RESEARCH BRIEF: Thermally modified wood

By Juan Gonzalez, email

Innovation has been the key the in the past decades to develop products, process and services more effective, efficient and attractive to potential customers all across different practices/sectors including manufacturing, services and academia. Forest products are always evolving and creating innovative practices to satisfy customer needs and surpass expectations.

Figure 1. Thermally modified wood samples

The hardwood lumber market has decreased in the past 20 years, especially on 2009, where the great recession took place and since then there has been an emergence of innovative products that have caught the attention of the manufactures to start developing on their own practices (Buehlmann et al 2010 and Quesada et al., 2006).  One of the innovative products that has started to caught the US lumber market is the thermally modified (TM) lumber with the large variety of exterior and interior applications, including musical instruments, guns stocks, decking applications, outdoor furniture, siding, roofing, door and window frames, flooring and interior furniture. With these applications, new opportunities have been brought to use low value timber, since there is a wide availability of timber in both private and public lands that are considered low-value timber (lower value species, quality, size) (Baynes, Herbohn and Gregorio, 2014).

Thermally-modified (TM) wood has been available since early 1990s in Europe where it was developed as an alternative to tropical hardwoods. Consumers, such as architects, engineers and contractors has started questioning; what are the performances of TM wood? how expensive the product is compare to similar lumber products? does it use any preservatives that could imply hazardous to the environment? Due to how new the product is to the U.S., consumers are still hesitant about its use (Wardell 2015). Even though there is a variety of information on the Internet, magazines and publications regarding the performance of the TM wood, there is still a low level of awareness of TM wood products (Espinoza et al, 2015). According to Boonstra (2008) due the increased demand on sustainable building materials and the restrictive regulations regarding the use of toxic chemicals; the interest on thermal treatments has started to grow, due to its lack of preservatives.

Figure 2. Thermally modified wood lumber

Thermal modification is a great option to increase the performance of wood and according to Wardell (2015) thermally modified wood products such as decking is very competitive in price when compared to traditional premium decking or tropical species such as Ipe, however, the current market for TM wood in the US is still hesitant to try this product. Potential consumers still know little about TW wood advantages and disadvantages and there is also concern about the potential decrease of mechanical strength (Wang et al 2012). Although there is some general knowledge that TW wood could be more resistant to water absorption and an increase resistant to decay, there is still no national and international consensus on TM wood standards (Sandberg et al., 2016 and Schnabel et al., 2007).

The basis of TM wood is the decrease in the equilibrium of moisture content and this will be affected based on the schedule (recipe) used, which includes the temperature and time of the treatment, as well as the species and type of treatment (Esteves et al., 2009). Thermally-modified wood can be produced using a closed or open drying system. During the thermal process, heat removes organic compounds and changes the cellular structure limiting the ability of the wood to absorb water (Sandberg and Kutnart 2016).

Performance metrics such as splitting, equilibrium moisture content (EMC), shrinkage and swelling, and water absorption show decreasing trends depending on the level of treatment. Other properties such as durability, surface hardness, bending, and modulus of elasticity increased on certain levels of treatment but decreased on others (Esteves et al.,2009).

Thermally-modified wood is considered a durable exterior product (Freed & Mitchell 2017). One of the main characteristics of TM wood is the removing of moisture from the wood structure, increasing the crystalline regions in the cellulose and increasing the percentage of lignin without replacing water with other chemicals. In addition to being chemical free with a profound environmental impact, TM wood is lighter than standard chemically treated products. However, is not recommended for ground contact because it does entirely remove sugars that could attract fungi or insects. In terms of appearance, the high gradual heat process creates permanent reactions in hardwood and changes the color of the wood from light to deep chocolate brown color. In many cases, the new color is a desirable aspect of wood in many potential markets (Freed & Mitchell 2017).

