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Brewer Quoted in BDN Article on Gubernatorial Debates

Mark Brewer, a professor of political science at the University of Maine, was interviewed for the Bangor Daily News article, “Pundits ponder why Eliot Cutler is so eager to debate Michaud, LePage.” According to the article, independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler has been urging his major-party opponents — Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud — to debate with him. Brewer said Cutler’s actions could benefit him. “Any little bit of information that the citizenry can glean about a political candidate for office, as long as it’s not an absolute blatant falsehood, is of value,” he said. “If people think Gov. LePage and Congressman Michaud don’t want to debate and Cutler does, they may think that says something positive about Cutler.” Brewer added that with absentee voting beginning, it’s unfortunate that some Mainers may vote before ever seeing or hearing a debate.

Two UMaine Grads Recognized by Maine Art Education Association

Two recent University of Maine graduates have been named the 2014 Higher Education Student Art Educators of the Year by the Maine Art Education Association (MAEA).

Elizabeth Miller of Kittery and Hilary Kane of Concord, New Hampshire, both graduated in May 2014. Miller earned a bachelor’s degree in art education with minors in studio art and art history. Kane received a bachelor’s degree in art education, as well as studio art.

The award is given to MAEA members who have completed their art student teaching internship within the academic year and have demonstrated outstanding evidence of professional leadership in schools and the community, use of new technology, and innovative teaching performance and written curricula. An award ceremony will be held in September during the 2014 MAEA conference at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine.

MAEA is the state chapter of the National Art Education Association, the leading professional membership organization for visual arts educators.

Miller, who is searching for a full-time teaching position, currently is an intern at the Piscataqua Fine Arts Gallery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and works at Art with a Splash, also in Portsmouth, teaching painting classes.

“This award is such an honor and I am very pleased to be able to represent the art education program at the university,” Miller said.

Kane plans to move to New Orleans in the fall where she will continue to focus on art education work and community arts.

MPBN Interviews Brewer About Gubernatorial Debates

University of Maine political scientist Mark Brewer spoke with the Maine Public Broadcasting Network for a report titled, “In Maine political debates, which candidates will be no-shows?” According to the report, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has declined to participate in several debates, and Democratic challenger Mike Michaud says he will only participate in a debate if LePage does. Meanwhile, 2nd District GOP candidate Bruce Poliquin says he will not participate in any debate that includes independent challenger Blaine Richardson, the report states. Brewer said LePage likely turned down MPBN’s debate invitation because he would change few opinions among the station’s more progressive audience. He also said Michaud’s reasons for declining debates might also be strategic. “If I were advising Michaud, the last thing I would want to do is to recommend that he go to participate in a debate where the other major party candidate is not there and then that lends further legitimacy to [independent candidate] Eliot Cutler.”

Writer’s Toolbox

Taking apart a broken laptop, learning how to repair it and putting it back together is a typical exercise in one University of Maine English class. For students in the technical editing and document design course, learning how to diagnose and repair electronics is essential to writing about the process in the form of easy-to-use consumer guides.

Since 2011, students in Charlsye Diaz’s class have been required to create an e-manual for iFixit, a website that offers free step-by-step guides to help consumers repair devices to keep more electronics in use and out of landfills. During the fall 2014 semester, Diaz’s students will write manuals for toys.

“This experience is important because it is messy,” says Diaz, an associate professor of English and coordinator of UMaine’s professional and technical writing program. “When things ‘fall apart’ or the projects don’t go as well as I would like, I love it. Because they’ll face those obstacles on the job every day.”

Students work with iFixit’s technical writers to adhere to the company’s guidelines. They receive feedback from someone besides the professor while working in a supportive classroom setting.

IFixit was started in 2003 by two Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo students who struggled to fix an iBook without instructions. In 2009, the company started the iFixit Technical Writing Program as a way to engage students with a hands-on, repair-focused technical writing project. Students from 20 universities — including UMaine — have created 5,000 repair guides for electronics, which have helped more than nine million people fix their devices, according to the company’s website.

Diaz says the project also benefits potential employers by sending students into the workforce with real-world experience.

“It’s one thing to go to an interview and claim to be able to write instructions because you practiced during a class assignment. It’s another thing to say you took apart a scanner and wrote instructions for replacing the scanner lamp and then provide a link to a published guide that people use,” Diaz says.

KC Collins Cook, a 2013 UMaine graduate who earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in professional and technical writing, is now an information developer for IBM in North Carolina. She says every day she applies the knowledge she learned from Diaz’s classes.

