Development steps from a scientific foundation

Development steps from a scientific foundation

The Department of Forest Products Technology of Aalto University provides education and research to the benefit of the entire forest cluster.

In the lobby of the Department of Forest Products Technology, the visitor is welcomed by a slice of a tree trunk, over one and a half metres in diameter. A plate nearby tells that this particular Douglas fir specimen reached the age of 635 annual rings in North America.

Located in Otaniemi, Espoo, the Department of Forest Products Technology has its roots deep in Finnish forest expertise. The department too has a fair number of annual rings. It was established in 1941 and is today part of Aalto University, made up of the Helsinki School of Art and Design, the Helsinki School of Economics, and the Helsinki Schools of Technology. The department has 150 employees in all, of whom 12 are professors. Each year, approximately 60 people graduate with a master’s degree from the department, and the annual average number of doctorates awarded is seven. The department’s homepage describes the department’s vision as follows:

‘We are the leading, globally networked and renowned centre of forest products technology teaching and research. We educate the majority of the Masters of Science (Tech.) and Doctors of Science (Tech.) operating in the international forest industry field. We form an education and research unit that covers all phases of wood refining from the raw material to final products while also considering the energy and environmental aspects.’

These are very challenging objectives. How do they reflect the department’s current situation, Professor Tapani Vuorinen?

‘In terms of the number of master’s degrees and doctorates, we are the world’s leading centre of forest product teaching. The department received good marks in both the third-party evaluation of Aalto University and the Academy of Finland’s national evaluation. International collaboration is making steady progress, and we have a number of foreign teachers and students. Our base of expertise is extensive, and the doctoral programme is very sound,’ Vuorinen says.

He also names, as particularly strong areas of study, bio-based materials and bio-refineries. Moreover, Aalto University is, as a whole, an expert in wood-based construction and architecture.

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