The new era towards a sustainable future for the Schools of Technology and Health Care & Social Services

The new era towards a sustainable future for the Schools of Technology and Health Care & Social Services

New directors for VAMK’s School of Technology and School of Health Care and Social Services started in their roles in August. Both of them are seasoned experts in their respective fields. They aim to enhance the operations of their units to better meet the challenges of the future. Key themes include the development of education and research activities, as well as deepening collaboration with businesses.

A new era began in the School of Health Care and Social Services as well as in the School of Technology at Vaasa University of Applied Sciences when the new directors started on August 14, 2023. Ville Isoherranen, Doctor of Science in Technology, took over as the Director, School of Technology, while Hanna-Kaisa Pernaa, Doctor of Administrative Services, assumed the position of Director, School of Health Care and Social Services.

Both directors have extensive practical experience in their respective fields. Hanna-Kaisa Pernaa brings with her a strong understanding of the social and health sector due to her background as a nurse. Ville Isoherranen, on the other hand, possesses a multifaceted perspective on the business world. Throughout his career, he has held leadership roles in large international corporations as well as small technology startups.

Both the world of higher education and research are familiar to both of them. Isoherranen previously served as the head of the Technology and Natural Resources Unit at Oulu University of Applied Sciences. He has also led research activities at the International Research Institute of the University of Oulu. On the other hand, Pernaa previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Vaasa and coordinated various research collaborations, including those with the Ostrobothnia Welfare Area.

Broad-spectrum development work in the School of Health Care and Social Services

In her new role, Pernaa enjoys being involved in a wide range of activities. As the Director, she gets to respond to the evolving and changing needs of the region and society by training professionals and future experts. From the perspective of unit development, Pernaa started at VAMK at just the right time, as the School of Health Care and Social Services is embarking on curriculum reform simultaneously with the development of the entire VAMK’s new strategy, and these initiatives are partly aligned.

“In the School of Health Care and Social Services, our common mission is to frame the desired future of our operations and define the development paths to achieve it,” says Pernaa.

Pernaa believes in collaboration in defining the development direction. “The entire staff participates in determining the direction. My role is to act as a compass and guide, facilitate the development paths, assess goal achievement, and monitor progress. Goals also change over time, so guiding doesn’t end at the first harbour,” reflects Pernaa.

The most important partner for expertise in the field of technology now and in the future

In his new role, Isoherranen wants to support the staff. “I believe that enabling success is the key. I aim to remove barriers to productivity so that everyone can succeed and be motivated. Together, we achieve results, and we want to constantly improve,” says Isoherranen.

Just like in the School of Health Care and Social Services, the School of Technology is engaged in determined development work on various fronts. Isoherranen explains that the redesign of Bachelor and Master level degree programs is underway, along with the expansion of continuous learning modules towards year-round, location-independent learning. “Timely graduation and the development of the study guidance model are at the core of what we do,” tells Isoherranen.

Vaasa University of Applied Sciences has long invested in various pathways from secondary education to higher education. “These pathways are continually developed in collaboration with secondary education. It would be great if more and more people discovered this great opportunity to study at VAMK through different routes. VAMK is an excellent choice for those who want to become engineers,” says Isoherranen.

Technology students have access to excellent learning environments at Technobothnia’s teaching and research laboratories. “I see that the expertise you gain here helps solving the challenges of climate change. We have the practical skills needed for the green transition. Engineers graduating from VAMK, including international experts, find very good employment opportunities in the companies of the region,” tells Isoherranen.

Strong interaction with local businesses and organisations

In both the social and health care sector and the technology sector, collaboration with various businesses and organisations in the region is important. Isoherranen and Pernaa agree on this point. Collaboration takes place through research and development projects, as well as various customised training programs and business services.

“We are a valuable partner for local businesses. In the field of technology, VAMK’s strengths include robotics in mechanical engineering, as well as various aspects of electrical and energy technology. Our Energy Talent programs serve the needs of both students and local businesses. They provide technology students with internship and job opportunities in their field, while businesses get skilled professionals tailored to their needs,” says Isoherranen.

Pernaa emphasises the importance of strengthening interaction among regional stakeholders to better address diverse needs. “I hope for courage in engaging with different stakeholders, to among other things, being able to secure research projects and funding,” Pernaa reflects, adding, “Local employers also play a significant role in shaping the direction of education development.


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