UMaine Technology Awarded Patent
A team from the University of Maine was just awarded a patent for a creating a technology that’s been researched all throughout the world. As Caroline Connolly reports, it’s something they believe could strengthen Maine’s job market.At first glance, it looks like an ordinary wooden beam, but a new technology is doubling its strength.”It’s almost like having a thousand people standing under the beam and pushing upward on it,” said Director of the school’s Advanced Structure Department, Habib Dagher.No man power is required here, though. All the work is really being done by a reinforcement made of fiberglass that lines the bottom of the beam. “This has been a technology that people have been researching for years across the world.”And after five years of trial and error, a team of students and faculty finally got it right.”You do piece by piece, and you don’t really know what the end result is going to look like when you finish it,” said graduate student, Matthew Holman.As Dagher points out, their end product is something that could become a main ingredient in future construction projects.”This could be your garage door header, this could be your basement beam that you build your house with in the future, and this could be a bridge that you could use that cars could go over.”All that at a much lower price. “You’re looking at a reduction in costs of the end beam anywhere of 10, 20, or 30 percent for the same strength.”An incentive that inspired the Maine Department of Transportation to fund part of the research.”We’ve worked and partnered with them in developing this technology to help build bridges using Maine timbers. The advantage of this is eventually creating jobs.”But while the future is bright, Mac Gray, an Associate Professor at the school, says there’s still work to be done. “It’s a little bit of the chicken and the egg. You know, you have to produce these things in some pretty good quantity before you can get the cost down.”They at least have a solid foundation to build on.