Archive for the ‘Engineering’ Category

Monhegan Island Tourism Survey Led by Noblet Focus of Working Waterfront Article

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

A survey of Monhegan Island’s summer visitors led by Caroline Noblet, an economics professor at the University of Maine, was the focus of the Working Waterfront article, “Monhegan tourism survey reveals low worry about wind project.” Researchers asked 180 summer visitors their views on the university’s proposed floating wind turbines off the island’s coast. According to the article, more than half of the study participants did not know about the wind power proposal; 70 percent said if built, the project would neither detract from nor enhance their visit; and 88 percent said turbines would not change the number of visits they would make to the island. Noblet said the survey was less about the project and more about “how people react to scientific information in decision making.”

Upward Bound Math Science Students Selected to Attend National Conference

Friday, October 17th, 2014

In celebration of the national Upward Bound program’s 50th anniversary, three students from the University of Maine Upward Bound Math Science (UBMS) program were selected to attend the Council for Opportunity in Education’s 33rd annual conference, “Achieving College Success through Vision and Action,” and second annual student poster presentation exhibition in Washington, D.C.

Justin Chan, a 2014 graduate of Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln, along with Ariana Alers and Chris Stewart, seniors at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft, were three of five high school students selected across the country to present their research posters. Nineteen posters were chosen out of the 50 that were submitted by both pre-college and college-level students.

Alers and Stewart traveled to Washington, D.C. in September with Kelly Ilseman, UBMS assistant director and academic curriculum coordinator. Preparing to leave for Greece for his first semester experience through Northeastern University, Chan was not able to attend, but his research poster was displayed.

In addition to presenting their posters and research at two COE receptions, Alers and Stewart also were guests at the National TRIO Achievers’ awards banquet where they met TRIO Upward Bound alumnus John Quinones from the ABC show “What Would You Do?”

The students also met U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, Sen. Angus King and Sen. Susan Collins. As Michaud’s guests, they toured the U.S. Capitol and sat in legislative sessions.

The students’ posters were based on their six-week summer research with mentors at the UMaine UBMS program.

Chan worked with Matt Dube, a Ph.D. student in spatial information science and engineering, to complete his research on gerrymandering titled “Partitioning New England to Represent Republican Populations.”

Interning in Thane Fremouw’s neuropsychology research lab, Alers studied the “Cellular Mechanisms of Chemotherapy-Induced Cognitive Impairment.” Her research involved testing treatments to reduce severity of post-radiation cancer treatment effects known as “chemo fog.”

Stewart worked with Finley Richmond to create a biodegradable plastic in the study “Cellulose Nanofibers in the Synthesis of Bioplastics.”

An additional 32 UBMS students were mentored across campus with professors, graduate students and UBMS summer staff. The students attended from Central High School in Corinth, Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft, Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln, Nokomis Regional High School in Newport, Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris, Portland High School, Stearns High School in Millinocket, and Schenck High School in East Millinocket.

The Upward Bound Math Science Program is affiliated with the UMaine College of Education and Human Development and offers a six-week college preparatory program to first-generation college students from eight Maine high schools. The program specifically targets students who are interested in pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors and careers.

The Washington, D.C. trip was paid for by donations made to the Upward Bound Math Science Gift Account, as well as a scholarship from the College of Education and Human Development.

More information about the Upward Bound Math Science program is online.

WABI Covers 2014 Engineering Job Fair

Friday, October 17th, 2014

WABI (Channel 5) reported on the 2014 Engineering Job Fair held at the University of Maine’s New Balance Student Recreation Center. About 90 companies were represented at the event that was co-sponsored by the UMaine College of Engineering and Career Center. Patty Counihan, director of the Career Center, said UMaine’s Engineering Department has a 99 percent job placement rate for graduates. Organizers told WABI it was the largest turnout ever for the annual event.

Peterson’s Track Surface Safety Research Cited in Thoroughbred Racing Commentary

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Mick Peterson, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maine, was mentioned in the Thoroughbred Racing Commentary article, “Do what is best for the horse: Drug testing, doping agents, racing surfaces, and more.” Peterson was cited for his research on racetrack surfaces to reduce horse injuries. Peterson said that while tracks are only one factor, they can improve safety and build confidence in racing, according to the article. “Peterson and his colleagues have applied significant advances in the science of racing surface management and the tools for tracking the condition of a racing surface, be it synthetic, turf or dirt,” the article states.

