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O’Brien Medical Launches Device Developed with UMaine Collaboration

A new device on the market, developed by O’Brien Medical in Orono in collaboration with the University of Maine Advanced Manufacturing Center, has the potential to improve detection of diabetic peripheral neuropathy that can lead to limb loss.

ETF128, an electronic tuning fork named one of the Top 10 innovations in podiatry by Podiatry Today magazine, was patented last year and is now manufactured by Saunders Electronics in South Portland, Maine.

The 128-Hz device offers a significant improvement over current methods used by doctors to detect diabetic peripheral neuropathy, a nervous system disorder with symptoms of pain, sensation loss and weakness in limbs.

The development of ETF was made possible through a collaboration with Dr. Todd O’Brien, president and founder of O’Brien Medical, and UMaine’s Advanced Manufacturing Center, an engineering support and service center dedicated to promoting manufacturing economic development in Maine.

More than five years ago, O’Brien approached the Advanced Manufacturing Center to help develop a proof-of-concept electronic tuning fork, and then worked with Bruce Segee of UMaine’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to develop the beta and commercial versions of the device.

O’Brien also is an alum of the Top Gun Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program at UMaine, a five-month program that engages entrepreneurs in growing their businesses. Top Gun combines education, mentoring, pitch-coaching and networking opportunities. The program is a partnership of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, Maine Technology Institute, Blackstone Accelerates Growth and the University of Maine.

Maine Writing Project in Second Year of Teacher Leadership Grant

The Maine Writing Project (MWP) led by Kenneth Martin in the College of Education and Human Development has received $10,000 for the second half of a two-year SEED Teacher Leadership Development Grant from the National Writing Project. MWP, founded in 1997, is one of almost 200 university-based organizations in the National Writing Project that support young writers and teachers of writing throughout the United States. Each year, up to 20 educators complete UMaine’s annual institute in writing, the teaching of writing, and teacher leadership — joining our membership of more than 300 teacher-consultants. Program activities for members include book study groups, online writing groups, and the Maine Writes publication of members’ writing, as well as professional development workshops and conferences for educators across Maine. Outreach activities include young authors summer camps for grades 3-12, support for student-staffed writing centers in Maine schools, and the Science Around ME Internet app project for science and literacy in partnership with the Maine Discovery Museum. Funds provided by the NWP SEED Grant are essential to continuing these programs.

Neivandt Shares Benefits of RET Program in ‘Science Scope’

Tracy Vassiliev, a middle school science teacher at the James E. Doughty School in Bangor, and David Neivandt, a University of Maine professor, associate vice president for research and graduate studies, and director of the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering, co-wrote Let Them Eat Cake … OE-Cake!, which was published in the April/May 2015 issue of “Science Scope.”

In summer 2014, Vassiliev took part in a research experience for teachers (RET) program, funded by the National Science Foundation, with Neivandt at UMaine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute (FBRI).

RET’s objectives include fostering STEM partnerships between K–12  teachers and university faculty and inspiring the teachers to translate cutting-edge research being done at universities and make it relevant to their students.

Vassiliev experienced and, in turn, has been introducing her students to OE-Cake! (Octave Engine Cake Version 1.1.2b), which was unveiled in 2007 by Prometech Software, a company that specializes in high-performance simulation and computer graphics. OE-Cake! is a digital sandbox and learning platform.

When used to support science content, Neivandt and Vassiliev say OE-Cake! can engage students in ways that encourage critical thinking and creativity, and encourage them to explore hydrodynamics of liquids, small particle systems and solids.

In the classroom, the educators say it can help students understand the nature of science empirically by exploring the physical properties of virtual materials.

“By embracing the software, students discover that research in the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) fields is fun and exciting. … As educators, if there is a given technology that your students enjoy exploring, then embrace it, and help reveal the STEAM connections. This will reinforce the idea that STEAM content can truly be found everywhere,” Neivandt and Vassiliev wrote in the article.

“Teachers do not have to be experts in all computer applications, but instead they can be guides in helping students explore and experiment. Teachers need to be sure to provide students with a clear purpose, STEAM connections, and parameters. After that, you can allow your students to impress you with their applications of the scientific process, discoveries, iterations, and evidence-backed reasoning.”

