Eric Frisbie, ’20 Mechanical Engineering
Eric Frisbie has spent the last 12 years in College. But it wasn’t until he discovered Dunwoody four years ago that he really felt like he was on the right path – and in a direction that was leading toward a degree in engineering.
Born in Indianapolis, Frisbie and his family moved to Michigan when he was 8-years-old. In high school, Frisbie discovered an aptitude and love for math and decided he wanted to pursue a career in engineering. He enrolled at the local community college to get his generals out of the way and planned to transfer to the state university.
A change of plans
That plan changed in 2011. Tired of Michigan and wanting a fresh start, Frisbie decided to move to Minnesota where he had family in the area.
“My move here was pretty abrupt,” Frisbie recalls. “I didn’t have a plan, and I decided to take a couple years off from school to settle in. And then I’d go to the University of Minnesota for engineering.”
When it came time to enroll, Frisbie discovered that the pre-requisites he had taken in Michigan weren’t the same pre-requisites he needed for the U of M’s program. He needed to enroll in continuing education classes to complete the classes he was missing.
Growing up, money was always tight and going into debt was never considered a good option. So with that in mind, Frisbie worked and paid his way – class by class – through college, which also meant that he could only take one or two classes a semester.
“The money was a huge part of it,” Frisbie said. “I had to drop out the first time when I was in community college because Michigan was so poor that it couldn’t afford to pay out my scholarships, which I had been awarded.”
By 2015, Frisbie believed he had all of the pre-requisites needed to transfer into the engineering program at the U. He made an appointment with his advisor only to be told that as a transfer student, he needed a GPA of 3.8 or higher to be admitted, a detail he didn’t know, and wasn’t informed of when he first began taking classes.
“I didn’t know the rules of the game, and I remember being told by my advisor, ‘I don’t know where you are going to go, but it’s not here,’” Frisbie said.
Finding a path forward
While on a parts run for his employer a few months later, he drove past Dunwoody and thought, “Well there’s a school, I’ll go there.”
That was the Spring of 2016. When Frisbie got back to work and went online, he learned Dunwoody was launching a Mechanical Engineering program that Fall. It seemed like fate.
“I went to the next Open House, applied for the program, and was accepted,” he said. “I’ve been in college for 12 years, but Dunwoody was the first time where I actually felt like I was going to graduate.”
Frisbie said the difference was in the people. “Everyone there wants to help you succeed, and they give you the tools to do well,” he said.
And Frisbie didn’t just do well – he excelled – graduating Magna Cum Laude in May of 2020.
The right fit
Frisbie comes from a highly educated family, both his parents have master’s degrees and his father even graduated valedictorian of his college class. And while many in his family are in math-related fields, Frisbie is the first to become an engineer.
And before attending Dunwoody, Frisbie said that no one in his family had even heard of the school.
Looking back on his time at Dunwoody, Frisbie said the small class sizes and hands-on learning were big plusses, but the support from faculty and administration was the biggest factor in his success.
“It was definitely the support,” he said. “All the instructors, were always happy to help. I never felt like I was bothering them.”
Frisbie also developed the confidence he needed to believe in himself.
“I had to get over the hurdle of not believing that I could finish college,” he said. “It was a huge mental block for me. But by the second semester in, I thought, ‘I can do this.’”
Frisbie said he enjoyed the project-based learning, especially when it came to highly precise projects such as a loop-the-loop project where you had to get a marble to roll down a ramp, through a loop, and then launch, before landing directly in a small cup. Frisbie’s team decided to go for distance as well, upping the difficultly and level of calculations required.
He developed his leadership skills as well and was even nominated to be the project manager of his team’s senior design project, building a Supermileage Competition car from the wheels up.
“A lot of people on the team had worked on their own cars, or done stuff with motors growing up. I had never had any expensive toys like that. So I had to figure out how to design and build something from scratch – and that was awesome.”
The worst part of the project was not being able to finish. The team had just completed welding the chassis together, and had started looking at the motor when the State shut down due to COVID, putting the project on hold.
Excited for the future
The project continued to spur Frisbie’s passion for automotive-based engineering, a field he someday hopes to enter. He is currently a detailer in the auto industry.
“I would love to stay in the auto industry, I know there is so much out there that I don’t know, and that I would probably love,” he said.
Whatever he chooses to do, Frisbie said he has gained the confidence needed to tackle any challenge or job.
“The most important thing I learned, without a doubt and thanks to Dunwoody, is confidence,” he said. “Because I feel like I can learn how to do anything. No job is intimidating. I have learned now that I can do anything.”
Frisbie is still looking for a full-time engineering position. He was offered a job in Alexandria, but after visiting, decided he really wanted to stay in the area. So when COVID hit, he decided to take a couple months off from the search and is looking for that first job.
“I would love to be a field engineer and work on one of those big projects, like you see on shows such as Impossible Engineering,” he said. “But most of all I’m looking forward to that point in life when everything just clicks and you know that you are at your dream job doing what you love and you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.”