“My core understanding of technical documentation began in her classrooms, and it gave me a foundation to build on and innovate with my fellow IBMers,” Cook says. “From grammar to design software to how people read; it’s all vital to my job. In fact, all of my textbooks are in my desk for reference when I need them.”

Although many of Diaz’s students find aspects of the iFixit project challenging — learning how to take apart small devices, take photos without shadows and follow iFixit’s criteria — most are proud of the end result, she says.

“Some students embrace the project and really thrive working with and writing about small electronics. Others dislike it because the project falls outside their comfort zone,” Diaz says. “Who needs a toolbox for a writing class?”

The positive feedback comes later, Diaz says. Students have told her they’ve talked about their experience during interviews and appreciate having a professional portfolio piece.

“During the project, I see their confidence skyrocket,” she says.

An education in professional and technical writing is important, Diaz says, because almost everyone has to write at work in the form of reports, memos or emails. Professional writers take these skills a step further and learn to design documents, write for the Internet and edit — skills Maine employers seek, she says.

Professional writing is offered as a minor to any UMaine student, and English majors can concentrate in professional and technical writing. Diaz says graduates work in several areas including technology, marketing, health care, research and development, government, law, magazines and museums. She says most students find work within six months of graduation, and most have jobs before they graduate.

Since Cook began her full-time job in September 2012, she has seen IBM hire two more professional and technical writing students from UMaine.

“If you go in with a thirst to work, your resume and experience will be soundly rewarded,” Cook says. “We leave campus with a competitive skill set that sets us apart from other new college graduates in our field.”

More information about iFixit and the iFixit Technical Writing Program is online.

Hanes, Grad Student to Study Influential Factors of Diversifying Pollination Sources

Samuel Hanes, an assistant professor of anthropology, received a $28,444 grant from the National Science Foundation for the proposal, “Social capital and policy networks: Exploring the factors that influence adoption of pollinator conservation.”

The project aims to better understand obstacles and influential factors growers face when attempting to diversify pollination sources.

According to the proposal, insect pollination produces about $19 billion worth of crops in the U.S. annually. Farmers rent commercial honeybees to supply most of their crop pollination but the number of hives in the U.S. has dropped by more than 30 percent since 1980, leading to interest in alternate pollination sources.

The project will look at factors affecting lowbush blueberry growers’ use of wild, native bees to supplement honeybees.

UMaine graduate student Kourtney Collum will conduct the doctoral dissertation research project under Hanes’ supervision, and as part of UMaine’s anthropology and environmental policy doctoral program.

Collum will examine the factors that influence farmers’ adoption of pollinator conservation practices through a comparative study of blueberry growers in Maine — where there is an adequate honeybee supply — and Prince Edward Island, Canada — where there is a severe honeybee shortage.

The researchers will look closely at growers’ interaction with and perceptions of agricultural agencies and programs, as well as effects of agricultural policies and overall farm management, according to the proposal.

Brewer Quoted on Cutler’s Endorsement By Gun Control Group

University of Maine political scientist Mark Brewer was interviewed for a Portland Press Herald article about independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler being endorsed by Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence, a group that advocates “for personal responsibility, practical legislation, enforcement of laws, and increased manufacturer responsibility.”

“Put it this way: Very few people in Maine are using Second Amendment issues to make up their mind between Eliot Cutler and Mike Michaud,” Brewer said.

MPBN Interviews Brewer for Report on Cutler’s Gubernatorial Campaign

The Maine Public Broadcasting Network spoke with Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, for a report about the viability of Maine gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler’s campaign in the wake of recent finance reports. Brewer said Cutler’s defense of having to finance his own campaign because of Maine’s election laws is valid, but he added the figures don’t look favorable for the campaign in the coming months. “For me, the more important takeaway is that if it wasn’t for money he was willing to loan himself, he wouldn’t have any money,” Brewer said.

Upward Bound Math Science Students to Present Projects

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.

Media Report on UMaine Museum of Art’s New 17-Year Lease

WABI (Channel 5) and the Bangor Daily News reported the University of Maine Museum of Art has begun a new 17-year lease with Eastern Maine Development Corporation, maintaining the downtown Bangor location it has occupied in Norumbega Hall for more than a decade. The lease was approved by the University of Maine System Board of Trustees in May, and the Bangor City Council penned a letter of support for the deal. “Our role is to expose the community to new art forms that they may not typically be able to see here in Maine and bring those significant artists in. That’s really an important role of the university and the university land grant mission of service and community engagement, so the downtown location certainly extends the university’s reach,” said George Kinghorn, executive director and curator of the UMaine Museum of Art. WVII (Channel 7) also reported on the museum.

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

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.


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