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Welcome message from our Department Head



Department head picture Bob Smith, Department Head and Professor. Department of Sustainable Biomaterials

Welcome to the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials. Students in our program study how our natural resources can be sustainably utilized to meet society’s growing needs for products that can replace our country’s dependence on fossil fuels. We provide students with the training to work with the next generation of biomaterials from renewable forests and other renewable plant materials. Students can focus in areas such as sustainable biobased products, green engineered wood structures, innovation-based manufacturing, traditional forest products, renewable biofuels, advanced packaging systems, and natural resource based business systems. These are the growth areas for renewable materials in the global economy in the 21st century. There are an increasing number of career opportunities available in these emerging fields, along with numerous jobs with traditional forest products organizations. Students in our program learn how to apply the disciplines of business, civil and industrial engineering, chemistry, physics, and physical science to our most abundant, renewable natural resource —wood. The department has numerous scholarships available to students in good academic standing, and many organizations offer summer internships.

The employment options for graduates from the department are very strong, with many students receiving multiple job offers. These options reflect the diversity of the program and the importance of the traditional biomaterial industry such as forest products, packaging, and the expanding bio-economy. Because the discipline of sustainable biomaterials is a growth sector, there is a continuing need for well-educated individuals to lead companies and government agencies in this area. Virginia Tech is one of the few programs in North America that offers students a breadth of educational training to meet society’s needs for sustainable products. From the latest advances in biopolymers and biofuels to traditional forest products, Virginia Tech provides students with an education that will not only help them find a meaningful career, but will help our society reduce our carbon footprint.

Our faculty are all leaders in their respective disciplines. Faculty research interests include green engineering, forest products, manufacturing excellence, business, biopolymers, wood anatomy, organic and physical chemistry, international marketing, lean manufacturing, industrial engineering, packaging science, and biochemistry. Students can choose from a number of degree options depending upon their career interests. These include:

  • Sustainable Biomaterials, with concentrations in Sustainable Residential Structures,  Sustainable Enterprise, and Creating Sustainable Society. Graduates work in growth area of the green bioeconomy in developing new businesses using sustainable biomaterials. In the residential wood structures option, students learn how to apply innovative technologies to design and build energy efficient structures made from a variety of sustainable biomaterials, including wood.

  • Packaging Systems and Design, is a diverse field with many jobs, where student learn to design systems for the transportation of the world’s products and produce, ranging from aseptic food packaging to palletized systems for the marketplace. Reducing waste and providing for more efficient transportation is one part of this field, but creating appealing packaging designs to help market products while also protecting them, is a very important part of what graduates in this field do.

The Department of Sustainable Biomaterials is a global leader in this discipline. Through our focus on educating students, we serve the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the region, the nation, and the world. Our vision is to provide the best education possible in sustainable biomaterials development and application. We are very proud of our department, faculty, and students. I invite you to explore our website ( and learn more about our programs. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance.

Bob Smith
Department Head and Professor
Department of Sustainable Biomaterials

Sustainable Biomaterials - Applying the "STEM" disciplines to sustainable natural resources.



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