ME Student Experiences Frostburg/UMD Collaborative Engineering Program

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Frostburg State University Campus Gate

“[The] benefits are definitely smaller class size and more personal relationships with your professors.”

Nick Merrill, mechanical engineering senior.

Nick Merrill, senior ME student, is one of the few students enrolled in the Frostburg State University (FSU) and University of Maryland (UMD) Collaborative Mechanical Engineering Program. Held at the scenic FSU campus, the program consists of the UMD mechanical engineering curriculum taught by FSU professors, with some classes in junior and senior years being taught by UMD professors via Interactive Video Network.

According to Merrill, the benefits of such a program outweigh any possible uncertainties. He says, “[The] benefits are definitely smaller class size and more personal relationships with your professors. I've had the same teachers for four years, all of which know me personally.”

In regard to mechanical engineering, Merrill is passionate, saying, “I wanted to pursue ME because I like using my own ideas to design things. I tend to look at everything around me and think how I could make it better and being an ME gives me the chance to do so.” His favorite class so far has been the senior design class, ENME 472: Integrated Product and Process Development, where his team designed and implemented a suspension system onto a rigid frame go-kart.

Along with Frostburg’s superb academics, Merrill also enjoys the location of the campus, remarking, “I decided to go to Frostburg because I liked the school when I visited, but I liked the location more. I hunt, fish, and snowboard a lot, and going here gave me the opportunity to do all of that.”

On campus, Merrill is involved with numerous activities and organizations. His freshman year he played lacrosse and later he became involved with the Panhellenic fraternity, Omega Epsilon, of which he is now vice-president. In addition, Merrill is an active member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

In addition to his various activities, Merrill has also held a steady position at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) for the past four years. “I wanted to work there because I knew it would give me the opportunity to see and do things that I wouldn't be able to do anywhere else,” says Merrill. “It is a military base after all.” Initially an intern, Merrill is now a tour guide and is responsible for directing student tours around the center.

Looking back on his academic career, Merrill admits he would have done some things differently, “I would have taken my time a little more. Maybe taken a few more classes that I would've enjoyed, regardless of whether they applied to my major or not.” His advice for students debating a degree in mechanical engineering is, “Make sure your math is solid. I've seen more kids fail from not being able to handle the high level of math involved in engineering.”

Merrill has been busy working full-time this summer and is ready for his final semester of school. “My class load doesn’t seem like it should be too difficult and I should have no problem getting the grades I want. I just want to have fun my last semester of college.” His course load includes ENME462: Vibrations, Controls, and Optimization II, ENME414: Computer-Aided Design, and ENME423: Building Cooling Heating and Power Systems. After graduating in December, Merrill hopes to be hired full-time by the ECBC’s Advanced Design and Manufacturing facility.

For more information about the UMD/FSU Collaboration, please contact Dr. Mohammed Eltayeb at: Or, visit their website:

--Lauren Frye, '10, ME Student Reporter

Published August 31, 2009