Wood Science and Technology

“We may use wood with intelligence only if we understand wood.”

Frank Lloyd Wright

Wright, the twentieth century American architect, best describes the goals and objectives of the Wood Science and Technology program. The program prepares students for professional careers in the wood products industry by providing a strong education in basic and applied sciences with special focus on the properties and uses of wood.

The wood products industry employees an estimated 1.6 million people nationwide. Yet only 22 American universities provide programs specifically designed to educate professionals to manage and provide technical expertise to the industry. West Virginia University is one of them.

Many Americans take the presence of wood products in their lives for granted. Some have even been misled into believing that using wood is bad for the environment. But replacing wood would require massive quantities of metals, plastics, and other materials. Therefore, wood remains the nation’s most important renewable resource for construction, furniture, paper packaging, and other products for sustaining a rapidly growing population.

At the same time, wood requires less energy and less environmental disturbance to extract, manufacture, use, and recycle or dispose of than non-renewable resources such as steel, aluminum, or plastics. Meeting society’s needs for raw materials and a healthy environment requires proper use of natural resources. To meet these needs, the wood products industry must harvest timber in an environmentally sound manner and must make more efficient use of the harvested forest resource. This requires development of new and innovative approaches to obtaining , manufacturing, using, and recycling wood products. This is what this major is all about.

The Wood Science and Technology program established specific “expected learning outcomes” as part of the program’s assessment plan. The plan was approved by the West Virginia University administration and the West Virginia Higher Education Board of Governors in 2007. SWST Accreditation Standards were adopted as the stated expected learning outcomes of the plan, specifically:

“Undergraduate students upon graduation with a B.S. in Wood Science and Technology will:

Possess a fundamental background in preparatory and general education courses in compliance with the requirements established by West Virginia University, the West Virginia Board of Governors, and the Accreditation standards of the Society of Wood Science and Technology
Have firm foundations in basic wood sciences, including anatomy and biology of wood formation; wood identification; physical properties; mechanical properties; chemical characteristics and properties; wood degradation and deterioration; and composite materials.
Be knowledgeable about wood processing and manufacturing, including mechanical reduction of the raw material, drying processes, manufacture of solid wood products, manufacture of composite materials, chemical wood processing, and wood protection and enhancement.
Understand the contemporary issues of wood use, including demand, use, and impact of use on society and the environment; applications of wood and wood-based materials; choosing and specifying appropriate wood-based products; policy, regulation, environmental and other societal issues; professional ethics; and health, safety, and security issues.
Demonstrate competence in an area of professional emphasis that compliments their wood science and technology education.”