An interactive map of all Fall 2018 Dean’s List recipients at the University of Southern Maine, mapped by home country, region and state.
An interactive map of all Fall 2018 Dean’s List recipients at the University of Southern Maine, mapped by home country, region and state.
Multiple times per day, most of us eat some kind of food and don’t give our actions much thought.
But our consumption habits have implications for the world around us — and University of Southern Maine (USM) student Eden Martin wants people to start thinking about that.
Martin, 21, of Mapleton, Maine, is spending her summer as an intern at The UMaine Gardens at Tidewater Farm, an agricultural facility in Falmouth, through her minor in USM’s Food Studies program.
The program — which also offers a graduate certificate — incorporates the study of food systems and critical evaluation of food-related issues including food insecurity, environmental sustainability, and racial and labor justice.
It’s an area of study that connects us all, Martin said.
“What you’re eating and where you buy it has an impact to our economy, environment, political realm and culture,” she said. “Education is such a powerful tool, and understanding where your food comes from really means something.”
Several days a week, just off U.S. Route 1, Martin grows and picks produce for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Maine Harvest for Hunger (MHH) Program. She began her work there in the spring, performing administrative tasks and partaking in its Master Gardener training program, a 16-week course on gardening skills.
Now, as she prepares to enter her senior year at USM, Martin helps maintain the gardens, gleans produce and delivers food to Wayside Food Programs that will go to feed those in need.
The experience — plus her coursework in the Food Studies program, she says — has helped her navigate her way through Geography-Anthropology, her major at USM.
“Food Studies has helped me discover that I enjoy Geography-Anthropology because I want to learn more about how humans have, and will continue to, impact their environment.
“I think we can learn from that to help us envision or create a new agricultural system that’s more sustainable,” she said.
Maine has the highest rate of food insecurity in New England and the ninth highest rate of food insecurity in the United States, according to the USDA Economic Research Service. The MHH program was started in 2000 to help combat those realities by mitigating hunger, improving nutrition and health and helping recipients develop lifelong nutritional habits.
The program mobilizes gardeners, farmers, nonprofit organizations and civic groups to grow and donate produce to pantries, shelters and low-income housing centers.
In 2018, the program donated more than 230,000 pounds of produce to 187 sites, with a monetary value of almost $400,000, according to the University of Maine.
During the 2018 growing season, sites in Cumberland County distributed 21,353 pounds of fresh produce to 21 sites including food pantries and soup kitchens, according to the Cooperative Extension. Pamela Hargest, manager of the UMaine at Tidewater Farm, says the garden donates upward of 1,200 pounds of produce in any given year.
She’s also said it’s been great to work with USM to secure interns, like Martin, to help the garden fulfill its mission.
“I love any crossover we can get,” Hargest said of the relationship between the Cooperative Extension and USM. “I think we’re in a nice position where we’re so close to USM that it’s a natural fit for us to try to partner on different programs. I’d love to continue to work with USM.”
In addition to educating students on food systems and their external relationships, USM’s Food Studies program also seeks to give them applicable real-world skills, ranging from hospitality and entrepreneurship to social justice policy and activism.
For that reason, Martin doesn’t see the field as just about nutrition and agriculture, but more about how multiple factors work together to influence the food system as a whole.
“To me, Food Studies is a discipline for everyone,” Martin said. “Our food system is incredibly interconnected. Because of this, it is easy to find an avenue of the food system that interests you.”
Martin said she isn’t sure of her career goals, but is exploring the idea of graduate school to study sustainable agriculture.
“Regardless of what I do, I just want it to be helping someone. I just want to feel like I’m making a difference,” she said.
Martin said the Food Studies program at USM has opened many doors for her.
Not only is she giving back to her community through her work at Tidewater Farm, she’s getting paid for it while earning college credit. She also earned credit for helping the Food Studies program host the Northeast’s first-ever Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit.
More than 500 students, faculty and activists from around the world attended the summit, held at USM in March, to discuss the causes of hunger and to brainstorm ways to take effective action at home and abroad.
