There are a multitude of different research topics you can be involved in within Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. It mainly depends on your interests and which projects are currently being offered by our faculty PIs (primary investigators).

Some topics of research include (but are not limited to):

  • Advanced Manufacturing and Design
  • Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Computational Science
  • Biomechanics
  • Dynamic Systems, Vibration, and Controls
  • Magnetic Materials
  • Materials for Energy Storage and Generation
  • Materials for Extreme Conditions

Applicants will choose three of these areas of interest to better match them with an appropriate research project.

For the most part, yes. The FIRE program is only for mechanical engineering, materials science and engineering, or engineering science disciplines from any U.S. based college or university. However, comparable majors are welcome to apply.  

The applicant must be a student in the summer before their junior or senior year. We ask for a CV/resume (PDF format), two short essays, and one recommendation letter from a faculty member or person who can attest to your motivation, work ethic, etc.

Each short essay question is expected to be answered in 650 words or less on the following topics:  

  • In what way do you feel that you are underrepresented in STEM fields and/or what does it mean to you when you see underrepresentation in STEM fields?
  • Why are you interested in participating in the MEMS FIRE Summer Research Program, and what type of impact do you think this research opportunity will have on your future? 

No. Unfortunately, due to the requirements of our funding source, only US. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for the FIRE program.

Yes! Our goal is to help underrepresented students gain research experience as well as other skills that they would need in graduate school. We want to show off the benefits of graduate school for those who may not otherwise be exposed to research as an undergraduate. The FIRE program also aids in creating a more well-rounded resume for those applying to graduate schools.  

FIRE stands for Facilitating Inclusive Research Experiences. We aim to encourage research experiences among students from demographic groups that are traditionally underrepresented in engineering fields.

The program will last for 10 weeks in the summer. It will start in mid-May and end in mid-July (see program homepage for details on this year’s specific dates). 

Applications will open in mid-December (see homepage for specific dates).

The formal application deadline is February 16, 2024. After that date, we will accept applicants on a rolling admissions basis.

Letters of recommendation need to be received by February 23, 2024. Please have your reference email their letter of recommendation to

Acceptance decisions will be made by or before mid-March 2024.  

We anticipate offering a $5500 stipend for all participants, plus extra assistance for housing and travel to and from Pittsburgh, if needed.