Special CAWP Projects

The UBC Centre for Advanced Wood Processing undertakes a number of special projects that utilise the expertise and knowledge of our technical specialists, researchers, and students. This page describes some of these activities.

Victory Ceremony Medal Podium Project for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games

On February 2nd the artistic elements to be used in the Victory Celebrations for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games were unveiled by BC Premier Gordon Campbell and VANOC CEO John Furlong at televised press events at the VANOC Main Press Centre and the Robson Square BC Showcase Centre. The most prominent of these were the podiums that athletes will stand upon to receive their medals. Constructed of a multitude of solid vertical wood elements topped by a white “hockey pond”-like surface, the shape of the podia bring to mind the coastline of Vancouver Island, while the materials used boldly symbolize the importance of forests to British Columbia’s citizens. The unveiling marks the completion of several months of intensive effort by a team at UBC’s Centre for Advanced Wood Processing (CAWP), which played a central role in creating the 23 distinctive wooden medal ceremony podia and 84 medal trays that will soon be seen on the world stage. The CAWP team was led by wood manufacturing specialist Vincent Leung and included technical staff and current and past students of UBC’s award-winning B.Sc. Wood Products Processing program. The team utilized the state-of-the-art MasterCAM computer-aided-design software and SCM computer-numerical-control processing centres in the CAWP manufacturing lab to program and cut the more-than-250 unique parts required for each of the podia.

CAWP was approached by Olympic organizers and the BC Ministry of Forests and Range in the fall of 2009 to lend its manufacturing expertise to the project. The 23 podia were created using 18 distinct natively-grown BC wood species, donated by community forests from across the province. The raw lumber was first sent to a Vancouver millwork company where it was dried and fabricated into edge-glued panels. At CAWP, these panels were then converted to jigsaw puzzle-like sets of parts, which were provided to the Rona 2010 Fabrication Shop in East Vancouver for assembly. The distinctive Douglas Fir trays on which the medals will be borne to the podium were also created using CNC equipment at CAWP.

“The Olympic medal podium project perfectly symbolizes the high technology and sophisticated design that is increasingly prevalent in today’s woodworking industry”, says CAWP Managing Director Iain Macdonald. “It is exactly these aspects, together with the sustainable nature of the wood resource itself, that attract people to the exciting and varied careers in our sector. For this reason we were delighted to be involved”. The high-profile project was not without its challenges however. “The lead times were extremely tight, and we had to plan very carefully to satisfy ourselves that we could complete the work on time” admits technical lead Vincent Leung. “When we first agreed to participate some of the raw materials were still standing trees, and this of course brought its share of drying and warping issues”. The many different individual, team and Paralympic podium designs were also extremely complex, and some designs needed to be modified to reduce weight for ease of movement at the venues. Nonetheless, at the end of the day the tireless efforts of Leung and his team paid off, and the completed podia were handed over to Olympic organizers in good time for shipment to each of the sports venues and Victory Celebration plazas.

See photos and detailed podium profiles at the BC Ministry of Forests website

Read the Office of the Premier press release

We are pleased to report that CAWP and our partners in the 2010 Winter Olympic Medal Podium project were finalists at the Premier’s Awards for Innovation and Excellence, held May 31st 2011 at Carson Hall, Victoria. The team, which included BC’s Wood First Initiative, VANOC, UBC, and Rona, was nominated in the Partnership category. The video made for the awards ceremony can be viewed below:

Far Coast Furniture Project for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games

Students from UBC’s B.Sc. Wood Products Processing program and Emily Carr University’s Industrial Design program worked together in teams in the spring of 2009 to design sets of outdoor furniture that will be used in Far Coast hot beverage outlets at the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic venues in Vancouver and Whistler. With a strong focus on sustainability, the teams used pine from the beetle-ravaged forests of northern BC to create original, visually appealing chairs, side tables and community tables that will be used by visitors from around the world during the world’s largest sporting event. The winning designs were selected by a jury in April, and students worked in the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing’s manufacturing lab throughout the summer to build and finish the furniture. The project is a high-profile example of the real-world experience that is enjoyed by students in the award-winning Bachelor of Science in Wood Products Processing degree, the largest program of its kind in North America.

For more details, including photos and video of the project, see http://www.farcoast.com/

UBC Students create 3D “LearnCNC” Educational Tool”

A student team based at CAWP and led by a student from UBC’s B.Sc. Wood Products Processing program has created a software application that allows users to learn about CNC machining technology within a virtual 3D environment. The project was carried out with the financial support of BCcampus, a collaborative online learning initiative established to promote online and open learning in BC. The application is available as a free download from http://learncnc.org/

To learn about technical assistance projects carried out by CAWP for wood products manufacturers please see our Product Development pages.