The University of Maine’s Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC) and Ecoshel, a company that produces cedar shingle panels, recently completed their UMaine-based project, Smart Shingle Production. AMC, along with private and public partners, designed, developed and built a manufacturing assembly line for the company. The line, which includes custom manufacturing equipment, blends conventional woodworking systems with state-of-the-art controls and laser-scanning technology.
“Developing this new type of shingle manufacturing system will greatly increase safety and production efficiency over current systems,” says AMC director John Belding, talking about the assembly line that will be operated in Ecoshel’s new production facility in Ashland, Maine.
The Ecoshel project created more than 11 jobs and provided a learning experience for UMaine engineering students.
Bryan Kirkey, owner and CEO of Ecoshel, was referred to the AMC by the Maine Technology Institute. He met with AMC staff and engineering student interns to discuss how to reach his goal of having a cutting-edge manufacturing facility in Maine. With support from AMC’s innovative engineering and manufacturing services, Kirkey opened the production facility in Ashland.
AMC sought private industry partners such as Dana Hodgkin, owner of Manchester, Maine-based Progress Engineering, for additional system integration and controls support.
Working with Ecoshel and Progress Engineering over the past six months, AMC developed an automated system that can scan, optimize and cut raw lumber to produce a shingle every second with the specialized features of Ecoshel’s system. Once the shingles are made, they are assembled into Ecoshel’s cedar siding panels that use a unique, patented installation system that minimizes installation effort, waste, extra weight and materials, and extends shingle life.
This is the first of many assembly lines Ecoshel plans to use based on the specifications and prints developed by the AMC, according to Belding. AMC plans to share information and assist Ecoshel’s private partners with building the remaining systems.
More about Ecoshel is online.
About 70 high school students and teachers from Portland, Bangor, Auburn and local Native American communities will gather at the University of Maine for a five-day UMaine Stormwater Management Research Team (SMART) Institute.
UMaine scientists and students, city water planners, and representatives from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and businesses including Woodard & Curran and IDEXX will also take part in the institute that runs from Monday, June 23 through Friday, June 27.
The SMART Institute aims to engage a diverse group of students and teachers in training for the implementation of science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) core values in their schools while addressing an important environmental issue.
The institute is supported by a more than $735,000 grant awarded by the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) to empower female and minority high school students, their teachers and communities to create innovative solutions to the environmental problems related to stormwater management.
Throughout the conference, students will take part in hands-on projects led by STEM professionals in areas such as engineering design, science, computer modeling and information technology to monitor and map water quality. Participants will tour UMaine labs and stormwater areas on campus, hear from guest speakers, and learn how to use wireless sensors to test water, as well as collect, enter and analyze data.
The institute will cap off with a field trip to the Arctic Brook watershed area in Bangor where students will install the wireless sensors they built and collect data as citizen scientists. An awards ceremony will be held on campus before students depart.
Xuan Chen, a farm credit assistant professor in the University of Maine’s School of Economics, received a $28,390 Maine Department of Agriculture grant for his proposal, “Determining the Current Cost of Producing Milk in Maine 2013.” The yearlong project aims to accurately determine the costs of producing milk in Maine based on four levels of production as defined by demographic data collected in a mail survey and by milk production records maintained by the Maine Department of Agriculture. About 40 farms will receive on-site visits to collect financial performance data for the year 2013. The information will be summarized and presented to the Maine Milk Commission in written and oral testimony, as well as during state legislative hearings.
On May 8, the Maine Development Foundation and the University of Maine’s School of Economics released the third quarterly report analyzing critical economic indicators in Maine.
The latest report, “The Fiscal Return on Higher Education in Maine,” looks at the state benefits of greater educational attainment, such as increased tax revenue and reduced social costs. Philip Trostel, a UMaine professor of economics and public policy, wrote the report that determined each bachelor’s degree in Maine generates a benefit to Maine taxpayers of approximately $74,600 in present value over the course of a lifetime.
Mario Teisl, director of the UMaine School of Economics and professor of resource economics and policy, is overseeing the series of reports that further explore the economic indicators in “Measures of Growth in Focus,” an annual report issued by the Maine Economic Growth Council.
The Maine Development Foundation news release and the full report are online.
Today the U.S. Department of Energy announced the selection of finalists for the next phase of its Advanced Technology Demonstration Program. The University of Maine’s offshore wind project known as New England Aqua Ventus was selected fourth and is an alternate.
Three of the six projects, all of which are at 50 percent completion, were awarded full grants to move to the next stage, which includes the completion to 100 percent design and engineering.
The DOE noted that Maine’s VolturnUS technology, which currently is successfully in use on a pilot scale near Castine, was highly favorable and innovative, and “with additional engineering and design, will further enhance the properties of American offshore wind technology options.” The DOE has indicated it will continue to work with UMaine to advance the design to deployment readiness.
UMaine’s New England Aqua Ventus project will remain an alternate for the DOE Advanced Technology Demonstration Program, should additional federal funding become available.
In the coming year, UMaine will use the DOE funding to complete the R&D and to consider the path forward, according to Jake Ward, University of Maine Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development.
