Gurganus - Sarah

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EC Scholars - Class of 2014

Christine Gurganus

Hometown/State: Chocowinity, North Carolina

Incoming EC Scholar Class (year): 2010

Scholarship(s) Awarded: Dowdy Student Stores EC Scholars Award

Major/Intended Major: Engineering

Why did you choose to attend East Carolina University?

I chose East Carolina for a variety of reasons but the one closest to my heart is simply the mission of the university. Part of the mission states that ECU's goal is to positively impact eastern North Carolina by training students and releasing them back into the community. Having grown up in this area, the mission is something I really feel strongly about. Because I've lived in this area for all my life, I know a lot of the area's strengths and weaknesses. Through my time here at ECU and after I graduate I hope to do as much good for this community as possible.

What has your scholarship enabled you to do?

One really amazing thing this scholarship had enabled me to do is to connect and become close friends with other EC Scholars. This is a wonderful networking opportunity because I am able to be around people who are highly motivated and have a love of learning, like myself. Also, this scholarship has allowed me to travel outside of the country.  Not only did the money granted to me to study abroad allow me to study in Australia, but I firmly believe that the prestige associated with the scholarship has allowed my resume stand out.  This has led to an internship in Germany during the summer of 2012 and an internship with NASA during the summer of 2013. 

What special undergraduate research opportunities have you experienced at the university?

Over the past three years, I have had a variety of research experiences.  During my sophomore year, I worked with the engineering department to perform an economic analysis for the North Carolina Department of Transportation.  Our goal was to find the optimal sell year for fleet vehicles.  Through my participation in this research, I presented at the State of North Carolina Research and Creativity Symposium as well as at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. 

Additionally, through a course required for EC Scholars, I was introduced to a project based in ECU’s Center for Sustainable Tourism.  Dr. Carol Kline, the lead researcher, envisioned identifying areas of North Carolina’s food chain that required improvement.  This EC Scholars course led to a job working with Dr. Kline on this project.

Currently, I am working on my senior honors project where I am designing a test system that will characterize the way that hydrogen-oxygen mixtures burn in antigravity.  This is being performed for the NASA White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  If this test and design goes to completion, it will be flown on the NASA-owned reduced gravity aircraft.

What unique leadership opportunities have you experienced at the university?

In terms of leadership, I have served as a member of the EC Scholars Roundtable every year that I have been at ECU.  Two members from each class of scholars is peer nominated and selected to serve as an EC Scholars Roundtable member.  The purpose of this group is to identify issues that the EC Scholars group needs to address to improve the EC Scholar experience as well as facilitate social, scholarly, and volunteer activities.

What are your career plans/aspirations?

After graduating from ECU, I plan to attend graduate school.  My goal is to further my knowledge of mechanical engineering.  Also, I’m currently applying for a co-op with NASA to be completed while obtaining my master’s degree.  This may lead to a job but I am not completely certain where I want to focus in the long run.  I find the energy field very interesting – but this is a very broad field so hopefully I’ll be able to narrow this over the next few years.

How have you made a positive impact while you have been at East Carolina University?

Finally, I feel like now that I’ve become one of the upperclassmen at ECU, I have had the chance to talk a lot to incoming freshman.  I have had the opportunity to encourage a lot of high school students and young adults to come to ECU and advocate for the engineering department.  For example, I taught at Summer Ventures during the summer of 2011 and I had the opportunity to speak with them about the benefits of the Honors College.  I hope to have the chance to encourage more gifted students to come to ECU.