“For someone like me [Food Studies has] really helped me decide what to do as a confused student,” she said.
Like many USM students, Martin prefers learning through hands-on experience rather than, she admits, sitting in a classroom. She said her work outside of USM, internship included, has helped mold her into the learner she is today.
For the entire month of January in 2018, Martin traveled to the Philippines with International Volunteer HQ — a volunteer travel company that works in over 40 destinations around the world — to do environmental service work in local mangrove forests.
The shrubs help prevent coastal erosion, and are endangered. Among her many responsibilities, Martin said, was replanting the mangroves for rehabilitation purposes. She also helped clean beaches and worked in a local garden, an experience she said has stuck with her more than a year later.
“I remember going to the garden, working with the locals there and just hearing their stories and struggles with food,” she said. “The people with the least always get the worst end of the deal with climate change, and to hear how grateful they were with so little — and for us to be there — was really inspiring as well.”
And — just as we are all connected by food — Martin said her favorite memories from her time in the Philippines were those spent over meals with locals and her fellow volunteers.
“No matter where you are in the world, you can feel safe and comfortable with others when you are sharing a meal,” she said.
Story and portraits by Alan Bennett // Office of Public Affairs
Philippines photos courtesy of Eden Martin
This past year has been one to remember at the University of Southern Maine (USM). From historic achievements — including the passage of a $49 million bond package for the University of Maine System — to major gifts that will benefit our students, staff, faculty and community for generations to come, this year is one we will never forget.
We’re rounding up our 10 best news stories of the year (plus a few we couldn’t ignore). In this immersive media piece, you’ll find features that celebrate our students, the achievements of our alumni and ones that demonstrate USM’s growing reach into the regional community. Watch interviews with professors discussing their research; read how students went above and beyond in their fields of study; and take in just what it means to be The University of Everyone — It’s been a great year to be a Husky.
View the piece below or on Adobe Spark.
Created and compiled by Alan Bennett, Digital and Social Media Specialist.
A list of businesses owned and/or operated by University of Southern Maine (USM) alumni, compiled by the USM Foundation, is now available.
The list highlights nearly three dozen businesses comprised of restaurants, retail stores, health and wellness programs, arts and photography resources and more. An interactive map is available (displayed below), organized out by categories.
Navigate the map to see where businesses are booming (they’re not all in Maine!) or use the sidebar to find them by category. Icons accompanying businesses identify their areas of focus; businesses bearing the WiFi symbol (reception waves) indicate businesses that operate through e-commerce/primarily online.
For Seth Percy, being accepted into the University of Southern Maine was a dream come true.
The 25-year-old electrical engineering student from Bath has come a long way from his origins. Born in Colorado and having moved to Maine as a child, Percy is no stranger to the rigors of the real world.
He began lobstering in Harpswell, Maine, starting shortly after high school, a line of work he says taught him self-discipline and respect for the trade that is so important to Maine’s economy.
But now in his senior year, and having picked up a concentration in computer engineering, Percy has realized both his passion for and potential in the field of engineering.
“I really liked to take things apart and put them back together. … There’s something about it that made me feel fulfilled — it gave me an opportunity to express my creative side in a way I felt no other way quite captured,” Percy said.
It was a passion that began in his childhood. But the desire to create, to solve problems, he said, is more personal than childhood curiosity.
When, in Percy’s younger years a friend sustained a traumatic injury, he began to wonder not just if, but how, he could have helped change the outcome. It was an experience, he said, that inspired his desire to help others.
Enter the field of robotics — specifically, medical robotics, which Percy is interested in pursuing after he graduates in May.
Percy is currently working with Carlos Lück, associate professor of electrical engineering, to modify and program a desktop manipulator (called Microbot) to perform tasks based on Lück’s own Ph.D. dissertation and principles of redundant manipulation, optimization and semi-singularity.
Plainly, Lück said, the process is closely related to artificial intelligence (AI) in that it involves the optimization of a path — a roadmap — with a starting point and ending destination.
