Ian Penninga: My Adventure in the Wood Industry: FPAC 2021 Green Dream Internship Program

Ian Penninga
  |  
July 27, 2021

From a young age I was exposed to forestry and its impacts on a small town.

My father is a professional forester for Pacific Inland Resources in Smithers, BC and as a child I was taught about all the different tree species and the forestry side of logging and the wood industry. During a couple of my summers in high school I helped build wood-frame residential houses as a general laborer and this really made me aware of how many different wood products are used in the construction of homes. Before I was finished high school, I decided to pursue continuing education in a degree related to the forest industry. After spending a bunch of time considering which exact field to pursue, I chose the Wood Products Processing Degree from the University of British Columbia because it combined my love for engineering with the forest industry.

After deciding to study Wood Products Processing, I set out to gain more relevant work experience for my degree and was able to work at Pacific Inland Resources in the sawmill and planer for two summers as a quality control student. As part of my degree, a cooperative work experience option is offered which extends the degree by one year but allows the participant to gain valuable work experience in the related field.

My first co-op term was supposed to take place during the summer of 2020, but due to unforeseen events, I ended up needing to find alternative work for the summer. I was lucky enough to find work at a solid wood truss manufacturing facility for the summer and although this was not my first choice for relevant work experience, it fit in very nicely with my program.

For my second co-op term I wanted to diversify my experience in the wood industry and therefore I accepted a job working for the Tolko Athabasca Division where they manufacture Oriented Strand Board (OSB) and Engineered Wood Products (EWP). My co-op term started in January 2021 and will run till August 2021. At Tolko I have been working as a quality control student, primarily working with the process and technical department there. I have really enjoyed learning how to do daily lab technician tasks, how the whole OSB process works, and how each of the different manufacturing processes can affect the final quality of the finished product.

As I am getting closer to the end of my work term here, I am looking forward to returning to school and applying the practical knowledge that I gained here to my courses. I am also excited for what adventures my next co-op term will bring and what knowledge and experience I can gain from working in the wood industry then.  

I hope you enjoyed my first blog post; I look forward to sharing more of the great experiences I am having working for Tolko and living in Slave Lake.  

For more information contact:
Kerry Patterson-Baker
Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs
Follow FPAC on Twitter: @FPAC_APFC
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