Alumni Profile: Benjamin Foster

Degrees:

BS Civil Engineering, 1996

MS Structural Engineering, 1998

Occupation: Bridge Maintenance Engineer for MaineDOT

Research Interests: Structural and bridge engineering

Advisor: Dr. Habib Dagher

Email: Ben.Foster@maine.gov

Bio

Ben is a bridge maintenance engineer for MaineDOT from Old Town, Maine. He graduated with a master’s degree in structural engineering from UMaine in 1998. While he was an undergraduate, Ben was approached by Dr. Habib Dagher, the founder of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center. Habib asked if Ben was interested in becoming a graduate student, and shortly afterwards, Ben became an employee at the Center, which was still recently founded. During his time with the Center, Ben’s research focused on increasing the flexural capacity of timber beams using fiber reinforced polymers.

According to Ben, his time with the Center was both a positive and formative experience for him. Ben says that as the Center’s facilities were still being improved while he was there, he enjoyed the comradery with his fellow students the most. He feels that the main skills and lessons he took away from his time with the Center were problem solving, the ability to think out of the box, leadership, and responsibility.

When he was asked if he would recommend that students intern at the Center, Ben said, “Yes, the Center is on the cutting edge of structural research. The research often results in a solutions to real world problems.”

Ben attributes Habib as being essential in obtaining his first position after he graduated with his master’s, as Habib informed Ben about the position as he thought it would be a good fit for Ben. Additionally, Ben feels that the Center helped prepare him for his current work as the Center gave him experience with the challenges which emerge in structural engineering and allowed him to become familiar with composite materials.

Currently, Ben is responsible for the safety of Maine’s public highway and railroad bridges. His daily activities regard participating in the bridge inspection program, oversight of overload moves, and maintenance engineering tasks. Ben’s goal as a professional is to maintain safe and long lasting bridges for those who travel and live in Maine. His long term goal is to retire.