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P.D. Merrill Makerspace

The P.D. Merrill Makerspace at the University of New England (UNE) is an innovative resource that serves as a laboratory for creation and building. The Makerspace opened in the Spring of 2016 within the Department of Business. Since that time, the Makerspace has been incorporated into numerous courses throughout the College of Arts and Sciences and Westbrook College of Health Professions. A unique feature of UNE’s Makerspace is its intentional accessibility to all students regardless of discipline — from business to marine sciences to occupational therapy to osteopathic medicine — reinforcing the University’s commitment to interdisciplinary and interprofessional teaching and learning. It is also a key resource for the annual Student Innovation Challenge, an idea-stage competition that encourages innovative and sustainable solutions to social, environmental, and health issues facing our society. The P.D. Merrill Charitable Trust has been supporting the Student Innovation Challenge since 2016, with grants to support expenses and provide prizes. Seeing firsthand the importance of the Makerspace to many of the student projects entered in the Challenge, the Merrill Trustees made a grant of $200,000 in 2018 to expand the space.

Makerspace Helps Students Get Maine Lighthouse Off the Grid

The continued success of the Makerspace over the past three years has led to a new gift from the P.D. Merrill Charitable Trust that will be used to help increase the capacity of the Makerspace to support students across the University with an interest in innovation and entrepreneurship. In this context, the Makerspace has moved to a unit within the Office of the Provost to better position it as a university-wide resource. We are currently conducting a national search for a founding director, and funds from the recent gift will be used to add professional staff, bring visiting innovators to UNE to share their expertise with students, establish a presence on UNE’s Portland campus, and continue the Student Innovation Challenge.

The Makerspace is located on the lower level of Decary Hall, room 44.


Student Innovation Challenge

UNE’s Student Innovation Challenge is an idea-stage competition that encourages innovative and sustainable solutions to social, environmental, and health issues facing our society. Winners receive cash awards to help advance their ideas to the next level. You don’t need to be a business major or have business experience to enter the challenge. What you do need is an idea that you believe in and are passionate about.

Whether you are an undergraduate, graduate or online student, you can enter. We encourage you to form transdisciplinary teams composed of undergraduate and graduate students. Throughout the fall and spring semester, we will offer workshops, seminars, and mentoring to help you develop your idea and prepare for the competition.

Learn about UNE's Innovation Challenge

Eligibility, Terms & Conditions

All entrants must:

  • Be a full-time UNE student, undergraduate, graduate, or online.
  • Be a new (pre-launch idea stage) enterprise.
  • Register by February 28, 2019.
  • Present an innovative and sustainable solution to a social, environmental or health issue facing our society.
  • Demonstrate a sustainable business model — financially and ecologically — for a profit or non-profit enterprise.
  • Be an individual or team. We encourage team submissions. There is no limit on team size.
  • If chosen as a finalist, you must attend a prep workshop and be in attendance at the final competition on Saturday, March 30, 2019, to win awards.
  • If chosen as a finalist, you must certify that you own, or have the owner’s permission to use/present all intellectual property utilized in your entry materials, including any technology.
  • If chosen as a finalist, you must agree to allow participant names, description of your entry, photos of your team and video footage of your presentation on the UNE website and in future UNE publicity and publications including social media.
  • Eligibility, Terms & Conditions are subject to change. Please check back for updates.

Professional Staff

Michael Esty

Michael Esty

B.S. Biology B.S computer Science AAS Electronic Technology

Makerspace Technical and Project Specialist