Ayham Afaneh, Industrial Management and Engineering
Ayham Afaneh is currently a student in the Master of Engineering, Industrial Management and Engineering Degree Programme at Novia University of Applied Sciences. We interviewed him to find out how he ended up deciding to study in Finland, what he thinks of his studies at Novia UAS, how his thesis is progressing, and what he plans to do after he graduates.
Before Moving to Finland
Tell me a little about yourself and your background. What did you do before you started your studies at Novia UAS?
I’m from Jordan and I graduated with a BSc Degree in Civil Engineering back in 2015. After graduation, I worked for five years as a Project Engineer in the construction field. After that, I started thinking of moving abroad to seeking new opportunities and career development through further studies.
During Studies at Novia UAS
Why did you choose to study in Finland?
My best friend and I grew up together, we went to the same school and university and then he moved abroad for work whilst I stayed in Jordan. My best friend ended up moving to Finland.
We reconnected after he had started living and studying a joint master’s degree programme in Finland. He was the one who encouraged me to apply for universities in Finland. I started to research the different options in Finland and the rest of Europe and eventually found the Master of Industrial Management, Industrial Engineering Degree Programme at Novia University of Applied Sciences. I applied to this programme because it fit with my area of interests and my study and professional background.
My friend and I are now flatmates and are living in Helsinki. It’s good to have someone you know in the country to help with the practical aspects of life. My friend helped me with opening a bank account, for example, because he had already been living in Finland for four years. It makes life easier to have a support network.
How have you found your degree programme so far? What have been the highlights and the areas for improvement?
In my opinion it is a good programme. The things I liked were the techniques of teaching, for example relying on handing in assignments instead of doing exams. With exams, you can study that specific information and then you get tested just on that but writing a paper requires you to go and look up information and you might get introduced to new information or terms in the process of writing your assignment.
One example is when I was writing an assignment about leadership. I found the term “micromanagement” which I had not heard before, so I took the term and I looked it up which led me to find even more information about it. There are almost no limits when writing papers and, in my opinion, it increases the creativity of the students of the person.
We have a lot of really good courses. One of them was called “Self and Knowledge Development” and it was about how to assess your state and try to develop yourself, as well as about the behaviours of people. Some of the courses are also extremely useful for people in management positions or for those who are business owners. We have had organisational development and business model courses, which are about how to create a business model for your business or how to maybe enhance the existing business model you have.
We also had a course in financial analysis, which I have no prior experience in, and I got introduced to many financial terms and am now able to look at certain financial records of a company and understand maybe 50% of these terms and the data. We also used Python during previous courses which is a new tool I can now use in the workplace. Also, all my colleagues are in good positions at good companies so it’s all about sharing knowledge, good ideas, and experience. We also had nice instructors with practical experience which was good.
The limitations of the programme are maybe that it has been online during my study time [due to the pandemic]. Overall, it was really good and smooth, but I found it limiting because I didn’t get a chance to meet my colleagues in person. I worked with some people in certain group assignments but that was not enough. The reasons I wanted to complete my further education abroad is because I wanted to interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures in person and, unfortunately, we didn’t have this opportunity.
What is the topic of your thesis?
I’m writing my thesis about the use of Mixed Reality in the Construction industry. There is Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality which, all together, is called Extended Reality. I’m focusing on the Mixed Reality aspect. For those who don’t know, Mixed reality is technology that combines virtual objects and environments with real environments. The tools which support MR are a head mount, with see through glasses, and a display. This device can, using holographic lights, show virtual objects in the real world. For example, a table with a virtual box on the table and you can manipulate the box with your bare hands. You can pick it up and move it to another location or drop it off on the table.
What made you become interested in using that as the topic for your thesis?
One of my friends told me about MR and I found it really interesting. I decided I will write my thesis about MR and connect it somehow to my field. During my studies, within the last few courses, we learnt about data driven decision-making and how can we use data to make predictions for the future to aid the decision-making process. It came to my mind that I could use this technology as a visual driven decision-making tool. Through the images I can make informed decisions, good decisions, proper decisions, that can help the industry.
I decided that this would be a great way to connect my thesis topic to the topic of management processes, such as decision-making. During a construction project we have to make a lot of decisions on a daily basis, and it has to be a good decision because each one affects the success of the project, budget, and time. I’ve also researched the topic and noticed that companies are already using this technology.
A practical example of how it works is that I can use the head set on a daily basis, upload the 3D model to the MR device and then do a walk on site and then compare the virtual objects that you intend to build with the existing elements on site. You can highlight any problems or clashes and make a proper decision about these things. We can avoid problems before they happen. In engineering in general its all about solving problems so it’s better to make solving those problems much easier by doing it beforehand as it will save on costs in the long run.
How far have you gotten with your thesis?
I finished the literature review and introduction and I’m currently looking for companies to contact and interview. The empirical part of the thesis will be a set of interviews with expert people, from companies which have already adopted this technology, to get their feedback and experience of using MR on-site. It’s in progress and I am hoping to finish it in May this year.
Are you planning to stay in Finland after you graduate?
Yes, I’m planning to stay in Finland because in Jordan I have reached a barrier in terms of career progression. There are no opportunities for development in Jordan, most likely due to the bad economy and high unemployment rates, so I feel that Finland is a good option for developing my career. I’m looking to find a job in a field related to my experience once I graduate. Currently, I’m also looking for a company to collaborate with who would be interested in the topic of my thesis.
What kinds of jobs are you looking for after you graduate?
After I graduate, I am looking for jobs within the construction industry, because that’s my background, perhaps as a Project Engineer or Construction Engineer. I’m also open to any other opportunities since I also have this master’s degree, I might have some more options to apply for industrial companies. I’m very open to starting from a position that I don’t have prior work experience in and working my way up from there.
What kind of industries could you expect to work in with an MSc Eng. in Industrial Management and Engineering degree?
The programme focuses on companies and industries that provide either products or some kinds of services. So that could be anything from factories to manufacturers to the construction industry, for example.
Anything you would like to add?
For Novia UAS marketing purposes, the university is not so well-known in Jordan so perhaps it would be possible to cooperate with Jordanian universities to get students to go on exchange to Novia UAS or to Vaasa in general. This would allow the students in Jordan to get to know the Novia University of Applied Sciences better.
If you would like to know more, please either
Visit the degree programme page here, or
Contact the Head of Programme