Archive for the ‘Engineering’ Category

Provost Names Signature and Emerging Areas of Excellence in Research and Education

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Signature and Emerging Areas of excellence in research and education at the University of Maine have been announced by UMaine Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Jeffrey Hecker.

The designations, which resulted from months of campus dialogue and faculty forums led by the provost, will inform strategic and focused planning and resource allocation to preserve UMaine’s national stature and impact in Maine. The initiative to define UMaine’s Signature and Emerging Areas is a significant component of Blue Sky Pathway 1 — Serving Our State: Catalyzing Maine’s Revitalization in the five-year strategic plan. It will be followed this fall by campus-wide dialogue about foundational areas of research and education for a 21st-century land grant university.

“In this time of rapid change in higher education, it is more important than ever that institutions think strategically about their programs,” Hecker says. “In the Signature Areas UMaine has achieved national and international distinction, and these areas will be key in our planning for the future, including our fundraising and development efforts. The Emerging Areas are those with the great potential to reach that next level of excellence. Together, they make a compelling statement about the distinctiveness of UMaine among America’s research universities.”

The Signature Areas, identified by their strengths in research and education: Forestry and the Environment, Marine Sciences, College of Engineering, Advanced Materials for Infrastructure and Energy, Climate Change, STEM Education, and Honors College. These interdisciplinary Signature Areas are world-class and will feature prominently in UMaine planning for the future.

Emerging Areas represent those programs that may have not yet achieved critical mass or reputation, but have begun to capitalize on interdisciplinary collaboration; have a track record of success with external support from a variety of sources; and involve integration of the research, teaching and service missions. They are: the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering; Northeastern Americas: Humanities Research and Education; Data Science and Engineering; Sustainability Solutions and Technologies; Aging Research; and Finance Education.

Provost Hecker convened the first of three Academic Affairs Faculty Forums on Dec. 3, 2013 to discuss and gather feedback on the Signature and Emerging Areas initiative. In early January, the Advisory Committee for Signature and Emerging Areas drafted the selection criteria, which included: demonstration of a strong “fit to place” meeting Maine’s cultural, workforce and economic needs; international and national reputation; high level of productivity; proven record of sustainability; ability to leverage existing resources; interdisciplinary and/or multidisciplinary; integration of research, teaching and service missions.

A call for concept papers was issued to the campus community, resulting in 58 submissions. These concept papers were reviewed by a team comprised of UMaine faculty and administrators, a member of UMaine’s Board of Visitors, and external reviewers from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association of the Advancement of Science. Twenty submissions were selected for participation in the full proposal phase of the review.

Public forums were held May 21 and May 22 that included brief presentations on the proposed Signature Areas. Ongoing community feedback was essential in helping the Provost’s team determine the final list of Signature Areas.

Brief descriptions of the Signature Areas:

Forestry and the Environment, focusing on sustainable forests and the forest-based economy, and education in forests, wildlife and the environment. UMaine is nationally and internationally recognized in its advanced wood composites, wood processing, biofuels, wood chemistry and forest resources research. A signature strength for teaching is UMaine’s location, providing unique opportunities for hands-on educational experiences in Maine’s forest and aquatic resources, and in communities statewide. Lead faculty: Hemant Pendse, Forest Bioproducts Research Institute; Robert Wagner, Center for Research on Sustainable Forests; Stephen Shaler, Forest Resources; Doug Bousfield, Paper Surface Science Program; Mike Bilodeau, Process Development Center; Amy Luce, Technology Research Center; Dan Harrison, Wildlife Ecology, Aram Calhoun, Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Marine Sciences, including a multidisciplinary Marine Research Solutions initiative to improve understanding of the physical, biological and socioeconomic processes that shape the ocean; to be a reliable, deeply engaged partner with policy makers, fisheries stakeholders, marine industries and coastal communities, helping to develop solutions for the broad array of issues associated with Maine’s marine resources; and to provide high-quality, interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate education, outreach and research for the Gulf of Maine. Lead faculty: Fei Chai, Pete Jumars, Mary Jane Perry, Rebecca Van Beneden, William Ellis, Sara Lindsay, Rhian Waller, Marine Sciences; Paul Anderson, Aquaculture Research Institute; Mario Teisl, Economics; Krish Thiagarajan, Mechanical Engineering

STEM Education, including research that investigates the complex intersection of individual content knowledge, social learning environments, pedagogical knowledge of our teachers, and development and use of materials for the classroom. Understanding this complex system requires deep knowledge of disciplinary content and of models of teaching and learning. This area supports expanded and improved teaching and learning of STEM from pre-school through graduate school.  Lead faculty: Michael Wittmann and John Thompson, Physics; Jonathan Shemwell, Education; Harlan Onsrud, Computing and Information Science; Susan McKay, RiSE Center; Mohamad Musavi, Engineering

