FIRE: First-year Innovation and Research Experience

The First-year Innovation and Research Experience, widely known as FIRE, is a unique program introduced at the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics during the 2015-2016 academic year. The idea was first conceived as an extension of our Peer Advising program, and has been designed to expand upon the principles and mission of that program.

FIRE is an integrated, team-based, and game-like experience, guided by alumni and peer mentors, for first-year students to engage in developing habits and strategies for success. Right now the world is facing problems that are complex, dynamic, and nonlinear--and active problem solvers are in high demand. FIRE charges first-year students to hit the ground running by assisting them in developing multidisciplinary solutions to real-world problems by employing emerging technologies. Through a series of challenges, guiding them from idea to execution, students will be develop business plans to be presented at a year end finale.

MISSION:  The Peter T. Paul College FIRE Initiative aims to build a community of engaged student learners who value academic excellence, intellectual, personal and professional development, inclusion and ethical conduct.

By completing FIRE, students will have a better understanding of:

  • The skills needed to succeed as a UNH and PAUL student, as well as in the business and professional spaces

  • The importance of mentorship and the value of the broader UNH community network

  • The resources and opportunities available to UNH students for career and academic assistance

  • Potential major focuses, student organizations, and internship opportunities and the corresponding career paths

They will also learn:

  • How to approach and solve complex problems using a variety of different techniques

  • How to effectively present a business concept and the corresponding research

  • How to develop a team culture and be a part of a team

​​Check out what our students are saying about the FIRE Program on UNHTales.

The Program Philosophy

Our Philosophy (The Five Ps)

This program is grounded in a philosophy that will help develop esteem, balance, cooperation, and results. By engaging in a process designed with the Five Ps in mind, students will hopefully realize their full potential as high-functioning global citizens.


By discovering and developing passions during the first year of college, students will have a much greater access to a variety of opportunities in the remaining years to help them achieve their goals.  


Interviewers often don’t care as much about what students do, as why they do it. Empowering students to develop a sense of meaning beyond major and career check boxes, by combining points of passion with some disciplined structure, will help them to understand the importance of viewing college as fluid learning process and experience.


Successful students and professionals are those who are willing to grapple with complex and dynamic problems, not simply because they are passionate, and understand why the problems are important, but because they have patience and vision to look at these problems through a variety of different lenses, and question any and all assumptions being made.


An idea is worth nothing if it is never put into action. And the end result of action is only as good as the steps a student takes to get there. You must have a toolbox of project management tricks and problem solving techniques to help drag out the best in yourself and those around you.


UNH's value is in the network. It is important for students to foster strong relationships during their collegiate years to lay the groundwork for a meaningful career and life. These relationships may be with peers, faculty, alumni, friends, and family--each should be treated with care.


The principles of mentorship are at the core of the mission of FIRE. Through academic, career, and competition components, we hope to increase the impact and visibility of alumni and upperclassmen in our first-year students' lives. Each FIRE team will be led by a peer advisor and an alumni mentor. By combining the experiences, knowledge, and skills of a successful UNH graduate, with a high achieving current student, we hope our first-year students will begin to understand the value of mentorship and the UNH network.

Peer Advisors

Our peer mentors will be responsible for helping to ease student transition to Paul, UNH, and college in general. Further they will:

  • Lead theme-based projects
  • Make students aware of campus resources
  • Help students construct realistic academic plans

This year's peer advisors include:

  • Eddie Alhamdan
  • Micah Allgood
  • Brandilynn Barker
  • Samantha Barrett
  • Samantha Blaine
  • Nicholas Bouchard
  • Julianne Calef
  • Andrew Cappetta
  • Timothy Closson
  • Jordan Collins
  • Nicholas Doucette
  • Michael Ellison
  • Alexandra Flagler
  • Grant Flewelling
  • Katrina Gallogly
  • Alexys Gilcreast
  • Jessica Hill
  • Dakota Hippern
  • Kyle Hurley
  • Kevin Johnson
  • Ryan Justice
  • Devin McMahon
  • George Pantelis
  • Scout Pierce
  • Michelle Paulsen
  • Hayley Siemering
  • Jon Tamposi
  • Kelsey Ulaskiewicz
  • Matthew Vossler
  • Catherine Wolstromer

Alumni Advisors

Our alumni mentors will help mold and shape the thought processes of our youngest students, helping them to think outside of their normal scope. And further:

  • Teach basic skills lessons
  • Help students construct a career vision

This year's alumni advisors include:

