Archive for the ‘Engineering’ Category

BOV Member Richard Higgins Has Passed Away

Friday, August 1st, 2014

University of Maine Board of Visitors member Richard Higgins of Santa Fe, New Mexico, passed away July 30. He was 64. Mr. Higgins was a member of the UMaine Class of 1979 and a member of the College of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council. Mr. Higgins and his wife Jean established an endowment for the Boardman Hall materials testing laboratory that now bears their names. A reception is scheduled for Aug. 3 in Santa Fe. An In Memoriam notice is online.

Engineers Without Borders Traveling to Developing Country in Attempt to Improve Water Security in Region

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Members of the University of Maine student group Engineers Without Borders will travel to Ecuador for two weeks in August on an assessment trip they hope will open the door to a long-term project to improve water security in the region.

From Aug. 16–28, six UMaine students and two mentors will stay in La “Y” de La Laguna in the coastal rain forest of Ecuador. La “Y,” which means the “Y” or a fork in the road, is a 300-person community that is struggling with an insufficient supply of drinking water.

A long dry season and inadequate storage is responsible for the low water supply. Residents are now dependent on buying untreated river water from an improvised tanker truck, according to EWB-UMaine members. The group aims to improve water security by helping the community find an adequate source, appropriate treatment, and reliable distribution.

“This trip will help us assess the needs of the community and build relationships that are vital to project success,” says EWB-UMaine member Logan Good. “Thinking ahead, this trip is just the beginning of a great companionship with the people of La ‘Y’ and a fantastic chance to experience global engineering.”

EWB-UMaine is a student chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA. It was founded in 2007 and is made up of students and professional mentors who introduce communities in developing countries to sustainable engineering projects that aim to improve residents’ quality of life. Students from any major can join the group.

Good, a mechanical engineering student from Presque Isle, Maine, is the team’s project leader, co-design leader and assistant health and safety officer. During the trip, he will be responsible for ensuring all scheduled tasks are accomplished and for providing a safe, educational and exciting experience for team members.

This is the second EWB-UMaine trip for Good, who traveled with the group to Honduras in March 2013.

“Engineers Without Borders provides many opportunities to enrich students’ global perspectives and create responsible leaders,” Good says.

During the summer assessment trip, EWB-UMaine members will meet with the community, collect water quality and health data, and discuss possible storage solutions.

Edwin Nagy, a civil and environmental engineering lecturer at UMaine, is the group’s interim adviser and will attend the trip as an engineering mentor. His focus will be on the students’ relation-building efforts as they try to understand the community’s needs and organizational structure. Robert Sypitkowski, an environmental engineer and UMaine alumnus, will provide the main technical guidance on the trip, Nagy says.

Sypitkowski traveled to La “Y” in December to meet community members. While there, he learned that five years ago, a water pump system was constructed, but the system immediately failed and there is no funding to fix it. After conducting water quality tests, he determined a new source and a storage system are needed, and the community agreed, according to Sypitkowski.

Involving the community is an important aspect of the project, according to Nagy. Community members also will be given cameras and encouraged to take photos to spark discussions with EWB-UMaine about future potential projects.

“Having the community involved from the beginning means that the people who benefit from the project are involved in keeping it alive, and it means that needs identified are needs that the people themselves believe they have,” Nagy says, adding the group’s short-term goal is to get to know the community well enough to assess and understand their needs while making friends.

“I am very interested to know their story, make new stories with them, and of course, play some futbol,” Good says of the local residents.

After the assessment trip, the students will work with the mentors to design a suitable water system. Over the next several years, the group will take a series of implementation and monitoring trips to assist La “Y” with at least water storage, if not water quality. Nagy expects the project will take three to five years to complete.

In between trips, the group will work on perfecting their design; raising funds; and analyzing data on water quality, health, satisfaction and political status collected from the community. The data will help the group determine what effect their work is having on the perceived quality of life in the region.

