Ali Abedi, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Maine, will chair the International Conference on Wireless for Space and Extreme Environments Nov. 7–9 in Baltimore, Md. The challenges related to radio frequency and wireless sensing and communication in space and other extreme environments will be the focus of the conference. Investigators from space agencies such as NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency, along with industry and academic researchers, will take part in the event. A full press release is available online.
University of Maine College of Engineering Dean Dana Humphrey was quoted in an Associated Press article about Maine schools urging for support of the STEM education bond. Humphrey said that statewide the number of bachelor degrees in STEM-related fields increased by about 25 percent between 2007 and 2011. The San Francisco Chronicle and Daily Journal carried the report.
Jeffrey Thaler, University of Maine’s first visiting professor of energy policy, law and ethics who also serves as assistant counsel to the university, spoke with the Associated Press for the article, “With Statoil’s exit, wind industry looks to UMaine.” Since Norwegian company Statoil decided to abandon its $120 million offshore wind pilot project in Maine, UMaine’s proposal became the only project under consideration for a state contract. Details of the proposal will soon be made public. Thaler said once the price of the project is released, he thinks Maine residents will see the “project is very competitive with what Statoil had previously negotiated with the commission.” The Houston Chronicle, NewsDaily, Boston.com and the San Francisco Chronicle were among organizations to carry the report.
Dr. Rajendra Singh, a University of Maine graduate and leader in wireless telecommunications, will deliver the 2013 University of Maine Distinguished Presidential Lecture on Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. in Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium in the Engineering Science Research Building.
The Distinguished Presidential Lecture Series, which is free and open to the public, provides a forum for highly accomplished individuals with UMaine ties to share personal stories and perspectives on important societal issues of interest to the UMaine community. “My Journey” is the title of Singh’s lecture. He grew up in a rural village in India with no telephones or electricity; today he is internationally recognized as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist.
Singh is the chief executive officer and principal owner of Telecom Ventures, a private investment firm in Florida that has launched wireless service providers around the world. He and his wife, Neera, who have two children, have co-chaired the business since 1994. Dr. Singh and Neera Singh were instrumental in founding or starting Appex, Inc. (a billing services firm which was sold to EDS system in 1990), Portatel (a cellular operator in Mexico), BPL (a cellular operator in India), Wireless Ventures of Brazil, Avantel (a specialized mobile radio operator in Brazil and Colombia), Infonet (a GSM operator in Venezuela), Teligent (a competitive local exchange carrier), LCC International (a consulting services company), and Mobile Satellite Ventures (a communication services provider in North America). Dr. Singh continues to play a leading role in the development and deployment of emerging wireless technologies.
Singh also serves on the board of trustees at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the board of overseers of the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
In 2012, he received the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations’ Ellis Island Medal of Honor and was inducted into the Wireless Hall of Fame.
In 2006, the Singhs received UMaine’s Stillwater Presidential Award for Achievement. Dr. Singh has also received the Edward Bryand Distinguished Engineering Award from UMaine’s College of Engineering and has been inducted into the Francis Crowe Society Hall of Fame. In 2004, Singh established the Rajendra & Neera Singh Engineering Scholarship Fund at the University of Maine Foundation to provide financial assistance to deserving students in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.
The avid runner and skier earned an undergraduate degree at Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, his master’s in electrical engineering at UMaine in 1977, and a doctorate from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, contact Sarah Penley at 207.581.1159 or DevelopmentOfficeRSVP@maine.edu.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
John Belding, director of the Advanced Manufacturing Center at the University of Maine, will speak about 3-D digital design and printing at the Digital Fabrication (DigiFab) and 3-D Technologies Conference in Portland on Friday, Nov. 1.
The Maine Chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and the University of Southern Maine will host the DigiFab ’13 conference and expo, which will include keynotes from world leaders in digital fabrication, panel discussions, presentations and an exhibit area with demonstrations of cutting-edge 3-D and digital fabrication technologies.
The daylong program at USM’s Abromson Center on the Portland campus will be an opportunity for manufacturers and educators in the region to learn about new technologies.
More information about and registration for the DigiFab conference is available online.
WABI (Channel 5) reported on a more than $735,000 National Science Foundation grant awarded to the University of Maine to aid in the education of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at several Maine high schools, including Bangor High School. Over the next three years, students and teachers will work with the university on a stormwater management project.
