How I ended up pursuing Wireless Communications Engineering

I hail from Rwanda. I have always had a fervent desire to learn more about the Nordic nations, but I never really imagined that I would end up doing my academic studies here.
A boy interacting with a statue of a policeman

An old friend was the starting point of my journey to the University of Oulu

Being conversant with Finland, I was initially captivated by all the unique characteristics that set this region of the world distinctive. Nevertheless, in the first place, I had not selected Finland as one of my intended final destinations for my graduate studies. This was due to the notion that nations like Finland are perceived by some as isolated untamed locations known for nightless summers and bitterly cold winters. After all, three years ago, when I learned about the university of Oulu, everything in my head started over.

It was back in the summer of 2019 when my former co-worker and all-time buddy bid me farewell when he was heading to Oulu to pursue his master's degree. Being the first person I knew to commit to continuing his education in an arctic nation, it seemed like the less-travelled path to me.

My interest was then piqued by this information about the new university on my list. Although the internet was useful, I was fortunate to have a reliable source of information, someone who was already enrolled at the institution and who acquired first-hand knowledge of the calibre and magnificence of the varsity. I, therefore, started learning everything I could about the school and its programs that were relevant to my background.

Memories with a friend before he left for Oulu

Linking my prior experiences to my endeavours moving forward

I had previously studied both electronics and telecommunications, although my interest lay more in the latter. My future academic pursuits enabled me to limit my options. In deciding what and where to continue my studies, I was quite selective. In addition, I earned my bachelor's degree in 2017.

A year later I began working as a flight operator for a company that uses drones for logistics. I was fortunately exposed to brand-new practical technological applications as well as some developments in the telecommunications sector. Observing a drone fly autonomously over several kilometres sparked my curiosity in finding ways to understand these powerful abilities of communications engineering.

This emerging utilization of cellular connections, mobile antennas, satellite systems, and other various technological breakthroughs gave me a clear picture of what the future holds.

I wish that one day I will be able to contribute to the development of some latest tech. That is why I made up my mind to quit my cherished job and attend school instead. In that sense, I longed for a novel approach to learning and a curriculum tailored to the demands of the modern workplace.

I was looking for a school that was committed to fostering the next generation of scientists and technological innovators. The University of Oulu fits the bill. I thought that the Wireless Communications Engineering programme was a great fit for me as it is pertinent to my former studies, professional experience, and next academic and professional aspirations.

My new buddy and myself in Tellus after completing our first assignment

I am back in class again

The anticipated day finally arrived in September. My graduate studies have begun. That day, the trip I had always wanted to take stopped being a fantasy. Though it was quite difficult to get started because I had to make up for the five years that passed since I discontinued attending school in 2017.

I came to realise that I had lost track of the fundamental engineering concepts that all our programme's students must master before moving on to more advanced courses that become progressively more enjoyable. These prerequisite courses are intended to get you ready for higher-level courses that are ideally suited to your area of specialization and your broader academic interests.

As far as teaching methods are concerned, the new system is unquestionably different from my previous schooling. Many factors contribute to this. A student-centred model of education is used for lectures. Along with the flexibility and freedom that students are entitled to, as well as the ability to customize their degrees to suit their long-term goals. Here a student’s study plan is not curved in stone. Of course, you must complete some required courses, but you are free to personalize your programme and advance your skills by enrolling in extra-elective classes.

As a result, students are uplifted and with their combined skill sets and academic knowledge, graduates are extremely motivated to work as future technology designers and developers.

I can finally see how all the theoretical materials I learned as an undergraduate are practically used. The primary objective of this university is to assist students in learning through practice. Students use a computer simulation that imitates how a system would work in the actual world when hands-on practice is not possible. Furthermore, most courses have project-based homework assignments. These tasks aim to reflect how the workplace will be following graduation. Although they are somewhat difficult, completing them successfully teaches you a lot.

Above all, professors go above and beyond to ensure that you reach your academic objectives. I am always struck by the way teachers here are incredibly responsive and sympathetic. Reading an email from a teacher whose response came extremely quickly after the request and during the weekend surprised me. I used to think that a university professor could only speak directly to the "class representative," who then passed the word on to the students. I did not find that old hierarchical culture here whatsoever.

Key takeaways

I am certain that I arrived at the proper place based on my observations so far. This academic adventure will get better as time goes on, and the beginning is surely promising.

All in all, because of the fast-paced teaching methods employed here, as a freshman you could feel overburdened with the number of courses you intend to complete in a set amount of time. You should not overextend yourself because of this. The programme timetables are carefully planned to support your ability to study while maintaining your health and other personal responsibilities. Once you fall into that trap, your lecturers and classmates will be more than happy to assist you.

About the author

Egide Kubwayo Rutaganira from Rwanda is in his first year of the Wireless Communications Engineering master's programme. Though he had never ridden a bike before February 2022, he has been enjoying it in Oulu. The major impetus for taking cycling lessons was an application to study in Finland.