A gift for growing
The gift of an agricultural research
facility in Island Falls, Maine, to the University of Maine will provide
a scientific growth spurt for research being done in cooperation with
the state's potato and horticultural industries. Island Falls potato
grower Arthur Shur donated the facility to UMaine in honor of his
father, Jacob. It will be known as the Jacob Shur Research Facility.
The research station includes a building and three greenhouses where
scientists will use advanced tissue culture techniques to develop plant
varieties for Maine's climate and soil conditions, says Steve Reiling,
director of the Maine Agricultural Center at the university.
"The size of this facility enables us to accommodate a much larger
research effort in this area than we can do on campus," says Reiling.
"When breeders identify a plant with desirable characteristics, the best
method to reproduce them in large quantities for research purposes is
through tissue culture. The building has room for up to 1 million
Plants propagated through tissue culture rather than seed retain the
exact genetic composition of the parent plant.
Prior to the donation to UMaine, the facility was leased to Monsanto
Corp., for genetically modified potato research. That effort has been
terminated and no research related to genetic modification is being done
at the facility. Susan Ballou of Island Falls managed the facility for
Monsanto and will continue at the research station, working for UMaine.
University research projects already under way at the facility include
horticultural work on garden plants with commercial potential and on
disease-resistant white pine trees.
Setting up shop
The first company to take wing from the University of Maine Target
Technology Incubator in Orono, Maine, designs complex parts for the
automotive, aerospace and consumer products industries. After joining
the Target Center in March 2003, Foxtech Design Inc., opened an office
last fall in Ellsworth, Maine. Four other fledgling companies hope to
follow by establishing businesses in the state, says Target Director
The four start-ups now share office space at Target with several
established companies. They have received support to write business
plans, identify markets, develop their technology and secure financing.
Foxtech owner Scott Cromwell started his company in Michigan in 1997 and
moved to Maine in 2003. A resident of Blue Hill, he specializes in
At UMaine, he has worked with the Advanced Manufacturing Center and
Fogler Library. He also has received business mentoring through the
Maine Small Business Development Center, and participated in the
MaineTech 2003 show in Augusta and the governor's trade mission to
"Scott has exceptional technical skills and has grown into a successful
entrepreneur. We will continue to monitor his progress and assist him
with the ongoing challenges of operating a business. I am confident
years from now, he will be a growing and successful Maine company," says
Neuman notes that research-based start-ups take an average of three
years to become self-sufficient. "That is what we are working toward
with every tenant of the incubator: graduation as businesses in the
community, armed with the knowledge, resources and connections they need
to be successful."
A gold mine of information about Maine's culture and natural history
will be available electronically to classrooms throughout the state as a
result of a federal grant to Fogler Library at the University of Maine,
the Maine State Museum and Maine Public Broadcasting Corp.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded a more
than $470,000 grant to make digital resources about Maine accessible
over the high-speed broadband network that includes the Internet.
The Windows on Maine project will focus on two major educational
initiatives produced by Maine Public Broadcasting and partners. HOME:
The Story of Maine, is a series of 13 half-hour television programs
about Maine's history; Quest: Investigating Our World is a series of 24
hour-long programs about the natural and environmental sciences in New
England. Both television series are accompanied by in-depth Web site
content and companion classroom material. Windows on Maine will store
and make accessible these two exemplary education programs, along with
supporting historical and scientific digital media gathered from partner
Materials will be distributed in real time and be accessible on demand
to the laptop computers of 7th- and 8th-grade students, personal
computers in high school classrooms, and others outside the state via
the University of Maine's Internet2 connection.
"By leveraging the delivery power of broadband technology with digital
collections from Maine's cultural agencies, this collaborative effort
promises to provide sustainable support to Maine's educators in all
parts of the state, even the most remote and economically underdeveloped
locations, as never before," says Marilyn Lutz, director of library
information technology planning at Fogler Library and a principal
investigator for the project.
Seniors across Maine will benefit from a new University of Maine Center
on Aging program funded by a $1.3 million Corporation for National and
Community Service federal grant.
The three-year Senior $ense program will involve the recruitment,
training and placement of 30 full-time AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers in
more than 15 community organizations throughout Maine. The volunteers
will help to develop financial, employment, and consumer counseling
services and resources for seniors living in poverty.
The center is recruiting volunteers to serve for one to two years to
help improve the lives of Maine seniors.
"By providing a way to deliver resources and services that are
customized to different regions of the state, we aim to help Maine's
elders learn to more effectively deal with money and related issues and,
in turn, reduce their risk of becoming victims of unscrupulous
businesses," says Lenard Kaye, director of the Center on Aging.
Kaye notes that the program will use technology to expand its reach to
all people who might benefit from it. The project will include the
construction of a comprehensive, interactive Web site where resources
will be available to all older adults, their families, and health and
human services personnel.
Organizational partners in the project, where VISTA members will be
assigned, include UMaine Cooperative Extension, Maine's Area Agencies on
Aging, many of the state's Community Action Agencies, Penobscot
Community Health Center, and the Maine Jobs Council.
Consultation and training support also will be available through the
Elder Abuse Institute of Maine, the Senior Community Service Employment
Program, the State Bureau of Elder and Adult Services, and AARP of
Meaning in middle school
A new list of 14 characteristics of successful middle schools speaks to
how effective education can be in the lives of young adolescents, says a
national authority on middle-level education.
"A strong case is made for the courageous leadership needed by middle
grades teachers and administrators," said Ed Brazee, speaking at a
November news conference in Washington, D.C., where the National Middle
School Association (NMSA) released its research findings.
