Satu Lipiäinen, LUT-University

Post-doctoral researcher, Energy, LUT School of Energy Systems

"Curiosity and the ability and willingness to learn are probably the most important qualities of a researcher."

Satu Lipiäinen, LUT University

What have you studied and what influenced this choice back in the day?

I studied energy technology at LUT. In my Master's degree, I focused on power engineering and minored in both mechanical engineering and economics. In high school, I found it challenging to choose where to study. I always liked school and my grades were good. I felt that the doors were open to all options, but it was difficult to find your own thing and the support to do so was not there. I felt that because I was interested in natural sciences, medical was the only direction that was acceptable. I ended up in engineering purely by chance. My current husband was studying mechanical engineering in Lappeenranta, and I had the chance to visit the campus while still in high school, and that made an impression on me. After my final year of high school I moved from Savo to Lappeenranta, and I don't regret this decision. The field of engineering offers a wide range of orientation options and is easy to find employment in. I think this option should be talked about more in upper secondary schools - also for girls.

How did you become a researcher?

The university world has always fascinated me. I like an environment where new ideas are circulated and information is also passed on to students. When I was a student, all the jobs in my field were university jobs. During my undergraduate studies, I got to give calculus tutorials to younger students and later I also worked as a research assistant. Already during my bachelor's degree, I had the dream of writing a doctoral thesis. Eventually I ended up doing my thesis on energy efficiency in the forest industry, and I continued with the same project until my doctoral thesis. I finished my dissertation last autumn and since then I have been working as a postdoctoral researcher.

What is the best thing about your job?

There are many good things. You learn something new every day and get to be involved in interesting projects that aim to provide solutions to current societal challenges. I also like the freedom of a researcher's job, at least in my workplace, you can influence your own working hours and ways of work. This flexibility has also allowed me to combine work and competitive sport.

What have been the highlights and key lessons of your career?

The biggest highlights have been tackling big and initially daunting challenges. Examples include the publication of my first scientific paper and defending my doctoral thesis. I think the most important lesson is the realisation that the world is not yet finished, things are complex, and the knowledge of even an experienced expert is very limited. Big things are achieved through hard work, in small bits and pieces, and through collaboration.

What are your plans and goals in the future?

I don't want to set a precise outlines for the future. I have a strong belief that there will be a demand for energy professionals in the future, both inside and outside the university. I look forward to interesting projects in the future and I will be open to the opportunities that present themselves.

What kind of person is suitable for your profession?

The work of an engineering researcher is demanding at times, but rewarding. Curiosity and the ability and willingness to learn are probably the most important qualities of a researcher. Research can be approached from many angles and not all researchers have the same strengths or skills. Some may have pure mathematical skills, others may have the ability to collect and analyse data, and others may have a mastery of the big picture and the ability to come up with new ideas.

Your greetings for young women in high school deliberating their future career?

Think about what interests you and what values are important to you. Explore different options, there are many other good paths besides the best-known ones. Remember that you are making a career choice for yourself and do not have to fulfil the wishes or expectations of others.

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