Susan MacKay of Cerahelix, a current tenant in the Target Technology Incubator in Orono, Maine, is one of the four finalists for the East Coast campaign of Google’s Solve for X — one of 12 worldwide Solve for X events that feature technology “moonshots” addressing key global problems with innovative technology solutions. Cerahelix uses DNA to make ceramic coatings that filter contaminants 100 times smaller than a virus while using less energy than competing technologies. Initially, this technology is being used to treat highly contaminated water from fracking, currently a multibillion-dollar problem. Cerehelix has had the business and technical support of UMaine since its inception. Incorporated in 2011, Cerahelix employs five scientists and engineers, all of whom are UMaine graduates, including the project scientist who is an inventor on all five of the company’s issued patents.
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An paper co-authored by Ali Abedi, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, was one of the 50 most downloaded articles in the IEEE Sensors Journal in October-November 2014. The paper, “Wireless Sensor Systems for Space and Extreme Environments: A Review” (Vol. 14, No. 11, November 2014), was co-authored by Abedi and Habib Rashvand, School of Engineering, University of Warwick; Jose M. Alcaraz-Calero, School of Computing, Telecommunications and Networks, University of the West of Scotland; Paul Mitchell, University of York; Subhas Chandra Mukhopadhyay, Massey University. The latest Top 50 papers are online.
Keri Kaczor, a marine professional with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, has secured annual funding for the Maine Healthy Beaches Program.
Kaczor is the coordinator of the statewide program that is dedicated to monitoring water quality and protecting public health on Maine’s coastal beaches.
The program, which is funded annually by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant managed by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), was recently awarded $177,500 for “Maine Healthy Beaches 2015.”
The program is a partnership between UMaine Extension/Maine Sea Grant, the Maine DEP and local municipalities.
Participation in the program is voluntary and provides a quality-assured, unified structure for monitoring, assessment and public notification of coastal beach water quality conditions. Beaches in the program span from Kittery to Mount Desert Island, according to Kaczor.
UMaine Extension staff involved in the project work to make well-informed beach management decisions as well as address pollution issues, Kaczor says.
About 300 students at 13 Maine high schools are collecting data on Maine’s snowpack to feed into a national database tapped by scientists.
The project is part of the Acadia Learning Program, a joint venture of the University of Maine’s Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, UMaine’s School of Forest Resources and the Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park.
The Acadia Learning Program has been in place since 2007 and has included research on mercury concentrations in dragonfly larvae that has expanded to 50 national parks and schools throughout the Northeast.
The snowpack project is collecting data not available elsewhere, program coordinators say. Though the National Weather Service and U.S. Geological Survey record snowpack measurements, they only do so in open areas, while Acadia Learning Program students can compile data from forested areas.
The students measure depth, snow-water equivalent and duration of snowpack, plus additional datasets based on their interests.
“Students develop background understanding about weather and climate, create hypotheses, develop a collection strategy, collect data and analyze them,” says Sarah Nelson, an associate research professor at the Mitchell Center and UMaine’s School of Forest Resources, as well as the principal investigator of the snowpack project. “We discovered that students learned a lot through hands-on field investigation and authentic data collection and analysis.”
More about this project is online.
The Top Gun Entrepreneurship Acceleration program is an annual five-month business accelerator for entrepreneurs. Top Gun combines mentoring and curriculum in three locations statewide: Orono, Portland and Rockland. The program is offered through a partnership among the University of Maine, the Maine Technology Institute and the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development.
The University of Maine’s Target Technology Incubator coordinates and hosts the Orono Top Gun class as a part of its focus on helping Maine-based startups and innovative companies grow their businesses.
Entrepreneurs enrolled in the program:
- Participate in biweekly training sessions, each one focused on a single business topic
- Are assigned one or more mentors who provide guidance and answer questions throughout the five-month period
- Engage with other entrepreneurs who share successes, failures and lessons learned
- Receive guidance, practice, and feedback on business pitches
- Get a chance to deliver a business pitch and/or showcase a business to an audience of over 300 potential investors, business leaders and journalists
Participants from the 2014 class from Penobscot, Hancock, and Piscataquis counties include:
- The Juice Cellar, Belfast
- Specialty Sweets, Bangor
- The Loyal Biscuit Company, Belfast, Camden, Rockport, Waterville
- The Northern Maine Distilling Company, Brewer
- GenoTyping Center of America, Bar Harbor
- Oats Any Time, Palmyra
- Sandra B. Dressing and Dressage, Dover-Foxcroft
Of Top Gun’s 79 graduates, close to 95 percent are still in business. To date, Top Gun graduates have landed over $8 million in grants and other financing.