"Middle schools work when principals, teachers and parents work together
to achieve a common vision and place a strong emphasis on student
learning and creating a culture of caring and support."
Brazee is a University of Maine professor of education and editor of
NMSA publications. He joined other officials of the national
organization in calling for policymakers to act now to implement the
recommendations, which are part of NMSA's revised position statement,
This We Believe: Successful Schools for Young Adolescents.
A companion document, Research and Resources, supports the effectiveness
of the 14 qualities, when all are in place.
The National Middle School Association believes successful schools for
young adolescents are characterized by a culture that includes:
• Educators who value working with this age group and are prepared to do
• Courageous, collaborative leadership.
• A shared vision that guides decisions.
• An inviting, supportive and safe environment.
• High expectations for every member of the learning community.
• Students and teachers who are engaged in active learning.
• An adult advocate for every student.
• School-initiated family and community partnerships.
• Curriculum that is relevant, challenging, integrative and exploratory.
• Multiple learning and teaching approaches that respond to students'
• Assessment and evaluation programs that promote quality learning.
• Organizational structures that support meaningful relationships and
• School-wide efforts and policies that foster health, wellness and
• Multifaceted guidance and support services.
What lies beneath
When descendants of Revolutionary War veteran William Crabtree wanted to
locate the captain's final resting place, geologist John Nelson helped
them find the 19th-century cemetery. Turns out, it was under a house in
Normally, the Ph.D. candidate in the University of Maine Department of
Earth Sciences conducts research on the last ice age in southern Maine,
where he lives. He uses an electrical resistivity measurement (ERM) that
gathers information about rock and soil layers underground.
He also used ERM to locate that long-forgotten burial site. Last
September, his presentation on his efforts received a Best Paper Award
in the Division of Environmental Geosciences at the Eastern Section of
the American Association of Petroleum Geologists annual meeting.
ERM injects electric current into the ground, then detects the signals
reflected to the surface that show the location of water tables,
impervious soil layers and bedrock. However, electricity doesn't flow
easily through air, including pockets that form where the earth has been
Put to the test
Structural and materials tests performed by the Advanced Engineered Wood
Composites (AEWC) Center at the University of Maine have received an
international stamp of approval that will help companies to develop new
The International Accreditation Service (IAS) Inc., has certified AEWC
as a laboratory that meets standards for 47 different tests of plastics,
wood products, composites, adhesives, and structural panels and
assemblies. IAS is a nonprofit subsidiary of the International Code
Council that provides the foundation for quality-control functions used
by industrial associations and government agencies.
"Businesses in Maine can come to our laboratory not only to develop new
products, but to get them tested and approved by building code agencies
in the U.S. and around the world. We are pleased that we can now offer
this unique service that will help grow Maine industry," says Habib
Dagher, AEWC director.
The AEWC Center currently works with more than 100 Maine companies in
the wood products, construction and composite materials areas to help
them develop better products, including composite ships, bridges,
consumer products and building materials.
The UMaine center is one of four university laboratories in the U.S. to
receive this type of accreditation, and the only one with such a wide
range of certified testing procedures.
In the future, who will cut the trees for northern New England's logging
industry? The question is more than academic. A steady flow of timber is
the foundation of the region's forest products industry, which generated
$9 billion in estimated revenues in 2000.
A recent University of Maine survey of loggers in Maine, New Hampshire,
Vermont and Quebec suggests that a continuing shortage of woods workers
could drive up prices for wood and increase mechanization trends,
ultimately affecting the state's pulp and paper industry.
The survey results are getting attention in Augusta, where legislators
are concerned about working conditions and pay scales for loggers. Those
who run training programs for woods workers also are using the
information to address logging industry issues.
Andy Egan, UMaine associate professor of forest resources, sent
eight-page questionnaires to loggers in the four jurisdictions. Of the
1,103 replies, 63 percent came from Maine; 18 percent from Quebec. The
rest were split between Vermont and New Hampshire.
The results suggest that the composition of the region's woods workers
will change considerably in the next decade. Just over half of the
respondents expect to be in business in the next five years, and more
than two-thirds say they would not encourage their children to follow in
their footsteps. Factors contributing to the potential exodus are low
average annual incomes (from $15,615 in Quebec to $28,449 in Vermont),
lack of health insurance and paid vacation, and a perception that the
public views logging as an unskilled profession.
Keeping an adequate labor supply will require increases in wages,
benefits and wood prices, says Egan. The lack of social prestige
associated with logging remains a barrier for the future workforce.
Lasers perform multiple tasks. They restore eyesight, scan groceries at
the checkout counter and bond metal components in a seamless weld.
Expanding on the industrial benefits of the technology, University of
Maine engineers are working with the U.S. Navy and two Maine companies —
Technology Systems Inc., of Wiscasset and Applied Thermal Systems (ATS)
of Sanford — to bring the benefits of laser welding to ship
Laser-welded structural components can be produced faster and with more
precision than conventionally hot rolled or welded parts, says Vince
Caccese, UMaine associate professor of mechanical engineering. That's
because lasers focus intense energy with greater pinpoint accuracy
compared to other welding technologies. Since lasers can work with a
variety of metal alloys, they also make possible the use of stronger
metals, resulting in lighter structures.
To date, the research has focused on a part used to stiffen bulkheads
and other stress-bearing elements of a ship hull. Tests confirm that the
laser-welded parts stand up to bending and fatigue more effectively than
conventional parts. Non-magnetic steel also has been welded — an
achievement of considerable interest to the Navy, says Caccese.