Program Quality Manager Ville Halkola has worked for Suunto Oy for nearly two years. He describes working with sports watches, dive computers and precision instruments favored by adventurers and athletes as highly invigorating.
After graduating from Tampere University of Technology over two decades ago, Halkola has made a career specializing in technology testing. Upon starting work at Suunto, Halkola wanted to enhance his competence in artificial intelligence.
“Choosing where to study was easy, because I had excellent earlier experiences of Aalto PRO coaching – I have for example Aalto PRO’s Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certificate,” Halkola explains.
“But choosing a program was not that simple. I was interested in the Diploma in Artificial Intelligence program, but just understanding the AI field was not enough for me, I also wanted to learn how to apply the things I learned in practice. Was this even possible with no background in coding? I called Aalto PRO to find out,” Halkola says with a laugh.
Aalto PRO tailor-made a coaching package to meet Halkola’s needs. He ended up participating in two programs back-to-back: Python and Artificial Intelligence, the Basics of Coding, and Diploma in Artificial Intelligence.
“It turned out that Aalto PRO had originally planned the two programs so that they would make a good combo. Participating in both alongside work was challenging, but doable – and the outcome was highly rewarding,” Halkola emphasizes.
Halkola depicts Python and Artificial Intelligence, the Basics of Coding as a highly practical program, where participants started coding straight away.
“I had no prior experience in coding, albeit I had picked up some basics back in the day at university. Despite my limited skills, I was able to advance along with the others. It went really well, it was just like climbing up a staircase,” he reminisces.
“The program exceeded my expectations. After just a few months I was able to build what I felt was a fairly complex bit of coding. It was a really positive surprise,” Halkola adds.
The program exceeded my expectations. After just a few months I was able to build what I felt was a fairly complex bit of coding. It was a really positive surprise."
Participants also had Aalto University students helping them in the coding work, which Halkola describes as a marvelous example of a win-win situation.
“We had extra hands coaching us – and it gave the students an opportunity to network with seasoned professionals. Both parties won. It was a great idea,” he points out.
“To my surprise, I also noticed that coding is creative work, which is a rather rare treat these days,” he continues.
According to Halkola, the Diploma in Artificial Intelligence program was a genuine eye-opener.
“The same positive experience continued in this program. Top experts guided our way as we immersed ourselves in the world of AI. We also had interesting guest speakers from industry, and all the participants were experienced professionals. This led to highly beneficial discussions and overall a very rewarding program,” Halkola ponders.
The Diploma in Artificial Intelligence program offered a broad perspective to business opportunities brought forth by AI – and it also offered the practical approach that Halkola was looking for.
“With this program I realized just how large the world of analytical tools is. AI brings a massive amount of new approaches alongside traditional statistical methods – things we can analyze, translate into data and bring to decision-making tables,” he underlines.
“In addition to offering a very thorough outlook of AI, we also had the opportunity to develop concrete AI applications in this program,” he adds.
Top experts guided our way as we immersed ourselves in the world of AI."
As his project work in the Diploma in Artificial Intelligence program Halkola built an AI program that reads Suunto’s customer feedback for chosen products. It goes through a massive amount of free text data and supports product development by identifying the most pressing issues for customers.
“AI enables data mining in a way that’s impossible with traditional statistic methods. Reading thousands of feedbacks and creating a summary would be highly time consuming, but the AI software I built can create a general summary in about an hour,” Halkola notes.
Halkola confirms that combining the two programs was a good choice.
“The programs were an excellent match. Python and artificial intelligence gave a great foundation for Diploma in Artificial Intelligence. I was very pleased with the outcome. It was a lot of work, but it lifted my capability to an entirely new level,” Halkola affirms.
At work, Halkola started implementing lessons he learned straight away. During the programs he for example built an AI application for D5 dive computer product development, which is currently in test use at Suunto. The application monitors five parameters calculated from the product’s features and looks for possible defective equipment for further inspection.
“The machine learning model I built turned out to be astonishingly smart in initial test runs. Now we have significantly fewer well-working products ending up with the possibly defective ones,” Halkola remarks.
“The application I built was quite simple, but for me it was a significant step. It was a great experience to see how soon you can start building applications on your own. The huge potential of AI opened up to me in a very concrete way,” Halkola explains.
“Developing applications also helped me comprehend just how much we can do with AI, and also identify risks related to AI,” he highlights.
Halkola says he is pleased to endorse both programs. He recommends combining the two programs to anyone who is interested in getting hands-on experience of developing AI applications.
“I warmly recommend both programs. If you already have good basic knowledge, Diploma in Artificial Intelligence will provide you with an excellent, in-depth overview of the current state and future possibilities of AI – and if your basic skills need a boost before this, Python and Ártificial intelligence is an excellent stepping stone for obtaining software skills. I am living proof that it can be done, even at this career stage,” Halkola confirms.