MSE Undergraduate Student Profile: Aphrodite Strifas

We chatted with Aphrodite to learn more about her experience in the Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) undergrad program, and to find out why she chose the University of Maryland for her studies.
 

Why did you choose to study at the University of Maryland?

"Take advantage of all of the mentoring opportunities offered by the Department. Whether it's mentoring with faculty members or with upper classmen through MEMO, I've learned a lot of valuable advice about how to succeed in the MSE major."
MSE Undergraduate Student, Aphrodite Strifas

I knew I wanted to pursue an engineering undergraduate degree from the beginning and my final two schools that I was deciding on were the University of Maryland and Penn State University. I ultimately chose UMD because of its close proximate to the Northern Virginia/Washington D.C. area, the distinguished reputation of the Clark School, and because of the fact that the undergraduate engineering degrees (Materials Science and Engineering specifically) offered at UMD are accredited professional degrees. 

How did you learn about MSE, and why did you decide to major in it?

A lot of my immediate family members are engineers and they often talk about the importance of materials in modern day life. MSE is so broad that it reaches just about every engineering discipline. I ultimately decided to major in MSE because it is the perfect combination of physics and chemistry while still being an engineering degree. 

Have you conducted any on- or off-campus research? 

Yes, I have conducted on-campus research. Previously, I worked with Dr. Al-Sheikhly’s group doing FTIR analysis of polymer fibers extracted from panels of bulletproof vests. Currently, I am working with Dr. Ray Phaneuf’s group researching how atomic layer deposition affects glass disease.

How has your research affected your undergraduate experience or plans for the future?

Because of my undergraduate research experience, I now want to pursue graduate school here at UMD. At UMD, I have had the opportunity to work with and see the new and innovative research conducted by graduate students. Seeing how passionate they are about research and how many resources and opportunities are offered at and outside of UMD has inspired me to pursue a career in research. The next step for me in order to pursue a career in research is to attend graduate school.

What has been your favorite class, and why?

My favorite class has been ENMA362, Mechanical Properties of Materials. ENMA362 is a good combination of lecture and lab. ENMA362 was also the first time I was exposed to materials science lab techniques. I particularly enjoyed the lab portion because it allowed me to experience a wide variety of mechanical testing such as Tensile, Hardness, and Charpy tests.

What's the best piece of advice you would give to another student, especially one thinking of majoring in MSE?

The best piece of advice I can offer other students would be to take advantage of all of the mentoring opportunities offered by the MSE department. Whether it is mentoring with faculty members or with upper classmen through MEMO (Materials Engineering Mentoring Organization), I have learned a lot of valuable advice about how to succeed in the MSE major. 

What do you do outside of class and the lab?

Outside of class and the lab, I have been learning Greek. I am a member of the Greek Heritage Society on campus and have gotten to know a lot of other Greek Americans on campus who have encouraged me to take advantage of the Greek language courses offered at UMD.

What would you like to do after graduation?

After graduation, I would like to stay at UMD and attend graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering.