Virginia research center features PSU student work
In Pittsburg State University's Wood Technology Program, student learning experiences can also become furniture with a life all its own. Some PSU students have recently solved an architectural woodworking conundrum and the result of their work will be an important feature in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm research campus now under construction in Virginia.
Students in the Society of Architectural Woodworkers (SAW) club at PSU have designed and are manufacturing a unique set of benches for an auditorium that is part of the research facility.
Tyler Hartman, a senior from Lamar, Colo., said the 26 sections would be assembled into a pie-shaped seating area in an auditorium at the research center. The students have already shipped 7 of the sections to Virginia and have 19 more to construct.
Hartman, president of the SAW Club, said the numerous curves in the benches posed the biggest challenge for the students. They solved the problem by cutting kerfs or channels in sheets of wood that allowed them to bend the sheets into the fluid form of the bench. The students then tested various materials to determine the best and strongest material for filling the kerfs after the benches had been formed. Finally, the students applied a veneer of Figured Makore, also known as African Cherry, to the completed form.
Hartman said he gets special satisfaction out of solving problems.
"I like being able to take technology and put it together with the work you do with your hands," Hartman said. "The fun part for me is trouble shooting and solving problems."
In the case of the current project, these were problems that some other companies had not been able to solve, according to Lindy Thomsen, an instructor in the Wood Technology Program.
"Three companies were contracted to do this job, but they couldn’t get it done," said Thomsen. "This is very, very challenging technically."
Faculty in the Wood Technology Program say it doesn't surprise them that a contractor thousands of miles away would turn to PSU students to solve an architectural woodworking puzzle.
"The curriculum (in PSU's Wood Technology Program) is really on-target with what industry needs," Thomsen said.
The Wood Technology Program will have an opportunity to highlight students and their work as well as a student designed and built office remodel during an open house from 1-5 p.m. on March 28 and 9 a.m. until noon on March 29. PSU's Wood Technology Program is located in the Kansas Technology Center at Ford and Rouse streets in Pittsburg.
The Wood Technology Program at PSU:
Wood Technology or the open house: