Renewable Energy News reported the Maine Public Utilities Commission will consider a long-term energy contract for a proposed offshore wind project by Maine Aqua Ventus, which includes the University of Maine and partner companies. Regulators will deliberate the project’s proposed term sheet Jan. 14.
Archive for the ‘Engineering’ Category
Dr. Jeff Hecker, University of Maine Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost, is enthusiastic about his role in facilitating implementation of the Blue Sky Plan — the university’s blueprint to become a nationwide leader among America’s research universities in student success, achievement and community engagement.
UMaine President Paul Ferguson named Hecker to this position in July. He replaces Susan Hunter, who was named Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the University of Maine System.
Provost Hecker, the former Dean of the UMaine College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, says his challenge is to manage the day-to-day operations of the Academic Affairs division while keeping an eye on the big picture — communicating long-range, mission-driven goals, and moving Blue Sky Plan initiatives forward in collaboration with faculty, other Cabinet members and the broader UMaine community.
Hecker describes the Blue Sky Plan unveiled in October 2011 as unified, ambitious, focused and inclusive. He is primarily focused on those initiatives that relate to the academic affairs agenda that are integral to each of the five major Blue Sky Pathways.
“The heart of UMaine’s mission is undergraduate education. As we pursue our research, community engagement and graduate education goals, we can’t lose sight of that core mission,” he says. “The beauty of the Blue Sky Plan is that it is at once aspirational and pragmatic. We are committed to growth as Maine’s land grant research university and equally committed to pursue excellence in our core mission.”
Provost Hecker and Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Jeff St. John are leading the campus in addressing a number of the Blue Sky Strategic Initiatives related to academic affairs. The newly reconstituted University Teaching Council and several Blue Sky Advisory Teams are assisting them in addressing a number of priority issues.
Faculty Development is at the top of the list. Those initiatives include promotion of best practices in the classroom, labs and studios, creating faculty development opportunities for the more than 100 adjunct faculty UMaine employs every year, enhancing online teaching quality, and launching the new Blue Sky Faculty Fellows Program to develop the next generation of faculty leaders and university spokespeople.
Due to significant enrollment increases, particularly in engineering and sciences, Provost Hecker is also exploring a new initiative to bring postdoctoral fellows to UMaine as Visiting Assistant Professors.
During their two- to-three-year fixed-length appointments, the visiting faculty will hone their teaching and research skills to prepare themselves for careers in academia. At the same time, they will help address the need for high-quality instruction in high-demand areas, such as mathematics, English and laboratory sciences.
The idea, Hecker says, is to create opportunities that benefit both the postdoctoral faculty member and UMaine. “These positions could be an important piece of the puzzle,” Hecker says. “We are exploring cost-effective ways of meeting our students’ needs for quality, innovative instruction.”
A second Blue Sky emphasis for Provost Hecker is student success. He is leading a multipronged approach to improve the four- and six-year graduation rates by 10 percent by 2017. “Relative to our peers, we do well,” he says, adding that UMaine’s four-year graduation rate is about 40 percent and its six-year rate is about 60 percent. “But we can do better.”
An advisory group is gathering data about factors that impact whether students remain enrolled, including affordability; timely access to courses they need; and quality of their campus experience.
Dr. St. John, says Provost Hecker, is also working on the UMaine Blue Sky Plan Pathway 2 initiative to improve annual student retention by 5 percent by 2017. From 2011–12, UMaine succeeded in that effort — 81 percent of the 2012 cohort of first-time, full-time students stayed in school, which was a 5 percent improvement from the 2011 cohort, according to the University of Maine Office of Institutional Research. The challenge is to maintain that improvement.
Lastly, Provost Hecker and Faculty Senate President Harlan Onsrud are working collaboratively to create a process of inventorying UMaine’s academic programs to better define UMaine’s strengths and opportunities. By jointly hosting Academic Affairs Faculty Forums in which faculty members discuss academic initiatives and how to best advance strategic goals, the university is engaging in an open process that will help to guide investments central to future success.
“It’s fantastic having an opportunity like this,” Hecker says. “This is my 28th year of employment here and I am thrilled to be in a leadership role, helping UMaine achieve its goals.”
