University of Maine students were on hand at the Challenger Learning Center’s Family Engineering Night in Bangor, WVII (Channel 7) reported.
The annual event is held to get children and their families excited about math and science. Evelyn Fairman, vice president of UMaine’s Society of Women Engineers, said at the event children are given a task and challenge to complete, which is similar to engineering in real life.
A proposed offshore wind pilot project by Maine Aqua Ventus, which includes the University of Maine and partner companies, is the focus of an EarthTechling article titled “Maine keeps offshore wind project afloat.” The Maine Public Utilities Commission voted earlier in January to approve the terms of the consortium’s project which seeks to build two turbines off the coast of Monhegan Island and supply power to 7,000 homes.
When Amber Smith of Ipswich, Mass. signed up for her senior capstone design project, she knew she would be helping her resume, but she didn’t know she would be helping others, as well.
A person is 60 percent less likely to contract HIV if they have been circumcised, according to a current clinical study being conducted. The World Health Organization along with other organizations is working to come up with a plan to circumcise men in Africa.
With this statistic in mind, Smith, a mechanical engineering student at the University of Maine, and two other students — Grant Aylward and Sam Davidson — are working to create a disposable circumcision device that destructs after one use. The current tool is made of chrome-plated brass, and the new device would be plastic and less expensive to produce.
“You’re working with patients that have HIV or potentially could have it, and you don’t want to spread it to either the surgeons or to other patients that you’re working with,” said Smith.
Over the past two summers, Smith worked through internships at Stryker Orthopaedics, a company specializing in joint replacements. Working to help people gain their life back became a goal after Smith witnessed and experienced all the injuries of her teammates on the UMaine Women’s basketball team.
Smith played on the team for four years before she was deemed medically unable to play. During her redshirt freshman season she was a finalist for the America East Fan’s Choice Player of the Year while contributing an average of 10.0 points per game. She was ranked 14th in the conference in scoring and named Rookie of the Week twice.
How did you get involved with this project?
This project is part of our senior design project (capstone) we have to do during our final year of the mechanical engineering curriculum. Peter Millard, the epidemiologist we are working with on this project, came to the Mechanical Engineering Department with the project idea to design a circumcision clamp to better fit the needs of the sub-Saharan African population. The HIV prevention project, as well as a handful of other projects, were offered and each student applied for the project of their choice. I knew I wanted to work in the health care industry, and this project seemed like a great opportunity.
What kind of design challenge does this device represent?
It definitely needs to be single-use, and it needs to be self-destructing. A lot of times because they [people in Africa] don’t have the resources we do, they will try to sterilize it, and they will try to clean it and use it again. We have to design this tool so once it has gone through its cycle to completion, it has to break and it has to be unusable at that point.
Having this device be disposable, what does that do to the risk of spreading HIV?
By having this be something you can throw away — a single-use device — you’re not using it over and over again; you’re not cleaning it, you’re not going to have to sterilize it. It makes it so you’re at much less risk of spreading it to the other patients you’re working with because you’re doing 30–40 million in total.
How challenging has this project been?
It definitely is a challenge. This isn’t really a new issue. People have tried to do this before. There’s a tool the South Africans have made, there’s a tool China has come up with. Some surgeons and groups like it and some don’t. The surgeon that we’re working with is out of Mozambique — he’s an epidemiologist out of Bangor. He’s the one we’re working with and he has come to us and asked us to design a new circumcision tool. We’re also trying to make it under a dollar a piece, because we’re mass-producing all of these.
What is this experience doing for you in terms of becoming an engineer and deciding if this is a career you want to pursue?
This is absolutely something I want to pursue. I’ve always liked the health care field. I come from a family of engineers and I’ve spent the last two years working for Stryker Orthopaedics, designing prosthetic implants. It’s the exact same design process I’ve been using, so I do have a little bit of experience in this field. It’s definitely not the same thing, but it presents a new twist as far as cutting down on price and material and mass-producing these tools. It’s a great opportunity; it’s exciting to be able to have this kind of impact. Sixty percent is a huge statistic. To be able to cut down on the spread of HIV; it’s an epidemic and to have the opportunity to reduce its effect is a huge deal.
