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Research Centre Terra addresses major challenges facing the infrastructure sector

Published on 10.6.2020
Tampere University
Tutkimuskeskus Terra
Kalle Vaismaa (left), Tim Länsivaara, Heikki Luomala and Pauli Kolisoja lead Terra's four research groups.
Launched in June 2020, the Research Centre Terra continues Tampere University’s proud tradition as a world-class centre of expertise in infrastructure research. Terra will tackle the pressing issues faced by the infrastructure sector – such as the management of Finland’s ageing road and rail networks – and educate students to meet the growing demand for highly trained infrastructure professionals.

“One critically important task is to find solutions for addressing the backlog of maintenance and repairs of our ageing road and rail networks. To achieve this, we need to adopt new approaches and methods made possible by the latest technologies and place a special emphasis on proactive road maintenance,” says Pauli Kolisoja, professor of earth structures at the Research Centre Terra.

“Other issues that need our attention are the challenges brought on by the higher speeds and heavier trains of modern railroading that are taking a toll on the rail network. In addition, we are working to improve the productivity of the infrastructure sector, especially by tapping into the opportunities of digitalisation, as well as developing solutions for dealing with challenging soil conditions, among other things, by increasing the accuracy and reliability of geotechnical design calculations,” Kolisoja adds.    

The Research Centre Terra continues the long history of the Research Group on Earth, Foundation and Railway Structures at Tampere University as Finland’s leading hub of expertise on infrastructure research and education.

“Diverse career opportunities are available throughout the infrastructure sector, where MSc and doctoral graduates with a degree in technology and up to date professional knowledge and skills are in high demand. Terra will strive to address this shortage of talent: as we hold considerable responsibility for delivering technology and engineering content to students enrolled in the degree programmes in civil engineering at Tampere University, we maintain close connections with new talents who are qualified to fill key roles within the infrastructure sector,” Pauli Kolisoja points out.

The Faculty of Built Environment, along with the other research groups within the Civil Engineering Unit, serves as an ideal home base for Terra.  

“Some of the new avenues of research we are exploring include the utilisation of learning algorithms and data mining technologies for research purposes. In addition, we have set up new laboratory facilities for testing asphalt materials,” Pauli Kolisoja says.

“A major investment a year ago was the establishment of a new industry professorship to promote the digital transformation of the infrastructure sector. This professorship is supported by approximately 20 leading Finnish infrastructure companies. In the field of education, some of our recent additions include a new state-of-the-art geotechnical teaching laboratory and a minor in rock engineering, which is available for students working towards a master’s degree.” 

Terra brings together approximately 40 researchers who are divided into the following four research groups: TerraGeo, TerraRoad, TerraRail and TerraDigi. Besides the four groups, the GEOLA research laboratory, which also serves external customers who commission research services from Tampere University, is an integral part of Terra.

“We are working to develop the infrastructure sector in close collaboration with companies and other stakeholders and are actively involved in drawing up a broad range of national and EU-level norms and guidelines. We are looking to build even closer links with partner companies in the future,” Kolisoja says.


Professor Pauli Kolisoja, tel. +358 40 5851025, pauli.kolisoja [at]
Research Centre Terra