Oregon State University: Federal spending bill expected to aid Oregon State wave energy, wildfire and mass timber projects

Federal spending legislation signed into law yesterday includes funding for several Oregon State University initiatives, including a wave energy project on the Oregon Coast, a study of the impacts of wildfires on drinking water and a professional certification program for mass timber design.

“Oregon State University appreciates the strong support of Congress in advancing OSU research essential to Oregonians and the nation,” said Irem Tumer, university vice president for research. “Leadership by U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and support from members of Oregon’s delegation in the House of Representatives was essential in receiving congressional approval for this funding.”

The legislation provides $449,000 through the Department of Education for an online professional certification program for structural engineers focused on building with wood, including mass timber innovations, through the TallWood Design Institute located within Oregon State’s College of Forestry. This OSU project was funded at the request of Senators Merkley and Wyden.

Mass timber products are increasingly being used in larger and taller buildings, however many designers, construction professionals and engineers nationally lack knowledge about proper applications of wood as a structural material in buildings.

The bill also continues funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service for collaborative research on forest product innovations. Through this activity, ARS provides $1 million in annual funds to Oregon State to support the TallWood Design Institute’s research on the performance of mass timber products and building systems.

“Mass timber buildings have enormous potential to replace more carbon-intensive traditional construction in the fight against climate change, all while supporting local timber jobs and driving the thinning projects which are critical to forest resiliency and preventing megafires,” Senator Merkley, who used his position as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to secure project funds in the FY22 federal funding bill. “But we have to make sure building with mass timber doesn’t face extra hurdles. I fought to get this funding for OSU to create a mass timber certification program for structural engineers so we can bring mass timber into the construction mainstream.”

“OSU’s world-renowned researchers have proven time and again how their work and creativity can drive innovation and job growth throughout Oregon and our country,” Senator Wyden said. “These federal investments continue building on that track record to produce new opportunities for timber and clean energy as well as protecting the Oregon Coast, drinking water and our state’s winegrowers from the damages of wildfire smoke. Thanks to everybody at Oregon State who teamed up to secure these resources. I very much look forward to all that OSU can accomplish for our state with these funds.”

Highlights of other funds provided in the legislation that will support collaborative research and infrastructure initiatives at OSU, include:

$10 million to the U.S. Department of Energy Water Power Technology Office for Oregon State to continue construction of PacWave, an offshore wave energy test facility located seven miles off the coast of Newport.
$10 million to the U.S. Department of Defense Air Force Research Lab for a research collaboration to advance manufacturing using tailored alloys for aerospace applications.
$4 million to the U.S. Forest Service for a regional research collaboration on the intersection of Western wildfire and drinking water.
$4 million to the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center for collaborative research to study coastal processes for nature-based solutions to protect coastal infrastructure.
$1 million to the USDA Agricultural Research Service to expand a research collaboration with OSU on wine grapes exposure to wildfire smoke.

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