Percy was awarded a fellowship from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) — a scholarly program at USM that funds student and collaborative research projects from across all disciplines — to complete his project and study in the university’s Robotics and Intelligence Systems Laboratory.
The lab features six Microbots in support of the laboratory component of Dr. Luck’s Introduction to Robotics course; an additional Microbot for research use; five industrial robots: a fully-dexterous Stäubli manipulator, two SCARA robots and two Scorbots; plus several robotic devices that students have designed and built over the years as part of their senior project experience.
Percy’s entrée into the world of robotics — coupled with his interest in medicine — comes as medical technology advances have allowed for robots to make more of an appearance in surgical departments across the country.
According to the Portland Press Herald, there are more than 500,000 robot-assisted surgeries in the United States each year, and one in three surgeries will be performed by robots by the early 2020s.
Maine Medical Center in Portland — which has three medical robots — performed 1,040 robot-assisted surgeries last year; in 2012, the hospital performed 462. Experts say the devices require smaller incisions than traditional surgical methods, making procedures less invasive with shorter healing times. Robots can also prevent strain on doctors by performing complicated movements at difficult angles.
“I always saw robotics as something our society is destined to integrate. It betters our lives in ways some people don’t take the time to realize,” said Percy, whose brother is currently pursuing medicine to become an M.D. “It’s something (he and I) always just felt passionate about bringing together — robotics and medicine. We see a lot more of that technology pushing into the (medical) field.”
“When you think that robotics is in the hospitals, the conclusion is that health care needs engineers as much as it needs doctors and nurses,” Lück said. “Engineers are, by training, designers and problem solvers. … Engineers employ their skills not just for manufacturing — they are the problem-solvers of our society, and that transcends manufacturing. In a modern society, engineers touch about every aspect of our lives.
“Engineering is not just about the technical content; it is a way of thinking,” Lück added. “Robotics aims to use computers to accomplish a physical action, be it in manufacturing, health care, space exploration, you name it. … USM has a robust program in robotics to prepare engineers for this exciting field.”
For Percy, the future possibilities are endless.
“I’ve never liked to put limitations on myself. I have always just found a lot of happiness in helping people — that’s one reason why I gravitated toward medical robotics,” he said.
When he graduates in the spring, Percy may study law, or go to medical school, he’s not sure yet — but one thing is certain: he’s more than ready to enter Maine’s workforce. In addition to receiving a UROP, Percy has served as a teaching assistant and tutor for the Department of Engineering, helping put together labs for entry-level courses and grading course materials.
“Becoming a teaching assistant is a contribution to the department, but most importantly it’s an opportunity for the student to go beyond the collection of classes that entails a degree and turn that into a true endeavor,” said Lück. “In this sense, Seth’s career does not begin after he graduates. Seth’s career is, in fact, starting right here.”
Percy isn’t alone.
The number of engineering students studying at USM has doubled over the past decade, according to department chair Mariusz Jankowski, and the department has provided internships to one or more students at more than 70 companies.
Half of the students enrolled in the department’s programs are adult-learners seeking a second career, and two-thirds of engineering graduates stay in Maine on average following graduation.
USM has graduated more than 160 skilled engineers in the past five years and, as the university explores new undergraduate engineering programs, that number is likely to grow. One of these advancements is a potential new major in computer engineering.
“Everything is computer-driven these days,” Lück said. “There is huge potential for growth, and a high demand in the area, both in Greater Portland and nationally. That’s why we’ve targeted computer engineering for investment, which will lead to a separately-accredited program.”
Other investments include majors in industrial engineering and in engineering science.
These major advancements in programming, plus the department’s high standards of excellence, rigorous programming and accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) are among the many reasons why Percy said he’s glad he chose USM for his studies.
“Walking away from here you really have that feeling that you are ready to get out in the field and fully participate in the profession,” Percy said. “You really can’t trade that for anything.”
Story and photos by Alan Bennett, Office of Public Affairs
There are many great stories to be told from the Class of 2018, and we’d like to share just a few of them here. Watch as several of our featured graduating students share how they have made the most out of their time here at USM. Not only have they excelled in their classrooms, but they have also achieved success by engaging in their campus and their surrounding communities.
