UMaine Narratives - Information Technologies
Building a Creative Future
A renovation project designed to create a new culture of innovation and creativity for the state soon will be under way at the UMaine.
The Maine Technology Institute has awarded the campus $3.69 million to turn Stewart Commons into the New Media Innovation, Research, and Development Center at UMaine, which will support expanded innovation and development in new media for the entire state.
Construction will include the addition of necessary technical facilities for continued and new training, research, development, and commercialization; pursuing collaborative research and development initiatives with potential for beneficial economic and social impact; and working directly with individuals and businesses to take ideas and prototypes through the stages of development to commercialization.
To accomplish this, director and new media professor Owen Smith will be working with UMaine’s ASAP Media Services, and at least eight independent Maine-based new media companies.
Researchers, faculty, and students at UMaine are exploring the robotic building blocks of technology that have the potential to help revolutionize human surgical procedures.
Mechanical engineering researcher Mohsen Shahinpoor, who directs the state’s only biomedical engineering technology lab, is focusing on the development of advanced robots for endoscopy and laparoscopy procedures that are less invasive and traumatic than traditional surgeries.
Robotics offers surgeons precision movement, eliminating the inherent unsteadiness of the human hand. That same automated precision will one day soon make it possible for surgeries to be performed by doctors at a distance.
However, what the robotic hand or instrument lacks is tactile sensing capabilities, which Shahinpoor hopes to address with the help of his pioneering research in artificial muscles.
He and his students also are exploring how to build robotic devices with disposable parts, thereby reducing the incidence of infection. The key to such disposable robotic surgery tools is to make them cost-effective and as environmentally friendly as possible, while still maintaining accuracy.
At UMaine, Shahinpoor hopes to make his biomedical engineering lab into a center of innovation and learning, where faculty and students can work with the state’s medical institutions to solve problems using robotics and artificial muscles.