Do you think this project is giving you a skill that is marketable to go into this field?
Absolutely, it’s real life anytime you can go through the design process; anytime that you can go from idea conception to prototype generation to coming up with a physical model. We have an opportunity to send this to Africa. The epidemiologist we’re working with is going to choose one of four designs [from the four groups working on the project] at the end. We may be looking at clinical trial opportunities, which is pretty cool. To be able to put that on your resume would be a head start on most other recent college grads in the country.
The hope is you’re going to come up with something that’s really going to make a difference?
Exactly. You can make a difference doing this; it’s not just something you can put on your resume. I mean, that’s nice, but you can make a difference in people’s lives. I think that’s what initially drew me to the health care field. Because I played basketball here, that’s part of my life, too. You see injuries, you see people blow out their knees, you see people ruin ankles and hips. A lot of the time, without some sort of surgery, these injuries are life altering. The health care field is coming up with new solutions all the time and to be able to give someone’s life back is pretty cool.
In terms of basketball, your career ended quicker than you would have liked, have you been able to channel your energies into this project?
My career did end more suddenly than I would have liked it to. Medically, I wasn’t able to play anymore. It took me a while to come to terms with that, but it’s OK, and I am able to focus on developing my career now and it’s something I really enjoy doing. Not playing basketball and not being up here training all summer has allowed me to have internships these past two summers and to focus more on my career.
Are there parallels between the work ethic to be a good basketball player and the diligence needed to be an engineer?
The discipline it takes to play basketball — your work ethic, consistency, persistence, all of these things — are things you can apply to schoolwork and the work environment, as well. You’ve got to get the job done. That’s something that is important as an engineer; the ability to get the job done. It’s not really about the time you put in, or what you were originally taught, but more about your ability to find a way to get the job done.
This is probably the hardest thing you’ve had to do as an engineer, does this bring all the skills you’ve learned to a point?
Definitely. One of the cool things about this project is it’s a culmination of what I’ve learned and all the classes that I’ve taken. That being said, a lot of the project consists of discovering things on your own. You find people to help you and you learn things. It’s cool you get to teach yourself. I think that’s a big part of the education here. They may not teach you everything, but they teach you how to find what you need to know.
A Pathfinder Buzz article titled “Maine turning new tricks from old industries” includes quotes from University of Maine researchers about how they are developing new applications to extend the state’s traditional strengths such as fishing and forestry. Those innovations include the development of golf balls from lobster shells and bio-jet fuel and biomass pellets from trees. David Neivandt, a biological and chemical engineering professor at UMaine, spoke about the golf balls saying the university is employing an underused byproduct of the lobster canning industry into a value-added consumer product “which hopefully has come cachet in the market.”
Boston.com, Seacoast Online, Winnipeg Free Press and WLBZ (Channel 2) carried an Associated Press report on the performance of an offshore wind turbine prototype that was deployed last summer off Castine. Habib Dagher, director of the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, said the 65-foot-tall turbine has performed as engineers expected even as the waves exceeded the platform’s design limits in November and December. The Free Press also reported the town of Bristol has appointed a Wind Power Advisory Committee that has created a website to inform residents on the offshore wind project proposed off Monhegan Island by Maine Aqua Ventus, which includes UMaine and partner companies.
The Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR) has launched the Research Fellows Program, a new Blue Sky initiative to support University of Maine faculty efforts in promoting undergraduate research opportunities. Emerging from 2011 stimulus funding of CUGR as one of six initiatives through the 2011 Presidential Request for Visions of University Excellence (PRE-VUE) Program, this CUGR Research Fellows Program is intended to improve undergraduate research and scholarship mentoring skills, expand curricula to include research and scholarship experiences, and develop proposals for further funding specifically involving undergraduate students.
