Mount St. Joseph University’s cITe Program Traveled Abroad to Finland in March!

finland cover image


MSJ’s cITe Program (Center for IT Engagement) had the opportunity to travel abroad to Finland from March 18th – March 22nd, 2024. The students eligible to attend this trip were enrolled in NLP 340 Directed Research and NLP 350 Applied Social Computing. These students had the opportunity to work on real-world research and development projects. Students were able to join a collaborative research project with students from Laurea University, a University based in Finland, which led to the short-term study-abroad trip. During these projects, students from the cITe team met with students from the Laurea team each week on Zoom to review their research.


The purpose of the short-term study-abroad trip was to travel to Laurea University in Finland for the students to present at the conference for International Day on Laura’s Hyvinkää campus. They presented the joint research projects they had been working on. cITe students worked collaboratively with the Finnish students at Laurea University to conduct research projects on exploring how AI features may be incorporated into the business sector through interviewing companies globally. “The students will present their joint project where they interviewed 20 companies about their needs, wants, and uses concerning AI.  We are also going to be doing a presentation “What is AI exactly, anyways?” for the broader university audience.” Dr. Rebecca Allen, Ph. D.


The partnership with Laurea University was developed by our cITe Program faculty and students at a conference a few years back. “Our partnership with Laurea University developed after we met Taru Tallgren, one of Laurea’s faculty members, at a conference a couple of years ago. Conferences are great for networking! Whenever we go to conferences, we try to network and see if other colleges or universities are willing to collaborate with us and our students.” Brook Batch


In addition to presenting at the conference at Laurea University, our cITe Program had some extra time to experience Finland! “We visited Laura’s Hyvinkää campus and it was lovely. The Laurea team also took us to so many fun places. We went to a forest in Hyvinkää and hiked through the snow (it was magical). We visited/toured two businesses in Hyvinkää —the Konecranes headquarters and Hotel Sveitsi. We also spent a day in Helsinki, and were able to visit the Helsinki City Museum, the Helsinki Central Library Oodi, an art museum, and more! My favorite experiences from the trip would have to be watching our students present their research with the Laurea students (they did such a wonderful job presenting their research!) and seeing Hyvinkää and Helsinki with our friends from Laurea.” Brook Batch


Hear more about this once in a lifetime study-abroad trip from some of the MSJ cITe students who attended!


Lexi Theuerling is a student in the cITe Program who is currently a dual major in Computer Science with a concentration in Social Computing and Art Education. Her expected graduation year is 2025. 

When Lexi was asked why she decided to go on the Finland trip she replied, “I decided to go on the trip to Finland because I knew it would be a wonderful learning opportunity and a chance to travel internationally for the first time since 8th grade. I have a strong interest in traveling more in the future, so this trip could help show me different cultures and ways of traveling smart. Dr. Allen also approached me and asked to be part of a research study that incorporated working with international students, which excited me to grow my skills and work collaboratively within time differences. Also, the Mount has a wonderful fund called the Thrailkill Fund that helped me be able to attend the trip. Without it, I would not have been able to go.”


Olena Holub is an International Student in the cITe Program and currently a dual major in Computer Science and Financial Economics. Her expected graduation year is 2026.

When Olena was asked what it was like to work on an international project and participate in the short exchange she explained, “Working on an international project and participating in the short exchange was the highlight of the project for me. I've always been deeply passionate about learning more about different cultures and broadening my horizons in that regard. Engaging with team members from diverse cultural backgrounds offered me invaluable insights into varying perspectives and approaches to problem-solving.”


Angel Snider is a student in the cITe Program who is currently a dual major in Computer Science with a concentration in Social Computing and Biology. Her expected graduation year is 2026.

Angel describes their research topic and presenting in Finland. “Our research question was centered around whether or not companies and businesses around the US and Finland utilized generative AI tools and their hopes and fears for the development of future AI tools. We connected with 20 companies in total and interviewed them. Then, we summarized the data, wrote a paper, designed a poster, and presented the data at Laurea University’s International Week where other international research was presented.”


Gabi Goerler is a student in the cITe Program who is currently a dual major in Social Computing and Biomedical Sciences. Her expected graduation year is 2025.

When Gabi was asked what her favorite memory from Finland was she exclaimed, “It’s tough to choose a single favorite memory from Finland because we all created lasting memories. Meeting all the professors and students in person for the first time was a great experience after only having communicated through messages and virtual meetings. It felt incredibly rewarding to meet everyone face-to-face after collaborating on so much work together. Overall, the best part was when the students went out together and enjoyed each other's company, enabling us to create lasting friendships and learn more about one another.”