Construction innovations took six students on a trip to Japan

The students got to present their winning works to the management of a large company in Tokyo in July.
Students Valtteri Saastamoinen and Gihan Kodithuwakku taking part in the demo.
University of Oulu students Valtteri Saastamoinen and Gihan Kodithuwakku formed a team whose idea is to utilize drone squadrons for difficult construction sites.

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles, i.e. drones, at construction sites and the use of augmented reality in the design of buildings brought victory in a product development competition aimed at students of the University of Oulu. The university organized the competition together with the Japanese construction giant Shimizu Corporation.

In the Shimizu Innovation Contest, new solutions for humanity's needs were devised. The students from the top two teams presented their product demo to the management of Shimizu Corporation in Tokyo in July.

In the competition, the students' task was to come up with innovative solutions for the needs of construction, work and living.

"Students came up with ideas on how drone squadrons could be used in difficult construction sites, such as bridge sites or the construction of tall towers. How could drones be used when people are not at the construction site, like at night, or what kind of information could they collect during the day, even though there are builders on the site," says Kari-Pekka Heikkinen, Professor of Practice at the University of Oulu, who sparred with the students participating in the competition.

Students Valtteri Saastamoinen and Gihan Kodithuwakku participated in the ideation of the work.

"In the second winning work, the students came up with ideas on how augmented reality could be used on construction sites. For example, if the building is already at the stage where it has a floor, the customer could go into the building, put on virtual glasses and see what the home under construction is like when furnished. In the virtual world, (s)he could move, for example, the positions of the kitchen stove or electrical boxes. The information would go directly to the design office and the electrical drawings," describes Heikkinen.

Nurul Absar, Miska Myllylä, Atte Porvari and Juho Vatanen were involved in preparing the second winning work.

In total, 26 students from the University of Oulu, one student from Oulu University of Applied Sciences and a couple of professionals from the construction industry participated in the competition. The students started ideation in January with the product development course, during which ideas were worked on and refined. In the end, six students were able to present their product demo in Tokyo.

According to Heikkinen, students from different fields come up with new solutions without prejudice together, such as whether seaweed that produces electricity can be used like solar panels, or how shapes, lighting and materials create well-being. The competition was open to all degree students and postgraduate students of the University of Oulu, regardless of field. Students from seven different degree programs participated in the competition.

The competition also served as a pilot for the multidisciplinary innovation and product development master's program being developed at the University of Oulu. The next course pilot will be implemented in cooperation with Finnish companies, focusing on developing bold new innovations through multidisciplinary student projects.

Read more: Japan’s Shimizu Corporation partnering with Finland’s University of Oulu to drive innovation that will make society more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable

Last updated: 28.7.2023