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The Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center

Promising Approaches

Instruction in Government, History, Law, and Democracy

Guided Discussions of Issues and Current Events

Simulations of Democratic Processes


From the AEWC Center web site:  The ASC Laboratory/AEWC Center began in 1991 as a small pilot study (2% of a National Science Foundation [NSF] - Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research [EPSCoR] grant to the University of Maine). The success of this study culminated in 1995, when the University developed the first Fiber-Reinforced-Polymer (FRP)-reinforced timber ocean pier in the world.  Featured in national publications, this 124-foot-long experimental pier used native Maine timbers and was 25% less expensive than steel.   The success of this pilot project and its potential economic benefits for Maine attracted the attention of the US composites and wood industries, state and national media, the Maine legislature, the Maine Science and Technology Foundation (MSTF) , and Maine Governor Angus King. While Maine is the most heavily forested state in the nation, much of the available wood resource is lower grade timber. The ability to reinforce these timbers with FRPs such that they can be used in heavy construction has significant commercial potential.  The AEWC Center provides an interdisciplinary, experiential learning environment introducing students to issues of workplace safety, regulation, cost efficiencies, project management, and human relations.  Students also learn from role models:  faculty coaches and mentors as well as role models from AEWC’s industrial partners (from both local and national companies).

The AEWC center focuses on leadership development by involving our students in all aspects of Center operations.  Students participate in Center governance; they are full research partners included as inventors on patent applications and as co-authors on scholarly papers; they participate fully in the Center’s ISO testing (the only students in the nation to be included in this work); they often assume responsibility for research design; they perform public relations.

Special Features

Civic Learning Goals

  • Civic knowledge:  Identify, define, and describe local problems and their connections to problems on the state and national level; understanding and awareness of public and community issues.
  • Civic skills:  Process and evaluate information for objectivity, accuracy, and point of view; use critical-thinking skills and ethical reasoning to make informed and responsible decisions; use verbal and written communication skills to convey ideas, facts, and opinions in an effective and reasonable manner; work cooperatively with others and develop effective team building practices; effectively advocate individual and shared interests; public speaking; contact public officials; organize meetings to insure that all participants have a voice in the process; active listening/perspective taking; how to become informed about community affairs, political issues, and the processes by which citizens effect change; competencies in achieving group goals; work together to overcome problems.
  • Civic attitudes:  Develop a sense of personal efficacy; build social trust; become confident in one’s capacity to make a difference; strike a reasonable balance between one’s own interest and the common good; value and practice civic duties.

Contact Information

Bryan Pearse, Ph.D.
Professor of Civil Engineering
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
The University of Maine

Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools: Education for Democracy