Committed to Learning

Both educational researchers and industry experts agree that there is no substitute for learning by doing when it comes to software development. Our experience at the Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki, shows the same: you need theory to build mental models of programming and software design,but you also need to test and exercise those mental models in reality to actually produce working software. In addition, you need to experience software development as a collective effort to really understand how your contribution becomes a part of a larger whole, and how your actions in the development process affect both the process and the result.

For these reasons (and because it’s cool), we have built the Software Factory at our department. In the Software Factory, students own their projects, and through a scaffolding and fading process, we transfer the full responsibility of all aspects of the project to our students. (Of course, our teachers and instructors are still there both to raise the bar and to provide support when it’s needed.) This year, our project is a collaboration between several universities and open source projects from around the world. Coordinated by Stanford University and sponsored by Facebook, this project brings together more than 150 students to work on eight different open source projects in virtual teams. To kick off the collaboration, we visiting Facebook in San Francisco, California for a three-day intensive Hackathon.

This blog will follow our students as they are onboarded into the open source projects and experience the cutting edge of software development in a globally distributed environment.

Fabian Fagerholm, Software Factory operational coordinator

Blog writers’ introductions

Ruby on Rails team

Hey, I’m Olli Rissanen. I’m a third year CS student and I’ll be working on Ruby on Rails. The two things I’m especially interested in are web application frameworks and open source in general. Participating in an interesting, challenging global project is basically the best thing you can do with your pants on.

Hi, my name is Riku Heinonen. Currently I’m doing my Master’s in Computer Science at University of Helsinki but I studied a year at Turku University before moving to Helsinki. So I guess I’m a 3rd
year student at Helsinki Uni but a 4th year student of CS. I’ll be participating in the Ruby on Rails project. I’m especially interested in communication and project management on a global scale.

Kotlin team

Hello, I am Ville Knuuttila, third year Computer Science student at University of  Helsinki. In Software Factory I’ll be working in project Kotlin. One of the reasons I’m CS student is that my father studied Computer Science at University of Helsinki in the 80’s and made the whole industry look so exciting, so I could say like father, like son. During my free time I play Ultimate Frisbee and like to drink good beers.

Hi, I’m Santeri Hiltunen, a third year computer science student at University of Helsinki. Recently I have been dabbling with functional programming with Scala and might have fallen in love. I’ll be working on the Kotlin project. It seems like an interesting contrast to Scala.

Hi ya all, I’m Aleksi Majander, mostly known as Wampie, a third year Computer Science student finishing my Bachelor’s degree here in University of Helsinki. I spend my free time fiddling around with Android and organizing different student activities. In Software Factory I’m teamed up with Ville and Santeri wrapping our heads around the ever-changing Kotlin project.

Socket.IO team

Hi, my name is Janne Laukkanen. I’m a fourth year student at the University of Helsinki and currently doing my Master’s studies. I participate in the -project in Software Factory and I’m the only one in the group from Finland, which is going to be interesting. Right now I’m very much into developing real-time applications in the web with Node.js and In the freetime I enjoy doing sports and reading.

Phabricator team

Hi! I am Afaque Hussain. I am a Masters Student at University of Helsinki. I started my studies here in September 2012 and it has been a great experience since. I still remember the awesome feeling of my first sauna & I try not to miss it every week. During my freetime, I like to hang out with friends exploring Helsinki and Finland. I will be working on Phabricator project in Software Factory.

Sup, my name is Lauri-Henrik Jalonen. I moved from Turku to Helsinki with my girlfriend in 2008 when I started to study CS here at the University of Helsinki. Past academic year I spent in the National University of Singapore gathering superb experiences, I highly recommend student exchange for everyone. Stuff I do while not working or studying include spending time with our dog, growing chili and playing ice hockey. In Software Factory, I’ll be working in Phabricator project which offers a nice change from my everyday work. Going to be interesting half a year ahead of us, let’s see where we end up!


Hello, I am Patrik Johnson. I work as the Software Factory Coach at the University of Helsinki, helping our students with their day-to-day issues in carrying out their projects. In addition to this I also work on the research projects concerning the Software Factory, as a part of the supporting research group. This international collaboration will mark the 10th Factory project that I have been involved with, and it will be very interesting to see how this project will evolve. I enjoy the teamwork aspects of software development, tinkering with computers and infrastructure, and seem to gravitate towards Python, even if functional programming is a fun diversion in small doses. I also strive for a life filled with better coffee and more music.

And finally, my name is Fabian Fagerholm. I’m the lead and operational coordinator for the Software Factory at the University of Helsinki, and working on my PhD in Computer Science. I’ve been involved in planning, designing, building, and operating the Software Factory since its start in 2009 (actually, twice, since we moved and redesigned the facilities in 2011), and I’m continuing to develop the factory concept and implementation as part of my work. I’m also working in research projects at the Department of Computer Science, mostly related to human factors in software development. I’m particularly interested in Developer Experience – the cognitive, motivational, and emotional aspects of software development itself as well as software development tools and processes. I’ll be overseeing the students from the University of Helsinki, hopefully mostly in a hands-off capacity as I believe our students are self-directed and motivated to make the most of this great experience!