Gov. Paul LePage spoke about the University of Maine and its proposed offshore wind pilot project for an in-depth article on the governor by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. LePage, who is a UMaine alumnus, called the land grant university a “pretty good organization” and spoke about his preference for the institution over Norwegian company Statoil for the proposed project. Statoil pulled the plug on its $120 million offshore wind pilot project recently, leaving UMaine’s proposal as the only project being considered for a state contract. The Bangor Daily News, Sun Journal and Portland Press Herald also carried the report.
Habib Dagher, director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine, spoke with Engineering News Record about efforts by the UMaine-led DeepCwind Consortium to build a 12-MW offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Maine by 2017. Dagher, leader of the consortium, said VolturnUS 1:8, the floating test turbine the group deployed in June, has been performing “very well” with the team’s engineering predictions and is collecting important data. Mainebiz also reported on the consortium’s proposed offshore wind project in the article “Statoil’s departure leaves Maine with one offshore contender.”
University of Maine College of Engineering Dean Dana Humphrey was quoted in the Maine Public Broadcasting Network article “Maine higher education leaders gear up for bond campaigns.” Humphrey said there are still plenty of STEM jobs to fill in Maine, even with the high placement rate of graduates. He said in the past nine months, there were 1,200 job postings for engineers in Maine.
Growing up in Saco, Maine, Francie Foehrenbach was determined to figure out how things worked.
“I loved to build stuff and there was no toy that I hadn’t ripped apart,” says Foehrenbach, now a senior mechanical engineering major at the University of Maine.
She’s resolutely pursued her interests and strengths. Foehrenbach learned AutoCAD (software application for computer-aided design and drafting) at vocational school and, prior to her senior year at Thornton Academy, she attended Consider Engineering — UMaine’s Pulp & Paper Foundation’s free four-day summer program on campus.
Foehrenbach earned a scholarship to UMaine and is now gaining hands-on training at Woodard & Curran, a 700-employee engineering, science and operations company that specializes in projects for municipalities, industries, colleges, real estate companies, and food and beverage manufacturers.
“It is the best experience you can have and the knowledge gained far surpasses any theoretical knowledge taught in a lecture,” she says of the internship, which has led to a full-time engineering job at Woodard & Curran after graduation.
Dana Humphrey, dean of the College of Engineering, says a key priority of the College of Engineering is to connect students with meaningful internships.
“This allows students to apply their engineering skills in the real world and to ‘test drive’ a company to see if they would like to make their career there,” Humphrey says. “Moreover, the companies get to ‘test drive’ our students.
“Given how many companies come back year after year for more interns, they clearly like UMaine graduates,” Humphrey says. “Companies report that they have 80 percent long-term retention of UMaine engineers who started as interns. This is clearly a win-win for our students and employers.”
And a lot of UMaine students are getting in on the action. In the UMaine College of Engineering, upward of 80 percent of undergraduates are involved in internships and co-ops as part of their academic experience.
UMaine senior Christopher Cronin is part of that 80 percent. He works a few cubicles away from Foehrenbach in Woodard & Curran’s fifth-floor office overlooking downtown Bangor.
“Meeting other engineers, whether they have one year of experience or 30, is extremely helpful because I am able to learn something new every time,” says Cronin, a civil engineering major and construction management minor.
The Canton, Maine, native has participated in a number of projects at Woodard & Curran, including sizing storm water pipes, working on erosion control plans, contacting state agencies and assisting with the renovation of a building.
Sarah Lingley, a 2010 UMaine graduate who mentored Cronin last summer at Woodard & Curran, agrees with Humphrey that internships are beneficial for all involved. She interned two summers at Woodard & Curran before joining the firm full time after she graduated. “The best way to get a job is for someone to remember your face (and) name,” she says.
Internships give students “a chance to explore different areas of civil engineering to see if they have a preference that they would like to specialize in,” says Lingley, who designs, does cost estimates, develops bid documents and oversees construction. “And maybe most important, it provides them with an invaluable networking opportunity.”
Mentors benefit, says the Machias native, because in addition to getting help with their workload, they share knowledge they’ve amassed with interns who are eager to learn.
