CORVALLIS - Oregon State University's research and development of innovative wood-based materials is about to get a big boost, thanks to the JELD-WEN Foundation, based in Klamath Falls.
The foundation has announced a gift of $3.5 million to create the JELD-WEN Chair in Wood-Based Composites Science in OSU's College of Forestry. The gift will allow the university to expand its composites program in the Department of Wood Science & Engineering with an additional senior scientist who will focus on research and teaching.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for the college, the university and our partners in the Oregon wood products industry," said OSU President Ed Ray.
"JELD-WEN's generosity is enabling us to increase our research output in ways that will help Oregon companies become more globally competitive. At the same time, this new faculty member will help undergraduate and graduate students develop promising careers through mentoring and teaching.
"The combination of directly benefiting students while supporting Oregon industries with research critical to their success is central to OSU's land-grant mission," Ray added.
Scientists in this discipline examine how wood and natural fibers - in combination with adhesives and other materials such as plastics, metals or cement - can form new materials with commercial value. Ongoing research at OSU includes investigations into composite materials engineered for desired strength, flexibility, durability, physical appearance and improved utilization of natural resources.
OSU researchers say the practical applications for these new composites are extensive, ranging from homebuilding to auto parts to high-tech electrical components.
"We will use the JELD-WEN gift to hire someone who is among the top scientists in the field," said Tom McLain, department head of wood science and engineering. "The funding and the prestige associated with the JELD-WEN chair should allow us to recruit someone of world-class caliber."
Besides conducting his or her own research program, the holder of the JELD-WEN chair will also teach classes and mentor junior faculty.
"This gift will be a big boost to our entire program," McLain predicted. "Everyone associated with wood composites at OSU, from undergraduates on up, will benefit by working with the JELD-WEN chair holder, and by the working relationships that we continue to establish with the JELD-WEN corporation."
Legally separate from the JELD-WEN Foundation, JELD-WEN, Inc., is the world's leading manufacturer of windows and doors and is Oregon's largest privately held company.
Rod Wendt, secretary and a trustee of the JELD-WEN Foundation, says his organization is pleased to make the award.
"The OSU Department of Wood Science & Engineering and JELD-WEN have had a long-term relationship over 30 years now, involving research and sharing of ideas and new technologies," Wendt said. "This grant recognizes the importance of that friendship and working relationship and declares our intent in maintaining and building an even more active permanent association with the university."
Wendt, who also serves as president and CEO of the JELD-WEN corporation, believes the endowment will help advance OSU's international reputation. "The chair will propel Oregon State University to an expanded leadership role in the nation and world in the wood science arena and help companies who offer related products in Oregon, around the nation and globally," Wendt emphasized.
JELD-WEN has recruited and hired OSU graduates since the company's inception in 1960, and has made contributions to a variety of OSU programs since the early 1980s. Students in disciplines including business, engineering and forestry regularly intern at JELD-WEN.
The JELD-WEN Foundation was founded in 1969 and for the most part funds projects in communities where company operations exist. Over the past five years, the foundation has made grants totaling nearly $25 million. Primary program areas of support for the foundation include college scholarships, United Way, and capital project-oriented grants. Capital grants are typically renovation or construction-oriented and align with the foundation's top priority areas: social welfare, education, health care, youth activities, and arts and culture.