What can I do with a degree in Forest Engineering?
Forest engineering is a hybrid of engineering, forestry and management. It requires people who can combine skills to solve engineering problems in the natural environment, with a focus on balancing economic, societal and environmental requirements.
Forest engineers work with public and governmental agencies. They look after the environment, and may steer projects through the resource consent process. Forest engineering graduates know the forest environment and forest products and processes, and they provide the essential link between the forest and the final product.
Studying Forest Engineering includes courses and expertise taught through the School of Forestry and the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering. There is a real focus on 'hands-on' engineering practices, with many field trips to expose students to real-world engineering problems and opportunities. The Forest Engineering programme at UC is the only one of its kind in Australasia.
Through their Forest Engineering degree graduates gain a valuable skillset that includes:
- Creativity and innovation
- Logical and quantitative thinking
- Analytical and problem solving skills
- Practical application of engineering technology and science
- Balancing ecological and environmental needs with economic and societal requirements
- Bicultural competence.
Students undertake 100 days of practical work experience as part of this degree. This provides you with industry understanding and the confidence to apply your skills. Learning and networking also take place during fieldtrips and an industry project.
Forest engineers have a wide skillset that provides work opportunities both at home and abroad. Forest engineers work with public and governmental agencies. Many work for:
- Forest companies
- Forest management consultancies
- Industry contractors.
Due to the multidisciplinary nature of Forest Engineering, job opportunities are also available in areas including:
- General engineering consultancies
- Local and regional councils
- Government agencies
- Resource management sector
- Research institutions.
UC graduates have been employed as forest engineers, forest consultants, project engineers, civil engineers, infrastructure engineers, site managers and more.
As forest engineers have a broad knowledge and solid technical ability, they are able to work in diverse areas and on a variety of activities such as:
- Using terrain, stand and soil maps to create cost effective harvest plans
- Walking forest stands and laying out the plans to ensure they are feasible, as well as safe for the workers and the environment
- Finding options for new road locations
- Surveying and laying out these roads for construction
- Designing road standards, including culverts and bridges
- Managing road construction teams
- Designing new equipment to make harvesting safer and more cost-effective
- Integrating new technologies so that machines are smarter
- Choosing machinery that can best work together as a system
- Scheduling forest transportation to get the logs from the forest to the markets
- Ensuring customers receive the right quantities and qualities of products
- Setting up contractors to ensure planned work is carried out
- Ensuring safety and environmental standards are maintained
- Working with contractors to improve their operations
Developing new forest products
- Working together with structural engineers or sawmills to create new wood based products for the building industry
Improving the environment
- Integrating wood based renewable bio-energy programs for heat or electricity
- Expanding and maintaining forest areas for capturing carbon
- Maintaining or improving water quality
- Stabilising soil erosion prone catchments
Using global positioning systems (GPS) and geographic information systems (GIS)
Assisting the design of geospatial systems and managing equipment.
Can I use my skills to work for myself?
Entrepreneurship and innovation are an increasing part of the working landscape. Graduates can:
- Develop an idea to form their own business
- Get involved in a start-up
- Offer their services as a consultant
Get started with Entrepreneurship here.
As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with others in the same community.
- New Zealand Institute of Forestry
- Forest Industry Engineering Association
- Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand
- The Association of Consulting Engineers New Zealand Inc.
- New Zealand Forest Owners Association
Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep upto-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.