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, with guidance from idea to execution, students 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 College student, as well as in 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
The academic challenge, largely guided by the problem solving and business proposal development processes, is divided into four manageable phases. In each of the phases, students 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.
A game framework will combine life skill lessons, mini-games and the academic challenge. This game framework serves to keep students engaged over the course of the yearlong program and help teams establish identities. Points and prizes are earned through quality participation mini-games, life skill competitions and the academic challenge. Groups and individuals are rewarded for quality participation and high achievement at checkpoints throughout the year.
Teams 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 compete in different categories and an overall winning team is announced. A $500 academic achievement prize is awarded to each member of the winning team.