ORONO — The University of Maine will celebrate the placement of the last beam atop the structural steel frame of the new Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center during a virtual Topping Off Ceremony. 

The livestreamed ceremony, a tradition in building construction, is tentatively scheduled for 1 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12, pending weather conditions and the construction schedule. Confirmation of the event date will be available on the University of Maine Foundation website.

Earlier this month, Consigli Construction made the painted beam available on campus for members of the UMaine community to sign in person, following all health and safety protocols. In addition, a virtual beam signing is online.

A time capsule welded to the beam will include messages, as well as a Crosby Clip. Patented by Dexter, Maine native and UMaine mechanical engineering alumnus Oliver Crosby, Class of 1876, the Crosby Clip is still in use today as an essential tool in steel construction. The Crosby Clip will be used to hoist the beam into place during the Topping Off Ceremony. Oliver Crosby’s company, American Hoist & Derrick, made the world’s first crawler mounted crane, like the one being used to lift the beam.

Construction of UMaine’s 108,000-square-foot engineering facility began in May 2020, with workers following appropriate COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. 

“This is a fantastic milestone for the UMaine community and the state,” says UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “When the Ferland Center is dedicated in August 2022, it will provide amazing opportunities for collaborative, cross-discipline learning, and the creation of practical innovations by our students and faculty, such as those patented by alumnus Oliver Crosby. This Engineering Education and Design Center will be key to helping meet Maine’s workforce and economic needs. And we will have a beautiful facility to help attract diverse and innovative students from Maine and beyond.”

The Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center will house the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering Program, and teaching laboratories for the Mechanical Engineering Technology Program. It also will provide collaborative learning classrooms that will serve the entire campus, and work space for UMaine engineering majors to complete their senior capstone projects.

“A record $78 million in public and private support has been raised for the Ferland Center, which will have tremendous impact on the sons and daughters of Maine,” says Jeffery Mills, President of the University of Maine Foundation.

The building’s $10 million naming gift, the largest single gift in UMaine history, came from Skowhegan natives E. James “Jim” Ferland ’64 and Eileen P. Ferland, and was announced in 2018.  

“This facility is key to advancing the Maine College of Engineering, Computing and Information Science, the University of Maine System and our state,” says Chancellor Dannel Malloy. “Continuing to increase enrollment in engineering and computing to produce the talent needed by industry is critical to Maine’s economy. The project itself is a jobs-creator and includes UMaine engineering alumni returning to their alma mater to contribute to its design and construction. This facility ushers in a transformation for higher education in Maine.”


WBRC Architects Engineers, based in Bangor, and Ellenzweig of Boston designed the Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center; Consigli Construction of Milford, Massachusetts and Portland, Maine is leading its construction. 

“Ferland EEDC will become the heart of engineering education at the University of Maine,” says Dana Humphrey, dean of the College of Engineering. “It will help to retain talented Maine students, as well as attract even more from out of state. This talent pool will provide the engineering graduates and new innovations critical to moving Maine’s economy forward.”