OSU-UBB-NSF Collaborative Education and Research Project

In 2015, the College of Forestry put out a request to all faculty for project proposals to further the mission of the Chile Initiative, part of an ongoing internationalization strategy to connect the College of Forestry with trading nations along the Pacific Rim. Fred Kamke, a professor in the department of Wood Science and Engineering and the JELD-WEN Chair, recognized this as an opportunity. Kamke developed his proposal for the OSU-UBB-NSF Collaborative Education and Research Project which will include undergraduate internships and graduate student assistantships at OSU for Chilean students from the University of Bío Bío (UBB). Kamke contacted Dr. Aldo Ballerini, one of Kamke’s former Ph.D. students who is currently Vice Rector at UBB. After inviting him to assist on the project, Kamke and Ballerini, along with the Director of Institutional Relations and International Affairs, Dr. Maureen Trebilcock, worked together to make the project a reality.

While the project itself focuses on providing international opportunities for students, Kamke’s goal for this project has to do with combining the interests of OSU and the Wood-Based Composites Center (WBC). The WBC is a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center of which OSU is one of the two primary university sites. Part of the mission of the WBC is to interest students worldwide in careers relating to the wood-based composites industry and to provide a channel of intellectual exchange between professionals and students involved in this field. Fortuitously, WBC has member companies throughout North America, two of which are owned by the Chilean companies Forestal Arauco and Oxiquim. Arauco recently purchased Flakeboard facilities in Eugene and Albany, Oregon and is planning to hire English speaking students in the field of wood-based composites. Kamke believes that the OSU-UBB-NSF Collaborative Education and Research Project will be the best method to combine the interests of Oregon State University, the WBC, and the University of Bío Bío, all while furthering the mission of the Chile Initiative. Kamke explains that the project is expected to “prime the pump” for students from Chile interested in wood-based composites to make their way to OSU for study and research.

In November of 2015, Kamke traveled to Chile on a recruiting trip at the University of Bío Bío. He was met by Bruno Gorrini and Vincente Gambaro, representatives from Arauco and Oxiquim, and together they selected the projects first interns. Two undergraduate students, one an industrial engineer and the other a mechanical engineer, are now scheduled to start five-month internships at Oregon State University this summer. Through participation in the OSU-UBB-NSF Collaborative Education and Research Project, Kamke seeks to ignite students’ interest in the field of wood-based composites. The hands-on experience gained during the internship will benefit these students in their future careers and perhaps encourage them to conduct further research at OSU in their graduate studies. Kamke is pleased with the caliber of these undergraduates, and he hopes that in the future the project will attract graduate students to OSU’s Department of Wood Science and Engineering. The hope is that, after completing their degrees at OSU, these students will consider seeking employment at Arauco’s or Oxiquim’s facilities in Oregon or Chile, providing an influx of interested and qualified applicants.

The outcomes of the international research and cooperation conducted in the OSU-UBB-NSF Collaborative Education and Research Project will benefit all students involved whether they be from Chile or the United States. “Anytime you bring people from overseas, [there is an] interaction benefit for everybody,” says Kamke.

At this point in time, Kamke is focused on providing an enriching learning experience for the two undergraduate students arriving at OSU in August. In the years to come, Kamke plans for his project to provide an ongoing flow of Chilean students looking to conduct research and graduate studies at OSU, with the Wood-Based Composites Center providing financial support. Kamke’s project will ultimately help create qualified professionals in the field of wood-based composites who are eager to pursue global careers while strengthening OSU’s ties to Chilean academic and industry partners.


Written by Rebecca Leclere, CoF International Programs