Wood Engineering Specialization

Wood is an amazing building material: It is beautiful and warm to the touch. It is easy to machine and abundantly available. It is light, yet strong and stiff and has a favorable strength-to-weight ratio. Best of all: It comes from a renewable source. Compared with other building materials, it is friendliest to the environment. To build with wood, however, requires an understanding of its peculiarities: the variability of its properties, its interaction with water and the possibility of bio-deterioration.

Examples of historic wood use in architecture can be seen in numerous mill buildings, covered wooden bridges and houses that date back centuries. More recently, a number of large-scale structures have been completed in wood – often with a favorable cost in comparison with competing materials. Examples are Shigeru Ban’s Centre Pompidou in Metz, Renzo Piano’s facade for Peek & Cloppenburg in Cologne, the Richmond Ice Oval for the 2010 Winter Olympics or the Austria House in Whistler, built to strict passive-house standards.

The Wood Engineering specialization in the Building Systems graduate program in Environmental Conservation provides the practitioner or returning student a platform for studying wood as a building material. Depending on your needs, choose between these graduate programs:

  • Professional M.S. program. This 2-year program does not require a research-based thesis. Students complete a number of courses, independent studies and a semester-long practicum.
  • Thesis/Dissertation-based M.S. or Ph.D. program. This “classic” graduate program requires students to complete a research-based thesis/dissertation in addition to coursework.

More information on these programs (including requirements and admissions procedures) can be found here.


Fields of study:

  • Properties of wood (structural and physical) as they pertain to building products made from wood
  • Engineering design of wood (NDS-compliant wood design)
  • Connections for wood structures
  • Advanced wood components such as wood-concrete systems
  • CAD/CAM-based design and fabrication of wood structures
  • Natural resources issues related to extraction of wood and fabrication of wood products
  • Business of building materials distribution

Who should enroll?

  • Architects seeking an in-depth understanding of the natural building material wood and its possibilities.
  • Engineers who want to broaden their materials knowledge to include the complex and rewarding material wood.
  • Other building professionals who want to become experts in an efficient material that is once again rising in popularity.

To learn more and apply:

>> Degree requirements

>> How to apply


Faculty contact:

Peggi Clouston – Wood engineering and structural composite modeling

Alexander Schreyer – Wood engineering, timber connections and CAD/CAM design

Dave Damery – Forest products marketing and economics

Last updated: August 23, 2012