Meet Gerhard Fink, the new Assistant Professor of Wooden Structures

Gerhard Fink, D.Sc. (Tech.) started as an Assistant Professor at the Aalto University School of Engineering in the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering on 1 January 2016. The field of his professorship is Wooden Structures. The Finnish Woodworking Industries sat down with Fink to get to know him better.

1. What have been your first reactions working at the Aalto University?

I am very motivated to start my position at Aalto University. The position gives me the opportunity to carry out interesting research projects. Furthermore, I am looking forward to my teaching responsibilities and in particular to collaborate with motivated master students during their master thesis.

2. How did you end up studying wood construction / structural engineering?

I was always interested in the structural design of constructions and buildings. When I realized the potential of timber for the design of structures I became interested and deepened my education.

3. What is your vision on how to take the education of wood construction, design and planning to a higher level?

To guarantee the optimal education for the design of wooden constructions a close cooperation with related departments such as “Forest Products Technology” and “Architecture” as well as with the industry is necessary. In this respect I want to coordinate education with them.

4. How do you intend to develop cooperation between the university and the business sector?

I already have been in contact with a few academic and industrial partners. However, close cooperation with the business sector will take time and has to grow gradually.

5. In what way wood construction has developed in the last years in Europe? What kind of challenges there still are to be tackled?

The main developments occurred in the area of multi-story buildings, in particular due to the development of cross laminated timber. However, the expertise for design of wooden multi-story buildings is not yet widespread. Furthermore, there are several individual details that can be optimized.

6. What will be the next big thing in wood construction and structural engineering? In what direction would you like to take it?

The use of timber as a structural building material (large span beams, multi-story buildings, etc.) is still a very young field. In this respect the full potential of timber and engineered wood products has not been achieved yet. There is still the possibility for the development of new and innovative products and systems as well as improve existing ones.

My personal interest is to focus on the reliability of engineered wood products; i.e. to reduce the uncertainties of the material properties. Engineered wood products with more reliable properties could be used more efficiently. With this, timber would become a more competitive alternative to other structural material such as steel or concrete.

7. What would be your dream-come-true building to be built of wood?

There is no specific building that has to be built of wood. My intension is more to use wood whenever it is the most suitable material. I am sure that, due to the advantages of timber as a structural material (CO2 neutrality, possibility of prefabrication, mechanical properties, etc.) combined with new developments in the timber industry, the number of buildings and constructions where timber is the most suitable material will increase significantly.


Gerhard Fink, Aalto University


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