Workforce Development: Interns to Full-Time Employees at Pika Energy

Pika Energy in Westbrook, Maine, focuses on wind and solar energy technology, including scalable options for homeowners and small businesses. Ben Polito, president of Pika Energy, talked about his company’s interest with UMaine:

How long have you worked with the University of Maine?
We have been involved with UMaine through the Innovate for Maine Fellows program. We have had interns each summer since the start of the program, and we have hired two of them so far for full-time positions, with a third starting this summer. We build highly technical products that require specific skills, and the intern program is a great way to get to know innovative young people and learn if there is a fit.

Are you able to provide an an example or two on your experience?
Our intern from the first year, Tony Nuzzo, was an engineering student from Orono, and he had great hands-on experience that helped him to get up to speed quickly. When he graduated, we offered him a full-time job and now he is leading our Quality/Customer Experience Department.

UMaine Has Most Accepted Papers at the Upcoming 12th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory

The 12th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT) in October in Santa Fe, New Mexico, will have strong participation of University of Maine researchers in the School of Computing and Information Science.

COSIT is a biennial meeting focusing on recent, innovative and significant contributions in spatial information theory. Full 20-page manuscripts were reviewed by four COSIT program committee members. Based on their assessment, 22 submissions were selected for presentation at the conference and publication in the proceedings as a volume in Springer’s Lecture Notes in Computer Science.

In the highy competitive paper selection process, it is a great accomplishment that UMaine researchers were successful with four submissions. With four lead-authored papers, UMaine is the top institution with the most accepted papers at this year’s COSIT.

Christopher Dorr, Longin Latecki and Reinhard Moratz
Shape similarity based on the qualitative spatial reasoning calculus eOPRA

Matthew Dube, Jordan Barrett and Max Egenhofer
From Metric to Topology: Determining Relations in Discrete Space

Matthew Dube, Max Egenhofer, Joshua Lewis, Shirly Stephen and Mark Plummer
Swiss Canton Regions: A Model for Complex Objects in Geographic Partitions

Torsten Hahmann and Lynn Usery
What is in a Contour Map? A Region-based Logical Formalization of Contour Semantics

These accepted papers involve five graduate students in Spatial Information Science and Engineering — Chris Dorr, Matt Dube, Joshua Lewis, Mark Plummer and Shirly Stephen. A third student author, Jordan Barrett, now at Syracuse University, was an Upward Bound student at UMaine in summers from 2012–14, mentored by Matt Dube. Barrett’s project is the result of his work during summer 2014.

UMaine’s College of Education Ranked 73rd by U.S. News and World Report

The University of Maine’s College of Education and Human Development is ranked 73rd in the nation for all Education Schools in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.

With more than 40 graduate degree programs and seven graduate certificate programs, the College of Education and Human Development offers professional development, and advanced education and training in a variety of modes. UMaine education graduate students choose from diverse course offerings and specializations in classes on campus and online.

UMaine education graduate students also have the opportunity to not only acquire knowledge, but also create it. At the state’s research university, UMaine graduate students collaborate with world-renown experts on vital education issues such as autism, poverty, bullying, literacy, leadership, diversity and STEM education.

Visiting Professor to Explore Passive House Research at UMaine Composites Center

Juana Domenech Subiran from La Rioja, Spain has joined the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center for summer 2015.

Subiran holds a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from Universidad del Pais Vasco (University of the Basque Country). Her current research interest is centered around passive houses. The passive house building standards aim to reduce energy consumption by 60–80 percent through improved materials and modified construction methods, according to the U.S. Passive House Institute.

Subiran will work with UMaine’s Roberto Lopez-Anido, a professor of civil engineering. The UMaine Composites Center is supporting Subiran’s research with aspects aligned with the center’s core expertise including the use of engineered wood products, thermoplastic composites, fiber reinforcement, hybrid materials, material durability, joining methods and test methods.

The research aims to increase building construction efficiency and reduce overall energy costs for homeowners.

More information about passive house practices is on the U.S. Passive House Institute’s website.

UMaine Humanities Center Awards Summer Research Grants

The University of Maine Humanities Center has awarded summer research grants to two UMaine students.

Taylor Cunningham, an English major and Honors student with a minor in folklore studies, was awarded the Sandy and Bobby Ives Research Award. Elisa Sance, a doctoral candidate in history, was awarded the center’s graduate student research award. Each award is worth $500.

Cunningham of Massachusetts is the coordinator of a new interdisciplinary humanities series of lectures on linguistics and culture, and has been working on the Maine Hermit Project for two years.

