Cassens was born December 15, 1946, in Dixon, Illinois, and lived on a livestock and grain farm until attending college. He holds a B.S. degree from the University of Illinois, an M.S. from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Employment is currently on an academic year basis with the Department of Forestry at Purdue University as Professor and Extension Specialist in Wood Products. Prior employment has been with Louisiana State University, the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, WI and the California Forest Products Laboratory in Berkeley, California. Summer employment during college was with a hardwood sawmill.
For the past 30 years, Cassens' primary responsibilities has been conducting educational programs for the industry. He has worked with various trade associations such as the National Hardwood Lumber Association, Indiana Hardwood Lumbermens Association, Forest Products Society, and others. He has also worked with numerous trade journals such as Wood and Wood Products, Furniture Design and Manufacturing, Custom Woodworking Business, Southern Lumbermen and Northern Logger. Well over 15,000 people have registered for these programs.
During the year Cassens served as chairman of the Ohio Valley Section of FPRS, the section received the outstanding section award. Only one out of 13 possible sections received this recognition. In 1990 Cassens received the Woodworking Educator of the Year award presented by the Wood Machinery Importers Association.
The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has sponsored Cassens on various trips to the Philippines, Japan, and Mexico to represent the U.S. hardwood industries. Cassens has also traveled to Costa Rica, England, Germany, Turkey, and Greece.
Conducting applied research has been an important part of Cassens' programs. He has been sponsored by different industrial sources and has conducted research in the areas of preventing stain in hardwood and southern pine lumber, biomass, wood finishing, adhesives, hardwood log manufacturing techniques, abrasive materials, quality control in lumber, vision systems to detect color and grain patterns in wood, veneer checking, stress in trees, technology transfer and others.
Cassens has also been responsible for developing educational materials for the general public and specifiers of wood products. The materials cover wood decay, wood finishing and wood preservation. Many states, trade associations and trade journals have reproduced these materials for their use. Cassens has also co-authored three agricultural handbooks and one U.S. Navy Manual on the same subjects.
Most recently, he has completed a CD titled “Hardwood Lumber of the Central Midwest.” It is a unique offering due to the electronic format and large woods panels of 24 different wood species. He is currently working on a handbook titled Manufacturing and Marketing Eastern Hardwood Lumber Produced by the New Generation of Thin Kerf “Portable” Sawmills.
Over $500,000 from 30 different projects has been received for research and educational purposes. Forty technical publications, well over 100 extension publications, trade journal articles, invited papers, handbooks, slide sets, video tapes, and power point presentations have been prepared.
Cassens served as secretary-treasurer of the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen's Association from 1981-1988. During this period, association membership increased by nearly one third with representatives from all regions of the country joining the group. An extensive membership directory was developed, registration at a greatly expanded annual meeting grew from about 250 to over 500, and many other activities were expanded or added.
For the last several years he has taught two courses at Purdue University. One course deals with the manufacturing of forest products and the other course teaches students how to identify hardwoods and softwoods.
Cassens owns and manages, for timber production, about 200 acres of Indiana hardwoods. Trees from improvement cuttings and storm damaged trees are processed by a Wood-Mizer mill and sold to local woodworkers. Another activity involves sole management and care of 20 acres of choose and cut Christmas trees, including true fir species.
Research Group - Wood Products and Wood Products Manufacturing
Facilities - Wood Research Lab
Areas of Excellence - Hardwood Lumber and Products Manufacturing
Hardwood Resources - Preservative-Treated Yellow Poplar