First Name Last Name Job Title Company
Ryan  Baker District Sales Manager Varian Medical Systems
Paul Bamford Agent United Underwriters
Ashley Barbera Staff Accountant Walter & Shuffain, P.C.
Hannah Benson Human Resources Representative Gorton's Seafood
Todd Boucher Founder and CEO  Leading Edge Design
Bill Burbank Director of IT, Technology Operations Cole Haan
Meredith Cline Sales and Marketing Analyst New Hampshire Distributors, LLC
John DeMaio Director BMO Capital Markets Corp.
Michelle DiTomaso Recruiting Coordinator American Renal Associates
Rob Drouin Senior Systems Analyst - Global Specialty IT Liberty Mutual
Dave Emanuel Assistant Fire Chief Durham Fire Department
Brad Flaishans Principal Clayton Dubilier & Rice, LLC
Megan Fournier Meeting and Education Coordinator Home Care Alliance
David Glasier IT Product Management & Operations Fidelity Investments
Michael Glynn Key Account Manager Siemens Energy
Ben Halloran Staff Auditor BerryDunn
Kim Jarry Employee Benefit Staff Auditor Caron & Bletzer, PLLC
Todd Manning Vice President American Express
Kristin O'Connor Senior Catering Sales Manager Caper's Catering
Alex Pepicelli Enterprise Account Executive Adobe
Briana Proctor Media Buyer EVR Advertising
Tina Sawtelle CFO The Portsmouth Music Hall
Sarah Sceery Leadership Gift Officer, The Warrior Fund Merrimack College
Dot Sheehan Founder Operation Hat Trick
Steve Stewart Vice President of Commerical Lending Pentucket Bank
Emily Stone Producer CBI a UBM Life Sciences Company
Caitlin Tappan Senior Financial Analyst Liberty Mutual
Gregg Tewksbury President & Chief Executive Officer Savings Bank of Walpole
Greg Traquair Product Owner Southern New Hampshire University
Katherine Von Jan Innovation office Salesforce
Tyler Walsh Senior Associate - Transaction Diligence Ernst & Young LLP
Ally Weimer Senior Internal Auditor Kronos
Mason White Software Developer Liberty Mutual
Connor Yost Consultant Opus Consulting Group


The Program Breakdown

Academic Challenge

The academic challenge, largely guided by the problem solving and business proposal development processes, has been divided into four manageable phases. In each of the phases students will have an opportunity to develop project management, research, communication, and presentation skills by taking on different roles. In subgroups students will be asked to look at the problem through a variety of interdisciplinary lenses to increase their awareness of how extensive problems are solved.


Game Component

A game framework will combine together life skill lessons, mini games and the academic challenge. This game framework will serve to keep students engaged over the course of the yearlong program and to help teams establish identities. Points and prizes will be earned through quality participation mini-games, life skill competitions, and the academic challenge.  At checkpoints throughout the year, groups and individuals will be rewarded for quality participation and high achievement.


Teams will present their extensive research and business proposals at the UNH Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) to be judged by a panel of faculty, peers, and alumni. Teams will compete in different categories and an overall winning team will be announced. A $500 academic achievement prize will be awarded to each member of the winning team.

Our Team

​Neil B. Niman

Associate Dean of Academic Programs, Associate Professor of Economics

Tamara Scapicchio Rury

Director of Undergraduate Programs

Sean Stewart

Program Coordinator

​Kathrine Aydelott

Reference/Instruction Librarian

Get Involved!

We are currently seeking:

  1. Alumni interested in mentoring teams
  2. Individuals with experience in energy efficiency, space exploration, disaster relief, internet start-up, 3D printing, and health start-up relevant fields and industries.
  3. Industry professionals for resume review sessions

If you'd like to get involved in the FIRE program for the 2015-2016 academic year, please contact Sean Stewart at There are a number of opportunities for faculty, staff, and alumni engagement not mentioned above.


The Igniters are the student advisory board for FIRE, comprised of one member from each of the 30 FIRE teams. Each Igniter was nominated by their peer advisor for being an exemplary student in their team. As part of the FIRE Carnival festivities a member from each team was honored as an Igniter to represent their team.

The group meets bi-weekly to give feedback on the program and to provide the student perspective. They also help motivate their teams to stay involved and are an additional resource for their teams.

Igniters have also been separated into five subcommittees (academic, community, engagement, events and social) that will help create and implement programming into the FIRE Program.

This year's Igniters include:

  • Alana Maher
  • Alexis Gray
  • Anthony Santosuosso
  • Austin Quinlan
  • Brian Dezurick
  • Carly Szymanski
  • Chadwick Littlefield
  • Connor Cote
  • Derek Steele
  • Devin McMahon
  • Emily Grone
  • Francesca Molinari
  • Jacob Hill
  • Jonah Foulks
  • Kate Aiken
  • Kayla Cortina
  • Lauren Donahue
  • Lauren Gross
  • Madison Chouinard
  • Matthew Fothergill
  • Matthew Santangelo
  • Michael Bova
  • Michael Korich
  • Mike McAuliffe
  • Mike Murphy
  • Molly Doherty
  • Rona Hope-Murray
  • Ruth Smith
  • Ryan Anastasi
  • Zoe Kaufman