Archive for the ‘Engineering’ Category

Weekly Reports on Latest Phi Kappa Phi Inductees

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

The Weekly published a University of Maine news release announcing 47 members of the UMaine community, including 41 undergraduate and graduate students, were inducted into Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest and largest collegiate honor society, during the chapter’s annual meeting on campus March 19. Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1897 at UMaine by 10 seniors in an effort to start an honorary society that recognizes outstanding students, faculty and staff from all disciplines. Phi Kappa Phi has since grown to an international society with more than one million members from more than 300 campuses across the United States, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

Lobster Livelihood

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Developing a noninvasive procedure to determine the viability of lobsters for shipping was the goal of a recent cross-discipline research project led by a University of Maine undergraduate student.

Matthew Hodgkin, a fourth-year animal and veterinary sciences major from Colebrook, Connecticut, developed a method to evaluate lobster livelihood based on claw strength while working with Bob Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute at UMaine; Michael “Mick” Peterson, a mechanical engineering professor, and Thomas McKay, a fourth-year mechanical engineering technology student.

The inspiration for Hodgkin’s research came from his adviser Bayer who had approached Peterson two years ago as a result of a press inquiry about the strength of lobster claws. Peterson and McKay then built a device to measure the closing strength of a lobster’s crusher claw, Hodgkin says.

Hodgkin has since worked with Bayer to determine if the device could be used to predict the viability of lobsters for shipping. Knowing a lobster’s viability is relevant to Maine’s primary seafood industry because it can determine if the crustacean is most suitable for shipping live or going straight to a processing plant, according to Hodgkin.

“This research would save the distributors money from losses incurred during shipment. If the most healthy and viable lobsters were picked to ship there would be less casualties due to weakness,” he says.

The device is an alternative to the commonly used invasive procedure that calls for measuring serum protein content in lobster blood. Shipping facilities use handheld refractometers to measure the protein once lobster blood is extracted by a syringe, according to Hodgkin.

The serum protein measurement reflects the amount of muscle mass a lobster has. Lobsters with less muscle mass would not be able to handle the stress of shipping, Hodgkin says.

The technique was developed in the 1980s by Bayer and graduate student Dale Leavitt.

The new device allows for muscle mass measurements to be determined by claw strength as opposed to using a blood sample. The prototype contains an aluminum load cell located at the point where the most pressure is exerted by the lobster when it closes its claw.

“In our first trial the gripper was made from plastic, and that did not last long with the lobsters,” Hodgkin says.

Once the rectangular gripper is placed in the lobster’s grasp, the load cell measures the pressure in pounds per square inch. The measurements then appear on an attached electronic reader that looks similar to a digital alarm clock.

Hodgkin examined various lobsters of the same size from different stages of the molt cycle. He tested the lobsters for crusher claw strength using the load cell meter and used a refractometer to evaluate serum protein in the blood. When comparing the methods, he found the closing strength of a crusher claw correlates with serum protein.

The prototype has been field tested at local lobster dealers and seems to work well, Hodgkin says. He adds more testing is needed to study the effects of water temperature on the ability of the lobster to show interest and on its strength.

Funding for the project came from the Center for Undergraduate Research and the Lobster Institute.

Hodgkin also co-owns a lobster-related business with Bayer; Lobster Institute Associate Director Cathy Billings; and Stewart Hardison, a business partner from outside the UMaine community. Lobster Unlimited LLC, formerly LobsteRx, aims to develop products from lobster-processing industry waste, such as shells. The company’s goal is to get more money to lobstermen and improve Maine’s economy.

After graduating in May 2015, Hodgkin plans to stay in the Orono area to continue work at Lobster Unlimited and eventually pursue a graduate degree in food science and human nutrition at UMaine.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

More than 120 Graduate Students to Display Projects at Annual Expo

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

University of Maine graduate students will showcase their research and artistic works during the Graduate Student Government’s 2015 Graduate Academic Exposition April 2–3.

