"Working at university, you keep studying all the time" - Eetu-Pekka Heikkinen is the 2023 The Coolest Teacher of the Year

Coolest Teacher of 2023, Eetu-Pekka Heikkinen, utilizes a variety of teaching and ways of completing courses in his teaching. Even after a long career at the university, Heikkinen is inspired by the development of teaching, guidance, and himself.

Eetu-Pekka Heikkinen

The Board of the Student Union of the University of Oulu (OYY) selected Eetu-Pekka Heikkinen, University Lecturer in Process Metallurgy, as the Coolest Teacher of the Year 2023.

"It feels good to receive positive feedback from the students. All feedback is important, but this is especially motivating," says Heikkinen, who is delighted with the award. The recognition came as a surprise to him. "I represent a relatively small field, so I don't teach a big group of students."

Heikkinen is basically responsible for undergraduate teaching in the metallurgy research unit. Process metallurgy is one of the specializing areas in process engineering.

"It's nice to learn more about things you are interested in" Heikkinen’s first job at the Oulu university was as a teaching assistant in the 1990s. The length of his career is reflected in his current office, whose decor Heikkinen describes as the antithesis of a paperless office. The room's shelves are full of folders and the tables are piled
high with papers.

A large part of Heikkinen's working time is spent supervising theses. "I calculated from Laturi that I currently have 18 theses under supervision. Of course, I'm not the only supervisor."

Heikkinen cites time management as one of the challenges in teaching. In process engineering, the topic of a bachelor's thesis can be freely chosen from a wide range of options, one of which is process metallurgy. The number of students supervised each year therefore varies from a few to almost twenty.

In addition to supervising students, Heikkinen says the curricular work is interesting. "I like to think about how the courses should be run and how they relate to each other." In the future, he would like to be involved in designing courses that combine hydrogen engineering and metallurgy, for example.

In addition to developing the content of the studies, Heikkinen is keen to improve his own skills. "When you work at a university, you keep learning all the time. It's nice to learn more about things you are interested in."

Heikkinen has studied university pedagogy and has completed pedagogical studies at the University of Applied Sciences. He sees teaching and teaching development in the field of technology as complementing each other from different perspectives.

Presence should be put to good use

Students who proposed Heikkinen as a good teacher mentioned that he uses the latest technology in his teaching. According to Heikkinen, online teaching and using technology needs to be carefully planned. "You have to decide which things will be described as ready-made videos and online tasks that students can do whenever they want."

Heikkinen stresses that the limited time available for face-to-face teaching must be used effectively. "It is not worth using time for lectures that students spend on campus in a teaching situation."

According to Heikkinen, a retired professor of process metallurgy Jouko Härkki was a good example of how to engage students in the teaching situation. In submissions from students, Heikkinen was described as having a "good grip" on teaching in the classroom.

Heikkinen is also an active supporter of the Process Guild, a subject association in his field. He sees the associations to be a very important part of students' professional growth. "Student organisations do important work to involve students in the university and the scientific community. This would not be possible for teachers without the work of the organisations," says Heikkinen. "Whether it's the Student Union or a smaller subject association, it's nice to see common goals."


  • Eetu-Pekka Heikkinen
  • University Lecturer at the Process Metallurgy Research Unit
  • PhD in Technology 2013
  • Originally from Oulu


  • The 2023 Coolest Teacher Award was presented at the Annos 64 annual party on February 24th 2024.
  • Any student at the University of Oulu could nominate a university teacher in any field of education as the Coolest Teacher.
  • The selection criteria included enthusiasm, professionalism, ease of monitoring course progress, explanation of course objectives, and varied and inspiring use of assessment methods.
  • This was the eighth time the prize was awarded. In the past, the prize has been awarded to Jukka-Pekka Ranta, Elina Niemitalo-Haapola, Katja Sutela, Vesa-Matti Pohjanen, Oliver Jarde, Matti Niemelä, and Matti Kangaspuoskari.
  • The election was made by the Board of the Student Union of the University of Oulu on February 1st 2024.

Text: Kalle Parviainen, Oulu Student Magazine
Photo: Tuuli Heikura, Oulu Student Magazine

The article was originally published in the Oulu Student Magazine.

Last updated: 29.2.2024