2013-2014 Annual Center Report

Center Members and Friends:

Bob Smith and Henry Quesada, Director and Associate Director of the Center for Forest Products Business

This year marks the 35th anniversary as an independent department in the College of Natural Resources and Environment that focuses on the efficient management and utilization of our natural resources. Established in 1979 as the Department of Wood Science and Forest Products with 4 faculty, our department has grown to 16 faculty and over 130 undergraduate and graduate students. In 2012 we changed our name to the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials to better reflect our faculty’s expertise and to broaden our appeal to a changing student population. In the past 35 years, the Commonwealth has moved from primarily a rural population to an ever expanding urban population. It is estimated that over 75% of our citizens and students now live in urban areas. Historically, a large portion of our departments’ students came from rural areas where they were regularly exposed to our natural resources and the importance of the forest products industry to Virginia. This is not necessarily true with today’s incoming students. We know that the forest products industry is the leader in the sustainable management of our natural resources. Our new name is meant to reflect that to our incoming students, and attract them to the great careers that this industry holds for them.

2014 also marks the establishment of two separate degree programs in the department. The Sustainable Biomaterials degree (which reflects our past Wood Science option) remains to focus on teaching the fundamentals of the processing, manufacturing, drying and marketing of wood and other biomaterials. These includes lumber manufacturing, secondary processing, wood based composites and other natural resource based chemical industries, wood engineering, domestic and international marketing of forest products and business management as it applies to our forest products industry. The second degree is in Packaging Systems and Design. Packaging and pallets remain the largest use of wood fiber in the country and this program is one of only six offered in the U.S. This program emphasizes the importance the sustainable use of packaging materials, how packaging can enhance product performance and markets, and how new uses of wood fiber can be used to replace petroleum based plastics. Our undergraduate program currently has over 90 students, with 15-20 graduating each spring. Nearly all students find jobs in manufacturing, quality control, research, marketing or sales.

Your center has had a good year. Our faculty accomplishments are listed later in this report. The Center is in its 22nd year thanks to your continued support. We awarded over $20,000 of scholarships in the fall of 2013 and will award nearly that amount again in fall of 2014. We remain one of the largest forest products program in the United States. We have updated our website to provide more information, so please visit us at http://www.cfpb.vt.edu I thank you for your continued support of our center. If there is anything I can do, please feel free to contact me at 540-231-7679 or rsmith4@vt.edu

To access the full report please follow this link.