“It really makes the mentors reflect on how much they have learned since school,” says Lingley. “Also, in my experience, interns have open minds as they have not necessarily been taught how to do everything yet, and when allowed the opportunity, can find better ways to execute tasks than the sometimes old-fashioned way things are typically done.”
And, Lingley says, internships are a marketing tool for companies seeking to hire the best and brightest prospects. “If the students have a great internship, they talk about it at school, and nothing is better than word-of-mouth marketing,” she says. “It takes time and effort to make an internship valuable, but it is worth it for both parties in the end. The intern I mentored worked out so well that he came back again this year.”
Nathan McLaughlin, Cronin’s mentor this summer, is glad Cronin returned. “Chris is a good example of the quality product UMaine produces,” says McLaughlin, a 1998 UMaine graduate from Old Town. “We’re lucky to have him. He’s going to be a great engineer.”
Internships give companies the chance to “test drive potential new hires,” says Cindy Daigle, a 1997 UMaine grad and process engineer at Texas Instruments in South Portland. “The program also builds bridges between schools and industry, allowing two-way continuous improvement of curriculums,” says Daigle, who majored in chemical engineering.
Students, she says, see how textbook learning applies in the real world and can be motivated to take specialty classes when they return to school. “It’s also a chance to start building a professional network,” says the Madawaska native.
Lacie Kennedy interned at National Semiconductor (now Texas Instruments) when she was majoring in chemical engineering at UMaine. Since graduating in 2002, Kennedy has worked as a plasma etch process engineer at Texas Instruments, a global semiconductor design and manufacturing company.
“Having internships during college helped confirm that I had made the right choice in my major, and also really improved my confidence level for entering the workforce after graduation,” she says. “I knew that I’d be able to get to work right away and make a contribution to the company because I already had a lot of training behind me.”
And, she says, nothing tops being around other engineers. The College of Engineering felt like one big family,” says the graduate of Deering High School. “It was helpful living on an engineering floor in my dorm the first two years because I was around people who understood my workload, and it was easy to work on projects together and form study groups. Eleven years later, most of my closest friends are people I met at UMaine in engineering classes.”
Kennedy says a similar sense of cooperation exists with her co-workers. “You might not think of engineering as being a very social job, but at a 24-7 manufacturing facility, it is. We constantly have to work with other engineers, manufacturing technicians and equipment technicians in order to solve problems,” she says.
“My group, in particular, has a wonderful camaraderie and we help each other out every single day. TI really promotes teamwork across sites, so I’ve had the chance to work with groups from Texas, Japan and Europe.”
Each year, UMaine’s Engineering Job Fair affords students an ideal opportunity to make connections with firms seeking interns and employees. In 2012, more than 900 UMaine students and nearly 80 companies attended the event. The fair’s popularity has increased exponentially since the inaugural fair in 2000 when 83 students and 13 employers participated.
“Many of the employers who participate in the Engineering Job Fair are alumni of the University of Maine and they enjoy returning to Orono to recruit new talent for their organizations,” says Patty Counihan, director of the UMaine Career Center.
“In fact, we now have participating employers who lined up their first jobs with their companies as a result of attending the Engineering Job Fair when they were UMaine students. Their participation has gone full circle, from being a job-seeking student to being a hiring manager or recruiter for their company.”
David Hart, a 2013 UMaine graduate and a full-time test engineer at Texas Instruments, says attending the Engineering Job Fair was instrumental for him to secure an internship, then a dream job.
“Fall semester junior year, I was taking Electronics I, which was my first in-depth course in semiconductor fundamentals,” says Hart. “I enjoyed the material, which began to interest me in the semiconductor industry.”
At the Engineering Job Fair, the Portland, Maine, resident met Kim Millick, a former Texas Instruments human resources manager. Hart handed her his resume, an interview followed during a school break and he was hired for an internship that summer.
“An internship is a great opportunity for you to get your foot in the door with a company. It may also help you figure out what you do and don’t like, as well as where you may want to work in the future,” says Hart.
“Interning was a great opportunity for me to become familiar with technical things and people I am now working with in my full-time job. It also helped me understand how a large company works, which made the transition into my full-time job that much easier.”
The 2013 Engineering Job Fair is in October at the New Balance Student Recreation Center.