Work will be presented, judged and on display from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday in the Innovative Media Research and Commercialization (IMRC) Center on campus.

The event will feature four areas of competition — posters, oral presentations, intermedia and fine arts exhibits, and a PechaKucha, or rapid-fire slide show event. Students from a variety of disciplines are expected to present 129 submissions at this year’s event. Seventy percent of the students will take part in the expo for the first time, while 30 percent are returning presenters.

The poster and oral presentations will highlight the physical sciences and technology; natural sciences; humanities; and social sciences. The intermedia and fine arts exhibits will include art works, projects and performances.

The PechaKucha competition, open to students in all academic disciplines, invites participants to share their work in a slide show lasting under seven minutes. Unlike the other presentations, the PechaKucha talks will be judged by the audience rather than faculty reviewers. Presentations will take place 1–2:30 p.m. Friday, April 3 in the IMRC Center’s Black Box space.

More than $12,000 in prizes will be awarded to participants of the Grad Expo. Three new awards — the GSBSE Award in Biomedical Sciences and Engineering, Climate Change Innovation Award and Student Life Award — have been added this year, and will be presented during the awards gala, slated for 6 p.m. Friday, April 3 at the IMRC Center. The gala is open to the public.

The Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering awards will be given to graduate students whose research projects are related to molecular and cellular biology; bioinformatics; computational biology and genomics; toxicology; neuroscience; or biomedical engineering. The GSBSE will designate judges to select the winners. The awards will be $200 for first place, $100 for second place and $50 for third place.

The $250 Climate Change Innovation Award will be awarded to a graduate student whose research focuses on climate change causes, effects and choices. Judges will be designated by the Climate Change Institute.

The UMaine Division of Student Life will present a $200 award to a graduate student whose research contributes to improving the lives of students at UMaine or in higher education.

Other awards include:

  • The President’s Research Impact Award, a $2,000 award given to the graduate student and their adviser who best exemplify the UMaine mission of teaching, research and outreach;
  • The Provost’s Innovative/Creative Teaching Award, given to graduate students who are lead instructors of a UMaine course and use innovative and creative teaching methods;
  • Graduate Student Government Awards, presented to three students in each of the four presentation divisions;
  • The Graduate Dean’s Undergraduate Mentoring Award, presented for effective undergraduate mentoring in research; and
  • The UMaine Alumni Association Alum Award, given to a graduate student who earned their undergraduate degree at UMaine.

Details of the expo are online. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact Elisa Sance, Graduate Student Government vice president, at or

UMaine’s Phi Kappa Phi Chapter Inducts 47 Members

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Forty-seven members of University of Maine community, including 41 undergraduate and graduate students, were inducted into Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest and largest collegiate honor society, during the chapter’s annual meeting on campus March 19.

Faculty and alumni inductees were Jeffrey Hecker, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, who was keynote speaker at the event; Shaleen Jain, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering; Kyriacos Markides, professor of sociology; Gail Werrbach, director and associate professor of social work; Lucille Zeph, associate professor of education; and alumna Sarah Smiley, who has a Master of Arts in Communication from UMaine.

Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1897 at UMaine by 10 seniors led by Marcus L. Urann in an effort to start an honorary society that recognizes outstanding students, faculty and staff from all disciplines.

In 1900, the University of Tennessee and Pennsylvania State University joined the society originally named Lambda Sigma Eta Society, making it a national society. Phi Kappa Phi has since grown to an international society with more than one million members from more than 300 campuses across the United States, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