The project is a collaborative interdisciplinary humanities lab venture involving a team of undergraduate researchers working with Sarah Harlan-Haughey, an assistant professor in UMaine’s Honors College and  Department of English.

“As a student research assistant on the Maine Hermit project, I study the historical hermits of Maine — who they were and what they can tell us about the communities that remember them,” Cunningham says, adding she spends a lot of time researching old newspapers and the archives in the Maine Folklife Center, as well as conducting fieldwork around the state.

She says fieldwork is essential to a project that relies on oral history, and has visited historical societies and museums in Patten, Oxford Hills and Monhegan Island. She plans to travel more this summer, and the grant will help with related costs.

While a graduate teaching assistant at UMaine, Sance taught French in the Department of Modern Languages and Classics. For her doctorate, she is focusing on language policies in the 1960s and 1970s in New Brunswick and their effect on people in northern Maine.

This summer, Sance will study the role of the family unit in the transmission of the French language in U.S. and Canadian communities in the Madawaska region.

“The French-speaking population in the Madawaska region was divided by the establishment of the official border between Maine and New Brunswick in 1842. This population shares a common past but has evolved within different legal and political frameworks,” Sance says.

Sance also plans to collect data on the structure and evolution of the family unit as they relate to the establishment of public school systems in New Brunswick and Maine. She is specifically seeking information on the level of education, occupation(s), religious orientation, and size and composition of families.

Sance plans to conduct research at the Blake Library at the University of Maine Fort Kent and the Acadian Archives, which are housed in the same building. The facilities offer several useful documents that are not available anywhere else, Sance says. She also plans to use resources at the University of Moncton at Edmundston, New Brunswick.

She intends to present the paper at a conference organized by the Association of Canadian Studies in the United States in October, and at an on-campus event in March 2016, part of a monthlong series of programs to celebrate the French-speaking world.

The Sandy and Bobby Ives Research Award is funded by David Taylor and LeeEllen Friedland, and the graduate student award comes from other University of Maine Humanities Center (UMHC) funds.

For more information about UMHC, email director Liam Riordan at or visit the center’s website.

Maine Autism Institute Gets Additional Funds from Department of Education

The Maine Autism Institute for Research and Education at the University of Maine will receive more than $150,000 from the Maine Department of Education to continue its work as the state’s first autism institute, according to a Maine DOE news release.

The funds are in addition to the $209,802 the department and UMaine’s College of Education and Human Development contributed to open the institute in 2014.

Autism is a developmental disability with varying degrees of severity that affects a person’s ability to communicate, to reason and to interact with others. An estimated 1 in 68 children is now being diagnosed with autism. The new funding will further the institute’s initial efforts to build statewide capacity to improve outcomes for young Mainers with autism, the release states.

Much of the funding will be used to expand training in evidence-based practices for teams from Maine school districts to help increase the academic and social success for autistic students.

The full Maine DOE release is online.

UMaine Awarded a Nearly $498,000 Advanced Manufacturing Technology Planning Grant

The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center has received a $497,965 award from the National Institutes of Standards and Technology for mapping technical manufacturing challenges in structural thermoplastic materials.

UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, in collaboration with Celanese Corporation, Eastman Chemical Company, Polystrand and Royal TenCate, will launch CMIST — the Consortium for Manufacturing Innovation in Structural Thermoplastics. Working groups of material scientists, product developers, manufacturers and potential end users will identify, characterize and map technical challenges to the adoption of thermoplastic composite materials as substitutions in primary structural applications, allowing U.S. manufacturers to bring solutions to market first.

Low in cost and weight, recyclable and corrosion resistant, thermoplastic composite materials are strong enough to be used as a substitute in many primary structural applications, including ones in which aluminum once replaced steel in aircraft and automobiles. Such substitution has the potential to transform manufacturing. Global manufacturing competitiveness, historically dictated by raw-material costs and labor, can instead be dictated by efficiency, knowledge and smart manufacturing. U.S. manufacturers intending to benefit from such a transformation face two challenges: technical issues and competitive market threats. Technical issues include: realizing faster manufacturing cycle times; developing fast and reliable thermoplastic joining methods; and characterizing thermoplastic composites for desired performance and economical manufacturing. The vision and applied research that results from this planning mission will help U.S. manufacturers bring their products to market faster and in advance of global competition.

UMaine’s award is part of the $7.8 million in NIST Advanced Manufacturing Technology Planning Grants. More about the NIST Awards is online.


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