Twenty-three faculty members who were nominated by their deans to be CUGR Research Fellows will participate in the two-year development program. Workshops will focus on topics such as mentoring undergraduate students, funding sources, responsible conduct of research and grant writing. Each CUGR Research Fellow receives a modest stipend and one undergraduate assistant.
The CUGR Research Fellows are:
Laura Artesani, Associate Professor of Music
Dan Bilodeau, Assistant Professor of Theatre
Tim Bowden, Assistant Professor of Aquaculture
Steven Elmer, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Physical Education
Nuri Emanetoglu, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Nick Giudice, Associate Professor of Spatial Information Sciences
Rob Glover, CLAS-Honors Preceptor and Assistant Professor of Political Science
Will Gramlich, Assistant Professor of Organic Chemistry
Hamish Greig, Associate Professor of Stream Ecology
Mark Haggerty, Associate Rezendes Preceptor for Civil Engagement
Sarah Harlan-Haughey, Assistant Professor of English and Assistant Professor of Honors
Kim Huisman, Associate Professor of Sociology
Karl Kreutz, Professor of Geological Sciences and Climate Change Institute
Jordan LaBouff, CLAS-Honors Preceptor and Assistant Professor of Psychology
Roberto Lopez-Anido, Professor of Civil Engineering
Benildo de los Reyes, Professor of Molecular Genetics
Shannon McCoy, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Reinhard Moratz, Associate Professor of Spatial Information Sciences
Balunkeswar Nayak, Assistant Professor of Food Processing
Brian Robinson, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Climate Change Institute
Mary Shea, Assistant Professor of Nursing
Ebru Ulusoy, Assistant Professor of Marketing
Faren Wolter, Lecturer
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
Boston.com, WLBZ (Channel 2), WGME (Channel 13), San Antonio Express-News and News OK carried an Associated Press report about the University of Maine’s plans to deliver an update on the performance of its offshore wind turbine prototype that was deployed last summer off Castine. Habib Dagher, director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, is scheduled to speak Jan. 16 about the 65-foot-tall turbine at the University of Southern Maine. The Maine Public Utilities Commission voted Jan. 15 to approve the terms of an agreement between the state and Maine Aqua Ventus, which includes UMaine and partner companies, granting initial approval for the consortium’s offshore wind pilot project. The Bangor Daily News also published an editorial on the project titled “Maine’s offshore wind project is worth the risk.”
The Associated Press, MPBN, Bangor Daily News, WABI (Channel 5), WLBZ (Channel 2), WVII (Channel 7) and the Portland Press Herald reported the Maine Public Utilities Commission voted to approve the terms of an agreement between the state and Maine Aqua Ventus, which includes the University of Maine and partner companies, granting initial approval for the consortium’s offshore wind pilot project. Maine Aqua Ventus is seeking to build two turbines off the coast of Monhegan Island and supply power to 7,000 homes. Habib Dagher, director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, told the AP he and his team are glad the PUC saw the long-term benefits of the project for Maine and the U.S. Yahoo Finance, Boston.com and the San Francisco Chronicle carried the AP report.
The Portland Press Herald editorial “Our View: Offshore wind the right investment for Maine,” focuses on the proposed offshore wind pilot project being put forward by Maine Aqua Ventus, which includes the University of Maine and partner companies. The Maine Public Utilities Commission is expected to vote Jan. 14 on whether to grant initial approval for Maine Aqua Ventus to build two turbines off the coast of Monhegan Island.
The Associated Press reported the Maine Public Utilities Commission is scheduled to vote Tuesday, Jan. 14 on whether to grant initial approval for a state contract to Maine Aqua Ventus, which includes the University of Maine and partner companies. Maine Aqua Ventus is seeking to build two turbines off the coast of Monhegan Island for its pilot offshore wind project. The Portland Press Herald, Boston.com, Seymour Tribune, WLBZ (Channel 2) and The Republic were among news organizations to carry the AP report.