The University of Maine College of Engineering named the Stephen W. Cole Concrete Laboratory during an April 26 ceremony at Boardman Hall.
Cole, a UMaine alumnus, graduated in 1968 with an associate degree in engineering technology followed by a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1972. He went on to found S.W. Cole Engineering, Inc., in Hermon, Maine, in 1979. He retired from the company in 2007.
Attending the dedication ceremony was a standing room-only crowd including UMaine President Paul Ferguson, College of Engineering (COE) faculty and staff, S.W. Engineering, Inc., employees, both past and present, members of the engineering community, and friends and family.
“This generous gift in honor of Steve Cole will help us maintain a high quality facility that is a critical piece of our program,” said Civil and Engineering Department Chair Eric Landis. “We feel it is essential for students to get a true hands-on experience, and in the case of concrete, that means getting their hands dirty. Concrete is the most-used manufactured material and it is important that civil engineering students have a good feel for how it is produced and what can go wrong when it is placed. The only way to learn that is through hands-on experience with the material.”
COE Dean Dana Humphrey applauded Cole’s leadership and his ability to help solve problems but step away once the solution was in place. He pointed out that Cole was key to establishing a two-year technical degree in civil engineering technology at Eastern Maine Community College to fulfill a need cited by area construction and engineering firms for employees with quality control and materials testing expertise. And he noted that Cole helped create the Maine Engineering Promotion Council (MEPC), a non-profit organization to advance interest among middle-school students in the engineering profession.
“The MEPC is one of the reasons that the UMaine College of Engineering has seen record enrollments,” Dean Humphrey said.
S. W. Cole President Paul Kohler said he met Cole when he took a class that Cole was teaching at UMaine. He went to work for S. W. Cole in 1985 and has been there ever since. “One thing, among many, that I have always admired about Steve is his desire to provide opportunity to young professionals,” Kohler said. “He made it fun to learn and work in this business and he always made time to listen to your opinions and views.”
Kohler also noted that the foundation laid by Cole has served the company well. “Although things have changed since Steve’s retirement, I am very confident that if he came back tomorrow he would recognize that the underlying principles he founded are still the guiding principles we operate by today,” he said.
After a standing ovation, Cole thanked those in attendance and said he was humbled by the dedication. He said he was especially proud to have his name on the firm as it continues to thrive under the new generation of ownership.
S.W. Cole, an employee-owned firm of more than 90 scientists, engineers, and technicians provides geotechnical engineering, geo-environmental consulting, and construction materials testing for projects throughout New England.
Image Description: Steve Cole