Understanding Wood and Wood Products

This is the online version of a course that I am teaching in the Building and Construction Technology (BCT) program at UMass Amherst. This course is available to everyone on a per-credit fee basis.

Course Description

Wood is an amazing building material: It is beautiful and warm to the touch. It is easy to machine and abundantly available. It is light, yet strong and stiff. And best of all: It comes from a renewable source. To build with wood, however, requires understanding its peculiarities: the variability of its properties, its interaction with water and the possibility of bio-deterioration.

This course introduces students to the physical and mechanical properties of wood. It provides an overview of wood-based products and exposes students to structural systems in wood. Basic techniques for physical measurement and mechanical testing are introduced by conducting and analyzing several laboratory experiments.

Learning Outcomes

  • Appreciation for the qualities of wood as a building material through evaluation of its properties, manufacturing techniques and aesthetic appeal
  • Awareness of properties that affect the performance of wood. In particular, understanding of the wood-moisture relationship
  • Understanding of typical and potential applications of wood
  • Awareness of structural systems for wood and methods to plan and manufacture these
  • Understanding of wood-based products used in construction, their manufacture, properties and peculiarities
  • Awareness of importance of experimental verification of material properties
  • Introduction into structural testing equipment, wood drying, and laboratory measurements



Course Format

This course is delivered online through the UMass Amherst learning management systems. A lab component included in this course can be completed virtually.

Dates and Cost

Fall Term (September – December, 14 weeks):

  • BCT 597W: $TBD ($TBD/credit) plus a $47 term fee (2020 rates)

Where to sign up

You can find these courses and register on the UMass University Without Walls (UWW) website.