Never be afraid to work towards your passions.
We chatted with Alex to learn more about his experience in the Materials Science and Engineering undergrad program, and to find out why he chose the University of Maryland for his studies.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Maryland?
UMD was actually the first college campus I ever set foot on during my junior year of high school. I instantly fell in love with the campus itself and once I learned of the academic record at UMD and all of the plans the campus had for the future, it was a no-brainer.
How did you learn about MSE, and why did you decide to major in it?
I originally was a mechanical engineering student, but was not satisfied with my major. As part of the mechanical curriculum we were required to take ENMA300 and I absolutely loved the class. I knew I wanted to major in Materials once I found out that the major would satisfy my curiosity as a student - Materials allows you to answer so many questions about how and why things in our world work, and to me that is fascinating.
Have you conducted any on- or off-campus research?
Yes, I currently work in Prof. Manfred Wuttig’s lab as an undergraduate assistant. I work with different iron shape memory alloys.
How has your research affected your undergraduate experience or plans for the future?
I have really enjoyed my time in the lab as it has allowed me to apply the principles I’ve learned throughout my courses in a real-world way. It has shown me that what we learn in the classroom really does matter and has major implications for technological advancement.
What has been your favorite class, and why?
It’s hard to narrow down to just one class, but my top two have definitely been the corrosion course (ENMA 464) and the new strong alloys course (ENMA 473). I loved the corrosion course because I have always had an affinity for chemistry and this course allowed me to mix my fascination with materials and my passion for chemistry. For the strong metals course, I have really enjoyed how the course allows me to apply aspects from so many previous courses into a greater understanding of how we actually make the materials we learn about and how we can apply them.
What's the best piece of advice you would give to another student, especially one thinking of majoring in MSE?
My advice is two-fold. The first aspect would be, if you’re passionate about something, go do it! Whether it is MSE or not, never be afraid to work towards your passions. I was so scared when I decided to switch majors in the spring of my junior year, but looking back I am so happy that I did. Secondly, if you decide to major in MSE, make sure you really learn and understand the concepts you’re taught in your introductory courses. I still apply so much of what I learned in courses like ENMA300 and ENMA362, so getting a solid foundation of these concepts will pay dividends later in your academic career.
What do you do outside of class and the lab?
Outside of school and lab work, I enjoy getting a good workout in, or attempting to teach myself to play a little guitar. Any additional free time I get, I’m usually out in DC with friends exploring the city.
What would you like to do after graduating?
Immediately after graduation I will be taking a few months off before starting work. During this time, I would love to travel to visit friends who have moved away, and continue trying to learn to play the guitar.