Updates from Pittsburg


A lot has happened since my last blog post, winter has turned into summer and several interesting events has taken place. Therefore, I thought it’s about time to write a new blog post.

Now, I have been at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) for more than five months, but it still feels like I got here a couple of weeks ago. Time has gone by so fast and I have really enjoyed my stay here. In this post, I am going to focus on some of the events that has taken place during the spring.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am visiting the Process Systems Engineering (PSE) group at CMU. The PSE group’s research is focused on four major areas: Optimization, Design, Operations and Control. Furthermore, the research is centered around process industries, which is an umbrella term for industries dealing with the conversion of raw materials into bulk material through some processes, for example the petrochemical industry and pulp- and paper industry. The PSE group has an extensive collaboration with several world leading companies in different process industries through the Center for Advanced Decision-making (CAPD), for example ABB and Neste Jacobs.

During the spring CAPD has an annual review meeting, which is basically a small conference with participants from different companies and PhD students. During the three-day meeting, there are presentations by professors, PhD students and the participating companies. The meeting is a good networking opportunity for PhD students, but it also gives the companies an opportunity to give feedback to current research.

During the meeting, I had a poster presentation showing results from my research. It was a nice experience which resulted in several interesting discussions.

In May CAPD organizes an annual short course, which covers several topics in areas such as global optimization, integrated process planning, scheduling, and control. The course is focused on application of optimization models and methods to practical process problems. I really enjoyed the course, and I think it offers a good mixture of theory with practical applications. The course is offered to people from industry and to students from outside of CMU. There were a couple of students from Sweden and Norway, but I was the only Finnish participant. I strongly recommend the course for PhD students who are doing research in PSE related areas, since it gives a good background of the most important concepts in the field. In case anyone is interested in the course, they can find more info at:

During the spring, I also had the pleasure of attending a PhD defense at the department. The PhD student was Markus Drouven, with whom I had the pleasure of sharing office during my stay at CMU. The defense went well, and it was interesting for me to see how it differs from a Finnish defense. The defense was not as formal as a typical Finnish defense, and there is not a specific opponent. Instead there is a panel of 4 professors who are asking questions about topics covered in the thesis. At the department, they have a nice tradition of PhD students signing a wall at the graduate lounge after successfully defending their thesis. The signatures go back to the early 80’s, and along the walls one can find names of several famous professors.

I will be back with more details about my research visit in my next blog post.