ITC’s research activities cover the full spectrum of communication – human-to-human, machine-to-machine, human-to-machine, interaction between society and human, as well as related enabling technologies.
New professors specialising in signal processing, software development, communications engineering, English literature, and Russian language and culture joined us in 2020. New professors of practice were appointed in the fields of system-on-chip design and journalism. In addition, we welcomed new tenure-track faculty members in power electronics, computing, mathematics, applied mathematics, communication sciences, journalism and information studies.
Our project portfolio continued to grow, but as some projects were delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the use of external funding decreased from the previous year.
Of all the competitive domestic research grants we received in 2020, the most significant was the UNITE flagship programme coordinated by the University of Eastern Finland. The programme seeks to build resilience, redefine value networks and enable meaningful experiences through interactions between forests, people and machines. We secured three FIRI grants for expanding and upgrading our research infrastructures: the Research Infrastructure for Future Wireless Communication Networks (FUWIRI); Media – Arts – Games – Interaction – Computing – Science (MAGICS) and Printed Intelligence (PII). FUWIRI and PII were also included in Finland’s national roadmap of research infrastructures.
APROPOS, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN), was launched in the Electrical Engineering Unit in 2020 and is coordinated by ITC. We received further ITN funding under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme for three research programmes hosted by the Computing Unit: PROTrEIN, AERO-TRAIN and PLENOPTIMA, which is coordinated by ITC.
Professor of Gamification Juho Hamari was named a highly cited researcher for 2020 by Clarivate / Web of Science, an exclusive distinction awarded to 0.1% of the world’s researchers.
The degree programmes we offer continued to attract a growing number of both first-choice applicants and other applicants in the main 2020 admissions cycle in the spring and in the call for applications to international master’s programmes launched at the turn of the year. The number of study places available in our programmes was increased by 66 in 2020. A further 100 places will be made available in 2021 and 90 in 2022. As a new route into higher education, we offered performance-based admission to programmes in information technology, computer science, mathematics and statistical data analysis. In addition, we introduced new entry options with Finnish as a second working language (English, Russian, German and Swedish) to enable students to expand their multilingual and multicultural competencies.
Our activities to develop education focused mainly on our English-language programmes and doctoral education. We established a new multidisciplinary Master’s Degree Programme in Sustainable Digital Life that explores sustainability and accessibility. We introduced a new specialisation in Computing and Electrical Engineering for students enrolled in the Bachelor’s Degree Programme in Science and Engineering. Our range of doctoral programmes was rethought to capture untapped synergies. As a result, we reduced the number of programmes by two and reconsidered the organisational placement of different fields of research. We prepared for the launch of the joint Doctoral Programme in Plenoptic Imaging, which will be funded by the European Social Fund.
We continued our resource-based development of curricula and course offerings and exploited synergies to offer courses to groups made up of degree-seeking students and adult learners who are pursuing continuous learning (for example, within the framework of FITech and JOTOS). We maintained active collaboration within ITC as well as with other faculties at Tampere University and with Tampere University of Applied Sciences. We continued to increase the delivery of teaching in a virtual environment. We launched two new open online courses titled Programming I and Introduction to Sustainable Digital Life and started designing several others. We also began to develop new online study modules on accessibility, machine learning and machine translation.
A special emphasis was placed on collaborative development efforts and providing enhanced support for the use of information systems. To support remote teaching, we offered training for using remote teaching and student activation tools for all staff and students at Tampere University. The course Introduction to Computing was likewise made available to the entire university community. Besides cooperating, among other things, with Aalto University to develop the Plussa learning environment, we worked together with other units at Tampere University to develop instructional tools, draw up instructions for assigning codes for programmes and courses, and started the process of describing competencies from an ontological perspective.
Tampere University and Nokia Corporation launched the System-on-Chip (SoC) Hub in November 2020. The new hub of expertise will accelerate the development of edge computing and 5G networks and create a whole new ecosystem for SoC design. Together with Nokia, our researchers who specialise in wireless communications contributed actively to 5G standardisation. The SoC Hub is funded under Business Finland’s Nokia Veturi programme and a broad co-innovation project involving a consortium made up of Tampere University and companies.
The research groups at ITC are active in generating open source code. A number of their projects are known the world over, with the results employed by both industry and research institutions. Openly accessible datasets and data that is used as a reference, for example, in algorithm development support the transition to open science.
We have several ongoing projects that seek to promote the social inclusion and participation of special groups. We are, for example, working to make legal documents more readable with the help of cartoons, enhancing the audio description of multimodal resources to make them accessible to visually impaired audiences, developing Easy Finnish-Swedish together with the target group, increasing the opportunities for societal participation among the Russian-speaking population in Finland, and developing adult immigrants’ Finnish-language skills for everyday life in collaboration with the providers of integration services. A project titled Journalistic public work in the digital environment brings together researchers and journalists to explore the skills needed to interact with an audience in a digital environment and determine how these skills affect journalists’ career prospects and how they could be developed in cooperation with researchers. In 2020, we also established a new research group, Tampere Accessibility Unit (TACCU).
Our researchers specialising in electrical energy engineering carry out projects to develop sustainable energy solutions and business models and contribute, among other things, to related policy making. Research and innovation activities in this field are developed in the Tampere region within the framework of SENECC, the Smart Energy Systems Competence Center established by Tampere University and the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. We have also taken active part in societal debate and discussion concerning the pricing of electricity transmission, served on related working groups set up by the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, and participated in the national implementation of the EU Directive 2019/944 that sets out common rules for the internal market for electricity.