RESEARCH UPDATE: Opportunities for Appalachian Forest Products in Guatemala and El Salvador: A Case Study

Scott Lyon, swlyon@vt.edu
MS Candidate
Virginia Tech
 

From November 17-24, 2010 Dr. Henry Quesada and Scott Lyon, graduate research assistant visited 8 forest product importers, 2 non-government organizations, and 2 governmental forestry agencies in Guatemala and El Salvador. The researchers were examining the forest products markets in these countries to identify opportunities for Appalachian forest products companies. The researchers used a structured interview to gain valuable information about the companies and organizations. The objectives were to: (1) identify main competitors of forest product companies in Central American countries; (2) investigate distribution channels of forest products; and (3) investigate local production, demand, and policy of forest products in Central American countries.

Figure 1. Teak Plantation (Author's photo)

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Center for Innovation-based Manufacturing launched its first workshop

BlACKSBURG, VADecember 6, 2010. On November 11, the Center for Innovation-based Manufacturing (CIbM) presented its first workshop on Innovation-based Manufacturing. The workshop was organized by Dr. Henry Quesada, assistant professor of business and manufacturing processes in the Department of Wood Science and Forest Products and member of the CIbM. The CIbm was created with the goal to help local industries to solve current manufacturing issues and to help the university commercialize new technologies that steam out research projects. The CIbM is supported by the Institute for Critical Technology & Applied Science (ICTAS).

Participants in the first Innovation-based Manufacturing workshop ask questions

Speakers at the workshop included Dr. Roop Mahajan, Director of ICTAS, Director of the Institute for Critical Technology & Applied Science (ICTAS), Dr. Darrene Hackler, VP at the International Economic Development Council, Dr. Allister James, Senior Expert Engineer from Siemens Energy, Dr. Julia Lane from the National Science Foundation, and Mr. Jose Vicente-Gomila from the Polytechnic Institute of Valencia in Spain and co-founder of TRIZ XXI.

The morning session of the workshop focused on discussing the basics behind innovation-based manufacturing, the relationship of innovation with economic development, innovation and science of innovation policy, and examples of innovation-based manufacturing in action. The afternoon session was focused on innovation tools such as TRIZ, innovation monitoring, and innovation intelligence. The workshop was attended by 45 participants and it was held at the Inn at Virginia Tech.

According to current research from Dr. Quesada’s group, the wood products industry sector needs to focus more on innovative ways to improve their manufacturing process and innovation-based manufacturing opens enormous potential for companies in this industry sector to increase their competitiveness.

Virginia Tech center to host innovation-based manufacturing workshop

 
Virginia Tech engineering students work in the new Center for Innovation-based Manufacturing. The center is planning a innovation workshop on Nov. 11 in Blacksburg, Va

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 15, 2010. Virginia Tech’s Center for Innovation-based Manufacturing is offering an Innovation-based Manufacturing Workshop on Nov. 11 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:10 p.m. at The Inn at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg.

This workshop is designed to explain how innovation based manufacturing is critical to achieve economic development and how it can be pursued.

Entrepreneurs, investors, policy makers, process and products engineers, plant managers, process improvement managers, marketing managers, general managers, and financial managers are encouraged to attend. A $125 investment covers the cost of the workshop materials, lunch, and coffee breaks.

The Center for Innovation-based Manufacturing focuses on the development of new innovation methodologies and their applications to challenging manufacturability problems across multiple areas. These include: renewable energies, micro- and nano-manufacturing, medical devices, etc. The center is actively working on the definition of the manufacturing of the future and the future of manufacturing.

The recently established center aims to help the university commercialize new technologies. The innovation-based manufacturing goal is to boost the commercialization potential of basic research that is currently constrained by the lack of adequate processes and systems.

Register online.

Further information is available by emailing Henry Quesada or by calling (540) 231-0978.

The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech is internationally recognized for its excellence in 14 engineering disciplines and computer science. The college’s 6,000 undergraduates benefit from an innovative curriculum that provides a “hands-on, minds-on” approach to engineering education, complementing classroom instruction with two unique design-and-build facilities and a strong Cooperative Education Program. With more than 50 research centers and numerous laboratories, the college offers its 2,000 graduate students opportunities in advanced fields of study such as biomedical engineering, state-of-the-art microelectronics, and nanotechnology. Virginia Tech, the most comprehensive university in Virginia, is dedicated

Center for Forest Products Business Takes New Name, New Directions

BLACKSBURG, Va. Oct. 22, 2010-.Virginia Tech’s Center for Forest Products Marketing and Management has merged with the Sloan Foundation Forest Industries Center to create the Center for Forest Products Business.

The center, based in the Department of Wood Science and Forest Products in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, has added new faculty and redefined its focus towards achieving three main goals: preparing students for future employment, conducting research relevant to today’s market, and offering specialized training for the current workforce

The two previous centers, which had similar goals but different audiences — students at the Center for Forest Products Marketing and Management and researchers at the Sloan Foundation Forest Industries Center — have combined to better reflect faculty research as well as attract more students and outside resources.

The newly created center will maintain the Sloan Foundation Forest Industries Center’s academic tie as an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Industry Studies Center, which will connect the Center for Forest Products Business to over 1,200 Sloan Industry Studies Affiliates researching many different types of business issues at major research centers in the United States.

“In collaboration with the Department of Marketing in the Pamplin College of Business, we will provide the tools needed for students to fully understand marketing and business issues as they can be applied to the forest products industry,” said Robert Smith, center director and professor of forest products marketing.

“Our ultimate goal is to have students well prepared in all aspects of business fields as they apply to the forest products industry,” he continued. “We do that in a number of ways: through classroom teaching, engagement and undergraduate research efforts, and experiential learning.”

Assistant Professor Henry Quesada, who has been named the assistant director of the center, will work with faculty and students in meeting the center’s goals. “Students will connect more with industry,” Quesada said. “Getting students out to work with the real challenges in industry and having more industry partners speak to our classes will give students expanded opportunities to learn about what goes on in the forest products industry.”

“Basically, a name is a brand,” Smith explained. “We’d like the Center for Forest Products Business to be the first name that forest products companies think of when it comes to conducting research or hiring employees for the industry.”

Students who have been involved with the centers have a good track record once they enter the business world. “Historically, our students are in middle or upper management positions in their companies within a few years,” Smith added.

In the future, the center will look at strategic management issues within the forest products industry, supply chain management issues, and lean manufacturing as research continues to focus on how to help the forest products industry better compete in a global market. There will also be a greater emphasis on the student-based Wood Enterprise Institute — a one-year, hands-on learning program that provides experiential learning in the classroom.