Abram Karam: Outstanding Graduating Student

Abram Karam, of Bangor, Maine, is the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Engineering. 

Karam is double-majoring in civil and environmental engineering and mathematics.

Cite your top three academic scholarships, achievements and awards:
Recipient of UMaine’s Presidential Scholarship all four years of undergraduate study; received a 2019–20 academic year fellowship from UMaine’s Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR). The project title is: “Second-order derivatives of nonsmooth functions with applications in engineering.” My project mentor is Peter Stechlinski; various departmental/outside scholarships, including: the Robert J. ’47 & Mildred E. Lurvey Scholarship; the Malcolm D. Hardy PaCEsetter Scholarship; the Theodore and Dorothy Whitehouse Scholarship; the Wayne Hamilton, P.E., Civil Engineering Scholarship; the Bancroft and Martin Scholarship; the Harold Grodinsky Mathematics Scholarship; and others. 

Tell us about the research, internships or scholarly pursuits you were involved in as a student:
Since January 2019, I have worked in the Stechlinski Lab as an undergraduate researcher, where UMaine professor of mathematics Peter Stechlinski and I have researched second-order lexicographic differentiation. We aim to extend the theory and to develop engineering applications. I will likely continue this research in graduate school. 

Prior to that, I was employed as a student research assistant at UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, where I deepened my understanding of structural load testing and the hands-on skills pivotal in the realm of engineering research. I also worked as a student engineering assistant at UMaine’s Office of Facilities Management under Brian Foley. This position gave me a deep appreciation for the many employees who work hard each day to make UMaine the vibrant, welcoming, and productive place that I have come to know and love. 

Beyond academics, what extracurricular activities occupied your time? 
Throughout most of my undergraduate career, I have kept busy with internships and research. I am currently researching applied mathematics, but I have also worked as an engineering intern at Facilities Management and the Advanced Structures and Composites Center. I have also volunteered on Maine Day and as a note-taker, in addition to being a member of the honor societies Pi Mu Epsilon, Phi Kappa Phi, Tau Beta Pi, and Chi Epsilon. I am particularly involved in UMaine’s chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon (the oldest and largest national mathematics honor society). 

What are your plans after graduation?
I will enter UMaine’s graduate program in mathematics beginning in fall 2020, where I will further study and research applied mathematics. After earning my master’s degree in mathematics, I intend to pursue a Ph.D. and then a career in academia, or to pursue a career in industry (such as engineering, finance or insurance). 

What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals? 
While at UMaine, I have been afforded an education that is both broad and deep. I expect to use many of the technical skills that I have gained in my future career. I expect that critical thinking and soft skills that I have gained will be useful to me in my career and in life. 

Have you had an experience at UMaine that has changed or shaped the way you see the world?
I have met many kind and interesting people (professors, students and employees) at UMaine. I have gained a deeper appreciation for different cultures and viewpoints, and have learned to consider issues from multiple perspectives. 

Why UMaine?
UMaine possesses the resources and research opportunities of a large university, but still has the friendly atmosphere of a small college. UMaine provides a competitive education at an affordable price.  

How would you define the opportunities for student success at UMaine? Is there any particular initiative, program or set of resources that helped you succeed?
I’ve been truly amazed at the diligence with which professors provide research opportunities for students. If you are interested in a professor or institute’s research, then you should absolutely reach out and see if you could work with them. 

Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better?
I owe a great deal of gratitude to Professor Stechlinski. He has been instrumental in getting me into mathematical research, and has also offered me career and academic advice. He encouraged me to apply to graduate school, and helped me navigate the application process. I’d also like to thank professors Per Gårder, Shaleen Jain, Bill Davids, Eisso Atzema, Nigel Pitt, Pushpa Gupta and Ramesh Gupta for their kindness, service and dedication. There is not enough space to list all of the wonderful people I’ve gotten to know. 

What advice do you have for incoming students to help them get off to the best start academically? 
Thomas Edison once said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Seize the moment, put in the work and take care of yourself. 

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745