Filling a Void: U-Idaho Announces Renewable Materials Program

Thursday, March 7 2013

MOSCOW, Idaho — With the market for green products on the rise, the need for employees with skills and experiences in developing and marketing green products is becoming critical. The University of Idaho’s recently renamed College of Natural Resources Renewable Materials program is uniquely suited to develop future professionals to meet this need.

“This is an exciting, new opportunity for students, faculty and staff,” said Tom Gorman, professor of renewable resources and associate dean. “To be a national leader in renewable materials education is a confirmation of the quality of students, faculty and programs coming out of the College of Natural Resources and the University of Idaho.”

The university currently houses the only undergraduate renewable materials degree in the nation that has a fully integrated business component, where students will learn not only how to develop materials from bio-based and repurposed materials, but also how to develop a business around those products.

Building on the strength of the university’s successful forest products degree, the renewable resources program will continue to provide generations of students with a well-balanced educational experience leading to careers focused on creating and using sustainable, wood-based building materials.

In addition, Gorman said the new curriculum will expand the forestry focus to include other reusable materials, while also emphasizing products and energy developed from sustainably managed forests and by-products from agricultural crops.

“By expanding the scope of what we can offer, we are able to serve more students and prepare them for greater opportunities after graduation,” said Gorman.

What makes the program truly unique though, is the business education component. Gorman added students will have more competitive skills for careers in the manufacture, marketing and use of sustainable natural materials.

In a landscape where resources are becoming more limited, renewable materials, those that can be replaced by biological means such as sustainably managed forests or residues from agricultural food crops, are becoming increasingly vital.

Gorman said these products offer environmental benefits for society because they typically consume less energy in their preparation, and they can be reused, recycled or composted at the end of their useful life. In addition, renewable, bio-based energy sources reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to energy self-reliance.

Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in renewable materials can specialize in construction and design, business management, materials acquisition and supply, bio-based materials or bio-energy. This degree program is accredited by the Society of Wood Science and Technology.

For more information contact the College of Natural Resources Student Services Center at (208) 885-5018 or email
# # #

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho inspires students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. Through the university’s $225 million Inspiring Futures capital campaign, private giving will enhance student learning, faculty research and innovation, and a spirit of enterprise. Learn more: