Sensing Shelf Life
Carbon-carbon composite materials, like
those at the center of the Columbia space shuttle accident
investigation, are the focus of nationally funded research at the
University of Maine.
Researchers in a UMaine mechanical engineering laboratory have
successfully characterized the high-temperature degradation of the
composites — one of the first steps in developing a sensor that can
monitor the integrity of these materials in structures such as a missile
or an aircraft wing. The work is funded by grants of more than $700,000
from the Missile Defense Agency of the Office of Naval Research.
"NASA took some criticism for not monitoring the integrity of the
shuttle wing structures, but it's not fair. Non-destructive testing
techniques that can be applied to these types of materials are just
being developed," says Mick Peterson, associate professor of mechanical
engineering who leads the UMaine research effort. "We are now beginning
to develop methods that can help us understand the degradation
mechanisms by using in situ sensors."
In laboratory tests, Peterson's team used ultrasound to monitor the
degradation of carbon-carbon composite material at temperatures of more
than 1,000 degrees Celsius. The goal is to develop a high-temperature
sensor with the ability to indicate the integrity of a carbon-carbon
material already in use in a structure.
Carbon-carbon composites are constructed of carbon fibers embedded in a
carbon matrix. They were developed in the 1960s for the space program
because they retain their strength under high temperatures.
The theoretical shelf life of carbon-carbon material can be calculated
by knowing how quickly it oxidizes. However, says Peterson, "useful life
can change if something comes in and gets hotter than it's supposed to
or if there's some contamination. We could have accelerated these
oxidation processes in the carbon, and those accelerated oxidation
processes can lead to premature failure."
Peterson and his research team expect to have a prototype sensor system
completed this year. Most recently, their preliminary research findings
were presented to the International Conference on Composite Materials in
Surveying the future
In recognition of the high demand for surveyors by private firms and
government, the University of Maine has established a Surveying
Engineering Technology (SVT) Program.
The Bureau of Land Management has pledged $250,000 to support the
academic offering. Additional financial support is coming from the New
England state surveying societies and the American Congress on Surveying
and Mapping through the Surveying Education Foundation of New England
Faculty in the UMaine program include Ray Hintz, Knud Hermansen, Louis
Morin and Steve Adam. Hintz, the SVT coordinator, has written software
programs that are used by more than 25 state departments of
transportation and consulting firms in the country. Hermansen also is a
registered professional engineer and attorney.
SVT students learn the fundamental surveying skills — determining
property boundaries, locating them on the ground and creating maps —
combined with engineering, business and communications. To graduate,
students must have supervised work experience and take the Maine state
surveyor fundamentals exam.
The new program is part of the School of Engineering Technology, which
offers construction management, and electrical and mechanical
engineering technology degrees.
UMaine offers the only four-year surveying program in New England. An
agreement with Central Maine Community College in Auburn enables
graduates of that school's two-year surveying program to transfer course
credits directly to UMaine. Efforts are under way to develop similar
agreements with two-year programs in other New England states.
Looking for a crustacean connoisseur
The Lobster Institute at the University of Maine now offers on its Web
an international directory of researchers with expertise in a variety of
crustacean-related areas. The directory includes scientists from Maine,
New England and countries such as Canada, Australia and Japan. According
to Lobster Institute Director Bob Bayer, the experts list can be a
valuable tool for those in the industry, as well as for scientists,
students and the public.
In the last decade, ongoing research has overturned some long-held
beliefs about the Earth's climate. Until 1992, prevailing scientific
opinion considered climate to be a lethargic beast. Change came slowly,
it was thought, over eons. Moreover, oceans and atmosphere — two of the
most important parts of the climate system — were considered to be
largely independent of each other.
Not any more
Eleven years ago, the results of ice core analysis from the Greenland
Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2) surprised scientists with a glimpse of a
more temperamental climate system. Since then, evidence in ocean
sediments and ice cores from Antarctica and high mountain glaciers have
told similar stories. We now know that average temperatures, storm
frequency, precipitation patterns and even ocean currents have changed
substantially in less than a decade.
"There's no longer any doubt that the climate system in the past has
changed relatively quickly," says Paul Mayewski, director of UMaine's
Climate Change Institute and the leader of GISP2. "It's unlikely that
there's a single cause, although in my opinion, changes in the amount of
energy output from the sun could play an important role."
Climate can change the course of human history. The fate of ancient
civilizations was influenced by changes in the frequency and severity of
flood and drought. About 600 years ago in a climate shift called the
Little Ice Age, sea ice expanded at the poles and average temperatures
dropped, causing Norwegian colonies to be abandoned in Greenland.
If scientists could get to the bottom of climate shifts, they might be
able to predict future climate with more reliability. Such knowledge
could have implications for energy, agriculture and even political
Mayewski and his colleague George Denton, UMaine Libra Professor of
Geological Sciences, are working with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins to develop
a federal $60 million research program on abrupt climate change. As
currently envisioned, UMaine would lead a consortium that would include
the University of New Hampshire, the University of Washington, Penn
State and Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Music for multigenerations
Live music performed by some of Maine's leading artists is being heard
in living facilities for the elderly as the result of a unique
cooperative program between the University of Maine Center on Aging and
the Bangor Symphony Orchestra.
