Students at EuroFM Summer School 2016: “A new perspective on facility management”

For two weeks in August and September Laurea University of Applied Sciences  was hosting the EuroFM Summer School, which focused on facility management. The participants of the two-week event included students from nine different universities in five different countries.

The assignment given to the students of this year's summer school was to develop new space concepts for the Laurea Otaniemi campus. The goal has been to use service design to develop collaborative spaces that will bring together students, student entrepreneurs and existing startup companies.

“Laurea encourages entrepreneurship”

Niels Poorthuis from Groningen, the Netherlands, Stian Widerøe from Zürich, Switzerland, and Germans Lucas Balzer from Stuttgart and Sari Sander from Hamburg comprised one of the student teams.

The team developed a concept for three spaces on the Otaniemi campus that could be used for benefitting from collaboration between students and startups. In addition to planning how the actual physical spaces could be developed, the students also considered which services should be available.

- It has been great to see how Laurea encourages students to take up entrepreneurship and welcomes existing startup companies on campus, says Lucas Balzer from Germany.
- The visits to various locations including Aalto University Design Factory were also very interesting. Similar spaces for student entrepreneurs do not exist in Zürich, continues Stian Widerøe from Switzerland.

In previous years, the EuroFM Summer School has only been available to students of facility management, but this year's event was open to students representing all fields of study. As a result, the participants of Laurea's summer school formed a diverse group and provided differing perspectives on the development of space concepts.

- Naturally we didn't know each other before the summer school, so it's great to see how much we've achieved as a team, Sari Sander says.
- Different schools have very different approaches, and here I've learnt to look at familiar themes from entirely new viewpoints. Back home with students from the same university we've always examined matters from the same perspective, Niels Poorthuis continues.

Full use of students' differing competence

The coordinator of the summer school, Senior Lecturer Pekka Matvejeff from Laurea University of Applied Sciences  , has been involved in EuroFM Network activities since 2011. Matvejeff says that there are differences in the facility management cultures of European countries. The Nordic countries and the Netherlands have a service-centred approach whereas German-speaking countries, for instance, focus on the physical environment and architecture.

- At this year's summer school, we have paid a lot of attention to forming the student teams, Matvejeff explains.
- To begin with, each team determined what kind of expertise team members possessed and what the specialty of the team was. This made it possible to tap their expertise in the best possible way when they worked on the assignment.

Matvejeff and senior lecturers Anna-Mari Sohlman and Kaisa Airo from Laurea comprised the team of lecturers responsible for implementing the two-week summer school. A total of six lecturers from Laurea partner universities in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands visited the summer school, either to participate in the learning experience or to coach the student teams.

New bold ideas from students

The two-week event culminated on Friday 2 September as participants presented their concepts to the representatives of the client at Laurea UAS. Vice President Kimmo Hannonen and Development Manager Elina Pohja were happy with the ideas provided by the students.

- One of the most interesting ideas was the hotel-like hospitality hub concept that involved introducing laundry services and sleeping pods on campus. We need these kinds of new and even radical ideas that shake up our old ways of thinking, they commented.
- We also gained several smaller ideas that can be implemented immediately. These ideas included improving signage and developing the dining hall.

Modified 9/9/2016 9:50 AM

​​Students Sari Sander, Niels Poorthuis, Lucas Balzer and Stian Widerøe at work in the EuroFM Summer School at Laurea UAS Leppävaara Campus.