Greetings from Denmark

This blog entry comes from Copenhagen. Our university, Haaga-Helia, has for ten years been involved in an international IT seminar for students, and this year’s seminar is #9 in the series (2013 was such a messy year for all participating universities that we decided to skip it that year). The other schools are Cphbusiness in Copenhagen, Universidad Europea de Madrid from Spain, and a new entry this year, HES-SO from Switzerland.

The structure of the seminar is always the same, as is the theme, “How to be an IT professional”. The seminar runs for a week, with every school hosting a day. Usually there is a lecture in the morning, and then a workshop before lunch to be continued into the afternoon. Many times we have had social events and a business visit, for example last year in Helsinki we took the Spårakoff beer tram and went to Remedy Entertainment to see how games are made.

The Finnish team entering Cphbusiness' new campus
The Finnish team entering Cphbusiness’ new campus

This year we have structured the seminar to run in just four days. The first day the Danes showed us some electronics work using Arduino robotics and the students created NAND gates using just a breadboard connector, some wires, a couple of buttons, and an Arduino.

A happy group showing off a 3 bit NAND gate
A happy group showing off a 3 bit NAND gate

The teams are always mixed in nationality, with the school in charge for the day managing the projects. On Wednesday the Spanish students first gave a presentation on robotics, and the workshop revolved around 8-bit graphics in video games. It’s always fun to see how the students apply themselves in projects that they may have had some experience in, but usually the tasks given by the hosts get everyone interested and the results are excellent for the most part.

Sometimes a thought moment is forth a bucket of sweat later
Sometimes a thought moment is worth a bucket of sweat later

Yesterday we also had the traditional Faculty dinner, this time hosted by the organizing faculty member Anders Kalhauge at his home. En route there we took a short cut (of sorts) via the N55 design studio, and it was amazing. Full of aluminum profile, 3D printers, machining tools, assorted bits’n’pieces averywhere, including Till Wolfer’s salmon on rye snack bread, these artist/designers have created an impressive array of products and projects all aimed at discussing the boundaries of people, space, and living.

First we were shown a new concept of bicycles, all made out of aluminum profile:

The XYZ electric bike
The XYZ electric bike, with UEM’s Noureddine and Guillermo watching on as Cph’s Tobias tries it out

Almost all angles are right angles on these bikes:

The XYZ cargo bike concept
The XYZ cargo bike concept

And it’s all aluminum profile. Tobias Grundtvig from Cphbusiness is building an Arduino-based automated system that will prepare the aluminum rods automatically, first measuring them, then drilling holes in them Meccano-fashion, and then cutting them down to size.

The owners of this place seem to be half hackers, half mad scientists, and half deep thinkers. You should look at the website and read their manifestos on urban design, for example. And of course, there’s this:

The hexapod aluminum monster weighs in at more than 100 kilos and it has three small robots per two legs, making a total of 9 leg controllers. It also has one central controller that has a wireless interface for operation. The legs are moved with industry-standard electric motors. The machine is controlled on an iPhone app, which has these three options:


This finally should convince you that N55 is a studio which takes ideas very seriously indeed and will not stop at anything to see them into reality. I admire that attitude, as well as the one that produced this kids’ bike:

Kids' kickbike
Kids’ kickbike

As a final image for this trip to N55, here’s the stool with shock suspension:

The shockproof stool
The shockproof stool

After this we left for the faculty dinner, where we arrived only 15 minutes late (I said it was a shortcut via N55), and it was fabulous indeed.

It’s been a great seminar so far, and there’s Friday still – I wonder what the Swiss will bring?

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