Climate Change, including internationally recognized research, and highly integrated undergraduate and graduate educational opportunities, as well as an emerging academic focus on changing ecosystems and climate — impact on animal and human health. The Climate Change Institute has evolved beyond a singular focus on research to be a leader and a vehicle for broad integration of climate change strengths across campus and statewide. Lead faculty: Paul Mayewski, Jasmine Saros, Ivan Fernandez, Gregory Zaro, Climate Change Institute; Eleanor Groden, School of Biology and Ecology; Mario Teisl, School of Economics; Susan Erich, Anne Lichtenwalner, School of Food and Agriculture

Advanced Materials for Infrastructure and Energy, developing the use of advanced materials in civil infrastructure, energy, aerospace and defense applications. As an interdisciplinary research center, the Advanced Structures and Composites Center focuses on development of novel advanced composite materials and technologies that capitalize on Maine’s manufacturing strengths and natural resources, while creating new industries and job opportunities, and educating students. Lead faculty: Habib Dagher, Stephen Shaler, Larry Parent, Douglas Gardner, William Davids, Eric Landis, Krish Thiagarajan, Advanced Structures and Composites Center

College of Engineering, focusing on the role of the state’s only comprehensive engineering program that features a high level of synergy between teaching, research and public service. Engineering leads the campus with respect to the quality of students it attracts, retention and graduation rates, as well as job placement. Lead faculty: Eric Landis, William Davids, Donald Hummels, Hemant Pendse, Scott Dunning, Engineering; David Batuski, Physics

Honors College, increasing the recruitment and retention of students in preprofessional programs, involving faculty campuswide in the honors education enhancing study abroad and off-campus partnerships that expand and strengthen community-engaged research, and involving students in the creation of new knowledge. Lead faculty, Francois Amar, Honors

Brief descriptions of the Emerging Areas:

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (GSBSE), leveraging Maine’s academic and nonprofit biomedical research institutions, specifically UMaine, University of Southern Maine, University of New England, The Jackson Laboratory, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory and Maine Medical Center Research Institute through a unique educational model. GSBSE student research focuses on issues prevalent in the state of Maine, such as cancer- and aging-related illness. Lead faculty: David Neivandt, Chemical Engineering and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Engineering

Northeastern Americas: Humanities Research and Education, focusing on scholarship of New England, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. The area is distinctive in its international scope, its multicultural depth and its array of campuswide programs, including the Canadian-American Center, Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, Maine Folklife Center, Franco American Programs, Native American Programs and Humanities Initiative, as well as the departments of History, English, Art and Modern Languages. Interdisciplinary, regional research contributes to understanding Maine’s cross-border economy, and it provides interpretative resources for the state’s “creative economy” and its heritage-based tourist industry. Lead faculty: Richard Judd, History; Pauleena MacDougall, Folklife Center; Darren Ranco, Anthropology and Native American Programs

Data Science and Engineering, leveraging UMaine strengths in data science and engineering, and data-sensitive science areas by applying data-centric methods to issues relevant to Maine’s interests and natural and economic sustainability. DSE brings together computer scientists, mathematicians, statisticians and engineers with domain scientists to address critical challenges of capturing, storing, managing, sharing, and analyzing massive data sets for new scientific discoveries and insights. Lead faculty: Kate Beard-Tisdale, School of Computing and Information Science; Ali Abedi, Yifeng Zhu, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Sustainability Solutions and Technologies, using the field of sustainability science and other interdisciplinary approaches to address the intersecting environmental, sociocultural and economic dimensions of diverse societal challenges, including renewable energy, urbanization, forest resources, water resources, marine fisheries, agriculture and climate change. Faculty conduct sustainability research in collaboration with stakeholder organizations representing government, business and industry, and nongovernmental organizations. Lead faculty: David Hart, Senator George J. Mitchell Center and School of Biology and Ecology; Jonathan Rubin, Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and School of Economics; Aram Calhoun, Wildlife Ecology and Ecology and Environmental Science; Shaleen Jain, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Hemant Pendse, Chemical and Biological Engineering; Darren Ranco, Anthropology and Native American Programs; Mario Teisl, School of Economics; Robert Wagner, School of Forest Resources

Aging Research, advancing successful aging in Maine and the nation as it addresses: maximizing individual productivity; minimizing institutionalization and the need for costly long-term care; preventing and mitigating the impact of illness and injury; and promoting community integration, social engagement, full accessibility, personal independence, vitality, mobility, elder friendly communities and citizen safety. Utilizing a research incubator model, this area will maintain productive partnerships with the business and nonprofit sectors. Lead faculty: Len Kaye, Center on Aging and Social Work; David Neivandt, Chemical Engineering and the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering; Laura Lindenfeld, Communication and Journalism

Finance Education, addressing the critical need of the state of Maine to educate business professionals who can carry out economic development and improve job opportunities for the people of Maine. Student learning is enhanced through state of the art technologies and information science, opportunities to invest and manage funds, and engagement with businesses in Maine and nationally. Lead faculty: Ivan Manev, Maine Business School

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

A Shingle Every Second

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

 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.

WVII, WABI Cover Ecoshel Event at Advanced Manufacturing Center

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

WVII (Channel 7) and WABI (Channel 5) reported on the completion and demonstration of the Ecoshel — Smart Shingle Production Project at the University of Maine’s Advanced Manufacturing Center. The AMC, engineering students, and private and public partners designed, developed and built a manufacturing assembly line for Ecoshel, a company that produces cedar shingle panels. The assembly line will be operated in Ecoshel’s new production facility in Ashland, Maine. The project created more than 11 jobs and provided a learning experience for the students. Ben White, a mechanical engineering student, told WABI he was happy to see the project come together and run smoothly. “This facility has really been essential to being able to experiment, develop, have a work-in-progress kind of relationship with the team here and get it off the ground,” said Bryan Kirkey, owner and CEO of Ecoshel.

AP, WABI Report on Stormwater Research Institute for High Schoolers

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

The Associated Press and WABI (Channel 5) reported on the five-day Stormwater Management Research Team (SMART) Institute at the University of Maine. About 70 high school students and teachers and representatives of tribal communities are gathering to come up with ideas for solutions related to stormwater management. 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. At the end of the week, participants will install wireless sensors at the Arctic Brook watershed in Bangor and collect data as citizen scientists. Mohamad Musavi, associate dean of the College of Engineering, told WABI he hopes students who participate can focus on their education, get into a STEM field, and spread the word in their community about their work toward improving the environment. SFGate, Maine Public Broadcasting Network, seattlepi and WLBZ (Channel 2) carried the AP report.

UMaine Hosts 70 High School Students for Stormwater Research Institute

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

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.

IEEE Spectrum Interviews Dagher About Offshore Wind Project

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

The University of Maine’s DeepCwind Consortium was featured in an IEEE Spectrum article about developments in prototype testing of offshore wind turbines. UMaine’s prototype offshore turbine, currently floating in Penobscot Bay, is one of only five in operation around the world and the only one in the U.S. Habib Dagher, director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center and leader of the consortium, was interviewed for the article and discussed the powerful capabilities of the turbine, which is in hopes to cut the cost of offshore wind power by more than half by the mid-2020s.

UMaine Students’ Lombard Steam Log Hauler Restoration Mentioned in BDN Article

Monday, June 9th, 2014

A University of Maine mechanical engineering capstone project was mentioned in a Bangor Daily News article about the new executive director of the Maine Forest and Logging Museum in Bradley. The museum recently completed a new machinery hall, which will house a machine shop and two Lombard steam log haulers, according to the article. One of the log haulers was the subject of a UMaine capstone project in which students restored the machine to working condition. The log hauler was invented and built in Waterville between 1910 and 1917, and was the first successful tracked vehicle.

Peterson in New York Times Article About Track Safety in the Runup to the Belmont Stakes

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Mick Peterson, professor of mechanical engineering, was quoted in a New York Times story on the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes and the intense maintenance process involved in ensuring the safety of the mile-and-a-half-track — the longest in North America. Peterson is executive director of the Orono-based nonprofit Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory. In the article, Peterson noted: “The biggest difference on racetracks, which is much more important than the sand or the surface composition, is the moisture. And one of the things that makes Belmont quite a bit different is the time of year when they’re racing and how they maintain that.”

Frances Foehrenbach: Engineering Positive Impacts

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

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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.

UMaine Lobster Shell Research Focus of Working Waterfront Article

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

The Working Waterfront carried an article about two University of Maine-based research projects involving lobster shells.

The article featured UMaine food science graduate Beth Fulton and associate professor of food science Denise Skonberg who determined that pigment from lobster shells rich in carotenoid can be extracted and used for coloring in food for farm-raised salmon. The lobster shell pigment could be a natural alternative to synthetic carotenoids. While Fulton’s grant money is depleted, the article reported that she hopes another researcher will advance the project.

The article also included an update on a project first covered in 2011 when UMaine graduate Carin Poeschel Orr hit on the idea of a golf ball made of lobster shells that could legally be hit from cruise ship decks. Orr shared the idea with Robert Bayer, executive director of the University of Maine Lobster Institute, and Bayer consulted with others, including David Neivandt, director of UMaine’s Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering. The article reported that Neivandt said the biodegradable lobster shell golf ball is patented and ready to be marketed.