Ari Niemelä the School of Engineering Alumnus of the Year 2017


Ari Niemelä works at the Meyer Turku shipyard, where his task is to develop the design of demanding ship hull concepts by exploiting the most recent knowledge and design methods without compromising safety or passenger comfort.

Gary Marquis, Dean of the Aalto University School of Engineering, has awarded the title of Alumnus of the Year 2017 to Ari Niemelä, M.Sc. (Tech.), the Head of the Classification Department at the Meyer Turku Oy.

Niemelä is one of the top ship structural designers in the world. He has developed the pioneering strength and vibration technical design that has contributed to Finland’s reputation in the shipbuilding industry globally and made the implementation of demanding new ship concepts possible.

‘The School of Engineering has a leading role in renewing the Finnish technology industry and improving its competitiveness with the help of scientific research, technical innovation and inspiring education. For today’s engineers, a fundamental and deep connection to research is one of the most important tools in the development of expertise and technology. Research feeds innovation and leads the way towards responsible and sustainable industrial development. After graduating, Ari Niemelä has maintained a close connection to his university and especially to the research on advanced ship concepts and the structural solutions related to them as well as their development’, says Dean Gary Marquis.

‘Ari Niemelä has mentored a large number of master’s and postgraduate students. He has instructed several master’s theses completed at the shipyard and his example has inspired new graduates with a master’s degree or doctorate in technology to choose a career in ship design and the shipbuilding industry’, Marquis continues.

‘Shipbuilding in Finland brings together cutting-edge technologies and requires expertise in almost all areas of engineering.  This together with a willingness to work in large interesting projects is what inspired me to choose shipbuilding technology at the time’, says Ari Niemelä. 

‘The demands markets put on cruise ships in terms of concepts, quality, performance, energy efficiency and safety increase constantly. To keep up-to-date, the shipyard must be able to combine and exploit new technologies, materials and methods. High-quality research and education that combine different fields of science and industry support this development’, Ari Niemelä reminds.

Ari Niemelä graduated with a master’s degree in naval architecture and solid mechanics from Helsinki University of Technology in 1990.  The title of his master’s thesis, supervised by Professor Petri Varsta, was Laivan ja massiivisen jäälautan epäsymmetrisen törmäyksen matemaattinen mallintaminen (‘Mathematical modelling of asymmetrical collision of a ship and an ice floe’). After moving to working life, his positions have included classification engineer at Deltamarin Ltd, principal designer at Kvaerner Masa Yards, hull basic design project manager at Aker Finnyards, head of hull basic design at STX Finland and, since 2014, head of hull basic design at the Meyer Turku shipyard.

In 2010, Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK awarded the Finnish Engineering Award to Niemelä’s design group at the STX Finland Turku shipyard for its merits in innovation and practical application. The award was granted for the hull strength and vibration technical design of the cruise ship Oasis of the Seas. Ari Niemelä was the group member responsible for the development of the ship’s hull structure.

Aalto University's School of Engineering appoints the Alumnus of the Year to support the school's work with stakeholders and thus promotes discussion between the school and alumni with societal influence. This year was the second time the School of Engineering chose the Alumnus of the Year.