Work at board mill brought father and son to TAMK

Work at board mill brought father and son to TAMK

Engineering students Mika Mansikka, 48, and Sami Mansikka, 23, were unusually familiar to one another when they started their bioproduct and process engineering studies last January.

Some new bioproduct and process engineering students probably pricked up their ears last January when Mika Mansikka and Sami Mansikka presented themselves.

"Even the teacher asked if we really are a father and son," 48-year-old Mika laughs.

He thinks that he has settled well in the student group even if he is the oldest. However, 23-year-old Sami has represented the family in student parties.

"On the first day I participated in the city tour and on the last day of the spring we went to a bar. Otherwise I have not participated in students' leisure activities," Mika tells in the family's home in Kangasala while having a cup of coffee.

Same studies by coincidence

The father of the family has worked his whole life at the board mill Metsä Board Tako in the centre of Tampere. Sami has also worked many summers at Tako.

"I told Sami not to stay here when he said after the first summer that this was also nice. You should not be tempted by the high wages. The shift work gets harder over the years," the father states.

Sami started to seriously consider which field to choose when he was in the military service after the general upper secondary school. The father and son ending up in the same degree programme at the same time was a result of many coincidences.

"I also thought about the medical school but it is really difficult to get in there. I already had experience in forest industry and I knew that this is an interesting field," Sami says.

Knee problems made Mika consider retraining around the same time when Sami thought about his career plans. Mika hoped to have an education which would help him progress to more challenging tasks in the field. Mika is satisfied with the insurance company giving the green light for the higher education degree.

"I happened to get into the same degree programme even if the choice was not cast iron for my part," Sami tells.



Feeling exhausted when returning home

Most bioproduct and process engineering studies take place in the Kykylaakso learning environment. The studies include lectures, independent work, and group work for companies.

"It is not usual school-like studying. We work a lot in groups, which teaches teamwork. We are lucky to have quite a well-knit group," Sami tells.

The father and son studied in different groups the first spring and the father-son relationship hardly came out during the studies. Nevertheless, they mostly went to school together by car from their home in Kangasala.

Mika describes that he stays in the background in order to give the younger room to ponder matters and answer to questions, which are often familiar to him due to his work experience.

"A lot of new has also come up as I have only worked on one type of machine. It is good to be all at sea sometimes," Mika thinks smiling.

Professional subjects have mostly been easy but according to Mika the degree requires more work from older students. Studying needs to be learned, too.

"I expected more lectures. It had been easier. I did not expect to feel exhausted when coming home in the afternoon," he tells shaking his head.

Studying was however not completely unfamiliar to Mika, who graduated as paper process operator 30 years ago and has educated himself several times during his career. In 2010 he completed a specialist qualification alongside work.



Regular day rhythm

Mika had a holiday during the summer but Sami worked again at Tako on a sheet cutter. He also has a night shift after the interview. Mika, who has worked in shifts all his life, finds the present-day regular day rhythm wonderful.

"It felt like a wonder when I first woke up fresh at six in the morning. But it was shocking to go to the shop after four in the afternoon when all had left work," Mika groans.

Mika enjoys his new rhythm of life on the patio he built at the beginning of the summer. It was nice to watch the football world cup there.

In the autumn, the father and son will again continue their studies together.

"The first spring was full of surprises and I do not know what to expect in the future," Mika ponders.


Text: Sabina Mäki

Photos: Anna Vättö

Published 03.09.2018