Soft skills, hard questions

We have a saying at Aalto University Design Factory that even the best processor is useless if the user interface prevents taking advantage of it. Successfully cultivating soft skills – the interface of expertise – requires asking some tough questions about priorities, measurements and Californian experiments.

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Tua BjörklundSoft skills, hard questions

Research finds opportunities for improvement in energy saving design

Most work in sustainable product development focuses on energy and resource efficient design. While this is a valuable and worthy tactic, it does not always result in actual energy saving during device use. This is because users may not want to, or know how to, use the device in an energy efficient manner. In fact, over 30% of device energy consumption can be determined by user behavior, not just the design itself. Profs. Katja & Kevin, alongside colleagues at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), have developed a way to help designers to better understand and integrate user behavior with energy efficient design goals.

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adminResearch finds opportunities for improvement in energy saving design

New publications fresh out of the oven!

Designers of complex systems such as large engines, airplanes, or manufacturing systems have unique struggles when compared to designers designing simpler and smaller systems. Any decision will have a system wider hard-to-understand impact, the system lifecycle can be decades, which means a series of expected and unexpected changes, etc. In recent work Prof. Katja with colleagues from Seoul National University have been tackling this issue from product architecture point of view. What should a system architect take into the account when deciding on the system elements, their connectivity and modularity?

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Tua BjörklundNew publications fresh out of the oven!

Modularity research over the last decade

New publication out! If you do research in any area, you are familiar with the fragmented nature of it. It is hard to grab a big picture of the field and how all the work really links together or builds on each other. In a journal article just published in the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design, professors Kevin and Katja, together with international colleagues, stitch together pieces of research in the field of modularity over the past decade an even more. It is a one stop starting point for anyone new to the field.
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Tua BjörklundModularity research over the last decade

Kevin Otto to Give Keynote Address at DESIGN 2016 on Design Research Adoption

The upcoming DESIGN 2016 Conference will feature a keynote  address on successful adoption of design research from Design Factory’s Kevin Otto, Adjunct Professor from the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The DESIGN 2016 Conference will be held in Dubrovnik Croatia on 16-19 May, and is part of a series that occurs every other year held by the Design Society.  It is a premiere event for the design research community in Europe.

Kevin’s presentation ‘Industry Adoption of Design Methods: Where is the Crisis?’ is a reflection and recommendation to researchers in the field on how to get their design research successfully used in practice.

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Tua BjörklundKevin Otto to Give Keynote Address at DESIGN 2016 on Design Research Adoption

Courses and workshops: Pedagogical development at Aalto Design Factory

Alongside the pedagogical development services currently offered at Design Factory through courses, we sometimes get special request for pedagogical development workshops. Recently ADF was happy to welcome a group of Korean high school teachers looking to improve their pedagogical skills in an environment fostering entrepreneurship.

The workshop, in which the teachers reflected on what good teaching is, and what are some entrepreneurial skills, was based on the work by Tua Björklund, Elina Kähkönen and Maria Clavert.


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Marcela AcostaCourses and workshops: Pedagogical development at Aalto Design Factory

Researchers’ breakfast 8.3.

Come celebrate Women’s Day, share breakfast and listen to what our power ladies have been up to studying teaching development! ADF’s Maria Clavert will talk about pedagogical change agency, and prof. Katrina Nordström and Anni Laakkonen will tell about their course pilot and learning goal assessment.

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Tua BjörklundResearchers’ breakfast 8.3.

What’s up at the Aquarium

With some new additions to the “regulars” here at the researchers’ Aquarium on the 2nd floor, we’d like to update who’s doing what. Read on, and do come talk to us when you see us in the building!

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Tua BjörklundWhat’s up at the Aquarium

What works: Research-based handy tips and tricks for the curious professor – Part 9

Series part 9: Facilitated feedback sessions

Facilitated feedback sessions throughout a course doing group work is a great tool to reduce assumptions, resolve problems, and promote communication. Satu Rekonen, from Design Factory developed the “I like/I wish” method for facilitating a feedback session in a safe and comfortable environment. Visit for more information on how to run it in your classroom, and make sure to click on the video for students’ testimonials on the experience. For questions, please contact,, or

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Marcela AcostaWhat works: Research-based handy tips and tricks for the curious professor – Part 9