Educational programs will be provided to community members throughout the project term to keep residents informed and encourage sustainability. Programs will include discussion about coliforms and related health risks, as well as information about operation and maintenance of the water system the group implements.

“If all goes well, this will overlap with other projects within this community or neighboring communities and we can have a long-term relationship with the people in and around La ‘Y,’ slowly helping them get to a point where they have the infrastructure for long-term, self-directed growth,” Nagy says.

In 2013, EWB-UMaine completed a five-year effort to implement a community septic system for 28 homes in Dulce Vivir, Honduras. In 2012, the project earned a $25,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation and the EWB-USA “Premiere Project Award” — the only award of its kind given to a student chapter that year. The project taught students how to work with a community to develop and implement a sustainable project, such as the one they are now pursuing in Ecuador.

“I hope the students will gain an appreciation for the many alternative ways of living in the world, a more practical approach to engineering and an increased sense of the options available to them as engineers,” Nagy says.

In February, the group was awarded a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant for work to be completed in Ecuador during the summer. Projects for Peace grants are funded by the Davis Foundation and are awarded to efforts that address conflict resolution and reconciliation, foster understanding, provide opportunity and build community, according to the foundation.

UMaine chemistry student Bryer Sousa also won a Projects for Peace grant in 2013 to install biosand water filters in 50 households in an impoverished rural region of Honduras.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

WABI Covers Bridge Year Program Students’ UMaine Visit

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

WABI (Channel 5) reported on a recent trip of Houlton High School students to the University of Maine. The students are participants in the Bridge Year Program, an educational collaborative involving UMaine that aims to increase the number of Maine students who earn a college degree by giving them access to college classes during their junior and senior years in high school. Bridge Year Program students can earn enough credits during their last two high school years to start their college careers as sophomores, according to the report. During the trip, the students learned about UMaine engineering programs.

Upward Bound Math Science Students to Present Projects

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

All five of the Upward Bound Math Science student groups will present their final videos for the summer program’s Group Sustainability Design Project from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday, July 25, in the Foster Center for Student Innovation.

The Upward Bound Math Science Program is affiliated with the UMaine College of Education and Human Development and offers a six-week college preparatory program to first-generation college students from eight Maine high schools. The program specifically targets students who are interested in pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors and careers.

This summer, 35 students are attending from Central High School in Corinth, Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft, Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln, Nokomis Regional High School in Newport, Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris, Portland High School, Stearns High School in Millinocket, and Schenck High School in East Millinocket.

Students will present posters of their individual research projects and explorations completed over the summer from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday, July 28 in the atrium of the D.P. Corbett Business Building during the program’s conference-style STEM symposium.

Maine Edge Publishes Report on Wireless Leak Detection Research for ISS

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

The Maine Edge published an article about University of Maine researchers receiving funds to design and test a wireless leak detection system for the International Space Station (ISS). The project was one of five in the nation to receive funding from NASA’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) for research and technology development onboard ISS. Ali Abedi, a UMaine associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, was awarded a three-year, $100,000 NASA grant through the Maine Space Grant Consortium in Augusta for the project. “This will be a great training experience for our students to learn how to take a prototype out of the lab, and not only to the field but also to space,” Abedi said.

Khalil, Mason Awarded Research Funds from Maine Cancer Foundation, AP Reports

Monday, July 21st, 2014

The Associated Press reported Andre Khalil, an associate professor of mathematics at the University of Maine, and Michael Mason, an associate professor of chemical and biological engineering at UMaine, were among seven researchers to receive funds from the Maine Cancer Foundation to study the origins and potential cures for cancer. The foundation awarded a total of $839,000. Khalil received nearly $180,000 to study breast cancer, and Mason was awarded nearly $220,000 to research leukemia. WABI (Channel 5), WLBZ (Channel 2) and The Republic carried the AP report. The Maine Cancer Foundation also published research profiles on Mason and Khalil.

