University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
History of the Forest Products Laboratory

Interview #913: Youngs, Robert L. (June, 2009)

View all of First Interview Session (February 13, 2008)

Previous Previous subsection

Next subsection Next



 

00:22:46 - 00:37:39 Wood Drying

wood drying; Rasmussen, Ed; McMillan, John; Reitz, Ed; mechanical properties of wood, wood engineering, wood processing, assistant director, division chief; Locke, Edward; international travel, Forest Service Washington Office, Southern Forest Experiment Station; New Orleans, LA; International Union of Forest Research Organizations

RealAudio Listen to this section

00:22:46

RealAudio Listen to this segment

BW

Ok. Now, during the time that you worked for Forest Products Labs, were there any projects or offices that you held that you found particularly challenging?

BY

I'm sorry I couldn't follow you.

BW

Sure. Were there any projects or jobs that you had that you found particularly challenging, while at Forest Products Labs?

BY

Jobs that what?

BW

That were challenging.

BY

Challenging? Well, they all were. Certainly the work in drying stresses that I began on with John McMillan was challenging, because actually we were setting up a basis for instructions to those involved in drying wood commercially, which came out in the form of a dry kiln operator's handbook, which I cooperated - I worked with Ed Rasmussen and John McMillan and another gentleman named Ed Reitz - in preparing. And that still - that handbook is still in use. It's been revised several times since, but the challenge in those, then was to prepare the original kiln operator's manual, and I was very much involved in doing that and the research that provided a basis for it.

BW

Ok. What sort of projects did you find the most satisfying?

BY

What sort of projects were most satisfying? Well, I think the wood drying work was satisfying, in the sense that I had a chance to continue it and carry it further. And as I said, I carried that on into my dissertation work at Yale, and then did further work related to it after I finished my Ph.D. work at Yale. I did further, really challenging work in how temperature and moisture and time of exposure affected the characteristics of wood that related to how it would dry and how it would perform under changing moisture and temperature conditions. And I did quite a lot of that work. Then after I had done that about a year or so after I got back from Yale - or finished my work at Yale, I mean - they made me a project leader in charge of work on mechanical properties of wood, and then I had to spend much more time working at that. There it was challenging in the sense that we were getting information on how wood behaved mechanically that was needed for establishing standards in the wood construction industry. And the previous information, which had been gathered over many years at the Lab had to be refined and put in terms of modern engineering concepts and we spent quite a bit of time both doing that research and determining properties of wood under construction conditions and also working with people both from the industry and from other research institutions in applying that information. That was certainly the next challenge.

00:27:22

RealAudio Listen to this segment

BW

Ok. Are there any colleagues or people you used to work with that you have any memories or stories that you'd like to share?

BY

Any - I'm sorry - any colleagues who what?

BW

Any colleagues that you have any stories about, or any memories about, that you'd like to share?

BY

I can't think of any. Colleagues. Well, I have lots of them, but I can't think of any particular stories.

BW

That's not a problem.

BY

Pardon?

BW

That's no problem. Can you maybe talk a little bit about the different positions that you had?

BY

Different positions?

BW

Yeah, kind of trace your work history at Forest Products Labs?

BY

Yeah, ok. I mentioned being project leader in wood engineering. I did that for about, lets see it was about '58 - until - for about six years. And I had a great many challenges as we modernized the establishing standards for mechanical properties of wood. And then in '63 I was appointed the Assistant Director of the Lab, in charge of wood processing. It was called Division Chief in those days, and it was really assistant director in charge of all projects dealing with gluing and laminating and wood protection and machining and all those things. And I did that. And then in '64, after I'd done that job about a year, Ed Locke, who was then the director - Dr. Edward G. Locke - decided that I need more international exposure, and he did something which is quite unusual, even now. He told me to set up a trip of six weeks, in which I would visit all of the forest products research institutions in Western Europe. So, I got busy and set up contacts with all those folks who'd been doing forest products research in the nature institutions in England and France and Germany and Spain and Portugal and Switzerland. And then I made that trip and visited all of them, and that was very good international exposure, and also I got about all the traveling I wanted at that time.

And so when I came back from that I was much better informed about the international situation, as far as forest products research is concerned. And this was very useful, and then the way things go in an institution like the Forest Service, I was asked to take some, take a few weeks and come into the Washington office of the Forest Service, in Washington D.C., and help them with some administrative problems in the research section in there, and I did that. And, let's see, for a few weeks I did that and it was - then you learn how the world of Washington works. And then, shortly after that, I had a call from the Director saying that they had called him from Washington and wanted me to transfer in to Washington. And I did that in - lets see if I've got my time right - '66. And I was on the staff of the Deputy Chief for Research, and then doing various jobs, and communicating with Congress and so forth. And then I was assigned to head up the section dealing particularly with forest products and wood engineering research, in a staff role for the Deputy Chief. So I was in Washington then until 1970, and then they I guess decided that I needed some other experience so I became the Director of the Southern Forest Experiment Station, which is headquartered in New Orleans, and has laboratories---it's not like the Forest Products Lab - it has a whole bunch of projects at universities mostly, scattered all over the mid-south, dealing with forestry in all aspects. A little bit in products, but more actually in the forest and dealing with the wildlife and the relation with cattle and the civil-cultural research going on, and the genetics research going on, and all these things - which was, of course, a tremendously broadening experience.

And I did that for about two and a half years, and then they said we'd like to have you come back to Washington. And then I went back to Washington as Associate Deputy Chief for Research; I was the back-up for the man who was in charge of Forest Service research, which I did for another three years. And in the process of this, I got acquainted with Forest Service research all over the country and a lot of the university research and industry research that related to it. And then in '75, I went back to Madison as Director of the Lab, and was there until I retired in 1985. And in the course of this, and probably as a result of the international experience I'd had early in my career at the Lab, I became very much involved in international cooperative research in forest products and forestry generally. There's a major organization that ties together forest research institutions all over the world that's called the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, and it goes by its acronym, I-U-F-R-O, IUFRO. And I became very active in that and for some years headed up the forest products research within that, which was a matter of communicating with and setting up programs of cooperation of research among institutions all over the world. And at the time I retired from the Lab, I was still very active in that organization, in IUFRO. And when I went to Virginia Tech in 1975, they provided some support for me to continue that work for a couple years, which I did. So, well I don't know what more you want.

Previous Previous subsection

Next subsection Next




Go up to Top of Page