Wood is good: Wood products students build a career
By Tyler Cushman
Photos by Tyler Cushman
Seth Woods, wood products manufacturing student, uses the CNC router in his FNR 425 class.
Woods says the tools used in the wood lab help prepare students for real-world situations.
Ask Seth Woods what he wants to be when he "grows up," and he will tell you he is going to be a rock star. Now ask Woods what he wants to be if fame and fortune do not smile kindly upon him, or if he grows tired of being a rock star. Woods, a senior in wood products manufacturing technology from Belmont, Ind., will admit that most likely he will get a job in his major – wood.
He chose wood products for several reasons. The prospect of smaller class sizes and lots of hands-on work attracted him to the major. The typical wood products class has only 5 to 15 students. According to Dan Cassens, Purdue University professor of wood products manufacturing technology, smaller class sizes are one of the benefits of the wood products program.
Another benefit is the availability of jobs after graduation. "The wood products industry is ever changing," Cassens said. "With the technology learned at Purdue, students will be able to find jobs after graduation."
Some of that technology comes from FNR 425: "Secondary Wood Products Manufacturing," which Woods describes as one of his favorites. The course is taught by Rado Gazo, professor of wood products manufacturing technology. Students are taught to use a Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) router to custom design furniture. "We get to design anything we want to be cut out on the CNC machine," Woods said. "The goal is to see if after it's cut ou the parts will fit together without fasteeners or glue."
FNR 425 is an upper level course, and it's hands-on aspect is typical of wood products classes. Woods said the classes for freshmen are just as interesting. The first class in wood is FNR 301, "Wood Products and Processing." "In FNR 301 you learn everything from wood harvesting to manufacturing," Woods said. "You learn how the industry works and the 'behind the scenes' of how a tree ends up as a piece of furniture."
FNR 301 is typically taught by Cassens. He teaches the "why of wood". "Everyone uses wood," Cassens said. "It's been around forever. Most people know what wood does, but not why."
Woods sums up his experience in wood products by quoting the deparment motto: "Wood is Good".