Wrapping up IT Seminar, Edition XIV

So, now that the dust has settled, I’d like to offer my views on the fourteenth IT Seminar for Students.

It all started in 2006, when my boss Paavo Lehessalo and his colleague Lars Bøgetoft of Copenhagen North had an idea of a student-led, easy to organize intensive week. The first Seminar was in the spring term of 2006, and it proved to work well straight out of the box. In fact, it worked so well there has been no need to edit the structure in any way.

Since the eighth seminar the participants have been stable: Copenhagen North from Denmark, Universidad Europea in Spain, HES-SO in Switzerland, and Haaga-Helia. Each country has one day to present something on a topic of their choice, and it’s the students who do both the teaching in the morning and the workshops in the afternoon. The days are invariably interesting and the topics in the fourteen seminars have been very wide-ranging, from monitoring beehive activivity via microphones to games programming in Excel.

This time around, in Madrid, the Spanish students presented games programming in Unity with sprites, as well as how to make sounds for games using Waveform, Tracktion and Vital. The students had prepared really well and presented a cohesive view on how to start from the very basics and arrive at a game demo complete with sounds.

Game demo in action

The Finnish day focused on Internet of Things. The aim was to build a GPS enabled box that had a sensor for air pressure and temperature, presented both on an LCD display on the box and on a web interface. The device idea had been arrived at after having a look at what was available – the corona situation and global parts shortage dictated that this was possible, while long range WLAN (LORA) devices were not available. Hence the box had to rely on a mobile hotspot for its data connection. Anyway, the boxes worked, teams could see the location of all boxes on the web, and the day ended with a treasure hunt for a box that wasn’t on the map, but whose coordinates were given.

To learn how the box is built, please see this page.

Building the IoT Box

The Swiss team, on Thursday, offered their presentation on the ethics of hacking, followed by capture the flag exercises in steganography and cryptography. This was yet another day of things never done by the students, and they had much fun learning of the intricacies of hidden messages and finding them even in images. The three topics of the week illustrate the variety of material presented each week, and since there is no pre-Seminar sharing of material, every day comes across as an intense learning experience, going from 0 to 100 on a given topic in multinational teams.

Leaving Indra in the rain

On Friday we had a company visit, this time to Indra, a conglomerate with tens of thousands of employees. Treated to a presentation of Indra’s multifaceted industry efforts, we then had a tour of their facilities, and saw many an interesting device ranging from tiny integrated chips to a fifteen meter radar antenna. Indra’s presentation captured the attention of the students and resulted in many questions, hopefully also internships and employment of the student seminar participants in the future.

All in all, this was yet another successful implementation of the Seminar. At the first one in 2006, we decided to have one central theme: “How to be an IT professional”, and under that umbrella, anything goes. Teaching some other person always adds to one’s own professionalism, and here in the Seminar, students get to do just that. We don’t plan on changing anything for 2023, except the location. During the Seminar there is always one event that cannot be missed – the Faculty Dinner. Five minutes is spent on reviewing the current situation and deciding on who will arrange the next one, then three hours of collegial discussion on other forms of co-operation and joint ventures, over a hearty meal.

The home team students always go above and beyond in their eagerness for catering to the after hours entertainment of the incoming visitors. Usually the first 30 minutes of the second day is somewhat slow when students are still waking up after last night’s fun and games, but then the subject matter kicks in and off they go. Once again the Spanish home team did exceedingly well in this regard, and the visitors were treated to Madrid specialties every evening. Many thanks for their great work!

To sum it up, I asked participants to summarize the Seminar in under 30 words. Here are some of them.

“The IT seminar has been one of the best experiences of my life, we had tons of fun and learned a lot of new things. Thank you for all your work!!”


“I was amazed of the unity of our diverse team. We all helped each other during the seminar, and really found solidarity within our team also outside of the seminar.”


“The seminars were interesting and we learned a lot, but to me the biggest takeaway is the fantastic times we had and the amazing people we met there, including the rest of the Finnish team.”


“IT Seminar has been one of the best experiences in my life: technology, meeting new people and lots of activities. What more could you ask for?”


“The event was super cool, fun, and a great place to learn different aspects of IT from the others in a multicultural environment.”


“It was a very interesting week. Getting to teach and learn was quite enriching, but the best part was getting to know people from different cultures and backgrounds.”


See you in Sierre, Switzerland, in 2023!

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