Upward Bound Math Science Students Celebrate 50 Years of National Program

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Participants of the Upward Bound Math Science program at the University of Maine are recognizing the 50th anniversary of the national Upward Bound program by contributing to a regional video project.

The video will feature students in Upward Bound programs across New England singing a song dedicated to the program and written by Craig Werth, who works for Upward Bound at the University of New Hampshire and at the New England Educational Opportunity Association (NEOA) Leadership Institute.

The Upward Bound Math Science Program is affiliated with the UMaine College of Education and Human Development and offers a six-week college preparatory program to first-generation college students from eight Maine high schools. The program specifically targets students who are interested in pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors and careers.

This summer, 35 students are attending from Central High School in Corinth, Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft, Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln, Nokomis Regional High School in Newport, Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris, Portland High School, Stearns High School in Millinocket, and Schenck High School in East Millinocket. Five participants are attending college in the fall, while the rest are high school juniors and seniors. A total of 66 students participate in programming — college visits, academic advising, field trips, laboratory experiences and leadership opportunities — throughout the school year.

From 1–4 p.m. every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday until July 17, students work on individual research projects and explorations. This year’s projects cover topics ranging from studying the causes and possible treatments for “chemo fog” in chemotherapy patients to research involving lungworm morphology in Maine moose. In addition to the individual projects, students also are working on a group sustainability design project that involves creating a new portable touch tank, as well as collecting pictures and interviews of green space and important landmarks along the Penobscot River as part of the Bay to Baxter Initiative.

The program also includes Watch Groups, a weekly series of guest speakers who meet with the students to expand and challenge their thinking and knowledge.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Upward Bound, which began in 1964 as part of the Economic Opportunity Act. Talent Search emerged one year later, under the Higher Education Act, and in 1968, Student Support Services was approved by Higher Education Amendments. The three programs were coined TRIO, and more programs have since been created to meet the needs of various student populations.

In an effort to increase students’ performance in mathematics and science courses, the Upward Bound Math Science program began in 1990. UMaine held its first summer session in 1991. The program joined Classic Upward Bound, which came to the UMaine campus in 1966.

More information about the Upward Bound Math Science program is online.

Individual student research project topics are as follows:

Animal pathology/veterinary

  • Lungworm morphology in Maine moose

Archaeology

  • Colonial archaeology

Chemical engineering

  • Bioplastic development

  • Pulp and paper applications: nano- and micro-fibrillated cellulose, and cellulose nanofibers

Genetics

  • Desiccation resistant yeast gene

  • Ethanol and circadian rhythms in zebrafish

  • Genetic lineage of amoeba and dog populations

Mathematics/computer science

  • Evolutionary algorithms for optimization of dynamic systems (such as wind farms)

  • Finding the shortest path across campus

  • Music tone and chord discrimination

  • Population study on gerrymandering and political elections

  • Restricting and opening parameters for robot operation

  • Spatial engineering system for in-flight aircraft recognition

Microbiology/pharmacy

  • Antibacterial effectiveness against E. coli

  • Antimicrobial properties of fighting fish bubble nests

  • Antiseptic actions of on S. epidermidis

  • Handwashing methods and bacterial growth

Physiology/medical

  • Vision acuity in humans

Psychology

  • Causes and treatments for chemo fog

  • Effects of music on mood

  • Effects of music on mood and sustainability

  • Ethanol and circadian rhythms in mice

  • Impacts of eating habits and exercise on self-esteem

  • Learning styles and memory

  • Play behavior in preschool children

Wildlife ecology and environmental science

  • Rainbow smelt age and size compared with otolith (ear bone) growth rings

  • Rainfall levels and wood frog development in local vernal pools

  • Sucker fish size and egg laying capability

  • Water quality in local lakes and streams over time

For more information on the projects or program contact Kelly Ilseman at 617.784.2320 or kelly.ilseman@gmail.com.

University of Maine Announces Spring 2014 Dean’s List

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

The University of Maine recognized 2,130 students for achieving Dean’s List honors in the spring 2014 semester. Of the students who made the Deans List, 1,730 are from Maine, 338 are from 30 other states and 62 are from 24 countries other than the U.S.

