County Face: Thomas Wire of New Limerick
Thomas Wire of New Limerick had never been to Aroostook County when he began his freshman year at the University of Maine at Presque Isle in the fall of 2003. Originally from Watford, England, he first came to Maine as a foreign exchange student at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield.
From that time on, he has considered himself a part of many communities in his adopted state, especially in Aroostook County. The friendships he has formed are a few of the reasons why he decided to come back to northern Maine even after he found academic and career opportunities elsewhere.
While at Maine Central Institute, Wire discovered two important things about himself: He enjoyed math and loved forming close bonds with fellow students on the basketball team. He wanted to find a college that would allow him to explore both passions. At UMPI, he majored in mathematics with a minor in business management.
“I always enjoyed math and problem-solving and at the time it made sense to add some business aspects to what I was studying,” Wire said. “But I wasn’t really thinking about where I was going in my career. I was thinking about enjoying what I was studying.”
For Wire, his time at UMPI meant more to him than saving money with lower tuition costs. He developed close relationships with professors and credits them for helping him expand his skills. His classes and involvement with the basketball team gave him more experiences with working as part of a group toward a common goal.
Living on campus helped Wire become more connected to the community. He grew to appreciate the friendly, slower-paced environment of Aroostook County and knew he would return after completing his master’s degree. While in college he also met his wife, Amber, who is from Houlton and a fellow UMPI alum.
“The sense of community struck me right away,” Wire said, about attending schools in Maine. “It was a growing period for me and I feel like I’ve changed as a person for the better.”
After Wire graduated from UMPI in 2008, he moved back to England to attend the London School of Economics, where he studied operations research. While there he conducted a study that Optimum Population Trust, a UK think tank, commissioned that looked at the impact of population growth on the environment. His study concluded that investing in family planning services would result in fewer unwanted births, which would reduce the world’s population and the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.
In 2009, OPT distributed Wire’s study to delegates at the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Wire attended that conference and served on a panel at a health and development conference in Uganda, East Africa. Major publications such as The Economist and the Washington Post reported on his research. He says that the work ethic he gained in graduate school would not have been possible without the lessons he learned at UMPI.
“The faculty at UMPI really nurtured that logical, problem-solving approach and I learned how to dissect problems in more of a rational, even in a scientific, way. I think that has turned out to be huge in my career, as we’re seeing a growth in data science,” Wire said.
When Wire came back to Aroostook County in 2010, MMG Insurance hired him as their programmer analyst to work on database development. He is now the company’s senior data analyst.
Wire wants to continue giving back to his community. A member of UMPI’s Alumni Association since 2012, he is now the group’s president. He takes part in alumni-related events such as Homecoming and wants to help more students connect with alums who have been successful in their chosen field.
Like many students, Wire often felt unsure about where his career path would take him. But whether he’s interacting with coworkers at MMG or planning an alumni event at UMPI, he appreciates being part of a community.
“It’s a beautiful part of the world, but it really comes down to the people,” Wire said, about Aroostook County. “I just want to do what I can to help grow and support these communities.”