Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile: International experts analyzed the challenges of wood engineering

With 600 participants and more than 30 presentations via telematics, the four days of the World Engineering Conference 2021 (WCTE2021) ended . Through a ceremony held on the architecture campus of the Catholic University, and transmitted via streaming, the Chair of this edition, Juan José Ugarte, and the executive secretary, Sebastián Cárcamo, dismissed the event.

This is the first time that WCTE has been held in Latin America, and it bears witness to the effort that Chile has put into developing this industry through solid alliances between academia, government, and industry. Wood construction has been in stable growth since the first impulse measures taken in the past decade, and currently our country reaches 20% of construction with this material, being the leader in the region.

The rector of the Catholic University, Ignacio Sánchez, appreciated the holding of the congress and highlighted the country’s conditions in this area. “Chile has a diverse geography, which makes the country a natural laboratory for the development of wood engineering. Wooden buildings are the second most common construction in the country, which allows us to contribute to a more sustainable world ”, he said. He also stressed that there is still much more that can be done. “Despite the progress made, there is still a vulnerable sector in Chile and Latin America that struggles for access to housing. We must create new technologies and knowledge that allow the conditions to ensure well-integrated and environmentally friendly neighborhoods, ”he said.

“Despite the progress made, there is still a vulnerable sector in Chile and Latin America that struggles for access to housing. We must create new technologies and knowledge that allow the conditions to ensure well-integrated and environmentally friendly neighborhoods ”- UC Rector Ignacio Sánchez

In this sense, he stressed that the “role of universities in innovation is fundamental. The highest percentage of research in Chile is carried out in universities. We are able to advance when new knowledge combines the work of the public and private sectors. That is what we seek to promote through the UC Center for Wood Innovation “.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the conference, Juan José Ugarte, highlighted that “currently, wooden constructions have a more prominent presence in the world, thanks to their contribution to sustainability, carbon capture, constructive advantages and efficiency. energetic. Chile has joined this global trend ”.

“Currently, wooden constructions have a more prominent presence in the world, thanks to their contribution to sustainability, carbon capture, construction advantages and energy efficiency. Chile has joined this global trend ”- Juan José Ugarte, president of WCTE 2021


The Minister of Agriculture, María Emilia Undurraga, who participated in the opening event, also emphasized the relevance of wood construction for its contribution in a world context characterized by global warming. “Good construction is a policy for the future, with a high impact on mitigating climate change, due to the effect of replacing our construction materials whose processing is highly emitting of carbon dioxide gases,” explained the minister.

Thanks to sustained progress, Chile was selected in 2016 to be the organizing country for the 2020 edition of the event, but the health contingency forced it to reschedule on multiple occasions until reaching the current mode of implementation, through a digital platform where attendees could access the three virtual rooms where the various conferences and round tables were held.

“Good construction is a policy for the future, with a high impact on mitigating climate change, due to the effect of replacing our construction materials whose processing is highly emitting of carbon dioxide gases” – Minister of Agriculture, María Emilia Undurraga

Added to this are the presentations of the 700 papers that were delivered for the conference, content that will be available to attendees for the next 30 days on their platform and contain various investigations around the seven topics of the conference, which include: architecture in wood, wood engineering, wood products and connections, construction impact, public policies, education, and sustainable forest management, the latter added in this edition.

“One of the greatest objectives of this event is to leave a positive impact on the region where it is held,” said Juan José Ugarte at the closing ceremony. This positive impact has been manifested in the attendance of five international key speakers, in addition to the extraordinary holding of a Summit of Latin American Housing Ministries, where six countries shared their projects and future actions in matters of construction, sustainability and wood.

Among the participating speakers were the national architect Alejandro Aravena; New Zealand forestry Timberland R&D manager John Moore; the expert in public policy of sustainable construction Helen Goodland; and the academics in architecture and civil engineering of the Technical University of Munich, Hermann Kaufmann and Stefan Winter.

There were around 600 attendees to the event, from the five continents, who were able to participate thanks to the online modality. Together with the closing of the conference, the first welcome was given to its next edition, to be held in Oslo, Norway, in 2023; and the location of the 2025 version was announced, where Brisbane, Australia was selected.

“Latin America will become a launching pad for construction with wood,” said Ugarte on the future of the industry in the region. For his part, the chair of the 2023 edition, Professor Kjell Arne Malo stated: “We believe that WCTE2021 is going to have a great impact on all future WCTEs. (…) We have learned a lot about Chile in recent days ”.

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