2015 Phi Kappa Phi-Chapter 1 student inductees:

  • Marissa Bovie of Vassalboro, Maine
  • Benjamin Whiting Bucklin of Searsport, Maine
  • Jie Cao of Shanghai, China
  • Kyle Castagnetto of Winslow, Maine
  • Jesse T. Clark of Calais, Maine
  • Annie Collins of Caribou, Maine
  • Sean Christopher Cox of Bar Harbor, Maine
  • Katie A. Delcourt of Old Town, Maine
  • Nathan Francis Dunn of Berwick, Maine
  • Kelly A. Edwards of Pownal, Maine
  • Julianna Ennamorati of Waldoboro, Maine
  • Jennifer Federico of Glenburn, Maine
  • Derek Michael Frey of Kenduskeag, Maine
  • Wendy Gibbs of Brooks, Maine
  • Andrew Goode of Boothbay, Maine
  • Adam Gudroe of Garland, Maine
  • Cameron Guild of Manchester, Maine
  • Nicolette D. Hashey of Hermon, Maine
  • Kathleen R. Hill of Ellsworth, Maine
  • Eliza Capen Jones of Newcastle, Maine
  • Michael Joseph Kennedy of Biddeford, Maine
  • Katrina R. Lapham of Belfast, Maine
  • Anne M. Lausier of Bangor, Maine
  • Richard H. Luc of Bangor, Maine
  • Abigail Adams MacDonald of Yarmouth, Maine
  • Joan Marie McCue of Old Town, Maine
  • Molly Moreshead of Holden, Maine
  • Samantha O’Shea of Kennebunkport, Maine
  • Ray G. Peck of Brewer, Maine
  • Samantha L. Pelletier of Saint David, Maine
  • Elizabeth G. Proctor of Newbury, Massachusetts
  • Tyler Quiring of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
  • Anna Richard of Wareham, Massachusetts
  • Allison E. Scully of Waterville, Maine
  • Megan W. Smith of Bucksport, Maine
  • Bronte Mercedes Sone of Orono, Maine
  • Jamie Lynn St. Pierre of Wilton, Maine
  • Leanne R. Violette of Bangor, Maine
  • Sadie Wight of Bucksport, Maine
  • Eric Wold of Freeport, Maine
  • Yunhui Wu of Beidou Community, Heilongjiang, China

UMaine to Participate in Maine Science Festival, Maine Edge Reports

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

The Maine Edge advanced the inaugural Maine Science Festival to be held throughout downtown Bangor and at the Cross Insurance Center from March 20–22. Kate Dickerson, a research associate in the School of Economics at the University of Maine, is the festival’s founder and director. Several UMaine facilities and community members will offer events as part of the festival, according to the article. UMaine’s Virtual Environment and Multimodal Interaction (VEMI) Laboratory will provide hands-on, virtual reality activities, including a driving simulator; the University of Maine Museum of Art will host several workshops, panel discussions and a gallery talk; and Joshua Plourde, communications specialist at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center, and Sam Hess, a UMaine professor of physics and astronomy, will present a drone demonstration and discussion.

Margaret Chase Smith Public Affairs Scholarship Accepting Applications

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Applications are now being accepted for the 2015–2016 Margaret Chase Smith Public Affairs Scholarship. The $3,500 scholarship is open to undergraduate students of all majors who are conducting research on a topic related to public policy.

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be a Maine resident currently enrolled at UMaine and taking at least 12 credits, be an undergraduate student with a GPA of at least 3.0, and have completed 40 credit hours before the current semester.

The scholarship will be awarded in two installments of $1,750 per semester. The scholarship program is administered by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center with the assistance of a university selection committee. The deadline to apply is Friday, April 17. More information, including the application, is available online.

Nineteen UMaine Faculty Members Receive Tenure and/or Promotion

Monday, March 16th, 2015

The University of Maine System Board of Trustees has approved promotion and/or tenure for 19 University of Maine faculty members. The faculty were nominated by UMaine President Susan J. Hunter based on a peer and administrative review of their successful work in teaching, research and public service.

“The annual tenure and promotion process is truly a celebration of the excellence of our faculty,” says UMaine President Susan J. Hunter. “They are key to helping UMaine fulfill its statewide mission of teaching, research, scholarship, economic development and outreach. And they are essential to the UMaine distinction — from the student experience and community engagement to the national- and international-caliber research.”