It is also hard for the consumers to look for an updated report with the consumption of TM wood products, where the most recent report from the volume production of TM wood is between 2012 and 2013. The Forest Products Annual Market review reported a volume of production of TM wood of 100,000 m3 (UNECE/FAO 2013). When consumers try to find specifications of different TM wood species to compare against traditional treated or non-treated similar wood products, they are unable to do so due to the lack of information and available standards., TM wood producers are in the process of trying to determine the best marketing strategies to increase market share of this material. For many TM wood producers, including the partners in this project, there a lack of information on the barriers and drivers impacting the consumption of TW wood products, which is critical to their ability to increase the use of this material .

The development of specifications sheets will be an initial step to start adapting TM wood products into the US hardwood market, which is one of the goals of this project. The methodology to develop this first phase of the project is presented on figure 1.

A set of specifications sheets will be developed with mechanical and physical performance of TM lumber using two species; yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) and red maple (Acer rubrum) from three different companies. All samples must be conditioned at 12% moisture content on a controlled temperature chamber until it reaches equilibrium.


  • Baynes, J., Herbohn, J., Gregorio, N., & Fernandez, J. (2015;2014;). How useful are small stands of low-quality timber? Small-Scale Forestry, 14(2), 193-204. doi:10.1007/s11842-014-9281-7
  • Boonstra, M. (2008). “A two-stage thermal modification of wood” Ph.D. Thesis in Applied Biological Sciences: Soil and Forest management. Henry Poincaré University-Nancy, France.
  • Buehlmann, U., Espinoza, O., Bumgardner, M., & Smith, B. (2010). Trends in the US hardwood lumber distribution industry: Changing products, customers, and services. Forest Products Journal, 60(6), 547-553. Retrieved from
  • Freed, S. and Mitchell, H. 2017. Thermally modified hardwood and its role in architectural design. August. Presentation to AIA members for CEU credits.
  • Espinoza, O., Buehlmann, U., & Laguarda-Mallo, M. F. (2015). Thermally modified wood: marketing strategies of US producers. BioResources, 10(4), 6942-6952
  • Esteves, B., & Pereira, H. (2008). Wood modification by heat treatment: A review. BioResources, 4(1), 370-404.
  • Quesada, H.J. and R. Gazo. 2006. Mass layoffs and plant closures in the U.S. Wood products and furniture manufacturing industries. Forest Prod. J. 56(10):101-106
  • Sandberg, D. and Kutnar, A. 2016. Thermally modified timber: recent developments in Europe and north America. Wood and Fiber Science. Special issues for the 2015 SWST Convention. 48: 28-39
  • Schnabel, T., Zimmer, B., Petutschnigg, A. and Schonberger, S. 2007. An approach to classify thermally modified hardwoods by color. Forest Products Journal. 57(9):105-110.
  • UNECE/FAO. (2013). UNECE/FAO Forest Products Annual Market Review, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, New York and Geneva
  • Wang, W., Cao, J., Cui, F. and Wang, X. 2012. Effect of ph. on chemical components and mechanical properties of thermally modified wood. Wood Fiber and Science 44(1): 46-53.
  • Wardell, C. 2015. Thermally modified decking. Professional Deck Builder. June. pp:42-44



Is the Cross-laminated timber (CLT) market an option for the hardwood industry?

Three ply cross-laminated timber (CLT) made of Yellow Poplar

By Henry Quesada

*Articled published in the Virginia Loggers Association Newsletter in August 2018.

Cross laminated timber (CLT) has been in the market since 2000 when it was launched in Austria by a company called KHL. A CLT panel is composed of 3, 5, or 7 layers of lumber. Each layer is glued perpendicularly to each other. Today almost 100% of the CLT panels being produced are made from softwood species and it is estimated that the current CLT production in Europe is around 1 million cubic meters.

In the United States, production of CLT started about 5 years ago. There are currently three companies producing CLT panels in the USA: DR Johnson (OR), Smartlam (MT) and Sterling (IL). DR Johnson uses Douglas Fir (DF) as the main raw material while Smartlam uses Spruce-Pine-Fir (SPF) and Sterling uses Southern Yellow Pine (SYP). It has been announced that over the next two years the following 4 CLT production facilities will start production: Katerra in Washington, a second plant by Smartlam in Maine, LignaCLT Maine, and International Beams in Alabama. All of the upcoming facilities will be using softwoods as raw material.