“The University of Maine remains enthusiastic about the opportunities from the VolturnUS technology to tap into the largest sources of renewable energy in Maine,” Ward says. ”The winds in the Gulf of Maine are still there. The need for economical, environmentally sustainable renewable energy that can create local and U.S. jobs is still an important goal for Maine and the United States. The extensive work that the UMaine lead team has completed is very important to meeting these goals.”
Contact: Jennifer O’Leary, 207.515.3341
Sandra De Urioste-Stone, assistant professor of nature-based tourism, and John Daigle, associate professor of forest recreation management, have received a $34,499 grant from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry for the study: “How Well Are We Serving the Outdoor Recreation Public?” The purpose of this study is to investigate perspectives on outdoor recreation preferences and priorities, and perceptions on tourism development to help the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and other outdoor recreation managers to better understand current demand and improve decision-making. An online survey will be used to test conventional wisdom and open up new thinking regarding what the public wants and how they can best be served. In addition, study participants will be asked questions about their attitudes and beliefs about developing sustainable tourism in their communities. Data collected will be used to develop the 2015–20 Maine State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). The plan requires that an analysis of outdoor recreation demand, supply, trends, and ultimately priorities be documented.
The survey population for this study seeks to entice responses from both the general residents of Maine as well as nonresidents who have recreated in Maine and have paid some type of recreation fee for fishing, hunting, camping reservations, etc.
While the data collected on recreational preferences and behaviors will benefit the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, the questions related to sustainable tourism will have new scientific significance. Questions on sustainable tourism will utilize an attempt to revalidate the Sustainable Tourism Attitude Scale, a published psychometric instrument that has not yet been implemented on a statewide scale.
O’Brien Medical announced it has been granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its Electronic Tuning Fork, or ETF. The device offers a significant improvement over current methods used by doctors to detect diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), a common precursor to diabetic limb loss.
The development of the ETF was made possible through a collaboration with Dr. Todd O’Brien, president and founder of O’Brien Medical, and the University of Maine.
More than five years ago, O’Brien approached UMaine’s Advanced Manufacturing Center for help developing a proof-of-concept ETF, and then worked with Bruce Segee of UMaine’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to develop the beta and commercial versions of the device.
Segee calls the project a perfect example of how the university can help grow the Maine economy.
A Maine electronics manufacturer has been selected to produce the ETF, and O’Brien expects the device will be available for purchase in late 2014.
The full news release is available online.
Jake Ward, the University of Maine’s vice president for innovation and economic development, will be featured on an upcoming episode of the Maine Center for Economic Policy’s television show, “State of the State.” The weekly talk show focuses on Maine issues and is hosted by MECEP staff. The new episode will focus on research and development and will look at the university’s role in the growth of two Maine companies — Acadia Harvest and Kenway Corp. The episode will air on Time Warner Cable’s Channel 9 at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 17 and Thursday, April 24. A podcast of the full program also will be available on MECEP’s website. More information about the upcoming show can be found on the MECEP blog.
The University of Maine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation is hosting the Big Gig finale from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 8. Finalists from the last three Big Gig pitch-off events will compete for a $1,000 grand prize sponsored by University Credit Union.
The winner will be chosen by audience vote. Admission is free, but online registration is requested. Food and a cash bar will be available.
Finalists are John and Christine Carney of Thick & Thin Designs; Bruce and Kathy Chamberlain of Stone Fox Farm Creamery; and Jessica Jewell of Northern Maine Distilling Co.
The Big Gig is a series of business pitch events for entrepreneurs in Greater Bangor designed to bring together Bangor-Orono area innovators and entrepreneurs and offer networking opportunities. It was started by a partnership between UMaine, Old Town, Orono and Husson University and is supported by Blackstone Accelerates Growth. More information about Big Gig is online.
During their senior year, University of Maine students majoring in environmental horticulture can now earn an associate of science degree in turfgrass science and management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Under a new agreement, qualified students in the Environmental Horticulture Program at the University of Maine School of Food and Agriculture will spend their senior year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Stockbridge School of Agriculture pursuing a concentration in turfgrass science and management.
In the Stockbridge School program, students study topics that include turfgrass management, pest and weed management, plant nutrients and equipment maintenance to prepare them for careers in turfgrass management with golf courses, athletic facilities, lawn care and park maintenance industries, according to the Stockbridge School of Agriculture website.
UMaine students will be accepted to the Stockbridge School after completing the first three years of their degree and maintaining at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average. Credits earned at the Stockbridge School toward the associate of science degree will also count for the completion of the bachelor’s degree at UMaine.
“Our faculty look forward to offering more diverse academic options to environmental horticulture students through this agreement with the Stockbridge School of Agriculture,” says Stephanie Burnett, UMaine associate professor of horticulture who, along with professor emeritus William Mitchell, spearheaded the agreement. “These students will be highly competitive in the job market with both a bachelor’s degree in environmental horticulture from UMaine and an associate degree in turfgrass management from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.”
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745