Bob Smith, the college’s associate dean for engagement and head of the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials, was named president of the Society of Wood Science and Technology. The society is one of the largest internationally recognized organizations of biomaterials professionals, with over 500 members from around the world.

One of Smith’s goals is to develop ways to bring more students into professions relating to sustainable biomaterials. “High school students aren’t necessarily aware that this field of study is even an option,” he explained. “They may come into college thinking they want to be an architect or an engineer and only later discover that they can blend that interest into what we do in sustainable biomaterials.”

Smith also hopes to examine and possibly revise the society’s accreditation standards to account for a growing focus on sustainability, which he thinks will help attract more students to the field. “This generation of students is very sensitive to environmental issues and wants to make a difference in these areas. This is a great profession for students to do that in a setting with just as much demand for jobs as engineering or business,” Smith said. Virginia Tech has one of the 10 programs in the U.S. currently accredited by the society.

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