Meet Grad Student Preston Spicer

Preston Spicer, Graduate Student in Civil & Environmental Engineering, holding an instrument called a Castaway CTD, which directly measures electrical conductivity, temperature, and depth. Conductivity is then used to calculate salinity. The CTD is tossed it in the water with a rope attached, once it hits the bottom, it gets pulled back up to take measurements.

The catamarans seen behind him are used to tow Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs). These directly measure Doppler shift and backscatter in the water column beneath the instrument, and we can then calculate water current velocities.

Name: Preston Spicer
Hometown: Preston, CT
Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Grad Year: 2019

Research Focus: Storm surge dynamics, circulation, and mixing in estuaries.

Why did you choose UMaine to pursue a graduate degree in engineering?

The faculty in the Civil Engineering Department really made me love the program during my Bachelor’s here. During my senior year, I got the “bug” to do more with it…there were a lot of cool directions I could go. My graduate advisers informed me of a couple super cool coastal engineering projects here that I could be involved in, so I jumped on it. Also….Maine is the best state ever. You will never have a boring weekend here if you get out and explore.

What first sparked your interest in pursuing a graduate engineering degree?

I realized I wanted to try out research work. I didn’t enjoy some of my summer internships in industry as much as I would have hoped, so I needed to try something new. Best choice I ever made.

What advice do you have for incoming graduate students?

Don’t do grad school just to do grad school. Find a project that suits you that you are truly interested in, and the rest will be easy. If you do something that you don’t care about, your time here won’t be nearly as enjoyable.

What professor(s) are you working with on your research?

Drs. Kim Huguenard and Lauren Ross

What do you plan/hope to do after graduation?

I know now that I really enjoy research work. Maybe a professor? I plan to pursue my PhD in Civil Engineering at UMaine to continue doing research. Other options would involve being a research scientist? A gig at any coastal research institution would be really cool.

How has UMaine helped you reach those goals?

UMaine has given me two advisers that absolutely rock, a teaching assistantship that pays for my classes and research, and has sent me on multiple trips, both domestic and international, to network with professionals in my field and learn more. I have been very fortunate.