All of the US CLT current and planned producers (except Sterling Lumber) are in compliant with the CLT standard, PRG-320. Sterling Lumber produces CLT matts for energy projects (non-structural application) so there is no need to follow the CLT standard.

The CLT standard, ANSI/APA PRG-320, does not admit hardwood lumber yet; a major hurdle for hardwood lumber to become an accepted CLT raw material. Any softwood species as described in the ALCS under PS 20 with specific gravity higher than 0.35 should be an acceptable raw material for CLT, according to ANSI/APA PRG-320. In most of the cases, hardwood species have higher specific gravity than softwood, so this should not be a problem. In addition, lumber for CLT should be dried to a moisture content (MC) of 12%+-3%. This is also not an issue for hardwood lumber as most of it is dried to 8% MC.

A key requirement for lumber going into CLT is that the minimum thickness in the PRG-320 is 5/8. As we know, most of hardwood lumber is produced in 4/4 thickness. In addition, the board width should exceed its thickness by 1.5 times (in the major strength direction of the CLT panel) and by 3.5 times in minor strength direction of the panel. Currently, most hardwood mills produce random widths that definitely need to be sorted out to comply with this requirement.

Glue-line performance should be considered too. Hardwood lumber has a more complicated cellular structure than softwood lumber that could present challenges with adhesion. For example, some hardwoods are stiffer than softwoods and this might require additional pressure or pressing time. Also, chemicals in the hardwood lumber could also prevent an optimal glue-line in- between the panels.

Machining hardwood lumber is different than softwood lumber. Because hardwoods have a different structure, there could be a need for different tooling and energy requirements. Some hardwoods present crystals and other hard structures that could wear tools faster than softwood lumber. These issues ultimately will impact cost and productivity of the planer, finger joint, and computer numerical control (CNC) equipment of the CLT production line.

There is also the question about the supply of hardwood lumber for CLT. A medium size CLT plant could process about 50,000 cubic meters per year which translate to roughly 21 million board feet. It is estimated that CLT demand in the US would be very similar to Europe or around 1 million cubic meters (424 million bf). The current structure of hardwood industry is fragmented so it would be very difficult for a major CLT plant to establish a steady and consistent supply of hardwood lumber under these market conditions.

Hardwood sawmills that wish to become suppliers of a CLT panel plant must adjust their production mix. Virginia Tech researchers conducted a mill study and determined that Yellow Poplar lumber that is NHLA graded 2 Common and lower could be sold as raw material for CLT as long as the specific species meet the technical requirements in the PRG 320 (specific gravity, Modulus of Elasticity, etc). Higher grades (1 Common and higher) should continue to be sold in the appearance market as mills can get more revenue in this market than selling it as CLT raw material. Ultimately, hardwood sawmills would need to train their personnel to grade hardwood lumber under structural grading rules.

Other issues that should be considered for hardwood CLT panels is the weight of panels. It has been estimated that hardwood CLT panels could weigh up to 30% more than softwood CLT panels. In terms of logistics and transportation arrangements, this could increase the overall cost and time of the projects as additional trips are required to move the completed hardwood CLT panels to the construction site. An alternative would be produced 3 or 5 ply softwood CLT panels and add a layer of hardwoods just to meet the weight requirement

Finally, there is also the question of sustainability. It has been confirmed by the US Forest Service that growth of hardwood forest doubles its harvesting rates. However, it should be considered that growing hardwoods might take as much as double the time of growing softwood timber. In addition, softwood timber is growing in plantations which increases the productivity of the timber.

As we just pointed out, it seems that there are opportunities for hardwood lumber to participate in the CLT market. However, there are some critical hurdles that need to be resolved before this could happen. At Virginia Tech and other universities, we continue to generate research in technical, manufacturing, and marketing aspects of the potential use of hardwood lumber in the CLT market. If you have questions, please let us know at your earliest convenience.

