Ashlee Tibbetts (pictured) is a current student in Oregon State University’s new renewable materials degree program, where she recently returned from a college trip to Scandinavia to learn sustainable practices.

Oregon State University is offering a new bachelor of science degree program in renewable materials, to meet a growing demand for professionals in the manufacture, marketing and use of sustainable, natural resources-derived materials such as wood, bamboo, straw and other plant-based goods.

“In many sustainable industries today there are more jobs than graduates to fill them, even during the recession,” said Thomas McLain, renewable materials professor and department head at OSU. “Companies in green, natural materials-based businesses are demanding a different type of candidate for employment today. Our new curriculum is designed to train the next generation of sustainability professionals.”

The new degree will emphasize not only core science and technology, but also business and communications, officials said, and graduates will be able to expand the use of green, renewable materials and products to enhance local, regional and global sustainability.

Jonathan Gates (pictured), a recent graduate of Oregon State University’s renewable materials degree program, works as a wood technologist for sustainable wood ceiling manufacturer 9Wood in Springfield, Ore.

Students can choose from two different options, a management/marketing focus or a science/engineering focus. The management and marketing focus will concentrate on managing organizations and/or devising new marketing strategies to compete in the industry. Students on this track also earn a business and entrepreneurship minor. The science and engineering focus will offer coursework tailored to specific interests, problem solving, and other skills.

McLain said jobs in renewable materials fields are diverse in both workplace and locale, with most entry level positions on the West Coast. Some jobs might involve international travel, and nearly all renewable materials and products careers will command higher-than-average salaries and potential for advancement. A diverse student body is being sought for the program, and majors are eligible for a large number of scholarships.

“Organizations in this industry are located in places as urban as San Francisco and as rural as Dillard, Ore.,” he said. “There will be positions in offices, manufacturing plants and the corporate boardroom, around the globe.”

CORRECTION:An earlier version of this story stated that John McIsaac developed the new degree program; the program was developed by OSU faculty, and McIsaac is helping to launch it.