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UMaine Engineering Program Provides Business Skills

Contact: Nick Houtman, Dept of Public Affairs, 207-581-3777

ORONO– Reuben Caron isn’t quite ready to start his own business, but he’s getting closer. Before he graduates in May, the University of Maine senior in Electrical Engineering Technology from Portage, Maine, has a few courses and a senior project to complete, and he may enroll in the Maine Business School to pursue a master’s in business administration.

In the mean time, Caron’s appetite for a business background is being met by a new UMaine program that enables students in the School of Engineering Technology to add business credentials to their resumes. With an Engineering Entrepreneurial Minor, students will know what it’s like to run a business, says Jude Pearse, assistant professor in Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) who administers the new program.

“As an entrepreneur, you really have to know the bottom line,” adds Pearse who, before coming to UMaine, ran her own engineering consulting firm, Robash Unlimited, in Brewer. Pearse has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from UMaine.

“We want to prepare our students for what they will encounter when they go to work for a business. They’ll understand what it takes to meet a payroll and estimate project costs. In a small business, those skills are important and can make our graduates more valuable to the companies that hire them,” she adds.

Standard courses in the program include small business management, macro and microeconomics and principles of accounting. For his degree, Caron added a course in engineering economics.

During his four years at UMaine, Caron has gained technical skills through course work as well as practical experience as a computer network manager. He maintains the EET computer network and works as a technology coordinator for the Ashland school district, MSAD #32, in Maine and the Putney School in Putney, Vermont.

He has also worked for Kannon, Inc., a company based in New Gloucester, Maine that managed the statewide school network for the Maine Laptop Initiative and Apple Computer. Laptop network hardware is located at the University of Maine System Network office on the Orono campus.

The new SET entrepreneurship program reflects work force needs identified by the state agencies as well as industrial advisors for each SET program, says Steve Adam, advancement officer for the College. “The State of Maine has asked us to make sure our students have more entrepreneurial skills when they graduate,” says Adam. “This new minor responds to that request and to recommendations from industrial committees for the SET programs.”

The School of Engineering Technology offers programs in construction management and surveying, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering technology.

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