RESEARCH BRIEF: Strategic Management for competitive advantage: Theories and practice

by Gaurav Kakkar. Email at

Performance is the crux of any business and strategic management is the epicenter governing that performance and creating value for customers, owners and stakeholders. Strategic management is the way managers funnel firm’s functions and actions to fulfil market demand. It is a framework to assess internal and external factors to a firm, integrate activities to learn, adapt and create value both in present and into the future (Amason, 2011). It can be defined in multiple ways. Chandler (1962) defines it as “the determination of the basic long-term goals and objectives of an enterprise, and the adoption of courses of action and the allocation of resources necessary for carrying out the goals”. According to Andrews (1987), strategy is the “pattern of objectives, purposes or goals and the major policies and plans for achieving these goals, stated in such a way as to define what business the company is in or is to be in and the kind of the company it is or is to be”. Both these definitions concentrate on the enterprise itself while defining the strategy. Hofer & Schendel (1978) incorporated external factors while defining the strategy as “the fundamental pattern of present and planned resource deployment and environmental interactions that indicate how the organization will achieve its objectives”. According to Kenichi Ohmae (1982), business strategy is all about competitive advantage with the purpose to “enable a company to gain, as efficiently as possible, a sustainable edge over its competitors”. Gilbert et. al. (1988) defined business strategy as “a set of important decisions derived from a systematic decision making process, conducted at the highest levels of the organization”. And the most recent explanation in the list of prominent attempts to define strategy was by Hoskisson et. al (2008). According to them, it is “an integrated and coordinated set of commitments and actions designed to exploit core competencies and gain competitive advantage”. While these definitions vary in approaches and perspectives, they all describe creation of superior value to achieve competitive market advantage by a firm. Strategic management thus aim at positing the firm within an attractive and manageable environment making it a unifying force guiding the firm to success in the competitive environment. But the next question would be how can the management of Forest products industry in the United States can use these definitions and design their own strategies. The following section of this article discuss prominent theories of strategic management and their applications

1. The resource-based view of the firm

This theoretical perspective emerged during the late 20th century and claims that companies can be seen as bundles of resources, that resources are heterogeneously distributed across companies, and that the market for resources is imperfect (i.e., resource differences persist over time) (Eisenhardt & Martin, 2000). These resources include tangible and intangible assets, capabilities, organizational processes, attributes, information, knowledge etc. that are under firm’s control. As a consequence, firms can create and sustain competitive advantage by acquiring and leveraging resources that are valuable, rare, inimitable and non-substitutable (Barney, 2001; Barney, 1991; Grant, 1991). Despite being most widely accepted approach for achieving competitive advantage, it is also criticized as vague in nature when identifying key resources affecting success (Priem & Butler, 2001). Figure 1 shows the theoretical framework of the approach.

Figure 1. Framework of resource-based view of the firm (Stendahl, 2009).

2. The organizational capabilities approach

This theory opens up the “black box” of resource-based view and explains how resources and capabilities create value and facilitate competitive advantage for firms. Barney (2001) states: “resources are considered valuable if they contribute to either differentiation or cost advantages for a firm in a certain market context.” The term ‘capabilities’ refers to the firm’s capability to distribute and re-assemble its resources to improve productivity (Makadok, 2001) and realize its strategic goals (Teng & Cummings, 2002). Figure 2 shows the theoretical framework of the approach. Korhonen and Niemela (2005) further strengthened this theory by providing a useful overview of the major differences between resources and capabilities:

Figure 2 Resources, infrastructure and organizational capabilities (Stendahl, 2009).

  1. Whereas resources are either tangible or intangible, capabilities combine both: capabilities are clusters of tangible, input resources and knowledge based, intangible resources.”
  2. “Unlike resources, capabilities have an operational, process dimension – they are not factor stocks, but they are factor flows: capabilities present what a firm can do, they are activities, organizational rather than individual skills.”
  3. “Capabilities often take a routine-like form and are path-dependent: if a company were to be dissolved, its capabilities would disappear as well.”




