Pitt State considered leader in Wood Product Manufacturing education  

When it comes to woodworking, Pitt State has become known nationally for its labs and expertise, attracting not only students, but industry professionals from across the U.S. 

Twice a year for the past 10 years, those professionals have come to the Architectural Woodwork Institute’s bi-annual AWI Boot Camp, held in the university’s Kansas Technology Center.  

The KTC is home to the Wood Product Manufacturing program – one of the premier such programs in the nation and one that boasts a 100 percent placement rate. 

The boot camp was founded by one if its faculty members, Doug Hague, who went on to become the CEO of AWI. 

Woodworking 2

With a project-based curriculum, the boot camp provides hands-on exposure to many facets of wood processing knowledge, machinery, and application. It is designed for sales professionals, sales managers, product managers, and executives, and aims to broaden the understanding of wood manufacturing. 

Hague helps lead the sessions along with Pitt State faculty and AWI staff.  

“The goal is to help the woodworking industry grow and thrive through increased access to knowledge,” he said. “If you’re a salesperson or even a high-level executive at a manufacturing company, you may never actually get your hands on the materials or machines. Here, you get to do that and learn all about it.”  


Dalton Hamm, who works at Jimco in Montgomery, Alabama, said he “had a blast” at this year’s boot camp while expanding his knowledge of the industry. 

“It was a great experience,” he said. “They taught us so much about machinery, tooling, CNC, and really just about the industry overall. I came here because I wanted to expand my understanding of the industry. I’m excited to go back to our company and share what I’ve learned, share how we can be better.” 

Branden McKinnon from Victory Woodworks in Sparks, Nevada, said he was surprised by how many things he learned in one week. 

“I’ve been in this industry for seven years and there are so many minute things you don’t often think of when working with wood,” he said. “I feel like this program really helps us dive into all those little things.  

“The facility here at Pitt State is top notch. The various equipment and resources here is impressive. I can see why it’s such a great program.” 

Woodworking 3

When they weren’t in the classroom or the lab, participants got to enjoy a little bit of Pittsburg’s food and entertainment scene. 

“We want them to learn a lot, but we also want them to have a good time while they’re here,” Hague said. “It’s nice to see everyone spending time together, getting to know each other, and building those relationships. 

“We all love this industry, and we’re all working hard every day to make it better and what better place to host than Pittsburg, Kansas,” he said. 

The next AWI Boot Camp will take place January 13-17, 2025.

Learn more:

Wood Product Manufacturing at Pitt State