Peter Schiess is Professor of Forest Engineering in the Management and Engineering Division. A native of Switzerland, Peter received his Forest Engineering Diploma from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland. After working as a research engineer in soil physics and as Assistant District Forest Engineer, he came to the UW in 1969, where he did graduate work in micrometeorology and received his Ph.D. in 1975. In 1977, he was appointed Assistant Professor in Forest Engineering here in the College.
Peterís first research interests centered around small wood harvesting and mechanized operations. One of his concerns relates to the level of the training wood workers receive in relation to ever-increasing silvicultural and technological complexities faced in the woods. In 1994, he helped create the first training center in the U.S. (located in Forks, WA) dedicated to the training of harvester/forwarder operators.
His current research interests center around stream - roads interactions and timber harvest planning as a subset of landscape-level analysis. He is interested in the trade-offs between environmental and economic concerns as they relate to logging operations, road locations and haul. For example, he is using GIS methodologies as a tool for quantification of sediment generation and delivery to streams.
Other interests relate to integrative undergraduate education at the senior level. He has managed the forest engineering curriculumís Field Studies project (now called the Senior Capstone Design project) since 1982. Part of the original curriculum since 1910, Field Studies is a quarter-long course taught on-location, off-campus. The course provides a capstone experience in a professional environment, in which seniors develop a management and transportation plan for a land base in cooperation with a forest landowner. The project has gained a new dimension in light of the on-going shift from a pure timber-production-oriented design paradigm to one driven by goals for superior land stewardship and environmental protection of streams and other resources. As such, it plays an important role in research and development of forest harvest and design methods and tools.
In June 1999, Peter was appointed to the McMc Resources Endowed Professorship in Forest Engineering. He explains, "This honor allows me to work on an expanded model in integrative teaching, which hopefully will span the full senior year across curricula and culminate in a capstone design course. True integrative teaching and learning cannot be done Ďat the last minuteí in the last quarter of a studentís career; it ideally starts at least at the beginning of the senior year. The basis for such an approach is the creation of a common thematic thread through upper-division classes in an immersed learning environment culminating in a multi-disciplinary capstone design course."