Industry reps become wood tech students for a week 

Students seeking a degree aren’t the only ones drawn to Pittsburg State University to learn. Industry professionals from around the world regularly seek out specialized courses in the College of Technology to boost their knowledge using state-of-the-art equipment in hands-on programs that no other university offers.   

This week, sales representatives from companies based across the U.S. and in Canada have been on campus for an immersive Wood Tech Boot Camp, held in the Architectural Manufacturing Management and Technology labs. There, Associate Professor Charlie Phillips has compressed a semester-long curriculum into one week.  

“They’re learning mill working, finishing, CNC and CAD, and cabinetry skills and techniques,” Phillips said, “all with an eye toward helping them understand the industry better.” 

Among them: Matthew Smith, a representative of Canada’s Doucet — a North American leader in the design, manufacturing, and integration of advanced solutions for companies involved in the secondary wood processing industry. 

“Going through this boot camp will allow me to better support our customers,” said Smith as he put the finishing touches on one of his two projects for the week: a solid wood coffee table with a drawer.  

Smith and other boot camp participants also made a mini version of a kitchen cabinet. 

“It will allow me and my customers to talk the same language, because now I’ve been through veneering, routering, spraying techniques, and seeing how all the technologies come together,” Smith said. “I loved it. It’s something our company sends representatives to every year, and it’s where we can learn not just theory but practical application.” 

Wood Tech

Brad Tipton came to the boot camp from Ft. Mill, South Carolina, where he works for Weima — a German company that annually sells more than 1,200 machines designed to reduce the size of the waste that companies produce. Those companies include manufacturers, wood shops, cabinet shops, recycling operations, and more. 

“I’ve gotten a lot of knowledge about softwoods, hardwoods, and how we can better help our customers reduce waste and reuse material,” Tipton said.  

Mike Evans, a sale rep with Michigan-based Stiles Machinery — a leading provider of advanced manufacturing solutions — appreciated gaining first-hand experience using CNC machines, molders, and shapers. 

“I found it very helpful to learn how they work and what I can produce,” Evans said. “The camp was put together well, and definitely gave me a better understanding of what challenges customers face so I can help them with an issue, if they have one.” “I’d recommend this to others in the industry.” 

The next Wood Tech Boot Camp will be held in May. 

*Photos taken prior to mask mandate

Learn more: 

Architectural Manufacturing Management and Technology