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Timber trail

Wood science and technology (WST) is aimed at efficient utilisation of timber. Basically, wood technologists use their know-how to manage and improve wood and wood products.

education Updated: Nov 27, 2012 17:24 IST
Hindustan Times

The lowdown

Wood science and technology (WST) is aimed at efficient utilisation of timber. Basically, wood technologists use their know-how to manage and improve wood and wood products. They are trained in wood physics, chemistry and anatomy, timber mechanics and engineering, wood seasoning (drying), wood preservation, wood working (machining operations) and finishing, saw milling, product design, composite wood, timber entomology and wood microbiology. Wood technologists can join wood/furniture industries, plywood industries, buying houses for exports, or as research scholars and scientists in some institutes. A wood technologist ideally should be trained in physical properties of wood which would help him to identify and suggest alternate timbers for various uses. To evaluate and assess durability of the wood and also suggest preservative treatments to increase the life of wood, s/he needs to know chemistry of wood. Timber mechanics is an important area where the wood technologist would use the information for structural use of wood

The average day of a wood technologist:
9am: Planning the day with head of divisions, trainees about production
10am to 2pm: Evaluate the physical and mechanical property of the wood samples. Determining the properties of wood samples to be tested
3pm: Analysis of the data
4pm: Suggest suitable use for the samples based on the test results
5pm: Production output analysis of the day. Plan production for the next day
7pm: Leave for the day

The payoff
A fresh postgraduate Wood Science and Technology can earn anything between Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 20,000 per month. After three to four years’ of experience, he can anything from Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 70,000 per month

* Knowledge of physics, chemistry, material science, structural and chemical engineering, mechanics
* Observation, analytical and creative skills
* Ability to manage labourers
* A very positive attitude to work in an unorganised sector
* Creative bent of mind

Getting there
Opt for science at the plus-two level. To enrol for MSc in wood science and technology, you require a BSc in physics, chemistry and maths or BSc in forestry. Selection is through an all-India entrance test conducted at various centres. You could later consider a doctorate. Some universities take in candidates for PhDs in wood science through a written test followed by an interview. Candidates with degrees in chemical engineering, civil engineering and material science, too, are eligible. The main objective of wood science research and education is “to lessen the burden on forests and fulfil the demand for wood through rational utilisation of plantation timbers,” says SC Joshi, director of Institute of Wood Science and Technology

Institutes and URLs
* FRI University, Dehradun fri.icfre.gov.in
* Kannur University, Kerala

Diploma/short-term courses:
* Indian Plywood Industries Research and Training Institute (IPIRITI), Bangalore
* Government Polytechnic, Srinagar
* Institute of Wood Science and Technology (IWST), Bangalore
* FRI, IWST, IPRITI (in-service candidates)

Pros and cons
* Good scope in the industry
* You will get many challenges and opportunities to prove yourself but you will also get a chance to grow with the organisation
* Serious view on relevant fields by governments of India, China etc
* At initial stage of the career, pay is relatively low
* Work in factory/field in an unorganised sector

Though fewer students opt for this field, the potential and possibilities in the field are greater. There is a huge demand for wood technologists in the industry today -- SC Joshi, director, Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bangalore