Inventor and Innovator Stephen Morgan: McNair Scholar
Since spring 2008 Stephen Morgan has been working on the design and development of a Portable Limit Device (PLD). Steve’s invention will enable the on-site analysis of subsurface conditions and aims to provide results more quickly than traditional methods of testing soil consistency. His aptitude for math and science led him to choose a major in engineering and his desire to attend graduate school prompted his application to the McNair Program. Steve will graduate in May 2009 as the first person in his family to complete the baccalaureate degree, and hopes not to be the last.
Born in Hawaii, Steve moved to the lakes region of New Hampshire when he was very young and now lives in Bristol with his parents and two brothers. He has a personal commitment to serve as a role model to his younger siblings and to help them make a decision about college when they grow up. Steve decided to come to UNH in order to stay close to his family and because it was the best option financially. He soon discovered that he really enjoyed the campus and the people. In what little free time he has, Steve enjoys spending time with his family, playing sports with friends, watching football, and pursuing his interest in computers.
Although Steve entered college as an undeclared student so that he would be able to consider all of his options, he quickly became enamored with Civil Engineering because it allows him to help people, which he feels is “such an awesome concept.” As a freshman, Steve was selected as a “Rising Scholar” into the UNH Student Support Services (SSS) program, the TRIO-funded component of the Center for Academic Resources. Through his academic success he later served as an academic mentor and tutor for other SSS participants. His involvement in SSS led him to learn about another UNH TRIO opportunity: the McNair Scholars Program.
Steve was accepted into the McNair Program after completing a competitive application process. He credits McNair with facilitating strong relationships with professors who he describes as some of the “best in... civil engineering.” Steve also chose to participate in McNair’s summer component, which provides students with a range of research and classroom experiences along with a stipend. This intense preparatory session furthered faculty connections while allowing Steve to develop “a great range of perspectives and backgrounds ... as well as some life-long friends.” Steve used the summer session to conduct independent research into the design of a device that could be used in the field, thus replacing the need for laboratory tests of soil integrity with the use of what he calls the PLD. Steve hopes that this device will continue to be developed into a final product where it will eventually open doors in the area of Geotechnical Engineering.
Steve describes the McNair program as “one of the best things any potential graduate students can do during undergraduate school,” Further, he thinks it is important for people to understand that “a lot of work and dedication is required.” While Steve would like to stay in the Northeast, his top priority is going to a school with a premier engineering graduate program. Recently Steve was admitted to graduate Ph.D. programs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, CalTech, and Northwestern University, each with substantive funding award packages.