From forest products to bioproducts - A step to uncertainties for industry and students

Pia Lahti, Katja Vahtikari, Timo Laukkanen

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientific

    Abstract

    The Department of Forest Products Technology at Aalto University (formerly known as Helsinki University of Technology) was established in the 1940's to provide the growing and developing Finnish industry engineers. Studies and research cover all aspects of forest products manufacture, from fundamental studies of wood fibers to final products, such as printed paper, wooden window frames or even nanoscale fibers. In autumn 2010 a new degree program called Bioproduct Technology started with 60 students. The new program will gradually replace the old Forest Products Technology degree program. The development in the forest based industries has been worrying for some time now. The global megatrends such as fossil vs. renewable carbon resources, the climatic change, biofuels, biomaterials and biorefineries have created a need for new kind of knowledge. At the same time the use of paper, pulp, sawn timber and other traditional products has been declining in the western world. The market situation has forced the industry to close mills. This has made the field of forest products less attractive for the students. The trend for declining students' interest started in Western Europe, but arrived also in Finland some years ago. The Bioproduct Technology degree program has been far more attractive to students than the old program. There were more applicants and so the entrance points for being accepted were higher than ever before. Judging by the first semesters results the Bioproduct Technology freshmen are more committed to their studies and acquire more study credits with better grades than the students before. This paper tries to identify the key factors that affect the students' performance by describing the development of a new degree program. Also the challenge of managing new students' motivation and orientation in a situation where traditional industry is under heavy restructuring and the new is just emerging is discussed. The authors of the paper are certain that our experiences could benefit others in both forest products technology but also in the other fields of technology.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSEFI Annual Conference 2011
    Pages409-412
    Number of pages4
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    MoE publication typeB3 Non-refereed article in conference proceedings
    EventAnnual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education - Lisbon, Portugal
    Duration: 27 Sep 201130 Sep 2011
    Conference number: 39

    Conference

    ConferenceAnnual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education
    Abbreviated titleSEFI
    CountryPortugal
    CityLisbon
    Period27/09/201130/09/2011

    Keywords

    • Bioproducts
    • Declining interest
    • First-year student
    • Forest based industry
    • Forest products
    • Master program
    • More applicants
    • Orientation
    • Study success
    • Uncertainty

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