Beyond Materials Science and Engineering: Students Outside of the Classroom

The University of Maryland and the Washington, D.C. metro area are great places to meet new friends, explore, attend events and participate in on- and off-campus activities. Here's what some of our undergraduates are doing when they're not busy learning how to be materials scientists and engineers:

Alan Murphy: Tutor/Mentor, Musician, World Traveler

Outside of the classroom and lab, Alan works as a tutor for Wiseguya company that was founded by a UMD alumnus in 2015. “I’ve been tutoring people in math, physics and chemistry since August of 2015. Tutoring is my favorite outlet to give back to the UMD community and bolster students’ confidence in STEM,” said Murphy.  He also mentors incoming MSE students, and Honors College Freshmen (as part of the Banneker/Key Mentoring Program), answering their questions about the department and the Clark School, and helping them acclimate to campus life. Alan suggests getting involved in intermural sports – an excellent way to meet people in the major and make new friends!

Alan also enjoys making music in his spare time. He’s played the saxophone – both alto and tenor sax – since the fourth grade. In 2014, Murphy joined the Mighty Sound of Maryland – UMD's marching band. In addition to making many amazing friends, playing in the University band has provided him the opportunity to play on the west coast at a bowl game against Stanford University in California. Alan plays piano and accordion, too.

Alan’s favorite experience since starting at UMD was volunteering in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He traveled to the southern hemisphere to volunteer for the International Relations subgroup of the International Olympic Committee. There, Alan helped translate between Portuguese, Spanish and English, set up and repaired personal computers for the press at the track and field venue, and checked in VIP members at the Team USA House. “I had an amazing experience in Rio, and I made so many new friends from all over the world – I highly recommend other students taking advantage of similar opportunities!”  Alan graduated in May, 2018.

Miriam Silton: Educator, Athlete, Mentor

In addition to pursuing a Materials Science and Engineering degree – including a minor in Nanoscale Science and Technology – Miriam participates in various extracurricular activities ranging from athletics to community service.  She competes interscholastically as a member of the UMD Club Running team, and participates with her team in intramurals sports.  “The Club Running team provides me the opportunity to volunteer at local elementary schools as an assistant coach for the Girls on the Run nonprofit group,” said Silton. "I enjoy working with and empowering younger people."

Miriam has served on the executive board of the University of Maryland’s Hillel, and continues to participate in social and religious events on a weekly basis.  She has also served as an undergraduate teaching fellow, peer tutor and mentor; a lifeguard and first responder at the Eppley Recreation Center, which, she says, helped her develop leadership skills, and she continues to play the violin and practice Scottish dancing in her free time.

“One of my favorite experiences at UMD was my study abroad trip last winter – I traveled to New Zealand and had an amazing, internship experience!”

Miriam graduated in May, 2018, and is working as a New Product Development Engineer with W. L. Gore.


Rachel Stein: Engineer and International Athlete

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Rachel Stein.

Rachel Stein is one of the starting goalies on the University of Maryland Women's water polo team. She has been competing for over eight years and has traveled abroad while playing with both the Ontario Provincial and Canadian National Junior Women's Teams.

Rachel and the team train 3-4 hours a day, five days a week, which includes weightlifting, tactics and video sessions in addition to pool practices. There are also additional practice sessions for 2 hours on Saturdays. Practice begins at 6:00 AM!  Rachel generally practices for 20 hours a week starting in October to prepare for the season until the final tournaments in May. Games are scheduled during the spring semester and include travelling with the squad across the country.  Rachel was named to the 2010 Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Women's Varsity Scholar-Athlete Team (Outstanding Recognition).

Rachel is also involved with the University of Maryland Society of Women Engineers (SWE). She is considering going to graduate school after college to further study medical implants and how the materials they are made of interact with the human body.

Eric Epstein: Engineers Without Borders

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Eric Epstein (right) working on EWB's bioretention facility implementation on campus during winter break 2010.

Eric is a self-described "avid member" of Engineers Without Borders (EWB). EWB sends teams of volunteers to developing countries around the world to complete projects that enable residents obtain safe drinking water, better santation, power, education, and more.

Eric was part of a team that designed a water pump, storage, and filtration system for a medical center in Burkina Faso, Africa. The system is slated for installation in 2011.

EWB members also help with projects in their own countries and communities. During winter break in 2010, Eric collaborated with several students from the University of Maryland EWB chapter to build a bioretention facility near a large campus parking lot, which currently filters water runoff from over 2.5 acres of impervious land coverage on campus.