A new program in the Office of Undergraduate Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is giving freshmen an opportunity to prepare for their careers of interest the moment they arrive on campus, according to Nebraska Today.
First-Year Research Experience, or FYRE, provides hands-on learning experiences and one-on-one faculty partnerships for freshmen, unlike the Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience, which is only for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Full-time, degree-seeking UNL freshmen who have also qualified for a federal work-study award can participate in FYRE. Students in the program conduct paid research under a faculty member for five hours a week during the fall and spring semesters. According to the article, the Office of Undergraduate Research launched the first group this fall with around 50 participants.
Justina Clark, director of undergraduate research at UNL, said in the article that the Office of Undergraduate Research started the program for first-year students who want to get involved right away.
“More and more students I meet are already asking in their freshman year, ‘How can I start now? I want to go ahead and get involved with research,’” she said in the article. “Being able to offer a structured program for that is awesome.”
FYRE also includes monthly seminars and activities to help participants succeed academically and build community.
“In a lot of these cases, it's not just about finding an area of interest, but it's also meeting other people who share those interests," Clark said. "Fostering those relationships is really important for their retention and for their success."
Nathan Simms, a freshman mechanical engineering major and one of FYRE’s first participants, works in the Nebraska Intelligent MoBile Unmanned Systems Lab. According to the article, Simms plans to research ways to improve user experience for flying drones.
"FYRE gives me the opportunity to be involved in research of a topic that I find interesting, and improve skills I have as well as gain new ones," Simms said in the article. "I hope this program benefits my college career by helping me learn more than I would in a normal classroom."
Clark said in the article that she’s looking forward to seeing how the program helps students grow.
“We're really hoping that not only will this benefit the students in their undergraduate career, but also really impact their career satisfaction in the future,” she said.