Welcome to the course site for the Wood Design Studio – BCT597F at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Instructor: Professor Clouston
Office: Design Building, Room 316
Office hours: Tuesdays (10-11am) and Wednesdays (2-3pm). Please email if you would like to set up an appointment outside of these times.
email: clouston@umass.edu

Meetings: Spring Term. Mondays (and some Wednesdays) @ 11:20-12:05, Design Building 120 & 162
Credits: 1

The Wood Design Studio is an active-learning course that empowers students to design, build, and physically test their own ideas to solve construction related building problems. The course follows an inquiry-based learning format where students explore questions, develop and research hypotheses, reflect on their own learning and gain a deeper understanding of course concepts to become better critical thinkers.  Each week, students will be presented with a topic, problem, or question as a stimulus for learning and thinking. Classes will entail some instruction but will depend largely on student participation; specifically, completing reading assignments prior to each class, planning for class activities, making and breaking structures during class time, recording and reporting results, and reflecting upon the results. Grades will be based on class participation and weekly reports.

Course topics include fundamental engineering concepts such as: composite action, moment connections, joist stress, and compression arches. While learning about exciting and new composite materials (like laminated veneer bamboo and Cross Laminated Timber), this course is a great resume builder and a fun introduction to materials research and technical communication. The intent of the course is to develop learners who will become the next generation of innovators.

Course Objectives
Upon completion of this course, students will:
– be familiar with structural failure behavior of wood and wood composites
– understand fundamental engineering concepts like composite action
– possess questioning and critical problem-solving skills
– work productively in teams
– have a foundation of basic approaches for performing scientific materials research

Course Components

  • Monday meetings: Class will meet for 50 minute sessions on Mondays for students to work through the week’s assignment. Attendance to Monday class is mandatory.
  • Wednesday meetings: On some weeks, class will meet again on Wednesday – for example, when structural tests are conducted. These Wednesday sessions are optional, but participation is highly encouraged.
  • Reflection sheets: Each week, students will be asked to complete and submit a self reflection sheet.  The ‘best’ reflection sheet will be posted on the course website serving as a desirable model to follow.

Grading and Evaluation

Attendance to Monday’s sessions: 40%
10 reflection sheets: 60% (or 7 reflection sheets: 40% + Term Project: 20%)