Why You Should Get Involved in Research During Your First Year

Gary Tran and Don Boyd present their research during the FYRE in STEM Research Showcase on May 8, 2023 in Ablah Library.Photo courtesy of Gary Tran
Gary Tran and Don Boyd present their research during the FYRE in STEM Research Showcase on May 8, 2023 in Ablah Library.


First, a little about me!

Hi! My name is Gary Tran, and I am currently a sophomore at Wichita State University studying Aerospace Engineering on the Pre-Med route. I was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, and was graciously given the opportunity by the Rudd Foundation to obtain my bachelor’s degree in my hometown. I participated in First Year Research Experience (FYRE) as a freshman and was able to get hands-on experience with research during my very first year here! Here’s a little about what FYRE is and my experience.

What is the FYRE program?

FYRE is an exclusive program designed for incoming freshmen eager to delve into the exciting realm of STEM research. It offers a comprehensive exploration of diverse labs, spanning areas like human performance, aircraft structures, and hydrogel production. It promises an immersive and dynamic introduction to the world of scientific research.

At the heart of the FYRE experience is a 2-credit-hour independent study course linked to the specific lab of your choosing. This hands-on component not only provides a unique opportunity for direct engagement with cutting-edge research, but also ensures that participants actively contribute to ongoing scientific advancements with their lab and mentors.

Complementing the lab-centric component is a 1-credit-hour course led by Dr. Moriah Beck. With expertise in guiding aspiring researchers, Dr. Beck teaches essential research skills and serves as a mentor throughout the semester. This supplementary course not only equips participants with a foundational understanding of research methodologies, but also fosters a supportive environment conducive to academic growth and exploration with the other FYRE Scholars.

The FYRE program represents more than just a traditional academic experience – it is a gateway for freshmen to unlock the vast potential of STEM research, laying the groundwork for a potential lifelong passion for research!

Why Research?

Diving into research will unlock the door to various opportunities, such as finding a job in the field and making a meaningful impact in the world of science. Personally, I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy the whole research experience, but thanks to the FYRE program, I got a chance to test the waters. Now, I'm still actively involved in research, collaborating with Dr. Heidi Bell in the Human Performance Lab.

Being part of a research lab isn't just about understanding scientific concepts. It's a hands-on training ground for important life skills that go beyond the classroom. From learning how to present your work to adopting a professional demeanor and taking responsibility for your contributions, these skills become second nature. They're not just useful for navigating the ins and outs of research, but also prove to be valuable assets in future job pursuits.

For me, the FYRE program has been more than a starting point for scientific exploration. It's been a stepping stone into a world where I not only delve into the complexity of research, but also gain practical skills that will undoubtedly shape my path, regardless of the career I choose.

Gary Tran and Don Boyd present their research during the FYRE in STEM Research Showcase on May 8, 2023 in Ablah Library.Photo courtesy of Gary Tran
Gary Tran and Don Boyd participated in the FYRE in STEM Research Showcase, which is an annual event highlighting the work done by first-year students in the program.


My Experience

I had the unique opportunity to focus on the intersection of artificial intelligence and aircraft manufacturing during my time in the FYRE program. Our mission was to create a cutting-edge platform that acts as a bridge between machines and human workers in the manufacturing process, with the ultimate goal of optimizing production efficiency. The project aimed to harness the power of AI to enhance collaboration between technology and human expertise, paving the way for more streamlined and effective manufacturing processes. If you're curious to see the results of my work and explore the impressive projects of fellow FYRE Scholars, you can find a showcase of our endeavors on the Shocker Open Access Repository.

How do I apply?

Joining the FYRE program is easy with a simple application that figures out what you like and if you're keen on doing research. Once they know your interests, they pair you up with a mentor who matches what you like. Even though the Honors College runs this program, you don't have to be in it to join - I wasn't!

Even if the idea of the FYRE program interests you a bit, I really suggest you give it a shot! You won't know if you enjoy it unless you try it. Trying out the FYRE program could lead to discovering something you really love.


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