Boston-based Vic Firth is known for pairing drumsticks that have the same weight and feel, satisfying experienced musicians who demand consistent performance. When the company wanted to understand the implications of a new drumstick tooling technology being used in its Newport, Maine production facility, it came to the the University of Maine’s Advanced Manufacturing Center. Using the latest in digital metrology software, PolyWorks, and a Faro Edge laser scanning arm, the differences in the old and new products were measured. Vic Firth was then able to modify its new tooling technology to make drumsticks that meet the exacting specifications of their customers.
The University of Maine’s Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC) has entered into a new agreement with the Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Maine MEP) that will expand the center’s capacity, Maine MEP announced.
The partnership, which will place a Maine MEP project manager at AMC, will promote closer collaboration between the organizations with the goal of enhancing the services available to manufacturers in the state, according to a Maine MEP news release.
Forest Wentworth, a UMaine graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology, has been hired as the MEP/AMC project manager. Wentworth will provide research, design and manufacturing services to private sector clients and will serve as Maine MEP’s liaison with AMC, the release states.
“This partnership expands the capacity of AMC to offer engineering and manufacturing solutions to Maine companies,” says John Belding, director of AMC.
Belding said although Wentworth will be mainly responsible for supervising projects in the AMC machine and fabrication shop, he will also contribute to outreach efforts by regularly visiting manufacturers around the state to promote the center’s services.
The Maine MEP is a program of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development and an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) under the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The full release is online.
Kirsten Jacobson, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Maine, is connecting her students with members of the community in efforts to promote the humanities among residents of various ages.
In 2009, Jacobson created the service-learning program Philosophy Across the Ages to supplement her teaching while serving the public. The outreach program brings UMaine undergraduates together with high school students and retirement community members through discussions of philosophy texts.
Program participants join voluntarily and share a “desire to discuss serious questions of philosophy and examine how they are relevant to everyday life,” Jacobson says.
The project gives Jacobson’s students the opportunity to lead a class discussion, connects local high school students with a university experience, and engages retirement community members to engaging discussions with younger members of their community, Jacobson says.
In the 2013–2014 academic year, 10 UMaine undergraduate students participated in the program, visiting Orono High School and Dirigo Pines, a retirement community in Orono. So far in the 2014–2015 academic year, seven UMaine undergraduate students and 15 Orono High School students have participated, according to Jacobson.
On Jan. 24, undergraduate and high school members of Philosophy Across the Ages will join Jacobson at the Bangor Public Library to host a “Philosophy Tea” as part of the University of Maine Humanities Center’s third annual Downtown Bangor Public Humanities Day. The gathering will involve a discussion of a selection from Edith Cobb’s “The Ecology of Imagination in Childhood.”
Jacobson also is working to create a University of Maine–Orono High School Humanities Collaboration to find creative ways to bring together faculty and students at UMaine and the high school with community members around shared interests in the humanities, she says.
“We envision this project to have a number of stages, and are aiming to establish some form of permanent programing connecting our two campuses and the surrounding community through the humanities,” Jacobson says, adding she hopes the relationship will produce humanities-based collaborative events such as co-taught seminars, workshops and presentations.
The University of Maine Foster Center for Student Innovation has received the Nonprofit of the Year Award from the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce. The award was presented at the chamber’s annual dinner, Jan. 21 at the Cross Insurance Center, Bangor. The Foster Center supports student entrepreneurs and innovators. In FY14, it counseled students, provided business workspace for student-run companies, and supported internships and extracurricular training in workplace skills. The center is the home of the Innovation Engineering program and is part of the Blackstone Accelerates Growth initiative. The Foster Center is part of the UMaine Office of Innovation and Economic Development, which provides leadership in working with organizations to leverage UMaine’s assets to build and grow Maine’s economy. In addition to commercializing technologies developed in its research facilities, Innovation and Economic Development offers access to R&D expertise, facilities and equipment to Maine companies, coaches businesses bringing products to market, trains innovators and entrepreneurs, and provides business incubation services for startups.
Sheila Pendse, a project development associate in the Dean’s Office of the University of Maine College of Engineering, is leading a project that aims to engage female middle school students from rural Maine communities in forest bioproducts research programs and STEM careers.
The Engineering Information Foundation recently awarded Pendse $12,540 to create a Sustainable Energy Leaders of the Future (SELF) group to address the need for a diverse workforce in the state’s forest industry.
Girls Engineer Maine (GEM), a statewide educational outreach program designed to increase the number of women studying engineering, aims to start the education initiative by promoting awareness about the responsible use of a forest ecosystem among middle school girls.
The project’s objective is to introduce about 80 girls to forest bioproducts research for potential renewable energy sources and value-added materials that will provide STEM career opportunities within Maine’s forest industry, according to the researchers.
SELF will pair each participant with a female mentor who is enrolled in an undergraduate STEM degree program at UMaine. When the participants start high school, they will have the opportunity to create research projects in sustainable forest management and forest bioproducts, the researchers say.