ADF learning philosophy

Graduating university students are expected to utilize their disciplinary knowledge effectively in increasingly complex and interdisciplinary environments. They need to step out of their disciplinary silos to efficiently collaborate with people representing a multitude of disciplines and cultures, as well as to adopt a holistic view to confront the challenges presented by the working life.



Hosted by Aalto Design Factory



Participating courses



Arranging courses in ADF


Originating from product development and design education, Design Factory provides an environment that is suitable for experiential learning. The Design Factory approach combines disciplinary knowledge with design thinking and working life skills, such as collaborative working style, effective communication skills, and ability to implement theory to practice.


Teacher as a facilitator and student as an active knowledge creator

Information gathering and evaluation of various possible solutions

Visualizing, prototyping and experimenting with ideas

Having a real-life problem as a basis for learning

Interdisciplinary group work



Experimenting with design-based learning at ADF is supported with practical Teaching Partner mentoring. If you want to know more, contact Maria Clavert.

If you are interested in arranging your course, project or workshop at Design Factory, please contact Marcela Acosta and tell more about the experiment and aim of the course!


Rat Relay


Rat Relay is a three-day design thinking hackathon organized by the Design Factory Global Network. Each Design Factory brings a sponsored challenge that is rotated around the world before returning back home – just like in our interconnected world today, tasks are shared and split between teams working together near and far. The challenges are tackled in six 6-hour slots following the design thinking process: emphatizing, (re)defining, ideating, prototyping, testing and pitching solutions. The Rat Relay is open to everyone (although advance registration is required), and participants choose how many slots they wish to take part in.

In a Rat Relay you get first-hand experience of

  • collaborating locally in a multidisciplinary team – how do you work effectively with someone from a different background than what you are?
  • collaborating internationally – how do you get onboard a project that started somewhere else in the world, and how do you effectively communicate onward what you’ve done in your slot?
  • the design thinking process and some of the practices used at each stage – for example, how do you identify service touchpoints, what should you take into account when defining your project, and how do you make quick-n-dirty prototypes in less than 15 minutes?
  • having fun while addressing meaningful issues faced by real people around the world – what kind of leverage can we co-create to improve our communities and habitats?


There are annually ca. 40 different courses from all schools of Aalto University arranged at ADF. However, some of the courses and projects are more engaged and visible in the everyday life of ADF than others. These courses are most present, night and day.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROJECT is aimed at students interested in developing new products, solutions or consumer goods. The problems are given and sponsored by both domestic and foreign industrial companies, who are searching for innovative cooperation with the next generation of product developers. Over the recent years students have also pursued their own projects and startup ideas in PDP. 


Global Team-Based Design Innovation Course. The ME310 experience is like no other. In fact, it’s more of a lifestyle. Through learning-by-doing, students are solving real-life innovation problems with corporate partners, all while surrounded and supported by a close-knit group of course mates, teaching staff, coaches and 310 alumni. The course has been developed at Stanford University to teach the methodologies of Design Thinking.


International Design Business Management is educating global producers and leaders of innovation in new product, service and business development. The program builds on the premise that new wealth, meaningful social innovation and solutions are increasingly created in the spaces between disciplines and thus there is a need to educate interdisciplinary professionals.


Challenge Based Innovation challenges multidisciplinary student teams and their instructors collaborate with researchers at CERN to discover novel solutions for the future of humankind. The projects are an elaborate mixture, where the technologies derived from research at CERN meet societal, human-driven needs. The students come from a mix of disciplines – we believe that the wildest combinations will produce the most delightful outcomes!


Aaltonaut is a new Bachelor’s Degree Minor Studies Programme in Interdisciplinary Product Development. Aaltonaut courses rely on problem-based learning as well as interdisciplinary teamwork in hands-on projects. Aaltonaut aims to educate its students on different aspects of product development, reinforcing an entrepreneurial attitude, and improving working life skills.


Pack-Age is an intensive 15 ECTS packaging design course uniting design, business and engineering thinking to sustainability and project-based learning. Students work in interdisciplinary teams with real projects from the industry. Creative problem-solving is a key concept. The idea is to use student’s background and prior knowledge as a resource for creative group work. The project work is supported by a wide range of theme lectures.



Please contact these guys for more info