Press Release: SMCC and MCA host STEM education event

Thursday, April 9, 10 a.m.-noon

Maine Advanced Technology and Engineering Center

Southern Maine Community College, 29 Sewall St., Brunswick

BRUNSWICK, Maine- The heart of business is technically capable employees. The business of creating technically capable employees starts here. Southern Maine community College staff and students are sharing their expertise in advanced material manufacturing with Maine high school students during a one day workshop in Brunswick.

In preparation for the 7th Annual Wind Blade Challenge, 5 area high school teams will gather at Southern Maine Community College’s state of the art composites facility for a unique hands-on learning opportunity this Thursday. The high school competitors bring wind blades of their own design and innovation and will join forces with SMCC students and faculty to transform a kit of raw, advanced materials into solid, functional wind blades.

The Maine Wind Blade Challenge has been incorporating hands on Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) education for high school students in a state-wide competition held at the University of Maine for each of the last six years. The Wind Blade Challenge provides an avenue to bring together Maine’s exceptional educational, alternative energy and composites manufacturing capabilities and expertise with students, who through this experience are exposed to the skills and knowledge required to become part of this vital and vibrant workforce.

Along with being an excellent educational opportunity and a chance to see the vocational application of composite manufacturing, Wind Blade Challenge provides a path to the future for Maine’s economy for students through the SMCC Composites Program, and local industry partnerships. This activity represents the first stage of capturing the imagination and motivation of talented, skilled, and motivated students on the road to becoming a vital part of the vibrant and growing composites and alternative energy sectors. The exposure to industry leading technical education allows students to experience first-hand the real and exciting careers available right here in their home state.

Southern Maine Community College’s Maine Advanced Technology and Engineering Center, which is also home to the Composites Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) in Brunswick, will be the site for the infusion portion of the wind blade competition. The SMCC composites program directly exposes their students to the hands-on education required by industry, with the program culminating in an industry partnered internship. Forward facing and in-demand skills and career opportunities abound for graduates of SMCC’s unique program. Students have the option to go into high paying careers, or to advance their education towards materials engineering degrees through a cooperative agreement with U-Mass Lowell.

The local competitors attend Freeport High School, Bath Regional Career and Technical Center, and Chewonki School in Wiscasset. The five teams from these area schools will compete against 40 other teams from around the state at the 7th Annual Wind Blade Challenge at the University of Maine in Orono on May 1nd. Led by dedicated teachers from their schools, teams must work together to design and manufacture a wind blade set, as well as show their work through a presentation. Academic and industry professionals will judge the winner based on both power generation and quality of presentation.

Thursday’s event is cohosted by SMCC’s MATEC, CERL and the Maine Composites Alliance.

The Maine Composites Alliance is an alliance of composite businesses in Maine who work together to recognize and promote Maine’s leadership in the international composite industry. We enhance the competitiveness of Maine’s existing composite industry and our members by providing opportunities for new commercial ventures, and by providing education and training for members and their employees.

Wind Blade Challenge was created to inspire, motivate, engage, and introduce students to the world of STEM education, composites and alternative energy with the purpose of building a strong workforce in the composite and alternative energy industries. Students from past competitions are now working in the Maine composites, wind industry and/or continued their education in STEM fields.