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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 historic Norumbega Hall for more than a decade.
“On behalf of the people of Bangor, I just want to say how excited we are to have the University of Maine Art Museum right in the heart of Bangor for another 17 years,” says Bangor City Council Chairman Ben Sprague, who also is a member of the Museum of Art Advisory Council. ”The museum has been a cornerstone of the revitalization of downtown Bangor, and has brought the arts into the heart of our community for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy.”
In May, the University of Maine System Board of Trustees approved the new long-term lease, July 1, 2014–June 30, 2031, and expansion of museum space on the third floor of the building for much-needed fine art storage.
In a letter of support, the Bangor City Council expressed its interest in having the museum remain in downtown Bangor “as a cornerstone of the arts for years to come.”
“The museum is now one of our primary cultural assets and an important aspect of the quality of life for Bangor citizens and those of the surrounding communities,” the council said. “Perhaps most importantly, locating the museum in downtown Bangor has served to strengthen the bonds between the university community and the city of Bangor.”
The museum relocated in December 2002 to take on a new role as a regional fine arts center. The city of Bangor invested $400,000 toward the $955,000 renovation of the first-floor museum space in Norumbega Hall, built in the early 1900s. The additional 1,955 square feet of storage space that will soon be renovated on the third floor of the building will be used for the museum’s growing collection.
The University of Maine Museum of Art collection includes more than 3,600 original works created since 1900, with an emphasis on contemporary art on paper (1945–present). Since 2008, more than 280 works have been added to the permanent collection, most through donation to the museum.
“Over the years, the Museum of Art has contributed to the cultural life of Bangor and to the region,” says George Kinghorn, executive director and curator of the UMaine Museum of Art. “UMMA’s downtown location continues to advance the university’s land-grant mission of outreach and service to Maine citizens by providing quality visual art experiences. It has been most rewarding to play a key role in the revitalization and recent growth of downtown Bangor.”
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, spoke with the Bangor Daily News for the article “Why abortion could become a defining issue in Maine’s 2nd District race,” about the race between Democrat Emily Cain and Republican Bruce Poliquin. Brewer said the 2nd District is interesting because “it’s not your deep blue Democratic district or deep red conservative district.” He added that even though Maine’s not a very religious state, the district seems to lean to the right on cultural issues. Brewer said if abortion is not a determining factor in the election, it might come down to who can put ideology in second place. “They’re going to be going in and looking for someone who is willing to compromise, work across the aisle,” he said, referring to moderate voters.