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#YouMaine: Thomas Gebhardt’s experience in engineering and fraternity life

Thomas Gebhardt is a second year mechanical engineering technology student at the University of Maine. Alongside studying in the field of MET, Gebhardt is furthering his career and connections as a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

Gebhardt hails from the town of South Hadley in western Massachusetts and took the opportunity to study at UMaine for a multitude of reasons, one main reason being that he wanted to attend a university that was more distant from home. Gebhardt prefers the less populated area of central Maine and wanted to start fresh in a brand new environment. 

“I kind of like the distance away from home, and it’s not far or too close. I wanted a fresh start, kind of get away from everything.” says Gebhardt. “I liked that it was in Maine. I like kind of in the middle of nowhere. Besides Bangor, there’s not really too much out here.”

Another reason for Gebhardt attending UMaine is to pursue his major as his father was also an engineer who helped influence his interest in the field. Being an MET student, Gebhardt enjoys the more experiential aspects of the program.

“It’s like mechanical engineering with more hands-on stuff. So you do machining, welding, CNC work” says Gebhardt, “I like 3D printing and prototyping, kind of making stuff around the house that you need fixing stuff up”

Gebhardt enjoys utilizing 3D printing for both its practical use and efficiency and is especially relevant in the ever changing environment of mechanical engineering.

“Before I wouldn’t be able to make anything but now there’s just so much that you can do with 3D printing and stuff holds up. So it’s fast. It’s cost efficient. You can really just do a whole lot with it,” Gebhardt says. 

The prospect of being an MET student also comes with an overwhelming workload, whether it be turning in projects or studying for exams. Gebhardt gives some valuable advice for freshmen engineering students. 

“I’d say work on time management because there’s just so much for every class that you gotta work on, and every class has its projects and you can just get so behind so fast with it” Gebhardt explains, “So just doing even a little bit every day to kind of manage that is good.

The environment can also make or break the experience for some engineering students. With the opening of the Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center in the 2022 fall semester, Gebhardt has found a new environment for studying with peers. He had previously had his classes in the basement of Barrows Hall which got frigid during winter season, so the new Ferland building is a welcome upgrade. 

“Ferland has so many new good study spaces that you can use. The breakout groups, just the open areas. It’s pretty quiet there. I’d say sometimes it’s quieter than the library. “ Gebhardt says.

When not studying, Gebhardt finds solace in his fraternity of Tau Kappa Epsilon. Gebhardt wasn’t immediately curious but was eventually encouraged by friends and fellow TKE members to give it a shot. Since then Gebhardt has had no regrets.

“I wasn’t really interested in fraternity life at first, but I had a few friends on my floor the first year that were members, and they brought me around some of the events and it was just a great community to be around. Everybody’s supportive and nice and I just felt like it was a good fit for me, that I can come here and hang out with any of these guys and feel happy.” Gebhardt explains.

TKE is home to a widely diverse group of students from various majors and backgrounds. Gebhardt appreciates the ability to connect with people who come from different fields. 

“I’d say it’s a mix of it all. We’re all so different. We have our outdoor guys who went camping a few times this semester. You have a lot of people who enjoy doing charity work. We have a lot of people who are musicians so we have a band.” Gebhardt explains “We just like a whole bunch of different things. So it’s nice to come together and enjoy that with other people.”

Whether it be studying in the MET field or connecting with his fellow fraternity members at TKE, UMaine has given Gebhardt a fresh new environment to build his future career.


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