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Michael “Mick” Peterson’s recent trip to Turkey to consult with the six major race tracks of the Jockey Club of Turkey was the subject of a story by a horse racing columnist Kadir Kiygir. Since 2004, the UMaine professor of mechanical engineering has contracted with track owners and racing industry leaders to test the strength, stability and water-retaining qualities of natural and synthetic track surfaces in an effort to improve safety for horses and jockeys. The Orono-based Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory founded by Peterson is working with the Jockey Club in the U.S. to develop a database of surface-testing analyses and records of track maintenance and injuries, both human and equine.
The Bangor Daily News reported a committee appointed by the Bristol Board of Selectmen plans to determine whether the town should have input over the proposed offshore wind project by Maine Aqua Ventus, which includes the University of Maine and partner companies. The proposed project would be about 10 miles away from Bristol and 2.5 miles off Monhegan Island. Andrea Cox, the committee’s chairwoman said residents have shared some concerns about the proposed wind farm, but the group will create a website and seek answers before forming an opinion. She said UMaine representatives have met with the Board of Selectmen at two meetings and a public hearing on the project.
The Bangor Daily News included the University of Maine’s involvement with offshore wind in the article “Tragedy, trade and turbines: The top Maine business stories of 2013.” The article said UMaine made history in June when its prototype VolturnUS became the first floating wind turbine to provide electricity to the power grid. The university also made headlines for the competition between the UMaine-led consortium Maine Aqua Ventus and Norwegian company Statoil for subsidies to help develop an offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Maine.
The Associated Press and Portland Press Herald reported on the concerns of some Monhegan residents over the proposed offshore wind project by Maine Aqua Ventus, which includes the University of Maine and partner companies. Some residents wonder if the 12-megawatt project with two turbines will disrupt the island’s tranquility and hurt tourism. Jake Ward, UMaine’s vice president for innovation and economic development, said the project is a “huge opportunity for an island that has a diminishing year-round population.” Boston.com, NECN, WLBZ (Channel 2), Houston Chronicle, MPBN and Sun Journal carried the AP report.
WVII (Channel 7) reported Bangor High School will benefit from a three-year, $750,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study stormwater runoff and its effect on local waterways. The University of Maine’s College of Engineering is partnering with Bangor High School, as well as schools and water officials in Auburn and Portland, to complete the project that aims to encourage STEM education.
The proposed floating offshore wind project led by the University of Maine and its partner companies was cited in a Bangor Daily News editorial titled “The year in arguments: Five Maine, national matters we haven’t seen the end of.” The article states the pilot project “relies on developing technology that’s innovative and Maine-grown.”
The Bangor Daily News reported Bangor High School will benefit from a three-year, $750,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study stormwater runoff and document its effect on pollution in local waterways. The University of Maine’s College of Engineering is partnering with Bangor High School, as well as schools and municipal water officials in Auburn and Portland, to complete the project that aims to encourage STEM education.
University of Maine alumna Carrie Enos has been named president of the University of Maine Pulp & Paper Foundation.
She replaces Jack Healy, who has held the position since 2007 and is retiring this spring.
Enos graduated from UMaine in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. She has worked in the paper industry since 1997, most recently in the position of finished products business unit manager at the Verso Paper Mill in Bucksport. Enos has also been employed at International Paper in Jay (now Verso Paper), Sappi Fine Paper in Skowhegan and Eastern Fine Paper (now Lincoln Paper and Tissue) in Lincoln.
“After an extensive national search, we are pleased to have someone of Carrie’s background and caliber to lead our organization,” says John Donahue, chair of the Pulp & Paper Foundation’s Executive Committee. “She will do an outstanding job of executing our strategic plan, working with our partners and donors, and assisting and guiding scholarship students.”
Enos and her family live in Bangor. She will begin her new role in mid-January.
Incorporated in 1950, the University of Maine Pulp & Paper Foundation manages the Consider Engineering Program, and supports 87 scholarships at both full tuition and other levels to encourage UMaine engineering students to consider a career in the pulp and paper industry.