IGNITE Your Career

If you attended orientation at Embry Riddle, then it’s likely that you’ve heard of either the Office of Undergraduate Research or the “Ignite” initiative. Ignite is run by the Office of Undergraduate Research with the all-encompassing goal of knowledge discovery. Since its founding three years ago, Ignite has worked to provide funding to start research projects and facilitate their progress for teachers and students alike.

The project budget of Ignite is $70,000 per fiscal year, up from $60,000 when it started. In order to receive project funding, one must have a research plan, fill out a grant application, and present their plan to a committee comprised of faculty members. The presentation must include a budget for the planned project as well as a faculty advisor in order to be considered for funding through Ignite. 

Out of the $70,000 provided to the Ignite fund annually, “every last dime” is handed out to well-deserving groups, says Dr. Aaron Clevenger, Executive Director of Experiential Learning & Undergraduate Research. Projects are usually turned down “if there are members on the committee who didn’t think that it was safe, questioned the science, or if there was some issue with the feasibility of the study,” according to Dr. Clevenger.

One of the most important aspects of undergraduate research is that it provides the experiential learning that won’t often come from a classroom, which is what potential employers are looking for. When a company, such as Boeing or SpaceX, looks to hire a new employee or intern, they look for hands-on experience with the subject matter. Even if your experiment fails, you learn from your mistakes, which is just as valuable to a potential employer as a successful experiment. Research projects are not restricted to engineers, the research office, program, and funding is open to ALL Embry-Riddle students, with any major.

One may ask, “how do I start?” or “how do I find a faculty member to sponsor me?” The easiest way is to simply ask your professors about the research that they are working on, according to Keith Alvares, a senior involved with an Ignite project. Most of the Embry-Riddle faculty are constantly searching for research assistants to help with them with their own projects, which is how Keith began his research experience here. He started working with Dr. Daewon Kim for six months, which gave him the opportunity to work on his current project with Dr. Virginie Rollins. Keith’s project involves carbon nanotubes – the first year included learning how to grow the tubes, and this year Keith and his group are learning how to apply the tubes to aviation structures, possibly to make some of the strongest plane parts of our time. This is exactly the experience the industry is looking for. “It’s all about building your résumé” says Keith, and his words ring true throughout the job market. Embry-Riddle has all of the resources that you, a career-seeking adult, need to get where you want to be in life. Ignite is one of the many tools that you’ll use during your time here and you must use it wisely. If you’re interested in hearing more about the Ignite program or undergraduate research as a whole, visit them in Mod 22, room 202 or call them at 386-226-6379. 

Good luck, Eagles!

-James Bukowski