Thirty Years of Computer Science
Only two things have stayed the same in the computer science field over the last 30 years: waiting in line and a guaranteed spot on the job market. Professor Martti Tienari recalls what studies we like in the 1950’s when he was a student, ”Computers were massive pieces of furniture then. One machine was transported by semi-truck and a whole room had to be reserved for its use.” The department didn’t even have a machine of its own. ”There were no pre-existing programs, so we had to do a lot of work with programming and numerical analysis.
Students made up puch-hole cards and brought them to the operator who collected them twice a day. They didn’t touch a computer at all.” Auvo Häkkinen began his computer science studies in 1980. ”They had just invented the copying machine and the automatic teller machine. A calculator with trigonometric functions was a big deal. Microcomputers were just starting to be built and no one had a machine at home,” Auvo remembers.
Now acting as a lecturer for the department, Auvo was witness to the rapid development in the field. ”The boom happened so fast we weren’t even aware of it.” He continues, ”Now students hang out here and screw around on the network systems. In my day, we sat in the library and worked out equations.”
Minna Romppanen has studied computer science for three years now. For her, a computer is just as familiar a tool as a pencil. She describes computer science as the study of development and application of information technology, examining the algorithmic processes by which information is depicted and modified. ”The basics date back to the 60’s and they don’t change even if technology develops.” The fundamental idea is to figure out how humans can automize things most efficiently.
Know Any International Students?
Each year over 300 exchange and degree students enter the University of Helsinki as international students. This year, the greatest number of incoming exchange students came from EU countries – Britain and Germany, in particular – on the Erasmus exchange program. Students coming on their own initiative mostly originate from Estonia. Although the university now has over 1,200 foreign students enrolled, few Finnish students can say they have met any of them. The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is a HYY-sponsored organization which trains support persons to meet incoming students at the airport and ensure that their experience in Finland gets off to a good start.
Karine Herman, a student from France, remembers her first day, ”I took a taxi to Porthania and they directed me to Domus. Then I went to the wrong building and my key wouldn’t fit. Everything seemed to go wrong. I could have really used someone’s help.” Only a few volunteers showed up for an ESN training session in early May. Sami Krogerus, ESN Chair, encourages anyone interested to get involoved. ”It would be ideal if the support person studied the same subject as the incoming student, but that’s impossible with the current number of volunteers.” Contact Sami at his e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org. for more information.
The numbers of Finns leaving Helsinki to study abroad each year still far outnumbers the numbers of incoming foreign students. 50 Finns left for France and 72 went to Germany this last academic year, while only 9 French and 26 German students came to Finland. This incongruity is becoming problematic for the University of Helsinki, as European universities aren’t so interested in maintaining such one-sided programs.
A Dignified Floora Day
May 13th is Floora Day, a day Finnish students gather at the Kumtähti field in Toukola and bring in the Spring. This year, as the band began to play, a mere handful of student intelligentsia gathered together in flowered dresses and spring suits to sing the Finnish national anthem, Maamme. The white capped crowd of Floora 1996 resembled a bourgeois graduation party – everyone on their best behavior considering the Rector was present.
Speeches, folk dances and Eino Leino’s poetry rounded out the annual celebration. ”This is a lovely, cultivated tradition that should stay as it is. Definitely not the place for hooligans in faculty overalls.” comment singers from the Savo Student Nation. Mari Wiiskanta, organizer of the event, laments the lack of participants, ”Nothing seems to inspire university students any more. They need to be shaken awake – go through a total metamorphasis.”
Challenges of Problem-based Medicine
Students of medicine participating in the new parallel `problem-based’ program meet each Monday with their tutor group and create a case study. This week, their task is to discern whether Robinson Crusoe could have really survived on a deserted island eating only bananas, like the book claims. The group meets several times throughout the week to brainstrom a solution to the problem. In Crusoe’s case, important factors to be considered include vitamins, minerals, nutrition and physical performance.
Johanna Kujansuu explains, ”We write down everything that comes to mind. It’s a bit of a shouting match.” Outside of a few lectures and tutor group meetings, the students are free to plan their study week themselves.”We live, study and spend all of our free time together, ” says Kristian Koivisto, another member of the 14 person group. Students feel the problem-based orientation has greatly improved their team work and information retrieval skills. What kind of doctor will the program produce? ”A good problem-solver,” is their answer.
Sex in Downtown Helsinki
The turnout for this year’s sExhibition surprised even the organizers. The Old Student House, Vanha, hosted the event for the first time and brought in a record 10,000 people. Although those visitors that left during the day may have been disappointed with the dildo stores and ad-hoc Peep show booths, the last show of the night – the S/M Lesbo Act – was certainly worth the 50 FIM admission price
A new addition this year was the table for the `Pro’ support network, a recently registered organization for prostitutes in Helsinki. Brochures in Finnish, Estonian and Russian were available about their services. Pro’s representative said that the network works to inform its members about health care and personal safety. Vanha’s Manager Vesa Ristimäki was pleased with the turnout and the beer sales that went with it, ”Lots of couples.”
The Devil Comes to Suomenlinna
Suomenlinna, the island off the Helsinki coast containing the Finnish fortress, will once again act as a theatrical stage this summer as The Q Theatre performs their adaption of the Mihail Bulgakov novel The Devil Comes To Moscow. The play tells the story of the literary and theatrical sect in Moscow and of the mysterious Professor Woland who frequents their company. The director, Antti Raivio, came upon the book during his theater studies and wished he had written the story himself because it so perfectly suited his understanding of dramaturgy.
Together with Sami Parkkinen, Raivio worked to adapt the book to the stage in such a way that nothing would be left out. He particularly wanted to draw the audience into the themes that move throughout the play. ”During Woland’s observational trip, situations arise in which people have the opportunity to stop and look at themselves. Woland acts as a representative of everything from complaicence to total consciousness. For those that lead a more uncoventional life, including the ability to admit the evil inside themselves, it is easier to confront him,” Raivio explains.
Because the words `devil’ and `Moscow’ both evoke strong images: Q-Theater chose the original title of the book for their play:The Master and Margarita begins June 19th. Boats to the island leave regularly from the Market Square and Katajanokka.
Translation by Pamela Kaskinen