Figure 3 Framework of contingency based strategic fit (Ginsberg & Venkatraman, 1985)

3. Strategic Fit and contingency perspective

This theory of business policy design is based on concept of matching organizational resources with the corresponding environmental context (Chandler, 1962). According to this perspective, market competition and technological development continuously erodes key success factors of an industry. Thus the firm would eventually lose its value over time. Collins (1994) recommended the constant renewal of competitive advantages of the firm making the firm an adaptive system evolving to environmental change. Accordingly, in addition to achieving a strategic fit with present conditions, companies must simultaneously aim for strategic fit of tomorrow, that is, they must develop a feedback mechanism to adapt and learn. Figure 3 shows the theoretical framework of the approach.

4. The dynamic capability view

Figure 4 Resource management process through Dynamic approach (Sirmon, Hitt, & Ireland, 2007)

This theory builds on the adaptive nature of contingency perspective and suggests that cross-functional capabilities in a firm are dynamic in nature. According to Eisenhardt and Martin (2000), Dynamic capabilities “create value for firms within dynamic markets by manipulating resources into new value-creating strategies”. These capabilities developed through learning mechanisms help the firm in not only achieving differentiation and/or cost leadership but gives it the potential to continuously reinvent. The details of a dynamic capability are often idiosyncratic and pathdependent, but the main features are more common (Eisenhardt & Martin, 2000). This theory attempts to prepare the firm for volatile market conditions by enhancing its existing resources and competitive advantages. Figure 4 shows the theoretical framework of the approach.

Creating value is inherent to every firm while translating available inputs to desired outputs. But value creation is never easy. Customers can learn and change without warning, competitors can take over with something of better value. The suppliers would want to increase their bargain power. Changing demographics, economic and technological conditions and unforeseen catastrophizes can undermine any competitive advantage of the firm. To summarize, it is important for the firm to develop sustainable strategies in order to sustain volatile market conditions and maintain its competitive advantage. Strategy is about when and where to go and how to get there in the best way. The theories introduced in this article are amongst the most commonly employed for strategic management by businesses all around the world. It is the firm’s responsibility to put these theories to practice based on its product range and market segment, The management should also include product development and resource management decisions into the long term strategy design when translating these theories to principles and practice.


  • Amason, A. C. (2011). Strategic management: From theory to practice. New York: Routledge.
  • Andrews, K. R. (1987). The concept of Corporate Strategy. Homewood, IL: Irwin.
  • Barney, J. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management, 99-120.
  • Barney, J. (2001). Is the resource-based view a useful perspective for strategic management research? Yes. Academy of Management Review, 41-56.
  • Chandler, A. (1962). Strategy and structure: chapters in the history of American enterprise. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Collis, D. (1994). Research note – how valuable are organizational capabilities. . Strategic Management Journal, 67-73.
  • Eisenhardt, K. M., & Martin, J. A. (2000). Dynamic Capabilities: What are they? Strategic Management Journal, 1105-1121.
  • Gilbert, D. R., Harlman, E., Mauriel, J. J., & Freeman, R. E. (1988). A logic for Strategy. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing.
  • Ginsberg, A., & Venkatraman, N. (1985). Contingency Perspectives of the Organizational Strategy: A Critical Review of the Empirical Research. The Academy of Management Review, 421-434.
  • Grant, R. (1991). The resource-based theory of competitive advantage: implications for strategy formulation. California Management Review, 114-135.
  • Hofer, C. W., & Schendel, D. (1978). Strategy Formulation: Analytical Concepts. St. Paul: West Publishing.
  • Hoskisson, R. E., Hitt, M. A., Ireland, R. D., & Harrison, J. D. (2008). Competing for Advantage (2nd ed.). Mason, OH: Thomson/South-Western.
  • Makadok, R. (2001). Toward a synthesis of the resource-based and dynamic-capability views of rent creation. Strat. Manage. J., 387-401.
  • Ohmae, K. (1987). The Mind of the Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Priem, R., & Butler, J. (2001). Is the resource-based “view” a useful perspective for strategic management reserach? Academy of Management Review, 22-40.
  • Sirmon, D., Hitt, M., & Ireland, R. (2007). Managing firm resources in dynamic environments to create value: Looking inside the black box. Academy of Management Review, 273-292.
  • Stendahl, M. (2009). Product Development in the Wood Industry (Doctotal Thesis). Uppasala: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
  • Teng, B. S., & Cummings, J. L. (2002). Trade-offs in managing resources and capabilities. Acad. Manage.Executive J., 81-91.