UMaine Composites Center Mentioned U.S. Department of Energy Blog Post

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center was featured in a U.S. Department of Energy blog post from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, titled “EERE celebrates offshore wind in Maine.” The post references the successful first year of the VolturnUS floating wind turbine deployed off Castine. UMaine used $12 million in funding from EERE to deploy the VolturnUS, a one-eighth scale prototype of a commercial scale offshore floating turbine, according to the post. “This is the first step toward developing an offshore wind industry in Maine,” the article states. “The university is setting a great example for the rest of the country for just how far we can go when we dedicate ourselves to clean energy innovation.”

Jonathan Torsch: Stepping Up to the Challenge

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

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Jonathan Torsch of Old Town struggled in high school while coping with his mother’s cancer diagnosis and grandfather’s death. Falling behind in school cost him acceptance into college, so he turned his focus toward work. When he was laid off from his retail job five years later, he decided to go back to school and enrolled at Eastern Maine Community College (EMCC) where he earned an associate degree in electrical and automation technology, graduated with a 4.0 GPA and was named the 2013 EMCC Student of the Year.

To continue to challenge himself, Torsch transferred to UMaine to earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology, which he expects to earn in the spring of 2015 — again with a 4.0 GPA.

He also is OSHA certified, a licensed Journeyman-in-Training Electrician and is studying to earn his Maine Engineer-in-Training License.

Why did you decide to study engineering?
Honestly, ending up in engineering as a field of study was a happy accident. Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot. My father — working as a mechanic — and my mother — working in retail optometry — both earned sub-standard wages. Providing for my older sister and I was tough.

High school was particularly where things became turbulent for me. At home, my mother was diagnosed with cancer (of which she is currently in remission) and my grandfather, whom I was very close with, passed away. At school, I was no longer challenged by my classes, and despite doing well on exams, I failed to attend classes and do homework, and barely passed my senior year. I applied to UMaine and was initially rejected.

From there, I enveloped myself with work, picking up several jobs in retail stores, working up to 70 hours a week. Most notably, I earned the position of assistant manager at the Blockbuster in Bangor and worked there for four years. When they began their downward spiral, the first round of cuts was to — perhaps serendipitously — terminate every assistant manager in the company.

I knew that if I took another retail position, I would be succumbing to the same fate as my parents, and I didn’t want that for my family — both present and future. I decided that it was time to go back to school. I was unsure of exactly where I would excel, but I enrolled in the electrical and automation technology program at EMCC, with the intention of learning a trade that I would have at my disposal the rest of my life; providing job security and higher earnings for my family.

It worked out perfectly, as the program at EMCC is far more geared toward engineering than electrician work, as I had initially thought it to be. I absolutely fell in love with engineering, and could not see myself doing anything else now. Problem solving, logic, organization, teamwork and strong math skills are exactly what engineering can instill, and with those, I have found success not only academically but in many other areas in life.

Upon graduating from EMCC, I knew that I had to continue to push forward and challenge myself in the electrical engineering technology program at UMaine.

What did it mean to be named the 2013 EMCC Student of the Year?
I’m not someone who gets particularly wrapped up in pomp and circumstance. To me, the award served more as validation for the efforts I had put in and the transformation I had gone through. I had proven that I was worth more than what I had thought prior, and that if I combined my aptitude, attitude and some good old-fashioned hard work, I could achieve anything I wanted to.

How did EMCC prepare you for UMaine?
The hands-on, rigorous and enveloping electrical and automation technology program is an amazing experience. I was challenged on a daily basis, as we received a focus on the hands-on application of ideas from the classroom while also delving deep into the theory behind it all.

I attended with several like-minded, nontraditional students who all were there solely to better themselves and their future while learning as much as they possibly could from the courses and each other.

I was provided with not only a strong academic experience, but also an invaluable professional and interpersonal development. Lab work taught us how to work as a team, facility visits gave us insight into the real careers that exist in the world, and honest advisers and professors not only taught us what they had learned about the subjects themselves, but also valuable professional and life lessons.

Why did you decide to come to UMaine to pursue a higher degree?
The time I spent at EMCC was the most fulfilled and the most challenged I had ever felt. I was absolutely addicted to engineering and academia. I wanted to attend UMaine to pursue a higher degree to learn as much as I could about all of the aspects of the electrical, power and automation engineering world.

It also served as another challenge for myself. After seeing what I could achieve at EMCC, I had to know what was possible for me at UMaine. I haven’t been disappointed yet.

Tell us about your internship with TRC Companies, Inc.:
I have been working as an intern/designer with TRC Companies, Inc. in Augusta since summer 2012. TRC is one of the foremost engineering firms with a presence in Maine, and while there I have learned an incredible amount.

