Megan Burcham, of Martin, didn’t think she wanted to be an engineer when she began her freshman year at UT Martin, but upon changing majors she found it was a perfect fit.
“I switched to [mechanical] engineering halfway through my freshman year,” Burcham said.
Burcham, a junior from Martin, chose to follow in the footsteps of both of her parents, as her father has a doctorate in agricultural engineering and her mother has a master’s in industrial engineering.
“My parents wanted me to try it, and I thought I would try it out, but if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t stay with it,” she said. “But then I really enjoyed it once I got into everything. I really like math, it’s always challenging.”
In addition to challenging engineering courses, Burcham has become active in the American Society of Civil Engineers and last year participated in a concrete canoe race against other universities.
“They needed two girls from the engineering department to row the concrete canoe … it was really fun … I got to see how the civil engineers work on the concrete canoe,” she said.
In some of her engineering lab courses Burcham enjoys using computer programs to draw such things as parts of machinery.
“There are classes that are all about strength of materials and bending metals. And right now I’m in a class that’s about springs … we do a lot of work in the lab with springs and finding out things about them,” she said. “Every class has a real-life component that you’re really going to be doing in the industry.”
Burcham explained that the program does have high standards for graduation, as students must pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam in order to graduate, which many schools do not require. The FE is the first of two exams that must be passed in order to become a licensed professional engineer.
“[Passing the FE] really looks good on your resume,” she said, adding praise for the engineering department for its dedication to students. “It’s a tight-knit group because it’s such a small department,” she said. “All the professors are so helpful, their doors are always open, and on big campuses a lot of times you don’t get that.”
Burcham is also active in Greek life on campus, has participated in Greek contests such as pyramid and line dance, and maintains status as an honors student, attending several academic speakers throughout the semester as required by the Honors Program. It is the many opportunities available to UT Martin students that prompt her to recommend the college to prospective students.
“There are so many opportunities here. At a big school … I would have just been another face walking through the quad. You feel like you’re actually a part of the university, not just a number,” she said.