The University of Southern Maine has announced a collaboration that will bring the Composite Engineering Research Laboratory to its Michael E. Dubyak Center for Digital Science and Innovation.

The partnership between the university and the Maine Composites Alliance will bring $1.5 million worth of equipment to the Portland campus. The Composite Engineering Research Laboratory is an independent lab that specializes in education, analytical services and product development.

The laboratory will be in the Dubyak Center, which was established in October with a $1 million donation from Michael Dubyak, the current chair and former president and CEO of Wex.

Stephen Von Vogt, managing director of the Maine Composites Alliance, said the organization sought out a relationship with USM to “solve the problem of workforce development.”

“Being at USM will allow us to teach students about materials science, engage them in technical problems that CERL is solving for industry, and then place them with companies in Maine and New England that desperately need their assistance,” Von Vogt said in a statement.

Composites are made by chemically bonding fibers from various sources, such as Kevlar and resin, a process that creates a super strong material. They are increasingly used in industries such as boat-building and construction, which are looking for workers with composites experience and skills.

Officials from USM and the Maine Composites Alliance will officially announce the collaboration Friday at the university’s Portland campus.

“USM’s exciting new partnership with CERL is another terrific example of our commitment to meet the needs of Maine employers, while at the same time providing our students with real-world, hands-on experience,” USM President Glenn Cummings said in a statement. “The equipment our students will be working with in the CERL research lab will help prepare them for a wide array of high-tech, in-demand jobs upon graduation.”

CERL previously was associated with Southern Maine Community College in Brunswick, but that partnership ended in 2015. The lab was then moved to Brunswick Landing’s TechPlace.

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