What we do and what we need to do in timber engineering


It is indeed an honor and a pleasure to have this opportunity of sharing with you tonight some of my thoughts on timber engineering, a topic which has attracted to this Seattle conference researchers and engineers from all over the world. This month marks 21 years since I arrived in Vancouver to take up a research position in forest products research. I remember doing this with some hesitation for, after all, my training in wood engineering was negligible. I had had the usual lecture on wood as a minor part of a course on steel and wood structures, but my graduate training in mechanics had ignored this material altogether. Just before taking up my position I visited my father, himself an engineer building houses out of bricks and concrete. He was quite intrigued by my choice of jobs: What is there to study about wood structures? he said Could we not design such structures by adopting all the expressions used for steel and an allowable stress of 80 kg/cm2? After all, my father continued, wood structures are mostly temporary constructions used to hold up other materials during the building process. He was not concerned with the strength of wood, for he could always lower his design value. He was concerned with the fact that he could not predict accurately the deflection (particularly the long-term deflection) of a wood beam, and that wood had maintenance and durability problems linked to decay and environmental effects. He did not like long term problems with structures he built. At the time, I did not have good answers to his questions: I just mentioned that the forest industries in Canada contributed a large proportion of the national economic output, and that the research was required to maintain the competitiveness of the industry in domestic as well as foreign markets. I said that foreign trade was very important, and that trade sometimes depended on being able to provide sound information on the different wood products being bought by the foreign customers. Oh! my father said if you have to do the research for "political" reasons, then I understand the Canadian government maintaining such a laboratory. Years have gone by and I have always pondered my father's questions. Do I have different answers today? I am not sure. Timber engineering refers to large structures, of the type shown to us by Professor Natterer in his presentation, which obviously require applications of engineering principles for their design. In North America, timber engineering mostly refers to applications in housing (the major use of wood products in this continent). However, houses are not designed by engineers and they

DOI: 10.1007/BF00353243

Cite this paper

@article{Foschi2004WhatWD, title={What we do and what we need to do in timber engineering}, author={Ricardo O. Foschi}, journal={Wood Science and Technology}, year={2004}, volume={23}, pages={289-293} }