Timber research has two general objectives: to establish the facts regarding the physical, anatomical, mechanical, chemical, pathological, and other properties or characteristics of woods and to correlate these with the conditions under which the timber is grown, and to devise means of modifying these properties or characteristics and thus increase the usefulness and value of timber as a material.
Application of properly established research findings in the wood industries is a good business. Timber research, however, is relatively new, and a lag has existed in the employment of research results, which undoubtedly has entailed an economic waste and loss of serious proportions.
An appreciation of this state of affairs, arising from contact with the wood industries over a number of years, resulted in a combination in technical education at the University of Michigan. The conception behind this program is that a technical man in the wood industries must be trained both in engineering and in wood technology.
Some work in wood technology had been given at the University since the early days of forestry education, and as far back as 1903 a course known as Timber Physics, dealing with the structure and properties, and with the relationship of these to the uses of woods, was open to students in engineering and forestry. In 1912-13 a course in wood technology included work in wood identification, the physical, mechanical, and chemical properties of wood, its seasoning and preservative treatment, and wood distillation.
In 1917-18, and for some years thereafter, a course entitled Forestry for Engineers was offered. In 1927, when the School of Forestry and Conservation was established as a separate unit of the University, William Kynoch was appointed Associate Professor of the Chemical Utilization of Wood, and plans were made to expand the instructional work in wood technology as well as to provide some facilities for research in this field. The courses dealing with the minute structure, identification, and physical properties of wood, and with timber mechanics, were amplified and have since kept pace with advances in these lines. The following year a drying kiln and a pressure wood impregnation plant were installed, and new courses dealing with kiln drying, preservation, and fire retardation, and the chemical utilization of wood were given. Later, a power-operated testing machine and accessory equipment were added, and enlarged laboratory space and facilities were provided.
In 1931-32 the work in wood technology was strengthened by the introduction of courses on the control of insects injurious to wood products and on the pathology of wood, and in 1935-36 a course on plywood and laminated construction, which included work on adhesives and wood-adhesive relations, was added.
These developments made it possible Page 1111for students to obtain a sound and well-rounded training in wood technology. In 1934 a plan was worked out with the College of Engineering for the establishment of a combined curriculum in engineering and wood technology. The combined course required the student to spend three years in the College of Engineering, where his program was essentially the same as that followed by those preparing to qualify in mechanical engineering. On completion of this part of the work, with acceptable standing, the student transferred to the School of Forestry and Conservation. On satisfactory completion of one year's work in this School, following the wood technology program, he became eligible for the degree of bachelor of science in engineering, and after a further year, it was possible to secure the degree of master of forestry (wood utilization). So far as can be ascertained, Michigan is the first institution of higher education in this country to have developed such a program. This combined curriculum has provided an adequate training for technical employment in the wood industries. After gaining the necessary practical experience, men with this preparation were able to assist materially in the effective linking of timber research with industry.