All videos produced by Alan Bennett for the USM Office of Public Affairs.
Maine is under assault by the European green crab, an invasive species that feeds on clam beds and has been linked to the decline of the soft-shell clam industry. And with climate change a daily threat, populations of the crabs continue to rise in Maine and New England.
In fact, the value of last year’s harvest soft-shell clams — which Maine produces more than any other state — dipped nearly $4 million, the lowest harvest of soft-shell clams in Maine in decades, largely attributed to green crabs.
While much research has focused on the potential impact of the green crab invasion, research done at the University of Southern Maine (USM) is focusing its efforts on eradicating the species before it’s too late.
Erica Ferelli, a recent graduate of USM and intern at Manomet, is working with fellow alumnus Marissa McMahan, senior fisheries specialist at Manomet, to spearhead the development of a commercial green crab fishery in Maine.
The goal: save one industry and bolster another by removing the invasive species from the environment while developing a culinary market for them.
It’s just one example of many ways USM is working with community and corporate partners to get students out of the classroom and into their fields of interest while solving real-world problems close to home.
“We want to find a way to mitigate the harmful impacts of that invasive species, and one of the ways to do that is develop a fishery,” McMahan said in an appearance on “The USM Update,” USM’s monthly cable access show, in April. “It’s not a wild, radical idea because there are culinary green crab products that exist in other countries that are worth a lot of money. It’s very lucrative.”
So lucrative are green crabs, McMahan told NECN, NewsCenter Maine and NBC Boston on Wednesday, some Maine fishermen have sold them to local restaurants for $3 for each small crab or about $20 per pound. In Brunswick — where Manomet has a satellite office — Brunswick Inn Executive Chef Ali Waks has been experimenting with green crabs. She’s made green crab dip, bouillabaisse, broth and even tempura green crabs.
“There’s so much flavor there,” Waks told reporter Danielle Waugh.
Erica Ferelli’s ongoing experience began last fall when, in class with Assistant Professor of Biology Rachel Lasley-Rasher, she and her classmates ventured to Kettle Cove in Cape Elizabeth to examine and measure the crabs which, when their shells are soft, are harvested.
In her ongoing internship, Ferrelli is analyzing data and monitoring green crab populations. This summer she has worked alongside McMahan gaining valuable, hands-on experience with field science, marketing and industry.
She said that hands-on experience primed her for a career after graduation.
“It makes everything applicable that I’ve learned in class,” she said. “There’s definitely a connection.”
Lasley-Rasher said it’s a goal of hers to get students out of the classroom and into the field, in order to address real-world problems.
“There are so many organizations in Casco Bay that are doing interesting work in marine science and marine ecology,” Lasley-Rasher said. “I really wanted my students to get out and collect data that matters.”
That hands-on work, she said, is what separates USM students apart from the rest when it comes to starting their careers.
“I think it’s becoming appreciated more and more that internships are so important, if not essential, to getting a job after graduation,” Lasley-Rasher said. “What I want is for the students to just have an experience where they get a flavor for what a job in that field could offer.”
Those who have had prior experience in the field, McMahan said, are ideal candidates.
“When I’m looking for potential research technicians, I want to see that they’ve had hands-on experience,” she said. “We want to see that people can hit the ground running.”
By Alan Bennett / Office of Public Affairs
Research photos courtesy Marissa McMahan
Restaurant photo courtesy Danielle Waugh
Brent Kraushaar, a senior in USM’s Accelerated Nursing program, has launched an awareness campaign focused on the chemical properties of arsenic and its ability to contaminate Maine’s drinking water wells.
Through the USM School of Nursing’s L/A Community CARE Partnership — a clinical program that focuses on public outreach regarding cancer prevention — Kraushaar has produced a 15-minute webcast highlighting the dangers of arsenic, which he says is considered the world’s most significant chemical drinking water contaminant.
“My personal project this semester focuses on providing public education regarding arsenic contamination in private drinking water wells, and about new state money available to help financially disadvantaged Mainers treat/test their water,” he told the Fiddlehead Focus, which highlighted Kraushaar’s project in late June.
Arsenic, an odorless, tasteless element, is known to cause cancers of the skin, bladder and lungs, and has been found in dangerous levels in the groundwater in several regions of the state. Some of Maine’s water wells, Kraushaar said, have tested at over 50 times higher than the maximum “safe” concentration of of 10 micrograms per litre (mcg/L).
Kraushaar, 30, came to Maine from Southern California with the desire to live somewhere new and exciting, and was drawn to Southern Maine’s abundance of nursing programs. He said USM’s accelerated program was his best option.
“I’ve kind of always toyed with the idea of something health-related. I became an EMT and worked on an ambulance for a while and just decided this is the career I thought I would enjoy seeing myself working in,” he said, adding that his wife is also a nurse.
Previously, in Southern California, Kraushaar worked in government air pollution control. There, he inspected pollution-emitting facilities, reviewed environmental impact reports and calculated emissions in a variety of settings. That interest in environmental pollution, he said, poured over into his interest for examining arsenic once he came to Maine.
“(Arsenic) is a big issue and topic in Maine … and speaking with our partners in the community, they were saying there’s just not a lot of awareness.”
The CARE Partnership, one of many within USM’s School of Nursing, partners students with professionals, members and organizations of Maine communities to share and teach cancer prevention strategies and awareness in a variety of settings with the overarching goal of promoting health and wellness.
Students may work in middle schools, high schools and on college campuses; in senior centers; within workplaces and in recreational settings where they gain experiential knowledge.
Cynthia Randall, assistant professor of nursing at USM and instructor of the CARE Partnership, said the program exposes students to diverse communities with various socioeconomic, ethnic, political and ideological backgrounds — an experience that puts them ahead of the curve for when they graduate.
“The experiential learning opportunities they have in this course can give them (such) experiences in leadership and leading health initiatives … that can give them that extra edge when looking for work after they graduate,” Randall said. “Nursing organizations look for these leadership characteristics in individuals … These partnerships allow students to have these unique opportunities to develop those leadership skills early.”
For Kraushaar — who will receive his bachelor’s degree at a pinning ceremony in late August — the time spent working with community populations gave him a deeper knowledge of Maine’s people, and what their needs are for care.
“Moving to Maine from another state and sort of realizing the differences within the state here politically and economically, being part of this university and being exposed to different facilities within the state” was beneficial, he said. “Maine is a unique setting.”
The CARE Partnership also taught him that nursing is a more complex profession than most generally assume.
“I think it’s easy for us in society and as students to just view a nurse’s role in the acute care setting,” he said. “The scope of nursing is so far beyond just bedside care in a hospital environment, and respecting that our role goes from prevention to treatment and this wide range of nursing care.”
That understanding, Randall said, is another benefit of the CARE Partnership and USM’s other community nursing programs.
“Our nursing students have the ability to assess, plan, implement and evaluate their nursing interventions in our community and reflect more deeply about an individual, family or population’s journey with health and wellness,” she said. “Their projects or nursing interventions in the community provide them with practical skills in leadership and leading initiatives on a larger scale impacting the population they serve.”
Watch Kraushaar’s presentation, “Arsenic in Public Drinking Water Wells: What You Should Know,” below, and call the Maine CDC public information line at (207) 287-4311 or visit the Maine CDC website for more information and factsheets.
On a hot and humid day in early August, at the International Marine Terminal (IMT) on Commercial Street in Portland, wearing a hard hat and yellow vest, Shaelan Donovan ’18 posed for a photo against a blue shipping container.
Surrounded by massive machines lifting the metal boxes, stacking them into neat rows, the senior Economics student at the University of Southern Maine (USM) looked out over the container yard.
“It’s good to be back,” said Donovan, who hails from Kennebunk and interned at the IMT in the spring of 2017.
