Student Stories: Alpine Europe

Esther Baas

OSU graduate student Esther Baas pursued her passion for cross-laminated timber construction overseas to Alpine Europe.

​Esther Baas is a graduate student, working on her Masters in Civil Engineering and Wood Science. Her personal focus is in structural engineering, and she even worked as a structural engineer after finishing her Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering at Marquette University. Esther currently works with Dr. Mariapaola Riggio, using structural health monitoring data from mass timber buildings to verify models that have been created for mass timber buildings. She even has a monitoring site in the new Peavy Hall building to add to her research and keep an eye on our new building – the first of its kind on campus. Esther hopes to continue with her education through a PhD in Wood Science and Civil Engineering, volunteering for sustainable international development, and working as a mass timber structural engineer.

Esther was drawn to our faculty-led Alpine Europe program on Slovenia and northern Italy because that region is the birthplace of CLT and has a thriving mass timber industry. She thought it would be the perfect opportunity to compare and contrast with the young mass timber industry here in the United States. Supported by her advisor, who had previously gone on the program and is from Italy herself, she applied and away she went. While abroad, the group got the chance to visit several different companies working in the industry of sustainable wood products, from buildings to sinks and even handmade gondolas in Venice.  

While it was a great learning experience, she also appreciated the other sides to the program, from getting to go canyoning in the Alps to spending time with undergraduates from OSU and the University of Primorska in Slovenia. They were able to see a lot of Slovenia and Italy in a short time frame, and Slovenia was not even on her traveling radar before this program. She even reminisces fondly on getting very lost in Venice while looking for a specific authentic restaurant (they found it!).

Overall, she loved the ability to meet with industry professionals in the mass timber field and see advanced equipment that has not even been implemented in the US yet. She was able to speak to the design company Rotoblaas about their specific connection designs and if they resist rotations – a question she has had for a while but was never able to ask until she met with the actual designers themselves. She says that while she was already involved in international collaboration in her work, this experience opened that door even more. Esther believes the program gave her the opportunity to understand the global wood products industry in a way that the classroom cannot and recommends it to anyone – wood scientists, forestry, architecture, engineering, or design students – anyone. 

Learn more about faculty-led programs around the world

Leave a Reply