Riya Sharma

Class of 2023
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Minor: Anthropology
Hometown: Elkridge, MD
High School: Howard High School

What Made You Decide to Attend UMD?
I knew that the University of Maryland had an incredibly high ranking engineering program with countless pathways to success. After touring the campus as a high-schooler, I saw that facilities like the Leidos Innovation Lab included workbenches, equipment, and tools available for projects. The Wind Tunnel and Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility were just two of many locations where students conducted research. I saw the resources and enthusiasm that UMD has for engineering and knew instantly that I wanted to be a part of the school!

Best Experience with a Class or Project
I loved ENES232 (Thermodynamics). Going into it, I expected it to be incredibly difficult and impossible to understand. However, my professor was extremely enthusiastic, explained each step, answered each question, and connected the material to our real lives. I was able to learn how to think like an engineer. For our final project, we worked in teams to design a power plant. It ended up being lots of fun and a fantastic educational experience.

Favorite Class In Major
ENES232: Thermodynamics

Favorite Class Out of Major
ENGL125: Why Poetry Matters

Student Organizations/Extracurricular Activities
I am the Treasurer of a club called 17 For Peace and Justice which focuses on advocating for environmental justice both on and off campus. I am also part of AstroTerps, Society of Women Engineers, and Indian Student Association.

Favorite On-Campus Event
NextNOW Fest is such an exciting way to celebrate art within our community. In the past, the event included visual art exhibits, a silent disco dance, free concerts, and comedy shows.

Favorite Research or Study Abroad Experiences
I interned at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and worked in their Engineering Lab with a team of social scientists. There, I was able to combine my knowledge from both of my majors. I worked on the Hurricane Maria Investigation and analyzed emergency communication systems in Puerto Rico. I learned valuable knowledge from this social science research.

Cool Engineering Experience
Before I became a Mechanical Engineering major, I was an Aerospace Engineering major. In one of the introductory courses, ENAE101, I was able to work on an incredible project. It involved sending a balloon to near-space with a payload attached; the payload included plastic samples and we analyzed them in different UV and temperature environments.

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