Meet Reagan Hollar, a mechanical engineering major. Reagan became an undergraduate lab assistant as a junior, and after college, Reagan plans to continue her education and pursue graduate school here at Virginia Tech! She wants to focus on biomechanics.

How did you find out about the Frith First-Year Makerspace?

It was junior year when I got the opportunity to work in the Frith lab. I think I got an email from my advisor saying there was a job opening. I didn’t get the opportunity to really work in the Frith lab my freshman year because we were online, so I was really excited to finally work in the lab in a different way.

What was it about Frith that kept you there so long?

I really enjoyed it. When it got to the spring semester there were so many students that came in, and they were all working on similar projects. Because I never really got to work on my spring semester project in the lab freshman year, I remember being so excited to help them with it. I kind of felt like I finally got to finish that project I never got to do. 

Are there any memorable moments or lessons that you learned from the Frith lab that you can apply to everyday life?

I’ve never had a leadership position before being a ULA, so in this role I’ve learned how to take charge in a situation. For example, I used to be terrified to hold training sessions for the machines. I would second guess myself and think, I’m either not going to do it right or tell them the wrong information. This position just really taught me a lot of confidence. 

Looking back at your time as a ULA, how do you think your role made an impact on first-year students?

I do think me, along with all of the other ULAs, had an impact on the students. I remember being a freshman, going into these kinds of labs and makerspace places, just being so overwhelmed. So I’ve really made an effort in trying to make it less overwhelming for the first-year students. Along with our boss, Nick Bedard, he has tried to make this space more open and welcoming for everyone.

Some freshmen are obviously oblivious to everything in the lab. So if someone comes up to me, and asks me about a certain object, rather than just telling them how to do it, I will show them. Because when I was a freshman, I needed someone to show me. I’ve tried to be a better example on how to be more welcoming and not try to exclude people who don’t know what's going on.

How are you going to use this experience to implement it into your future career?

I had like no-hands on experience, no experience in a lab setting prior to the Frith lab. Everything I’ve learned in the lab will definitely be very helpful, especially since I want to work in biomechanics. Along with lab experience, just learning how to work better and more efficiently on a team, as well as confidence, are things I’ll definitely carry into my career. 

Q&A written by Megan Reese, Writing Intern for Engineering Education