Man standing on a cliff

Research through Internship Activities in the SBTCP project – A Student’s Perspective

The ”Sustai­nable Building Techno­logies- Community of Practice” (SBTCP) project by Karelia UAS in colla­bo­ration with Salzburg UAS and Jade UAS has been playing an eminent role in bringing inter­na­tional students from cross-border countries together. As a signi­ficant part of this inter­na­tional colla­bo­ration, SBTCP project is hosting the internship activities of an inter­na­tional bachelor student Dominik Auclair from Jade UAS, Germany, which is supporting him develop his bachelor thesis topic and research further.

The SBTCP project has three funda­mental pillars of research activities: 1) Sustai­nable buildings, 2) Material sciences, and 3) Building infor­mation modelling (see fig 01). The Sustai­na­bility perspective from Karelia UAS resulted in eight possible research topics, and was discussed with Dominik for further study. After conducting several literature reviews on sustai­na­bility, circu­larity, and compe­ti­ti­veness of timber construction, his bachelor thesis titled ‘’Modular Timber Construction’’ was shaped, which focused on the flexi­bility and sustai­na­bility aspect of modular timber construction techniques.

Research areas: Sustainable buildings, Material Sciences, Building information mapping
Figure 1 Three major research areas of SBTCP project.

The following write up explains how Dominik Auclair has experienced this whole internship process, especially from an inter­na­tional student’s point of view studying in a foreign country for the first time. The write up portrays what challenges he has experienced, how working with SBTCP project has supported him, and also, which factors eased his stay in Finland.

My exchange in Joensuu, Finland

I am Dominik Auclair, 23 years old and from Germany. After my school, I did an appren­ticeship as a carpenter. And afterward, I started my civil engineering studies in the German city of Oldenburg at the Jade University of Applied Sciences. Now I am in the seventh semester and pursuing my Internship for my Bachelor’s thesis here in Joensuu at the Karelia University of Applied Sciences.

I love the Nordic countries, and I love wood construction, so I asked Prof. Sebastian Hollerman if he knows some companies here in the beautiful North. He was an exchange student here in Joensuu and he is working on a project called ’Sustai­nable Building Techno­logies- Community of Practice (SBTCP)’ together with the Karelia University of Applied Sciences in Finland, Salzburg University of Applied Sciences in Austria, and my University in Oldenburg. He suggested I come here in Joensuu to work on the Project with Timo Pakarinen and Shammi Keya, and I decided to do so.

Leaving my comfort zone

For me, the two most important reasons to go to another country was to improve my English and to leave my comfort zone. When you go to another place where you don’t know any people, you need to be more open. This fact improves my perso­nality extreme. In addition to that, here I´m making many connec­tions with people from all over the world, and for me it is one of the most important things because it can make your life much easier. Even my English skill is improving with time. I was really nervous before, because my English was quite bad. But I noticed in the first few days that there is no problem. More difficult is the research in English. The articles are written with many technical terms and I need more time to understand it.

Between my decision and my start was only a short term and the Vacation time in Finland made it more difficult, but the work from both Inter­na­tional Offices was excellent and I had a good and easy start here in Joensuu. And this has been an interesting experience because I´m the first person from my university here at the Karelia UAS without help from other people and had no one to ask for help.

After my arrival here I got every time help from the tutors and we had orien­tation days for some helpful things we need to know about the University, organi­sa­tions for studies, events and the city. After that We had some events with other exchange students organized by the tutors. Now we are well connected and doing a lot of things together and having a nice time.

Focus on timber construction

The SBTCP project is a research project, and I got a list of different important topics of timber construc­tions. I chose the topic for compe­ti­ti­veness of timber construc­tions compared to tradi­tional construc­tions like concrete, steel and bricks. My second topic is the circu­larity of timber construc­tions. Here the goal is to increase the life-time of the construction and the how it is possible to reuse the building materials. In this topic I´m researching different types of construc­tions like Design for Adapta­bility or Design for Decon­struction and Reuse.

After my research I need to write an article about my results. I get help whenever I ask for it, and we are improving my articles together for a better result. We have weekly meetings with Timo Pakarinen, Shammi Keya and me. There we discuss about our work and make some plans how it goes on. All in one, I have my own work and can work indepen­dently. This has improved my self-reliance, and I have learned a lot.

I have thank­fully received the oppor­tunity to visit some buildings, construction sites and companies here. We visited for example, a modern company for wooden windows which was really interesting because there is a huge different to windows in Germany. It is really interesting for me to see bigger construction site in another country. I have some experience on construction sites but only for small buildings. I will also visit with some colleges two workshops here in Joensuu at the Karelia University about Building Infor­mation Modelling and about a Lifecycle analysis. And we will go to a confe­rence about the timber construction Industry in Helsinki. I am quite happy about it, that they pay attention on my interest and realise the excursions.

After my Internship I got the oppor­tunity to extend my stay here in Joensuu to start my Bachelor thesis about Modular Timber Construction from here at the Karelia UAS. The support here from my super­visors are really nice and I´m happy that they give me this opportunity.

The working condi­tions are really goods and here is a nice college climate. It makes much fun here to speak with all of them. Sometimes we do things out of the worktime. For example, on my first weekend I was with two colleges in the Koli National Park. The landscape there is beautiful and we had a lot of fun.

Ihmisiä kalliolla
Figure 2. Trip to Koli National Park. From left: Dominik Auclair, Shammi Keya, Panu Ojala.


Dominik Auclair, student, Jade University of Applied Sciences/Karelia UAS

Shammi Keya, Project Researcher, Karelia UAS

Timo Pakarinen, Lecturer, Karelia UAS