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“Wood is a great material”

Published: 26 February 2015

Benedikt Neyses from Aachen in Germany is three weeks away from finishing the Master Programme in Wood Technology.

What higher education did you have before applying?

After graduating from high school/gymnasium I did my apprenticeship to become an industrial mechanic at RWTH Aachen University. It is a form of dual education with 60 % work and 40 % theory studies. Afterwards I did my bachelor in mechanical engineering at FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences. During that time I spent 6 months in Västerås at Mälardalens Högskola as an exchange student. There I did courses in environmental problem solving and innovation/entrepreneurship.

What made you choose Master in Wood Technology at Luleå University of Technology in Skellefteå?

– When I was about to finish my bachelor, I was not really sure what to do, only that I want to do a master. I was always interested in wood. I think it is a great material. It connects nature with technology and engineering. During my stay in Västerås I realized that I like Sweden a lot, both the people and the country. I checked on the web and found the wood technology program in Skellefteå. I had the feeling that I needed a change of environment. I applied and got accepted. I also got accepted to study biomedical engineering in Berlin, but Skellefteå was more tempting. I am happy to have made the right choice.

What do you think of the program?

– I think it is great! It is a lot of work though. But almost everything is interesting. The relationships to the researchers, teachers and professors are closer than I could have ever imagined. I never wake up in the morning, thinking “Oooh, I don’t want to go to university today.” Many possibilities are offered; pursuing my own research projects and ideas, visiting conferences, etc. The other students and me are encouraged to develop our own ways of thinking and to show responsibility for our learning progress. Because of that, time management can be difficult, but that is a learning process too.

What are you doing right now in the program?

– I am working on my final master thesis. It is my own project about the development of a modular furniture system. It is nice to have full control about all the aspects of the project.

What is it like to be a student at Luleå University of Technology in Skellefteå?

– It is much different from what I was used to. It is very collaborative. The professors have open doors and open ears. Everyone is friendly. Usually I spend between 8 and 12 hours at the campus every day. During this time I work on my own, discuss with others about ongoing projects and new developments in the wood industry. Often, short questions to the professors end up in long and insightful discussions about a certain topic. It’s rather informal but quite productive and stimulating. Overall, I would say that I have a pretty high level of inspiration compared to my studies in Germany.

What do you do in your spare time?

– I do a lot of sports. Mostly rock climbing. During spring, summer and beginning of autumn, my friends and I spent many Saturdays and Sundays out in the nature, climbing and relaxing. There are some pretty nice areas, Bjuröklubb for example. However, now in winter I train in the climbing gym at the Skellefteå Kraft Arena. I also do some running, table-tennis, badminton, and snowboarding, different kind of things.

– In general, I like to spent time in the nature, taking a walk along the river, hiking, maybe swimming in a lake, those kind of things. Last year I made an awesome road trip with two friends. We climbed Kebnekaise, swam in Torneträsk, explored Lofoten islands, and went through Finland, almost to the Russian border – all within one week. On the weekends and also in the evenings during the week I meet with friends. We cook, go out for some drinks, chat, watch a movie, do stuff that friends do. Nightlife in Skellefteå could be better, though. To me it’s okay because the other pleasures that northern Sweden has to offer easily make up for it.

What do you want to work with after graduation?

– I hope that I can continue with PhD studies. So, fingers crossed. Besides that, I always have my own little projects and ideas going. For instance, I will try to commercialize the product that resulted from my master thesis project.

Do you have any advice to someone considering applying to the program?

– Be prepared to be in charge of your own learning progress. If you do not get enough motivation from your own inspiration and interests, no one will give you a kick in the ass, for lack of a better expression. If you are prepared for that, this program can provide a great experience and lots of knowledge. If you hate snow and -20 degrees, stay away. If you hate rain, Skellefteå – or northern Sweden in general – is your place.