ORONO, Maine — A local consulting firm with strong ties to the University of Maine in Orono has pledged $100,000 to maintain and upgrade a research laboratory for environmental engineering students.
Jim Parker and Shawn Small, both 1970 graduates of UM, recently joined President Robert Kennedy and College of Engineering Dean Dana Humphrey for the dedication of the CES Inc. Environmental Chemistry Laboratory.
The two UM alumni started CES in 1978 in Brewer offering engineering and consulting services throughout eastern Maine. The company has expanded to include offices in Machias, Presque Isle and Southwest Harbor.
Small and Parker said the company’s donation was a way to say thank you for the education they received at UM.
“I grew up Down East as a fisherman,” Parker said. “My career is a result of the education I got at UMaine. Now I can afford to help make sure the environmental chemistry lab has good quality equipment so the young people coming up can benefit.”
In addition to its co-founders, CES has had success with UM graduates. All five shareholders and eight of the nine members of the company’s board of directors have degrees from Maine’s flagship university. Parker and Small also estimated that more than half of CES’ 60 employees received their education in Orono.
Engineering faculty at UM praised the generous gift.
“We need to maintain materials and instrumentation, and we need to purchase additional instrumentation required by new analytical techniques that are continually being developed,” said Aria Amirbahman, associate professor of environmental engineering.
“Students can see, touch and smell how the book-based theory applies, and also see the limitations of theories and what complications can arise,” added Eric Landis, chairman of the civil and environmental engineering department.