TALLER: Mercadeo estratégico para industrias forestales

Descripción del programa:

Las industrias forestales son entidades críticas en la generación de bienestar social, económico y ambiental. En países en vías de desarrollo el uso sostenible de recursos naturales como el bosque, continúa siendo una prioridad importante tanto para el sector público como para las empresas privadas y organizaciones sin fines de lucro.


En los últimos años se han dado acontecimientos importantes que impactan el sector forestal en Costa Rica. El aumento de la masa boscosa, el reconocimiento de los beneficios de la madera como material renovable y su aporte a la mitigación de la huella de carbono, han sido importantes avances en la formación de una estrategia unificada e imparcial que puede traer grandes beneficios a la industria y la comunidad en general. Sin embargo; el apoyo al sector industrial forestal continua siendo débil y es poco lo que se está haciendo para aprovechar estas oportunidades.

Este curso de capacitación tiene como objetivo el proveer de lineamientos básicos a industrias forestales interesadas para identificar y  aprovechar estas oportunidades a través de la función de mercadeo. El curso combina presentaciones magistrales con trabajo individual y grupal. Las presentaciones se basan en ejemplos prácticos de la función de mercadeo aplicado en la industria forestal. Los trabajos individuales y grupales sirven para reforzar y aplicar lo aprendido de manera que se incremente la absorción de conocimiento.

Objetivo general:

  • Entender y aplicar elementos básicos de la función de mercadeo en industrias forestales

Objetivos específicos:

  • Entender la importancia de la función de mercadeo en la industria forestal
  • Entender los principios básicos de mercadeo aplicado a industrias forestales
  • Aprender como utilizar herramientas de planeación estratégica para diseñar e implementar planes de mercadeo

Temario y agenda tentativa:

Día 1




1. Situación mundial de la industria forestal 8:30 am Presentación
2. Dirección estratégica en la empresa forestal 9:15 am Presentación
Receso 10:00 am
3. Principios básicos de mercadeo 10:15 am Presentación
4. Definición de producto 11:00 am Presentación
Receso 12:00 pm
5. Estrategias de promoción 1:00 pm Presentación/Trabajo individual
6. Establecimiento de precio 1:45 pm Presentación/Trabajo individual
Receso 2:30 pm
7. Distribución de producto 2:45 pm Presentación/Trabajo individual
8. Herramientas para implementación de estrategias 3:30 pm Presentación
9. Diseño de estrategia 4:15 pm Trabajo grupal
Cierre día 1 5:00 pm

Día 2

10. Inteligencia en mercadotecnia 8:30 am Presentación/Trabajo individual
11. Diseño de estrategia de mercadeo 9:45 am Trabajo grupal
Receso 10:30 am
12. Presentaciones de estrategias de mercadeo 10:45 am Trabajo grupal
13. Mercadeo internacional para empresas forestales 11:30 am Presentación
Cierre de evento 12:15 pm

Instructor del curso:

PIC2El curso será impartido por el Dr. Henry Quesada, profesor del Instituto Tecnológico y Universidad Estatal de Virginia (Virginia Tech) en el Departamento de Biomateriales Sostenibles. Henry tiene 18 años de experiencia en temas de investigación de operaciones, mercadeo, innovación, y manufactura esbelta como profesor, consultor, e industrial.  En la industria, Henry trabajó por dos años en La Nación en la división Impresión Comercial. Como académico, Henry trabajó por 10 años en el Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica y actualmente es profesor titular en el Virginia Tech desde el 2008. Henry ha publicado más de 30 artículos arbitrados, participado en más de 100 conferencias como ponente, y ha participado como líder o co-líder en proyectos de investigación por más de $3 millones. Henry es Ingeniero en Producción Industrial del ITCR, y tiene una maestría y doctorado de la Universidad de Purdue en EEUU en Tecnología de Maderas.

