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, 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

Check out what our students are saying about the FIRE Program on UNH Tales

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 2018-2019 peer advisors include:

  • Gianna Alberici '19
  • Charles Andes '19
  • Abigail Chapman '20
  • Connor Cote '19
  • Caitlin Coxen '19
  • Alexis Deplitch '19
  • Brian Dezurick '19
  • Valerie Ehrich '19
  • Alexis Gray '19
  • Emily Grone '19
  • Matthew Haley '19
  • Sean Hickey '19
  • Alana Hovey '20
  • Madeline Karlberg '20
  • Andrew Kelly '19
  • Andrea LaBonte '19
  • Jennifer Lueke '19
  • Natalie Mahoney '19
  • William McConville '19
  • Devin McMahon '19
  • Christina Pescatore '20
  • Jocelyn Petry '19
  • Max Polay '20
  • Emily Rich '19
  • Hanzla Sheikh '20
  • Jemina Shepherd '19
  • Ruth Smith '19
  • Nicholas Snedegar '19
  • Kosta Triantafillakos '20
  • Brittney Wallace '19

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 2017-2018 alumni advisors include:

First Name Last Name Job Title Company
Micah Allgood Financial Management Associate Liberty Mutual
Ryan  Baker District Sales Manager Varian Medical Systems
Ashley Barbera Staff Accountant Walter & Shuffain, P.C.
Hannah Benson HR Business Partner SilverTech
Bill Burbank Director of IT, Technology Operations Cole Haan
Julianne Calef Financial Management Associate Liberty Mutual
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 Scrum Master RiverStone Group
Devereux Evans Financial Management Associate Liberty Mutual
Brad Flaishans Principal Clayton Dubilier & Rice, LLC
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
Brian Lowell Affiliate Management Analyst Old Mutual Asset Management
Todd Manning Vice President American Express
Will McKernan Assurace Associate PwC
Kristin O'Connor Senior Catering Sales Manager Caper's Catering
Briana Proctor Communications Associate Natixis Investment Managers
Tina Sawtelle CFO The Portsmouth Music Hall
Sarah Sceery Leadership Gift Officer, The Warrior Fund Merrimack College
Thomas Stephen Director of Planning Glenwood Investment Group
Steve Stewart Vice President of Commercial Lending Pentucket Bank
Emily Stone Senior Customer Engagement Associate, Event Content Operations athenahealth
Alan Stuart Senior Retail Operations Professional 34 year veteran with Toys R Us
Brian Thompson Financial Planner Lake Street Advisors, LLC
Greg Traquair Product Owner Southern New Hampshire University
Tyler Walsh Senior Associate - Transaction Diligence Ernst & Young LLP
Mason White Associate 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.

​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

​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 2018-2019 Igniters will be announced in October.