Building a Strong Foundation

The University of Maine Pulp and Paper Foundation (UMPPF) is widely recognized for its long-running scholarship program. For decades, it has supported undergraduate students in engineering and technical programs. Those scholarship dollars are essential to a broader commitment to creating value for the pulp and paper industry through long-term investments in talent, innovation, and infrastructure.

Established in 1950, UMPPF has been diligently investing donations from companies, organizations, families, and individuals for nearly 70 years. These investments, largely in the form of student scholarships, have helped build capabilities, expertise, and a workforce that demonstrate UMPPF’s expansive commitment to the future of the pulp and paper industry.

These combined investments have enabled the growth of a worldwide workforce in the pulp and paper industry that is driving innovation for the future. From supporting faculty research to fundraising for the Jenness Hall expansion in 1986, UMPPF and its members have invested millions of dollars. Like any investment, though, some tending is required.  Read on for how you can help keep these investments returning value.


The Foundation Built: Capabilities

UMaine’s Process Development Center (PDC) located in Jenness Hall is a facility without equal. Home to a pilot paper machine, pilot coater, paper testing lab, and six pilot refiners, the PDC was built with $3 million in funds raised by UMPPF to match equivalent state funding. This incredible project began in 1974 and was made possible by 140 companies that donated monies and/or equipment to expand Jenness and create this unique research facility. Click here to read more about how industry supported the growth of the Process Development Center.

This investment in capabilities not only provided access to pilot scale equipment for research projects, but also offered students a chance to work at the PDC. More importantly, the expansion of Jenness Hall provided the industry with a valuable R&D resource. Click here to read more about how industry supported the growth of the Process Development Center.

Since 1987, the PDC has been working with industry to help develop new products, reduce costs and launch new technologies. The initial investment by industry was tremendous, but since then investments have been minimal with very little industry support over the last ten years. As a result, most of the equipment in the pilot plant at the PDC is now over 30 years old and targeted toward fine papers—a shrinking market segment. This investment needs a little tending.


The Foundation Built: Expertise

Did you know that UMPPF provides support to faculty in the Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Department? As UMaine is a research university, faculty need to secure grants from agencies to fund graduate and undergraduate students the ability to work on research projects. Many of these granting agencies, such as the National Science Foundation or the Department of Energy, focus on fundamental principles or new technologies that are in the early R&D stage. Funding from UMPPF enables researchers to select projects that directly relate to current industry needs. These funds also assist faculty who may be new to pulp and paper and are developing their research programs.

Through this research funding, the Foundation is supporting the growth of knowledge that will benefit the industry as a whole. The graduate and undergraduate students who work for these faculty bring knowledge and expertise to the broader pulp and paper industry when they enter the workforce, helping to drive innovation.

Some of the faculty supported include:

Douglas W. Bousfield, Calder Professor, Chemical Engineering – coating processes, web formation and barrier properties of coatings
Thomas J. Schwartz, Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering – upgrading platform molecules from biocatalytic transformation of biomass
Caitlin Howell, Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering – applying bio interfaces and bio-inspired technologies on paper


The Foundation Built: A Workforce

The Foundation has funded scholarships for well over 4,500 students since its doors opened in 1950. UMPPF’s direct investment in this area, combined with support for faculty research that has trickled down to students and the long-running Summer Pulp and Paper Institute, has resulted in thousands of people who have joined the global pulp and paper workforce.

  • Since 2014, the Foundation has provided an average of $640,000 in scholarship to students each year
  • In 2021 alone, the Foundation provided $875,000 in scholarships
  • The Summer Pulp and Paper Institute, hosted for over 20 years, brought in classes of over 25 professionals to learn about pulp and paper.

How You Can Help: Tend Your Investment
The companies, families and individuals who have invested millions of dollars in the Foundation’s activities for over 70 years should be proud of this record. More than ever, UMPPF needs your support to keep the Foundation’s vital support mechanisms going and growing.

What individuals can do – Scholarship funds are needed to attract student talent to the industry. Promising students have many options and providing scholarships that eliminate or minimize debt is one way to ensure that the best and brightest consider careers in pulp and paper.

What companies can do – Donate time or equipment to the Process Development Center or other labs on campus. State-of-the-art facilities are needed to attract top students in today’s competitive market and those students will become your future employees.  Researchers need access to pilot-scale equipment to conduct industry-relevant work.

Come visit the University of Maine to see what UMPPF has built with your investments and help keep that foundation strong for the future.

This article was written by Colleen Walker, Director of the Process Development Center at the University of Maine. Discover the incredible innovations happening at the PDC.