Inscripción, fechas, y lugar:

  • La inversión para el taller es de $125. Incluye refrigerio y certificado de participación
  • Para inscripciones y detalles contactar al Ing. Diego Camacho al correo
  • Lugar y fechas: 7-8 de Agosto 2014, instalaciones del Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica en Cartago.



WEI Lab Supports the VT FSAE team

2014 Car Rendering

Blacksburg, VA. It took over 25 hours of CAD, CAM, and CNC work to manufacture five different molds that the VF FSAE team will be using to make the panels for its prototype racing car.

2014 Car Rendering

The VT FSAE has been competing for over 26 years and they finished 13th in last year competition. For 2014, the team’s goal is to quality for the International Formula SAE competition in Michigan where 120 other Universities and colleges will compete.

2014 Car Rendering2014 Car RenderingThe VT FSAE is composed of 33 students divided in seven teams including suspension, drivetrain, engine, electrical, aerodynamics, testing, and ergonomics. The final prototype car must be built under FSAE regulations and must past a through inspection before it is allowed to compete.

VT FSAE 1For 2014, the team is redirecting efforts to improve several of the car components, including the body. Hence, the team started a search to locate a large CNC equipment that could be used to cut the molds required for the body parts. The material used to cut the molds is a high density foam that is easy to manufacture. The WEI CNC equipment is just what the VT FSAE team needed and under the supervision of Dr. Henry Quesada the team quickly became familiar with the CAD/CAM software and the operation of the  CNC machine.

The way that the VT FSAE operates involves knowledge transfer from senior to freshman students, as key critical factor to be able to compete and complete the project which is very similar to the approach of WEI program at the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials.


The team structure is the following

  •   Team Leader: Vincent Sorrento
  •    Team Moderator: Dan Buckrop
  •     Team Facilitator: Nabeel Ahsan
  • Sub-team structure
  • Suspension
  •         Team Leader: Hannah Bever – Chassis
  •             Nabeel Ahsan, Taylor Turner – Uprights
  •             Alex Pape – Suspension design and geometry, springs, dampers, tires.
  •             Mike Lane – Suspension Structures
  •             Cody Kees – Bell cranks
  •             James Callaway – Steering


  •          Team Leader: Mackenzie Hoover – Brakes
  •             Alex Coyle – Rear chunk
  •             Alex Girard – Shifting, Simulation
  •             Kyle Torrico, Thomas Barfield – Rotating components
  •             Brian McNulty – Wheel inners, wheel outers
  •             Danny Whitehurst – Half shafts, tripod bearings


  •          Team Leader: Dan Buckrop – Engine airflow, Intake
  •             Clay Brubaker – Controls, tuning
  •             Johnny Noble, Carter Moore – Oil, Fuel, Cooling
  •             Mark Anton – Engine airflow, exhaust


  •          Team Leader: Bryce Crane – Telemetry, diagnostics
  •             Natan Diskin – Wiring
  •             Kori Price, Glenn Feinberg, Brian Kwan – Power stream, power budget module
  •             Tyler Diomedi – Packaging
  •             Daniel Ridenour – Graduate Assistant


  •          Team Leader: Stephen Young – Under tray, diffuser
  •             Sean Lynch, Chris van Oss – Wings
  •             James Bizjak – Structures


  •          Team Leader: Brian Oeters – Test Planning & Data Acquisition
  •             Akira Madono, Dylan Verster – Test Planning & Data Acquisition


  •          Team Leader: Rachel White – Project management, cost analysis
  •             Eric Peterka, Jeff Petrillo – Pedal box
  •             Matt Marchese, Lucas Keese – Steering wheel, seats
  •             Sam Ellis – Cost analysis, facilities planning.

If you have any more questions about student CAD/CAM/CNC projects that the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials support, please contact Dr. Henry Quesada at