Department of Engineering

USM Mechanical Engineering Student Wins UMaine Business Challenge

The University of Southern Maine is pleased to announce that USM Mechanical Engineering student Tom Myers has won the 2013 UMaine Business Challenge, a student business plan competition based at the University of Maine in Orono.

Tom’s business plan involves the development of a local firewood business along with plans for an innovative, high-capacity mechanism to cut and process cordwood from full tree length logs. Tom will receive a $5,000 cash prize and consulting services to promote and market his company, ABC Firewood. Tom was also awarded a new Technology Prize, generously funded by the Maine Technology InstituteBlackstone Accelerates Growth, the University of Maine, and the University of Southern Maine Manufacturing Applications Center. The Technology Prize winner is granted a client spot in Campus Ventures, USM’s commercialization accelerator program. 

The winners were announced during a celebration at the University of Maine's Buchanan Alumni House on April 20, 2013. All four finalists received free business counseling valued at well over $5,000  from several independent Maine businesses supporting the program.

“I’m surprised, excited and overwhelmed,” Myers said during the celebration. He aims for ABC Firewood to become southern Maine’s leading supplier of high quality, affordable firewood using innovative processes that enable him to keep operating costs low and determine how much moisture is in each piece of firewood. 

The 2013 UMaine Business Challenge is principally operated by UMaine 2010 alums James Morin and Owen McCarthy.  The competition was extended to USM this year as a pilot program, with a goal to extend the competition to all UMaine System branches in 2014. Second place was awarded to Spencer Wood (UMaine Human Growth & Development major) and his product idea the “Body Guard”, a personal fitness training device. Spencer will be awarded $1,000 cash and in-kind services from area businesses.  Tom’s plan was selected from a group of four finalists which also included Henry Bonneau (UMaine Civil Engineering) and Matthew Hodgkin (UMaine Animal Science/Pre-Vet). The four finalists were selected from a field of 17 applicants from UMaine and USM who submitted executive summaries in late 2012. Coordination of the competition at USM is managed by Greg Cavanaugh, Program Manager in USM’s Department of External Programs in the College of Science, Technology & Health.

Tom was recognized for his achievement at the USM College of Science Technology & Health Student Recognition Banquet on Thursday, April 25, 2013. Development of his prototype firewood processing equipment will commence in Summer 2013. 

Special thanks to the Maine Business School for contributions to this news item.