University of Maine civil engineering students can continue to rely on the Hydraulics Lab to provide a high quality learning experience, thanks to a generous endowment from Kleinschmidt Associates (Kleinschmidt), an energy and water resource consulting firm based in Pittsfield.
The Kleinschmidt Hydraulics Laboratory Fund will ensure the Boardman Hall lab remains up-to-date and able to enhance students’ projects by encouraging excellence in the study of hydraulic engineering.
In honor of the company’s generous gift, the facility has been named the Kleinschmidt Hydraulics Laboratory. A dedication ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 27, at 309 Boardman Hall.
The gift comes as part of Campaign Maine, UMaine’s six-year, $150 million capital campaign – the most ambitious in the University’s history.
The Hydraulics Lab helps provide the experience necessary for budding civil/hydraulic engineers to advance their knowledge in such areas as water distribution systems, waste water treatment and analysis, and design of water control structures for water supply, recreation, and hydroelectric power generation.
College of Engineering Dean Dana Humphrey says the endowment is “absolutely vital to purchase and upgrade equipment, fund student projects, improve the hydraulics curriculum and make sure students are receiving the highest quality educational experience the University can offer.”
The Hydraulics Lab complements the theory students obtain in their lectures, says Professor Eric Landis, chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.
The lab “gives meaning to the mathematical models students learn in class and enables them to develop better engineering knowledge and skills. Students look at hydrostatic forces on submerged objects, and pressure gradients in piping networks. Using the large flume they can measure the flow of water as it goes through open channels, pipes, and other structures such as dams and fish diversions.”
“A modern, well-equipped lab will be a good recruitment tool for UMaine’s engineering program,” says Dr. Jack Palmer, president of Kleinschmidt Associates. Dr. Palmer predicts that during the next decade, “there will be a real shortage of strong technical personnel. The need to encourage students to look at engineering as a career is more critical than it has ever been.”
Established in 1966 as a local engineering business, Kleinschmidt has grown into a corporation with eight office locations throughout the United States. The firm has been involved in designing hydroelectric facilities, dams and fish passage projects since its beginning. Kleinschmidt also performs environmental studies and design services for other renewable energy projects such as wind and tidal projects, and prepares licensing and permitting documents needed by state and federal agencies.
Over the years, the company has forged a strong relationship with the University by hiring graduates with degrees in civil, structural, electrical, and mechanical engineering, as well as in history, English, biology, and environmental backgrounds. Currently nearly one quarter of Kleinschmidt’s 120 employees are UMaine alumni.
“UMaine has been a valued source of technical talent for us over the years,” says Dr. Palmer.
Peter Bastien, Senior Civil Engineer and Manager of Hydro Engineering at Kleinschmidt, a UMaine graduate who joined Kleinschmidt in 2001, says his company continually looks for ways to connect with the University. “The gift to the Hydraulics Lab is one more important link. I feel as though I’ve come full circle,” he says. “It’s rewarding to work for a company that’s giving something back to the University you attended.”
Students are not the only ones who provide Kleinschmidt with a UMaine connection. The company often uses faculty members as sub-consultants on specific projects. Last year, assisted by the UMaine Department of Mechanical Engineering, Kleinschmidt worked with Ocean Farm Technologies, a Searsmont-based aquaculture company, to design the patent pending fish rearing system called the AquaPod. The project received recognition by winning an American Council of Engineering Companies Honor Award in the organization’s national engineering achievement program.
Currently, Kleinschmidt is talking with Dr. Shaleen Jain, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, about how his research on climate change might influence the company’s work in other water resources markets.
March 24, 2008
Image Description: Kleinschmidt Associates staff members include, from left to right, Mike Schimpff and UMaine graduates Holly MacKenzie, Adam Haskell, Gary Liimatainen, Leslie Corrow, Kevin Cooley and Peter Bastien