MSE Undergraduate Student Profile: Christina Senagore

christina senagore
Christina Senagore (B.S. '08)

We chatted with Christina to learn more about her experiences in the undergraduate program in materials science and engineering, 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?

"I wanted to find some way to combine my love of sports and my desire to obtain a job after graduation...I thought [materials science and engineering] would provide me with challenging and interesting course options as well as allowing me to learn about the materials used to manufacture the sporting equipment I use."

Materials Science and Engineering Undergraduate Student Christina Senagore

I transferred to the University of Maryland from the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor. I knew in high school that I wanted to go to large school that offered a wide range of opportunities—both academic and extracurricular. I had already decided on engineering, so it only came down to finding an excellent program and a desirable campus. One of the most attractive qualities was the location of Maryland and its proximity to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.

Why did you decide to major in Materials Science and Engineering?

In high school, I played a wide variety of sports. I wanted to find some way to combine my love of sports and my desire to obtain a job after graduation, so I researched all the different types of engineering and came across materials. I thought this would provide me with challenging and interesting course options as well as allowing me to learn about the materials used to manufacture the sporting equipment I use. I did not assume that I would end up with a career at a sports equipment manufacturing company, but it is what ignited my interest in materials science and motivated me to learn more about it.

What's been the best thing about your academic experience here so far?

The atmosphere. We are extremely lucky that the University of Maryland is a large university with great football and basketball teams, giving students the chance to develop a strong sense of school spirit as well as being able to "hide" in large classes. However, people tend to be concerned about "getting lost" at large universities. The Department of Materials Science and Engineering is small and I can count the number of people in my graduating class on my fingers. We get a unique small school feeling with a significant amount of one-on-one time with professors and small class sizes, even though we're at a large university.

What has been your favorite class, and why?

My favorite class would have to be Manufacturing with Polymers [ENMA 423].  It looked at materials science from more of a hands-on, engineering standpoint as opposed to the more theoretical classes in our department. The class was sponsored by a polymer manufacturing company outside of Baltimore. They allowed us to help with one of their big manufacturing issues and we got to use their equipment to test our findings. It was a great chance to have a true semester-long project, and we got to work in teams. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a job after graduation or who would like a chance to analyze a real manufacturing problem encountered by a real company.

What’s the hardest engineering class you had to take?  Do you have any suggestions for other students about how to survive it?

Probably one of the most challenging classes I've taken has been Physics of Solid Materials [ENMA 460]. It was a little bit of a leap from Physics III to Solid State. The professors who teach the class, Dr. [John] Cumings and Dr. [Ichiro] Takeuchi, are very good and thoroughly cover the subject. The material itself is what makes the course, in my opinion, so challenging. However, everyone has to keep in mind that no one else in the class inherently possesses solid state physics knowledge so you are all in the same boat. When I took the class, we would all get together to work on homework. I find that our department is closely knit, especially among the undergraduate students, and you always feel comfortable asking other students to work with you.

What’s been the best thing about living in the Washington, D.C. area?

There are so many things to do in D.C. I frequently go into the city to go to dinner, the movies, or the museums, and the best part is that I can take the Metro instead of driving. The Metro has been an invaluable resource. Even though I do have a car with me on campus, I prefer to take public transportation. I have used it to get to my internships. My boyfriend lives up in Baltimore and it is extremely easy to hop on the Marc train and take it up there for the weekends. There are also several airport choices in the area if you are not from Maryland.

What do you recommend undergraduates do or get involved in to have the best experience here?

"My undergraduate experience as an engineering student gave me the skills necessary to be successful in any job. My biggest advice: Don't let anyone tell you that you are unable to do something because you did not study it in school."

Materials Science and Engineering Undergraduate Student Christina Senagore

I would recommend getting involved in any extra-curricular activities you desire. I wanted to have a job since I enjoy working, so I found one at the Engineering Co-op & Career Services office. It not only provided me with a lot of insight into my own job search, but it gave me a chance to help other engineering students find jobs. It has been a rewarding experience to help other Maryland students develop strong resume writing and interview skills. In addition to work, I also play intramural sports like indoor/outdoor soccer and flag football. Finally, I have been significantly involved in our materials engineering student society, MatES. I strongly encourage any materials students to join, because it gives you access to professional events so that you can begin to grow your network, either to help you get into graduate school or to find a job after graduation. Plus, it's a lot of fun!  Although we are a small group, we have some social events and meetings where people get a chance to get together and meet the other materials students who may not be in your classes.

What would you like to do after graduating?

Well, I actually already know what I will be doing after graduation. I have been offered and have accepted a job working at Deloitte Consulting as a Business Analyst. It may not be the most traditional route for materials engineers, but it's the course that I have taken. As an engineer, you develop analytical and quantitative skills that other majors do not gain exposure to during their undergraduate curriculum. Also, as a materials student, our coursework is significantly more theoretical and challenging than in some other engineering majors. People know that if you can be successful at earning an engineering degree, then you are probably bright enough to do whatever you want. While in school, I discovered that I did not have an interest in continuing on to graduate school. My undergraduate experience as an engineering student gave me the skills necessary to be successful in any job.  My biggest advice: Don't let anyone tell you that you are unable to do something because you did not study it in school. If you have the drive and interest in another area, people will see your intelligence and enthusiasm and that will help you get to where you want to be.

Christina Senagore received her B.S. in May 2008. After working at Deloitte Consulting, she accepted a position at the U.S. Department of Defense.