Contact: Media Contact: Nick Houtman at (207) 581-3777
ORONO– University of Maine wood composites researchers will take another step in developing international ties with a one-week visit starting October 4 to research laboratories and forest product companies in Chile. With federal government support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), four wood scientists and engineers from the Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center at UMaine will travel to Chile with Chancellor of the University of Maine System Joseph W. Westphal and Karen Boucias, director of international programs at UMaine.
“The purpose of this trip is to develop opportunities for student exchanges and joint research projects,” says Steve Shaler, AEWC associate director. “Forest products is a big part of the economy in Chile. They sent a delegation here last spring, and we’ll be touring their labs and meeting with university scientists and officials.”
Chancellor Westphal has extensive foreign relations experience that will aid in the partnership. A former assistant secretary of the Army and acting secretary of the Army, he was sent by former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen to negotiate a bilateral agreement with the Chilean military.
“This exchange with Chile is a very exciting opportunity to expand research and commercialization opportunities with a new free market partner,” said Westphal. “The collaboration will also provide the University of Maine with opportunities to expand into other areas of research such as climate change and natural resource management.”
ONR provided a grant to cover the costs of the UMaine trip in an effort to link the best forest products research in the country with Chile. Joining UMaine researchers will be scientists from Washington State University.
The AEWC is building an international reputation for its laboratories and research initiatives, adds Shaler. In recent years, scientists have come to study at the AEWC from Australia, Sweden, Brazil, Denmark and France.
“These people could have gone anywhere in the world to study, but they chose to come here. It’s a sign of the quality of our programs and of the ongoing global nature of technology research,” he says.
AEWC staff participating in the trip will include Shaler; AEWC Director Habib Dagher; Douglas Gardener, professor of wood science and technology; and Roberto Lopez-Anido, a native of Argentina and assistant professor of civil engineering. They will fly to Santiago, Chile on Oct. 4 and return to Bangor on Oct. 11.
Meetings will be held on Oct. 6 and 7 at the Universidad de Chile and at the Universidad de Concepci