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Wood as An Engineering Material: Structure and Function of Wood

COURSE NO: S02-021
COURSE PROVIDER: Gilbert Gedeon, P.E.
Wood as An Engineering Material: Structure and Function of Wood
Course Highlights

This online engineering PDH course provides guidance on the basic biological structure of wood and provides a basis for interpreting its properties in an engineering context. By understanding the function of wood in the living tree, we can better understand the strengths and limitations it presents as a material.


Wood is a complex biological structure, a composite of many chemistries and cell types acting together to serve the needs of a living plant. Attempting to understand wood in the context of wood technology, we have often overlooked the key and basic fact that wood evolved over the course of millions of years to serve three main functions in plants― conduction of water from the roots to the leaves, mechanical support of the plant body, and storage of biochemicals. There is no property of wood—physical, mechanical, chemical, biological, or technological—that is not fundamentally derived from the fact that wood is formed to meet the needs of the living tree. To accomplish any of these functions, wood must have cells that are designed and interconnected in ways sufficient to perform these functions. These three functions have influenced the evolution of approximately 20,000 different species of woody plants, each with unique properties, uses, and capabilities, in both plant and human contexts.


This 2 PDH online course is applicable to civil, structural or geotechnical engineers, as well as design and construction personnel who are interested in gaining a better understanding of the structures and functions of wood or who are involved in the design and planning of wood structures.
Learning Objectives

This PE continuing education course is intended to provide you with the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • Learning the biological structure of wood
  • Understanding the microscopic structure of softwoods and hardwoods
  • Familiarizing with the different appearances of wood as sawn lumber
  • Understanding the differences between plainsawn and quartersawn lumber
Course Document
In this professional engineering CEU course, you need to review Chapter 3, "Structure and Function of Wood" of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Publication, “Wood Handbook - Wood as An Engineering Material”, FPL-GTR-190.
To view, print and study the course document, please click on the following link(s):
Wood as An Engineering Material: Structure and Function of Wood (851 KB)
Course Quiz
Once you complete your course review, you need to take a multiple-choice quiz consisting of fifteen (15) questions to earn 2 PDH credits. The quiz will be based on Chapter 3 of this USDA publication.
The minimum passing score is 70%. There is no time limit on the quiz, and you can take it multiple times until you pass at no additional cost.
Certificate of Completion

Upon successful completion of the quiz, print your Certificate of Completion instantly. (Note: if you are paying by check or money order, you will be able to print it after we receive your payment.) For your convenience, we will also email it to you. Please note that you can log in to your account at any time to access and print your Certificate of Completion.

To buy the course and take the quiz, please click on: