How do you see your future?
Big and bright.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?
Work that cape you Super-Achievers!

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MIA MARTTIINI
MA in New Media, 1999-2004 (New Media Professional Transfer Program)

So what are you up to nowadays?
I’m currently employed in Forum Virium Helsinki (FVH). It develops new digital services and urban innovations in cooperation with companies, the City of Helsinki, other public sector organizations, and Helsinki residents. FVH projects focus for example on themes  Smart City, Wellbeing, and New Forms of Media. I work as the Director of the Media focus area. I am excited about our latest EU-funded project D-CENT, which will provide a decentralised social network for direct democracy and economic empowerment. The D-CENT platform will be designed with citizens’ movements, civic innovators and developers. I am also the Executive producer for a communal television of the Helsinki region called Stadi TV. It stimulates the audiovisual and open co-creation and empowerment of citizens. I like to employ eager young talents to assist the grassroots culture of the audiovisual field to be more daring and active. In addition, I act as a partner and board member in some start-ups, and, for instance, in Nemo publishing house.

What do you consider your most important achievements since graduation?
Since graduation I have worked in several pioneer start-ups and as an entrepreneur in artificial intelligence and data visualizations. In several occasions we’ve been ahead of time with many ideas. After banging one’s head against brick walls one learns to wait for the rest of the world, even though one’s focus is already somewhere else. I’m a co-founder and chairwoman of Studio Mind Inc., a pioneering company that specialized in creative data visualizations, neural network technologies and user friendly artificial intelligence since 2002. Our applications used advanced semantic and visualization technologies to harvest collective intelligence and deliver wisdom on current, emergent and future themes. I’ve had the opportunity to take on interesting positions of trust in several steering committees, boards, award judging panels and juries. I find this kind of work very rewarding. I was a co-founder and an executive producer of the first Helsinki African Film Festival HAFF, a festival that brought a thought-provoking and entertaining selection of contemporary African cinema to Finland. I have also worked as a freelance journalist and an artist producing stories, photos, videos and images. Some of my abstract art images have been transformed to aluminium plates and walls with innovative digital coating process techniques.

What did you take with you from studying at the Media Lab?
I find human-centric, aesthetic, and social issues very relevant when developing new applications, spaces, and services. The Media Lab studies have helped me to exploit new service design, scientific and technological possibilities to benefit real peoples’ needs. As the studies were mainly international, it also broadened my networks and deepened cross cultural communication skills. I’m interested in the changing welfare needs of both stressfully working and the ageing population. The concept of my final thesis, MAI Garden, was an end-to-end digital communication and interaction solution that helps the elderly receive multisensory stimuli, communicate with their friends and families, and manage their affairs digitally. A decade ago, I designed multimodal interfaces for elderly and disabled as a result of the coolest PhD course co-organized with the Tampere University Computer Human Interaction Group. Now the readiness stage of user-driven innovation technologies is much more open to such concepts and I’m actually happy to have continued the development of some wellbeing ideas again in a couple of new projects. When studying at the Media Lab I attended several multidisciplinary studies that were not obligatory, but of great personal interest and importance to me. For instance, professor Timo Honkela’s outstanding lectures on applied cognitive and information processing science partly led to the formation of StudioMind Inc.

How do you see your future?
In the future, I am interested in working on improving the social and cultural life; public and urban environment; shared spaces and socially sustainable global and local future. I am also dreaming seriously of having time to concentrate on doctoral studies in the near future, possibly adding a twist of citizen science and social rhythms on it. I need to bear in mind, that it’s vital that I’m a Master of Arts! So I need to make ART.

Any message for the current students of the Media Lab?

  • Use any emerging chances to join strange courses and events.
  • Art and design have the power to make the world a better place
  • Remember even as the most enthusiastic technology gadget hifister, that human needs remain basically the same thru ages.
  • Smart citizens make a smart city.
  • Help to build digital bridges between people and services.
  • As the world notable oil well fire-fighter innovator Red Adair (1915-2004) put it: “The only thing more expensive than hiring a professional, is hiring an amateur.”
  • Grow to be a true professional. It will be a life-long project.