She recently returned from Iceland, where through a unique partnership between USM and Reykjavík University (RU), she was able to take business classes while advancing her career in international trade — the first USM student to do so.
“It’s interesting because (Reykjavík) is definitely bigger than Portland, but it’s similar,” she said of the Nordic country’s capital.
The two universities signed documents to develop a comprehensive academic partnership in 2016. In 2017, USM President Glenn Cummings and Ari Kristinn Jónsson, president of RU, expanded their relationship to provide more opportunities for student and faculty exchanges with a particular focus on internships.
While Donovan is the first USM student selected to take advantage of the formal exchange program with RU, she’s certainly not the first to explore what Iceland has to offer.
In the summer months of 2017, several groups traveled to Iceland from USM — including students from the Tourism and Hospitality Program, the Honors Program, Maine Regulatory Training and Ethics Center, the USM School of Business and the Muskie School of Public Service — all taking in the incredible landscapes and learning about the Icelandic way of life.
But Donovan’s exchange was trailblazing.
Donovan started her voyage in international trade at the IMT, where she worked as an intern during the spring semester of 2017 performing research projects and building business systems for the terminal’s clients. She said the experience was transformational in her understanding of global economics.
“My economics degree is really important for me,” she said.
While internships at the IMT are no doubt beneficial for students as they gain real-world experience, they also have tremendous rewards for those charged with managing Maine’s imports and exports.
David Arnold, chief executive officer of Soli DG, the company that manages the IMT on behalf of the Maine Port Authority, said Donovan was well-prepared for her work on the terminal. He credited her education at USM for giving her the skills necessary to keep up with the workload.
“One thing the job requires is to be able to change gears quickly … Shaelan had no trouble working in that fast-paced, rapidly-changing environment,” Arnold said. “Her education served her well. She did phenomenal work.”
Trade supports 180,500 — or 1 in 4 — Maine jobs, according to the Maine International Trade Center (MITC), of which USM is a part. Since 2009, Maine jobs related to trade increased by 25.9 percent, meaning the need for skilled workers is apparent.
“The workplace is only as good as its people, so bringing in people with a good attitude who are willing to learn and do great work, like Shaelan, can make a huge difference,” Arnold said. “As a small port, we’re constantly trying to grow and innovate so the impact that one person can have is massive, good or bad.”
Icelandic shipping company Eimskip selected Portland as its North American headquarters in 2013, and the market reach that Maine businesses have as a result of Eimskip service has increased dramatically, Arnold said. According to the MITC, international container shipments from Maine increased by over 600 percent since 2009.
“Maine businesses have access to markets they’ve never had access to before,” Arnold said. “That really sets us up to grow.”
Donovan said she was drawn to the IMT because it functions as an economic linchpin for the state.
“What better avenue could there be to grow our economy?” she said.
Eimskip currently operates 60 offices in a network of 48 total countries, and employs about 1,700 people worldwide. It operates 21 vessels sailing on six routes in the North Atlantic.
According to Ross Hickey, assistant provost for Research Integrity at USM, when the Eimskip-Portland partnership was launched, it became as affordable to ship goods to Norway as it is to truck them to southern New Jersey. This principle of cost-based geography is critical to Maine’s continued expansion in the North Atlantic.
“Building ties with Iceland is a vitally important element in connecting to the North Atlantic culturally, academically and economically,” Hickey said.
Since 2013, when Eimskip first arrived in Portland, container volumes through the IMT have doubled. The Maine Port Authority and the Maine Department of Transportation have spearheaded a $20 million expansion of the facility that includes a new crane, a new reach stacker, improvements to rail facilities, construction of a new maintenance and operations facility, as well as improvements to the pier, Arnold said.
There were 9,682 container moves by water in 2017, up from 8,790 the year prior, Arnold said, in part because Eimskip now does a weekly run to the terminal as it delivers a variety of goods, including fish, foodstuffs, machinery and equipment.
Hickey said the partnerships between USM and RU, and Portland and Iceland directly benefit both economies.
“This partnership with RU will benefit our (and their) students by providing internship opportunities in the companies developing these growing business ties with Iceland and other countries in the North Atlantic,” Hickey said.
