Wood industry snaps up new program's grads

by Bruce Mason
Staff writer

Companies are clamouring to hire the first graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Wood Products Processing Degree Program.

Some graduates are choosing between jobs around the world. Others are considering becoming private consultants.

The 10 students, who graduate at Spring Congregation, have the skills to become innovative managers as well as specialists in wood engineering and processing.

In the meantime companies are lining up with proposals for co-operative education programs for future graduates.

"We have placed our students in work-study programs in B.C., across Canada, in the United States, Japan and Germany," says Christine Forget, co-op education co-ordinator for the program. "They are gaining first-hand experience in everything from quality control of sawmill chips to fine furniture finishing, researching resins and foreign technology, as well as conducting marketing and product development."

One student studied defects in 11,000 pieces of wood and made recommendations which saved the company $60,000 a year, says Forget.

The degree program is an initiative of the Faculty of Forestry and is linked to the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing (CAWP). Eighty-five students are currently enrolled.

CAWP not only develops highly skilled industry professionals, it also provides workshops, seminars and training in advanced manufacturing to transfer the latest technology to industry.

As well, it conducts industry supported applied research projects and provides consulting services, technical support and customized training programs.

The centre is the result of an initiative of the wood products industry in the early '90s to create an education system dedicated to filling a training void in Canada.

"Technology, environmental concerns and globalization brought the industry to a crossroads," says Tom Maness, director of CAWP. "Future prosperity depends increasingly on knowledge, new technologies, and a highly skilled workforce which is prepared to innovate on an international scale."

UBC was chosen as Canada's national education, research and service centre dedicated to wood products manufacturing in 1994.

Housed in the university's new $47.5- million Forest Sciences Centre, CAWP contains a state-of-the-art secondary manufacturing pilot plant and complete industry education centre.