Why You Should Join FIRE, Who Can Join & Common Questions

Why Join FIRE?

  • Degree Relevance: First-year courses will take on new life when paired with faculty-led research. Not sure of your major or joining UMD in Letters & Sciences? FIRE provides perspective and experiences that will allow you to explore multiple academic and professional career path options.
  • General Education Credit: FIRE curricular credits have been designed to be portable across all majors.
  • Transcript Citation: Students who complete all 9 credits earn a transcript citation.
  • Broad Mentorship: Experience academic, personal and professional support from peer mentors and faculty members affiliated with every FIRE innovation & research stream.
  • Accelerated Opportunity: FIRE builds skills and faculty relationships that will advance your qualification for competitive internships, research opportunities and post-graduation professional positions.
  • Developed Resilience: University-level research is challenging. Learn to handle unexpected setback in an environment where you will have the mentorship to evaluate, diagnose, recover and succeed.
  • Meaningful Social Network: Find your friends and build lasting relationships.
  • Who Can Join FIRE?

  • FIRE is for students not already in the UMD Honors College (with the exception of those in University Honors who can and should apply).
  • FIRE is for students not already in College Park Scholars or other living-learning programs like CIVICUS, Global Communities and the Carillon Communities.
  • Students in the Freshmen Connection program are eligible but should be aware we have limited space in one dedicated section of our first-semester fall course.
  • How does a student join FIRE?

    Please read our program application information.

    How does a student pick a specific FIRE stream?

    This occurs each fall semester during spring course enrollment. All FIRE-participating students are encouraged and allowed to pick any FIRE stream that fits their interests and schedule. Students need not necessarily pick streams perfectly aligned with their majors or career interests. In fact, FIRE can be the perfect time to do research in a field that a student might not otherwise explore. Stream enrollment is mediated by course enrollment. Thus, a FIRE student can pick any of our research streams but a stream becomes unavailable for selection when all seats have been registered.

    Can students continue with FIRE after their first year?

    Yes! Each innovation & research stream is fueled by the commitment of trained peer mentors. Each year, a percentage of students from each stream will be recruited and trained to remain with their group for an additional year in a leadership role that allows them to play a central role in the training and mentorship of the next cohort of students.

    How much time will FIRE take?

    Generally speaking, FIRE requires between 7 and 9 hours of commitment per week. You are in class 1 hour per week. You are in a research setting 6 hours per week. You schedule the research time (during UMD business hours) in a way that fits your schedule. This time commitment is commensurate with the 3 credits your are earning per semester and is generally manageable.

    What are typical next-steps after the FIRE program?

    Students who participate in the FIRE program are well versed in the practice of innovation and research. The skills and experience developed during this program are now ready to be applied in any number of ways. The Maryland Center for Undergraduate Research can help match you up with a faculty member on campus or regional institute looking for your experience and perspective. The Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship might be a good choice if interests in design, development and entrepreneurialism have been sparked by your FIRE experience. FIRE students are well prepared to competitively apply for National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) summer opportunities and other internship opportunities.