While abroad, Donovan worked in container management at Eimskip’s headquarters in Reykjavik, putting her studies in economics and business to work. Although, it wasn’t the first time she’d gotten a behind-the-scenes look at how the company does business.
Following the agreement between USM and RU, Eimskip announced a pilot project aimed at placing USM students in its Iceland office, and students from RU in its Portland office. Donovan took part in the project — working alongside the nearly 900 workers at the company’s headquarters in Reykjavik.
“What I appreciated most was my chance to do an internship at a foreign company,” she said. “This experience that I get to put onto my resume, employers will see that and think, ‘Wow that’s really unique.’”
While working at Eimskip in Reykjavik, Donovan said she was able to put into perspective how Maine’s economic limitations — a shrinking workforce and dependence on tourism dollars — can be remedied through a deeper focus on international collaboration.
“In my program, I thought a lot about Maine’s unique position — we’re economically struggling and one of the least ‘developed’ states, yet that lack of development is typically what people identify as being attractive to them,” Donovan said. “I’m interested in what we can do going forward to grow and develop Maine in sustainable, responsible ways, while maintaining the quality of life we enjoy now.”
Donovan said Maine can bolster its economic impact by taking advantage of its natural resources — including seafood, agriculture and acres of undeveloped public lands — in innovative ways; by growing and empowering responsible Maine companies; and by attracting more people to live in the state.
“I feel really strongly about growing Maine,” she said. “We need to empower Maine workers and get them out into the global climate.”
She said the similarities between Maine and Iceland, which has about one-fourth of Maine’s entire population, provide valuable lessons for each other as both countries expand their reach into the Arctic and North Atlantic.
Both locations are geographically isolated, she said, with rural populations that are becoming increasingly more difficult to care for. In Maine, she added, there is an over-reliance on tourism; Iceland, however, is just beginning its foray into the tourism economy.
“While Maine is aging and struggling, Iceland is growing,” she said. “Maine needs the expertise, technology and energy that Iceland has, particularly when it comes to supporting innovative companies, providing 21st century infrastructure and attracting young workers … It’s going to be so critical to make these knowledge exchanges happen, and, because of USM’s initiative, we know they’re going to occur at USM, Portland and Reykjavik.”
While last semester’s program between USM and RU was just a pilot, with one student from each university participating, Hickey said the program will be expanded to two students from each university this next year.
These students will be selected through a competitive process in the fall semester, he said, with the two selected USM students being provided scholarships to cover half of their expenses and tuition to travel abroad for the spring semester.
The program will be used as a template that will be replicated in USM’s recently-announced partnership with Norway’s University of Tromsø. That agreement, announced in June, is aimed at exchanges, research and ongoing collaboration.
The University of Tromsø, located in northern Norway, describes itself as the northernmost university in the world. Demographically, it resembles USM: the average age of its 15,000 students is 29 years old, and the school is working hard to meet regional shortages of teachers, nurses and engineers.
“Other locations in the North Atlantic will be selected as well, building off the success of this model,” Hickey said.
Donovan, who was recently hired as a freight forwarder at a company in Falmouth, praised USM for its pioneering partnerships with Arctic and North Atlantic institutions of higher learning, and for putting her education — and ultimately her career — first.
“Overall, my opportunity in Iceland, along with my other internships and classroom experiences, proves how flexible and innovative USM is prepared to be in a changing world. I have only ever encountered faculty, staff, and administrators who were caring, responsive, and student-focused,” she said. “I know incredible opportunities will be opened to Maine as our connection to the North Atlantic deepens, and that will be due in large part to USM’s initiative.”
Story and photos by Alan Bennett / Office of Public Affairs
The University of Southern Maine engineers Maine’s economy — literally. With majors in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, graduates from the University’s Department of Engineering are prepared to meet the needs of today, including a growing demand for skilled labor in and around the state of Maine.
Here, we’ve mapped out news stories highlighting USM’s mechanical and electrical engineering programs, both of which are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).