Listed below are students who received Dean’s List honors for spring 2014, completing 12 or more credit hours in the semester and earning a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Also available is a breakdown of the Dean’s List by Maine counties.

(more…)

UMaine Research Project to Test Wireless Leak Detection System for International Space Station

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

University of Maine researchers will design and test a wireless leak detection system for the International Space Station (ISS) that could lead to increased safety on the ISS and for other space activities, as well as on Earth in the event of gas and oil leaks at industrial plants.

The project was one of five in the nation to receive funding from NASA’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) for research and technology development onboard ISS.

Ali Abedi, a UMaine associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, was awarded a three-year, $100,000 NASA grant through the Maine Space Grant Consortium in Augusta, which consists of higher education institutions and nonprofit research organizations that are actively involved in aerospace-related research and education.

“We are very excited to be selected among the only five groups in the nation to conduct a flight test on ISS,” Abedi says. “This will be a great training experience for our students to learn how to take a prototype out of the lab, and not only to the field but also to space.”

Leaks causing air and heat loss are a major safety concern for astronauts, according to Abedi.

“It is important to save the air when it comes to space missions; find the leak and fix it before it is too late,” he says.

Abedi’s project involves the development of a flight-ready wireless sensor system that will be able to quickly detect and localize leaks based on ultrasonic sensor array signals. The proposed system is fast, accurate and capable of detecting multiple leaks and localizing them with a lightweight and low-cost system, Abedi says.

“Our goal is to push the boundaries of hardware and software in order to design a highly accurate, ultra-low-power and lightweight autonomous leak detection and localization system for ISS,” he says.

The lab prototype was developed by UMaine Ph.D. student Joel Castro and postdoctoral fellow Hossein Roufarshbaf as part of a previously funded NASA EPSCoR project and was tested on UMaine’s inflatable lunar habitat, located in the Wireless Sensing Laboratory (WiSe-Net Lab) on campus. The new funding will allow researchers to make the system more rugged and revise it for a microgravity environment through testing at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and then onboard the ISS over the next two to three years.

The testing and verification of the system in a microgravity environment will help determine how well the system performs in space, as well as on Earth.

“Leak detection methods developed for extreme space environments will push the limits of current technology for ground-based leak detection at home and in industrial plants,” says Abedi, who directs the WiSe-Net Lab. The lab conducts research on wireless communications ranging from coding and information theory to wireless sensor networks and space applications, as well as houses the NASA’s lunar habitat.

Vince Caccese, a UMaine mechanical engineering professor, and George Nelson, current director of ISS Technology Demonstration Office at the NASA Johnson Space Center, also are involved with the project.

Proposals from the University of Kentucky, Lexington; Montana State University, Bozeman; University of Nebraska, Omaha; and the University of Delaware, Newark also were funded. Other research includes improving spacewalking suits by incorporating self-healing polymers that are tested against micrometeor impacts.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Forbes Follows Researchers Tracking Horse Safety

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

University of Maine researchers Mick Peterson and Christie Mahaffey are featured in an article in Forbes about horse racetrack safety. Peterson, executive director of the nonprofit Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory and Libra Foundation Professor at the College of Engineering at the University of Maine, is slated to make a presentation at The Jockey Club’s fifth Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit held July 8-9 in Lexington, Kentucky.

Peterson and Mahaffey, an affiliated researcher with the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory and a doctoral candidate in interdisciplinary engineering at UMaine, analyze racetrack samples and maintenance data from around the United States and make models of how horses’ hooves interact with various surfaces.

They started working with Aqueduct Racetrack in New York after 31 horses died on its surface in 2012 (three per 1,000 starts). In 2013, 21 horses died (1.77 per 1,000 starts). Thus far in 2014, Forbes reports that nine have died. “The lives of horses and riders are on the line here. We have to keep working on it,” Peterson says in the article.