The performances at senior housing facilities feature music by ensembles
and commentary by music educator David Klocko. Joining the elders in the
audience are area schoolchildren.
The initiative was made possible by a grant from the Maine-based Davis
"It is always important to work to develop multigenerational connections
between members of the community and elders who are at risk of becoming
disconnected," says Lenard Kaye, a UMaine professor and director of the
Center on Aging. "The idea here is to link those in nursing homes and
other similar facilities to the lifeblood of the community, represented
in this case by younger people and outstanding music. Music is one of
those common threads that brings together people from different
Bangor Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Susan Jonason says the
musicians are enthusiastic about this project.
"One of the great things about a community-based orchestra like ours is
that our performers literally know their audience and have a real
connection with the community they serve," she says.
Recognizing the acute need for trained seasonal farm workers in the
state, University of Maine Cooperative Extension has started the Maine
Farm Jobs Project, an innovative program to match workers with
Maine farmers and growers, as well as operators of greenhouses and
nurseries, fill out a short online form, providing information about
jobs available and the types of skills new employees need.
A second short survey on the Web, designed for people looking for work
in these areas, provides pertinent information about the availability of
Once opportunities are identified, Cooperative Extension staff will
design and present training programs. The goal is to equip prospective
employees, including those who live in the state, with the practical
skills and knowledge needed for work on farms or in greenhouses and
nurseries in Maine.
Hearing a need
For the 35th Annual Summer Games of Special Olympics Maine that were
held on campus in June, volunteers from the University of Maine
community and from throughout the state were there to lend a hand. This
year, those volunteers included six faculty members, and graduate and
undergraduate students from the UMaine Department of Communication
Sciences and Disorders, who conducted a hearing clinic for Special
The clinic was one of three health screenings offered during the
competition as part of the international Special Olympics Healthy
Athletes initiative. The vision, dental and hearing screenings promote
health and improve access to healthcare for Special Olympics
At UMaine, the hearing clinic was coordinated by audiologist Jim Dean of
Mid-Coast Speech and Hearing Center in Camden, Maine, and audiologist
and university faculty member Amy Booth. Dean has participated in and
organized hearing screenings for Special Olympics worldwide.
During the summer games on campus, 150 athletes and their coaches had
their hearing assessed; 33 percent of them were recommended for further
evaluation. Data from this and other Special Olympics hearing clinics
are being compiled for further research on hearing loss in this
More than 1,000 athletes ages 8–94 competed in one or more of the 11
athletic events on campus. The summer games have been held at UMaine for
more than 15 years.
Watch for signs of Black Bears on
the highways this fall
This fall, Maine residents will have a new way to show their Black Bear
pride while supporting scholarships for University of Maine students
with the purchase of a UMaine specialty license plate for passenger
The Black Bear license plates are available beginning Nov. 1 for $20 for
the first year, $15 for renewals. Ten dollars from every purchase or
renewal of a UMaine plate is tax deductible and benefits the
university's Maine Black Bear Scholarship Fund.
The Black Bear Scholarship Fund supports need-based scholarships for
The largest college at the University of Maine has a new dean.
Ann Leffler, a former associate dean at Utah State University, has been
named dean of UMaine's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Leffler is a sociologist who has been on the Utah State faculty since
1980. She has served several terms as associate dean of Utah State's
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. She also has twice
been interim dean, served as interim vice provost, was director of the
Liberal Arts and Sciences Program, and was chair of the Regents' Task
Force on General Education. Her research focuses on leisure as a
Leffler earned a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at
Berkeley in 1979.
Liberal Arts and Sciences is one of UMaine's five academic colleges.
Waste not, want not
Members of Alpha Phi Omega fraternity and their friends love leftovers.
Every Friday night during the academic year, you'll find them going from
one University of Maine dining commons to another, seeking out the
remains of the day — the extra bowls of salad, the side dishes and hot
entrees that went unserved.
The students forage for food so that
those in need can partake.
UMaine's Food Run Project has been a community effort of Alpha Phi Omega
service fraternity since the 1980s. In recent years, members of Gamma
Sigma Sigma service sorority have joined the effort.
In cooperation with Dining Services staff, the students wrap, bag and
package up a week's worth of leftovers after the evening meals on Friday
nights, then deliver them in a van donated by Cyr Bus Line to a soup
kitchen and a homeless shelter in Bangor, Maine.
The leftovers most often include breads, pasta dishes, salad fixings and
desserts. No milk-based products or foods that could spoil in transport
"Every week, four of us go to Manna Ministries to serve a meal and
interact with people who eat the food we took there from the dining
commons," says Will Borst, chair of the Food Run Project for Alpha Phi
Omega. "Both Manna and the shelter are always grateful to have the food
that would otherwise be wasted."
Dining Services Director Edward Nase estimates that 240 pounds of
leftovers each week for 36 weeks are distributed to the needy through
the volunteer efforts of the students.