I have worked specifically with the automation and communications group. With them, I have done drafting in AutoCAD, designed communication profiles, programmed substation relays and devices, and was the lead on building a piece of software from the ground up that is now used daily to automate internal processes, saving the group large chunks of meticulously spent time.

Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who has made your UMaine experience better?
I have been incredibly fortunate in my academic career to be provided the best mentors someone could ask for.

At EMCC, Rick Reardon was an incredible influence on me. I owe an incredible amount of where my future is headed to him. He was my adviser, professor and the head of the electrical and automation technology program, and his commitment to every student really helped me grow academically, professionally and personally. He stands out as someone I admire and aspire to be like because of his consistently positive attitude, his excitement for education and the material both in and out of the classroom, and his investment to the betterment of others.

In making the transition to UMaine, I was fortunate to have Jude Pearse as my adviser, professor and supervisor for my teacher’s assistant and lab technician work. Her commitment to the students is something that followed nicely with Rick’s style, and it made my transfer much more smooth and welcoming than I could have hoped for.

She stands out as someone I admire and aspire to be like because of her commitment to being a human first — recognizing that whether student or professor, younger or older, employee or employer, we’re all just people with the same main goals in life, and we can approach professional goals together while maintaining a fun and engaging social environment.

What are your plans for after graduation?
First and foremost — work. I hope to obtain a career in my field after graduation. I’d love to work in the automation and/or power engineering fields, as those are the areas of study that have most intrigued me, as well as the ones in which I have had the most success. Meanwhile, I plan to attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute in pursuit of a master’s degree in power systems engineering, and eventually work toward earning my professional engineering license in Maine.

UMaine Engineering Students Mentioned in SeacoastOnline Article on Kittery Business

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

The University of Maine was mentioned in a SeacoastOnline article about a Kittery business owner who hopes to open Maine’s first sake brewery. Dan Ford, owner of Blue Current Brewery, launched a Kickstarter campaign to help launch his company. Ford said he designed his own fermentation and storage tanks, and the rice steamer he uses was created to his specifications by UMaine engineering students.

WABI Covers University of Maine Foundation’s 80th Anniversary Celebration

Monday, October 6th, 2014

WABI (Channel 5) reported on the University of Maine Foundation’s “Ensuring the Future” 80th anniversary celebration. During the event, the foundation awarded one graduate from each of UMaine’s colleges with the President Abram W. Harris Award. Each awardee was a scholarship recipient as a UMaine student, and evidences exemplary and extraordinary leadership, contributions to his or her community and/or service to UMaine. “We wanted to honor each one of the representatives from the different colleges to show other students, give them aspirations at the University of Maine and also show the importance of scholarship support because none of these people would have been able to go on to have the careers they have today without private donations of scholarships,” said Jeffery Mills, president and CEO of the University of Maine Foundation.

Peterson Quoted in Augusta Chronicle Article on New Track Surface

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Mick Peterson, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maine, was quoted in an Augusta Chronicle article about Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, beginning its fall meeting with a new state-of-the-art dirt surface to replace the synthetic surface known as Polytrack. Peterson, head of the Racing Surfaces Testing Lab at UMaine, became heavily involved in testing surfaces for the Keeneland horse racing track, according to the article. “We developed standard tests for both synthetic and dirt surfaces,” Peterson said. “Dirt tracks are never as simple as synthetics, which are less dependent on weather. We can’t change the weather, so the dominant issue becomes maintenance. We’re working hand-in-hand with Keeneland’s maintenance crew to assure that the new surface will be fair and safe.”

Tajvidi Talks to WABI About Development of Eco-Friendly Particleboard

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Mehdi Tajvidi, an assistant professor of renewable nanomaterials at the University of Maine, spoke with WABI (Channel 5) about research he is involved in to develop eco-friendly particleboard panels with adhesive made of cellulose nanofibrils (CNF). Tajvidi is working with several other UMaine researchers — William Gramlich, Doug Bousfield, Doug Gardner and Mike Bilodeau — as well as John Hunt from the USDA Forest Service to make strong, stiff and fully recyclable particleboard panels that can be used in countertops, door cores and furniture. “The materials that we are working with are just coming from mother nature. We don’t synthesize them, we just extract them from wood,” Tajvidi said. “And so this is basically biomaterial and has a very good potential because it has very exciting properties such as very high stiffness and strength, and a very wide range of applications for that.” The Associated Press also reported on the research. Portland Press Herald and Maine Public Broadcasting Network carried the AP report.