An Incoming's Perspective of Kuchl: Emil Farcas

From forestry to sawmilling to timber construction: Emil Farcas has completed several internships along the entire value chain of the wood path. He was also involved in the construction of the world's tallest timber building. Along the way, he discovered the FH Salzburg with the scenic Campus Kuchl and came as the first exchange student from Braşov to pursue his bachelor's degree. Now, in his final semester, he is working on sustainable adhesives for the wood industry.

Emil, who comes from northern Romania, discovered his interest in the renewable raw material while still at high school. As a result, he completed several internships in the forestry and sawmill industry in his densely forested homeland as a student. Soon the domestic timber world was too small for him, he wanted to see more and went to Austria, where he completed another internship at Hasslacher. Working there, he even helped build what was then the world's tallest wooden skyscraper - the 84-meter high HoHo in Vienna. Back home, his subsequent choice of a university degree was not difficult for him: Emil decided to study wood technology and design at the University of Transilvania Braşov.

Early on in his studies, it was clear to him that he wanted to spend a semester abroad. When his supervisor asked him where he would like to spend it, Emil had only one answer – Austria. Even the pandemic could not keep him from pursuing this plan, and after two years in Braşov he set off for Kuchl at the end of August 2020. In doing so, he broke new ground, as Emil is the first Erasmus student from Braşov at the University of Applied Sciences Salzburg.

The rural environment at the campus far from big cities and surrounded by high mountains surprised him upon his arrival. It didn't take long however, for Emil to become enthusiastic about the region. At the same time, he also came to appreciate the way of teaching here very much, as well as the collegial and friendly interaction of students and lecturers. Fellow students proved particularly helpful to the newcomer, and he quickly made new friends. Highly motivated by his new surroundings, he took courses in various degree programs and accredited more ECTS credits than would have been necessary. The opportunity arose to become a regular student in Kuchl and to complete his bachelor's degree here. For Emil, this was a perfect chance which he seized immediately and which became the starting point for his bachelor thesis.

In it, he deals with the bio-based and environmentally friendly adhesive casein, which is obtained from milk proteins. His focus is on its application in the bonding of hardwood and the use of casein in high-frequency presses. After initial trials in the laboratory in Kuchl, he and his project colleagues drove to the mechanical engineering company Weinig in Illertissen, Germany. There they were able to prepare their pieces and test them under realistic conditions. Their focus lies on wood species that have received little attention to date, such as beech, oak and ash, which will become more important in the future due to climate change. For his bachelor's thesis, Emil will subject the sample pieces to further tests in Kuchl and evaluate the use of casein versus other adhesives commonly used in the industry.

Also outside of his studies Emil is quite committed: he was recently invited to give a talk at his home university in Braşov to representatives from businesses, NGOs and the local Ministry of Agriculture. He advocated for an increased use of renewable raw materials, in particular wood, for a more sustainable future. He was also keen to tell his fellow students at home about his experiences in Kuchl. As a consequence some of them have followed Emil's example and have completed a semester abroad at the FH Salzburg or are currently doing so.

In addition to the work and all the tasks, however, Emil likes to make good use of his spare time. He is particularly fond of nature and the Austrian people's enthusiasm for sports. He has already undertaken several hiking tours together with his colleagues and friends. Of course, Salzburg's two local mountains, the Gaisberg and the Untersberg, are not to be missed and also the immediate surroundings of Kuchl provide excellent opportunities for all kinds of adventures.