New Wood University Course Focuses On Connections

(TACOMA) – Wood University, the free online education portal offered by APA – The Engineered Wood Association, has added a 200 level course on connections.


“Wood University 201: Design of Wood Connections,” available at, offers builders, designers, engineers and other interested industry professionals a chance to learn about the connection details recommended for wood-framed construction. The course material is based on the connection design work of Robert Taylor, director of technology transfer, American Forest and Paper Association, Kirk Grundahl, executive director, Wood Truss Council of America and Tom Williamson, vice president, technical services division, APA. “The New Wood University course is a valuable tool for people looking to gain a basic understanding of connection design,” said Zeno Martin, P.E., and APA Staff Engineer. “I have presented a version of the material at several building design seminars and it has always been well received by architects and engineers.”

The American Institute of Architects and the American Institute of Building Designers both offer continuing education credit for professionals taking the course.

“Wood University’s Course 201 deals effectively with both qualitative and quantitative elements of wood joint design,” said Robert S. George, F.A.I.A., an architect in San Bruno, CA, who reviewed the course. “It is a clear, comprehensive introduction for young practitioners as well as a well-focused refresher for senior professionals who want to re-tune their skills. Course 201 is a good investment of time and a handy resource in a designer’s personal library.”


The new course offers four units about the design of wood connections. These units cover the topics of:

* Connection Design Theory: An overview of how wood connections are designed, this unit explains guidelines from the National Design Specification for Wood Construction, with additional information on fastening engineered wood products drawn from APA – The Engineered Wood Association’s recommendations. A series of photographs, graphs and tables accompany the theoretical information for ease of understanding.

* Fastener Types: This unit describes the common fastener types used in wood connection, and the design details unique to each. Students learn about power-driven nails, issues with large-diameter bolts, specifying nails, understanding when and what fasteners are interchangeable and corrosion-resistant fasteners, among other topics.

* Connection Techniques: Providing techniques for providing efficient, durable and structurally safe connections, this unit presents various common structural details that meet the basic principles of wood connections. In addition, this module provides common detailing errors, potential results of these errors and recommendations for improved details.

* Connection Design Examples: The final unit demonstrates the connection process for 14 design examples for common connection types and configurations.


Upon completion of all four units, students should understand the fundamental techniques of good connection design and construction.

“Connection details are important because they hold the structure together,” Martin said. “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and connections are the critical link between elements of a structure. When proper connection details are overlooked, structural failure can occur.”

The new course joins Wood University’s freshman course, “Wood University 101: Engineered Wood Basics,” a comprehensive overview of engineered wood product characteristics, grades and applications. An average of more than 3,000 people visit Wood University each month, many of them completing the units within the lesson for continuing education credit.

Continuing education credit from AIA and AIBD is also available for Wood University’s Course 101. After reviewing the material offered in each unit, the student has the chance to take a test on that unit; successful completion of the test gives the student one hour of continuing education credit. Course 101 offers five units for a total of five AIA learning units and five AIBD continuing education hours. Course 201 follows a similar format and its four units can net a student four continuing education credits.

Registration for Wood University is free; new students should simply follow the instructions located at

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