FIRE: First-year Innovation and Research Experience

Fire graphic


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 principles of mentorship are at the core of the FIRE mission. Through academic, career and competition components, we hope to increase the impact and visibility of alumni and upperclassmen in the lives of our first-year students. Each FIRE team is 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 are responsible for helping to ease student transition to Paul College, UNH and college in general. Further they will:

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

The 2020-2021 peer advisors include:

  • Rob Andreasse '21
  • Jared Bjornberg '21
  • Ian Bushnell '22
  • Lauryn Cappuccio '21
  • Hannah Carroll '21
  • Spencer Coveney '21
  • Kelsie Dawe '22
  • Ivy Gogolin '22
  • Pinar Gokalp '21
  • Robert Horgan '22
  • Katelyn Hower '22
  • Sophia Hughes '21
  • Ellie Johnston '22
  • Yanni Kakouris '21
  • Ann-Marie Kolberg '21
  • Marisa Labadini '21
  • Sophia Mazzarelli '21
  • Jamie McGee '21
  • Steven McKeen '21
  • Zachary Merian '21
  • Angela Moquin '22
  • Jenna Peterson '21
  • Johanna Rewucki '21
  • Molly Richardson '21
  • Jordan Sardo '21
  • Andrew (Drew) Siemering '21
  • Gabrielle (Gabi) Sott '22
  • Anthony Tamposi '21
  • Sarah Wilkinson '22

Alumni Advisors

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

  • Teach basic skills lessons
  • Help students construct a career vision
  • Enable the power of networking

The 2020-2021 alumni advisors include:

Alumni Advisor Alumni Title Alumni Company
Ryan  Baker Director of Sales, North America Varian Medical Systems
Ashley Barbera Tax Senior Baker Newman Noyes
Brandi Barker Client Access Team Lead Q-Centrix
Hannah Benson HR Business Partner SilverTech
Julianne Calef Senior Financial Analyst Liberty Mutual
Meredith Cline New England Business Analyst Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits
Tim Closson Accountant - Reinsurance Operations Liberty Mutual
Connor Cote Contract Leadership Development Program Member BAE Systems
John DeMaio Managing Director, Equity Fund Resources Bridge Bank
Michelle DiTomaso Benefit Administration Supervisor American Renal Associates
Rob Drouin Scrum Master Liberty Mutual
Sara Earley Business Development Strategy Associate Putnam Investments
Devereux Evans Enterprise Risk Management Analyst Liberty Mutual
Brad Flaishans Principal Clayton Dubilier & Rice, LLC
David Glasier Director of Strategy & Communications Fidelity Investments
Michael Glynn Account Executive ZoomInfo
Jill Granucci Program Manager, Talen Acquisition Medicus Healthcare Solutions
Kim Jarry Employee Benefit Plan Audit Manager Caron & Bletzer, PLLC
Brian Lowell Senior Analyst Affiliated Managers Group
Will McKernan Assurance Senior Associate PwC
Caroline Muse Program Planner, Brand Strategy IBM
Kristin O'Connor Director of Sales Caper's Catering
Sarah Sceery Director of Development Casa Hogar Juan Pablo II
Patrick Sloyan Strategic Relationship Manager Putnam Investments
Thomas Stephen  Director of Planning Glenwood Investment Group
Steve Stewart Senior Vice President, Commercial Lending Bank of New England
Brian Thompson Relationship Manager Lake Street Advisors Group, LLC
Tyler Walsh Retail Finance Lindt & Sprungli
Conor Woelfel Commercial Accounts Executive Mendix
Mason White Senior Software Developer Liberty Mutual

Academic Challenge

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.

Game Component

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.

Tamara Scapicchio Rury
Director of Undergraduate Programs

Sean Stewart
Assistant Director of Undergraduate Programs

Andrea LaBonté
Program Coordinator

​Wendy Jo Girven
Business Librarian

​Benjamin Peck
First-Year Instruction Librarian

We are currently seeking:

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

If you'd like to get involved with FIRE, 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 help create and implement programming into the FIRE Program.

The 2019-2020 Igniters are:

  • Tina Aboujaoude
  • Carson Albright
  • Kindyl Alfonso
  • Hunter Arbo
  • Carli Boodakian
  • Madison Shatzer
  • Jack Cleary
  • Brett Conley
  • Nathan Edwards
  • Hailly Felgate
  • Kallie Fisher
  • Ryan Foote
  • Carlos Garcia
  • Marisa Grant
  • Maclean Hanley
  • Alex Haynes
  • Allie Heiberger
  • Jon Hilton
  • Lena Karp
  • Katrina Kopaczynski
  • Daniel Litvak
  • Camdyn Loring
  • Peter (PJ) Marcouiller
  • Nicole Massa
  • Michelle McAree
  • Rebecca Mitlin
  • Mitch Moore
  • Erica Reith
  • Hannah Vanden Heuvel
  • Samuel Walsh