Wood industry suppliers completed a five-day intensive woodworking training session in January 2015. Sponsored by the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association and Pittsburg State University, the WMIA/PSU Boot Camp was a instructional course on secondary wood processing fundamentals for sales professionals, managers, product managers and executives. 
 
But students didn’t sit idly in lectures –  though there were plenty of classroom hours during the 50-hour workshop. In addition to providing an overview of the wood processing industry, the WMIA/PSU Boot Camp brought the attendees into the lab, where they sawed, cut, sanded, joined and finished wood components that embodied the classic moves of a casegoods producer. 
“We wanted manufacturers to see the entire process, and how what they do affects the other areas of manufacture,” says Doug Hague, assistant professor at PSU. The program was devised, says Hague, as a thanks to the many industry suppliers that have generously supported PSU’s wood expand sales skills and industry knowledge with a hands-on approach to several fundamental wood processing applications and machines.  
 
Exposure-level Training
 
The Boot Camp, designed to provide a shortcut to a broad understanding of the industry’s manufacturing processes, is a unique project-based program that provides an exposure-level curriculum. Mimicking a full, four-year woodworking program at PSU, the course included AutoCAD and CAM software, CNC machinery operation, tool technology, veneering, millwork, cabinetry, finishing, primary processing and the science behind the characteristics of certain wood species. Students also were exposed to other subjects, including basics of establishing a dust collection system, OSHA regulations — a lot to learn, all compressed into a week of 10-hour days. Hague and his colleague assistant professor Charlie Phillips are two Pittsburg State University instructors who have a passion for the woodworking industry and for educating. 
 
A Long Partnership
 
“We wanted to see the program incorporate many steps involved in a typical manufacturing shop environment. Boot Camp accomplishes that and gives attendees a concise industry overview,”  says Jason Howell, WMIA Education Committee Chair. 
 
“A similar program to this was offered at North Carolina State University back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and it has had a very positive impact on our industry for decades now,” says Howell. “We are hoping that the Boot Camp will provide another such long-lasting benefit to our industry through this partnership of WMIA and PSU.” The program was also devised, Hague says, as an appreciative gesture to the many industry suppliers that have generously supported PSU’s wood tech program. The concept of the course was born in late 2013, the brainchild of major machinery supporters Martin, CR Onsrud, Timesavers, and Weinig in conjunction with WMIA.
 
To date, 18 wood industry suppliers have attended the two WMIA/PSU Boot Camps held earlier this year. (A second was held in June.) These students experienced firsthand Hague and Phillips’ encyclopedic knowledge of wood production processes and their abilities to educate on all aspects of the manufacturing processes. According to WMIA, the January session was an outstanding success that the instructors received the Educator of the Year Award at WIC 2015 (page 8). Hague and Phillips were nominated for the recognition by J.J. Besonen from Wood Machinery Systems, Minnetonka, MN, who attended the inaugural Boot Camp. Besonen says that their desire for students to fully understand machines, and to gain insight into the overall direction of the industry shows how much the two care.
 
The Educator Award is given annually to someone within an educational institution or company training program in the woodworking industry. The programs must include hands-on training on high technology machinery supplied by WMIA member companies. “It was an honor just to be nominated for this award,” Hague says, “but to actually win went above and beyond our expectations.” The Boot Camps immersion training sessions for wood industry suppliers really pack a lot into  a short time in an effort to broaden their knowledge of the overall wood manufacturing processes. “They are intense,” admits Hague.  “We try to pack four years into four and a half, 10-hour days. Our goals with the camp are to facilitate and inspire learning, and to show people where the resources are – to put them in their hands.”
 
The next WMIA/PSU Boot Camp is scheduled for January 2016. “We are open to ideas of other training ideas like short courses or more focused content, and are looking for feedback as to what those courses might look like and where the interest would be generated,” Hague says. 
 
Signing Up Boot Camp
 
The cost for WMIA members is $1,950 (non-members pay $2,250), which includes the 45 hours of workshop time, a suppliers resource book, a copy of Architectural Woodwork Standards, hotel lodging, local transportation, two meals daily for each participant and “fun-filled, bond-building dinners in the evenings,” Hague adds. It is a great value, which is generously underwritten by WMIA, he points out.
 
For the next session to be held in January 2016, WMIA Members receive a $400 discount, and tuition includes hotel, meals, course materials and project materials. As all attendees will be working on machines, space is limited to 16 participants per session.
 
WMIA also welcomes WMMA participation in its upcoming Boot Camp. Interested WMMA Members can register for this Event at the WMIA Member Rate.  info@wtii.net  
For more information, or to register for the January 4-8, 2016 session, visit wtii.net. 

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