A new undergraduate bursary helps wood science students realize their dreams.
Alan R. Casselman Bursary in Forestry
Wood and wood derivatives are found in more products today than at any other point in history. Wear rayon? The material is extracted from wood-derived cellulose or other plant materials. Home insulation? Researchers have developed wood-based foam to produce that. The same goes for renewable plastics, packaging materials and a host of other products. Tall wood buildings that outperform steel and concrete? Scientific studies and knowledge-sharing have made them a reality.
The seemingly endless permutations of wood products drew former chemistry and engineering student, Ghullam Yahia Muneeb, to study the renewable resource at UBC Forestry’s Department of Wood Science.
“I am very interested in the environmental aspects of wood,” notes Ghullam. “Products such as cross-laminated timber, glulam and other engineered wood products are replacing non-renewable products used in home construction, such as concrete. I see a lot of potential for growth and job opportunities in this industry.”
At the end of his second year of a Wood Products Processing undergraduate degree, Ghullam is also the inaugural recipient of the Alan R. Casselman Bursary in Forestry. The award – made possible through an endowment established by Alan R. Casselman (BSF’61) – helps relieve some of the financial burden on students like Ghullam.
“I dealt with a lot of financial hardships moving here from Alberta, including an even higher cost of living from inflation,” says Ghullam.
Ghullam faced squeezing a full course load of studies between full-time work to make ends meet. The bursary he received made it possible for him to focus on his degree.
Like Ghullam, Alan came to forestry obliquely. After losing his footing in the second year of a commerce degree, Alan took two years away from university to work as an invoice clerk, survey assistant, chokerman and log scaler in the forest sector. He then received some sage advice from then UBC Forestry Dean George S. Allen, who encouraged him to pursue a degree in forestry at UBC, where he found his calling.
Alan’s keen interest in wood products led him down a highly successful career path as an engineered lumber products consultant. He managed wood products market research with MacMillan Bloedel, including identifying new markets for the company’s groundbreaking Parallam manufactured wood product. Along with David Parker, former general manager of the Parallam Division at MacMillan Bloedel, Alan co-founded StrongWood Technologies Inc., a new proprietary engineered wood technology.
“I have had a great career,” says Alan, “and forestry continues to have a huge impact on me.”
Alan remains close with some of his former UBC Forestry classmates to this day. He decided to help out the next generation of UBC Wood Science majors by providing them with financial support to pursue their studies through the Alan R. Casselman Bursary in Forestry.
After graduation, Ghullam plans to work in industry as a quality control specialist in wood building materials before pursuing a master’s in architecture and PhD in timber engineering.
“My eventual plan is to become a professor of timber engineering,” Ghullam says.
“I’m very thankful to Alan Casselman for this support. It’s really helped me a lot.”– Ghullam Yahia Muneeb