Every year the Society of Automotive Engineers sponsors the Clean Snowmobile Challenge — an intercollegiate design competition that encourages students to reduce emissions and noise by modifying snowmobiles to run on ethanol. Inspired by the competition, University of Maine mechanical engineering student Frances Foehrenbach of Saco, Maine, and her 11 teammates converted a snowmobile to run on compressed natural gas.
In April, the team displayed the snowmobile at the 2014 Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress in Detroit, Michigan, where many of the automotive industry’s top companies gathered. There, in competition with 11 other engineering universities, the UMaine team took third place for its snowmobile design.
The team’s snowmobile was also shown at the New Hampshire SnoDeo, one of the Northeast’s premier snowmobile events held to bring snowmobilers together near the season’s end to test new sleds.
Foehrenbach and another teammate were in charge of the team’s technical report writing. She also was the team’s sole Web designer — a task she had never done before the project.
In May 2011, Foehrenbach began working at the Bangor-based engineering consulting firm Woodard & Curran. Since graduating in May 2014, she has begun a full-time job with the company in the food and beverage service line, where she works on process piping to integrate new systems as well as adding equipment to existing systems.
Foehrenbach is a Tau Beta Pi engineering honors society and Pi Tau Sigma mechanical engineering honors society member. She was named one of two outstanding seniors in the Mechanical Engineering Department.
More information about Foehrenbach and her team’s project is online.
Why is engineering important to you?
Engineering is important for me because I have always had a desire to learn about the world around me, and I feel that my education in engineering will allow me to make a positive impact on the world.
What have you learned about yourself while doing this project? What has the project taught you about engineering?
Since I am the secretary for the team as well as the Web designer, I have discovered my strength of organization. Additionally, I have developed some Web designing tools and have found that I enjoy the aspect of creating and maintaining Web pages.
How does the project relate to your job with Woodard & Curran?
My job has certainly helped with this project. Having worked at Woodard & Curran since my freshman year of college, my experience in the consulting industry has helped me better understand how to go about the designing aspects of this project.
Why did you choose to work at Woodard & Curran after graduation?
I enjoy how the consulting industry has a variety of projects, which allows for continued learning in many aspects of engineering. Additionally, Woodard & Curran has a great atmosphere and truly values the well-being of its employees.
What excites you most about entering the workforce?
Entering the engineering workforce as a full-time engineer instead of an intern is exciting because it allows me to have more ownership over the projects I work on, and I will also have the opportunity to see a project through from design to completion.
Have you worked closely with a mentor, professor or role model who has made your UMaine experience better, if so how?
I have worked closely with a few professors, but my senior project adviser, Mick Peterson, has been a great asset for our team. He clearly cares about the senior capstone projects and wants his students to get the most of their experience at UMaine. He has also hired me to do extra work for him, which has allowed me to make some extra living money.
What is the most interesting, engaging or helpful class you’ve taken at UMaine? Why?
I took controls with professor Senthil Vel, which was an engaging class as it taught us how control systems work and incorporated feedback loops. The most valuable part of this course was the Arduino Micro boards that we were able to use along with fans and LEDs in order to learn how to program our own feedback loops.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
Make your time here worthwhile. Get involved in as many different clubs and activities as you can. It is incredibly important to get an internship as early as possible, so start applying freshman year.
Have you had an experience at UMaine that has shaped the way you see the world?
Attending UMaine has showed me that everything I love can be found in my own backyard: the outdoors, mountains, lakes, friendly people, great adventures, etc. As someone who grew up in Maine, I had lost sight of all Maine has to offer, and attending UMaine has brought back my love for this great state.