Recognising talents – new engineers are crucial for the wooden house sector

In the wooden house sector, as in any field requiring engineering competence, engineers are critical for the further development of the sector. It is therefore important to notice and appreciate those who contribute to the sector and add competence to the labour market. Therefore, Estonian Woodhouse Association and the Estonian Wooden Houses Cluster recognised outstanding engineering graduates.

The wooden house sector research competition has been organised by Woodhouse Association and the Estonian Wooden Houses Cluster for eight years, and its purpose is to recognise the best theses on the topic of wooden and prefab buildings. This year, the laureates dealt with, for example, the topic of reconstruction of apartment buildings and the field of cross-laminated timber, which has been popular over the years, as well as the humidity, airtightness, and strength properties of wooden buildings.

Kristel Kullerkupp, an engineering student at TalTech, won first place for her work which aimed to find effective renovation solutions for the application of circular economy principles in the renovation of apartment buildings using prefabricated elements. One of the bases of the research work was an apartment building in Saue undergoing complete renovation. She also gave an overview of the general renovation needs and feasibility of the Estonian housing stock until 2050.

Teadustöö konkurss 2022_Kristel Kullerkupp_I preemia_Foto_Eesti Puitmajaliit
1st Prize – Kristel Kullerkupp. Photo: Eesti Puitmajaliit

“The thesis is very thorough, systematic, and relevant. In addition, it covers various aspects of circular economy principles. The work has a high practical value and is useful for all building factories and apartment associations to familiarise themselves with the topic of complete factory renovation or circular economy,” comments Elar Vilt, Development Advisor of Woodhouse Estonia and member of the evaluation committee, on the necessity of the winning work. “The thesis is detailed, systematic, and descriptive, while being clear and easy to understand,” Vilt added in praise.

The second prize of the competition was awarded to the Estonian University of Life Sciences, where Heigo Ilves researched solutions for wooden constructions for the outdoor enclosures of wild animals. He also researched a relatively new wedge-shaped rounded dovetail joint developed from the traditional dovetail which has not been studied much so far.

“Using the possibilities of CNC machining centres, dovetails could be used more widely and as an alternative to the existing standard joints. Much attention has also been paid to computer software. Six different software have been tested for carpentry joints,” Vilt pointed out about the thesis. “The thesis as a whole is wide-ranging and comprehensive, including design, strength calculations, manufacturing of test-pieces with industrial equipment, tests, and analysis of results.”

Third place was awarded to Elina Jõpiselg for her work aiming to perform strength calculations for an innovative new wall structure (diagonal load-bearing wall elements) and CLT floor and roof structures. The study is useful for engineers involved in structural design and static calculations.

Research competition 2022 results:

  • 1st place and Timbeco special prize – Kristel Kullerkupp (TalTech) – “Circularity concepts for offsite prefabricated energy renovation of apartment buildings”, supervisor Targo Kalamees.
  • 2nd place – Heigo Ilves (Estonian University of Life Sciences) – “Designing wild animals outdoor enclosure made with CNC machined carpentry joints and their strength investigation, supervisor Tõnis Teppand.
  • 3rd place – Elina Jõpiselg (TalTech)– “The structural analysis of cross-laminated timber wallelement for sLender house, supervisor Alar Just.

In parallel with the research competition, Woodhouse Estonia is happy to recognise two comprehensive Doctoral theses on wooden construction.

  • Recognition of Woodhouse Estonia and Arcwood special prize – Villu Kukk (TalTech) – Hygrothermal criteria for design of cross-laminated timber external walls with ventilated fascades – supervisors Targo Kalamees and Jaan Kers.
  • Recognition of Woodhouse Estonia – Jaanus Hallik (TalTech) – On design principles and calculation methods related to air leakages and thermal bridges in well-insulated building envelopes – supervisor Targo Kalamees.

Additional special prize:

  • KMT Prefab OÜ and EstNor OÜ special prize – Mihkel Sari (TalTech) – “Scan to BIM workflows, methods and technologies in the context of existing apartment buildings“, supervisor Ergo Pikas.

Congratulations to all the winners!

With the competition, Woodhouse Estonia makes a contribution to promote broad-based cooperation between the companies in the sector and higher education institutions and to encourage young students to write research papers on topics relating to wooden buildings. The competition started in 2015 and students of all higher education institutions in Estonia can participate, both at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and applied higher education study levels. The thesis must either deal with the solution of a current problem in the field of prefab building production, development, marketing, etc., or provide significant added value to the Estonian wooden house sector. All diploma theses that participated in the wooden house sector research competition (including previous years) are available on the websites of Woodhouse Estonia and the Estonian Wooden Houses Cluster in the Research papers section.

The wooden house sector research competition and the Estonian Wooden Houses Cluster are supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the Enterprise Estonia cluster development measure.