University of Maine Faculty Promoted and/or Tenured, 2014-15

Promoted to professor

College of Education and Human Development

  • Susan K. Gardner, Higher Education

College of Engineering

  • Ali Abedi, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Philip A. Dunn, Jr., Construction Management Technology
  • Michael D. Mason, Chemical and Biological Engineering
  • Judith R. Pearse, Electrical Engineering Technology
  • Yifeng Zhu, Electrical and Computer Engineering

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

  • Amy M. Blackstone, Sociology
  • Laura A. Lindenfeld, Mass Communication/Media Studies and Public Policy
  • Nathan E. Stormer, Communication and Journalism

College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture

  • Kathleen P. Bell, Resource Economics and Policy
  • John J. Daigle, Forest Recreation Management
  • Eric R. Gallandt, Weed Ecology and Management
  • Brian J. McGill, Ecological Modeling

Promoted to professor with tenure

College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture

  • Gordon S. Hamilton, Earth Sciences and Climate Change Institute

Promoted to associate professor with tenure

College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture

  • Brian J. Olsen, Biology and Ecology

Granted tenure at current rank of associate professor

Honors College

  • Mark E. Haggerty, Rezendes Preceptor of Civil Engagement

Promoted to Extension professor

  • Jennifer F. Lobley, Cooperative Extension

Promoted to associate Extension professor with continuing contract

  • Mitchell D. Mason, Cooperative Extension
  • Kathryn G. Yerxa, Cooperative Extension

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

WABI Covers Expanding Your Horizons Conference

Friday, March 13th, 2015

WABI (Channel 5) reported on the 28th Expanding Your Horizons conference at the University of Maine. Nearly 500 middle school girls from around the state attended the event that aims to provide a safe and encouraging environment to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Expanding Your Horizons, which is coordinated by the UMaine Women’s Resource Center with support from the Maine Girls Collaborative Project, featured workshops for students and teachers. Workshops were offered on a variety of STEM-related topics, as well as on gender equity and confidence building. “It’s really introducing the girls to the different STEM fields and careers that are out there. Giving the females role models in those fields so they can see that it’s attainable,” said Jennifer Dunham, special projects assistant at the Women’s Resource Center.

Latest UMaine Invention: Nontoxic Fiberboard

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

A new type of fiberboard invented by University of Maine researchers is made with nontoxic, biobased additives and is 25 percent stronger than conventional products.

Most particleboard contains a formaldehyde-based binder that releases toxins into living spaces, causing health concerns. The UMaine fiberboard uses a safe, nontoxic binder of nanocellulose, a gel composed of small particles of cellulose. Cellulose is an important structural component of plants and the most abundant natural polymer on Earth. In this invention, the nanocellulose is made using a low-energy grinding process.

The fiberboard, patent-pending in the United States and Canada, was developed by UMaine researchers Doug Bousfield and Mike Bilodeau.

More information is online.

Partnerships in Engineering Innovation: RollEase and AMC

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

RollEase Innovation Center in Brunswick, Maine, opened in 2014 and began taking advantage of the research and development capabilities of the University of Maine’s Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC). The innovation center has collaborated with AMC in numerous projects — from testing products and new materials to doing new component design and running software programs to validate designs and calculations.

RollEase Inc., headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, is the leading designer and largest manufacturer of clutch-based window covering operating systems worldwide and the third largest distributor of roller shade fabric in the U.S.

“One of the primary reasons we decided to make a multimillion dollar investment to locate our new innovation center here was to be within close proximity of the University of Maine and be in a position to work with their advanced manufacturing program,” said Greg Farr, senior vice president and chief innovation officer for RollEase in written testimony to the legislative committees of appropriations and financial affairs, and education and cultural affairs.

“Our company is very fortunate to have access to the world-class people and facilities of the Advanced Manufacturing Center, for we would never have made the kind of progress we’ve made to date on our own,” said Farr, writing on behalf of the requested appropriation for the University of Maine System from the Maine Economic Improvement Fund (MEIF).

The Advanced Manufacturing Center is an engineering support and service center that is dedicated to promoting manufacturing economic development in Maine.