I am a double major student with a dual bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and International Business, and I am currently seeking a Ph.D. opportunity so that I could keep composing this exhilarating chapter of my bold adventure in the realm of science.
"Wait, why is there a business student in my class?"
- several professors from Dept. of ME in the first class
From A Humanities Student To An Engineering Researcher:
A Little Bit More About My unconventional Background
Being the only business student in an engineering classroom, my story has been a manifestation of a passion for science.
In my childhood scribbling book, sketches of novel spacecraft filled the pages with unrestrained creativity. With a wide range of interests spanning science and Liberal Arts. As a member of the Humanities Gifted Program in high school, I also composed an award-winning history thesis. The hope of reaching advanced technology through entrepreneurship motivated me to major in International Business, but with time I came to realize the passion was never about profitability, but the nature of innovation powered by knowledge. This enlightenment ushered in a second major in Mechanical Engineering, and I persisted to get both degrees with a straight-A performance and six appearances on the Dean’s List (top 5%). Within the 214 credits, I also took graduate courses in Control Systems, Electrical Engineering, and Computer-Aided Design/Manufacturing.
It was excruciatingly hard for someone who lacked a high school science education to keep up with the class, and frustration built up to fear and unbearable pressure. It was an ultimate test of my resilience, and the asperity invoked an empathy for those who struggle in the classroom. Perseverance, hard work, and discipline eventually supported me to get both degrees, and despite the hardships, my enthusiasm for engineering was strengthened, for this profession was empowerment to combat real-world problems with both academic and hands-on abilities. As the biggest beneficiary myself, the double major experience also turned me into a staunch believer in the power of education and knowledge.
Being one of the few girls in the class, I was never discouraged by this unbalanced ratio. Whether it was in class or practical training for the operation of a lathe, I would always try to compete and often outperform my peers.
Both of my majors offered valuable lessons beyond knowledge. Training in business school allowed me to present ideas professionally, and it also lent me the ability to identify problems and potentials of a subject and an astute sense of human interactions. Group projects with business and engineering students alike prepared me for teamwork in a diverse environment. I had led an international group of students to build a billiard car, with members from Haiti, Honduras, and Taiwan, where I encouraged candidness to overcome cultural differences. In the Practice of Engineering course, the quest to construct a propeller-driven autonomous car required a ten-member cross-group collaboration. I represented my team to initiate effective communication to get the final perfect score. In a world where human activities often transcend traditional academic boundaries, my interdisciplinary learning and communication skills could serve as a bridge to unite all talents.
My university career also allowed me to experience different cultural influences. As a member of the fencing varsity team, I had a unique opportunity to train with international fencers from Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Singapore. I also noticed how as the minority on the campus, international students’ rights were sometimes overlooked. With few quality English courses to choose from, they often needed some help on homework and course materials which I would love to provide. I also served as a voluntary service provider to assist students from Europe and South-East Asia to navigate their lives in NTU.
In the final years in NTU, I witnessed how a series of events precipitated the redefinition of human civilization: the pandemic compounded a lack of workforce in an aging society, while global warming questions the balance between survival and sustainability. In these predicaments, engineering provides a way out: robotics could maximize the valuable workforce, green technology promises a future to last, and the exploration into space opens the next chapter for our civilization. A passion for physics and engineering, mixed with an urge to propel human civilization, electrified me to pursue a higher degree, and I looked to equip myself with the necessary tools.
Under Prof. Chun-Yeon Lin’s advisory, I initiated a collaboration with graduate students to study eddy-current sensors, first as an undergraduate researcher and later as a research assistant. Our focus revolved around non-destructive sensing that could expedite automation. Closed-form solutions and numerical analysis revealed that the frequency response of the induced magnetic flux density corresponded to characteristics in metal plates. Corroborated by Finite Element Analysis and experimental results, a sensor, and complementary algorithms were developed for simultaneous geometry and conductivity estimations. In less than a year, I co-authored a manuscript submitted to the IEEE/ASME transactions on Mechatronics (refereed) and an article that won silver in Best Paper Competition at the 18th International Conference on Automation Technology. I am currently engaging in subsequent studies on eddy current/magnetic sensors, with the prospect of achieving reliable non-destructive sensing for industrial applications.
Versatility, hands-on ability, and communication skills were also cultivated. I had independently built a quadcopter and a crude robotic hand in my first year of engineering study, and during my time in the Fluid Instability Lab supervised by Prof. Chun-Ti Chang, I developed a flange-less high-pressure boiler with certified CAD skills. My boiler design has a 1.5 times pressure rating than traditional counterparts and reduces the installation time by 90%. The design was brought to life in collaboration with manufacturer Senter Ltd. Concurrently, I developed a C/C++ library for numerical calculation of quasi-mechanical equilibrium, which was the theoretical fulcrum of Prof. Chang’s studies on liquid nitrogen. The program, referencing the CoolProp library, requires only 10% run time compared to its MATLAB predecessor.
The asperities in my engineering study also spiked a passion for teaching, as I understood the importance of a quality lecture and supporting materials. Serving as TA in the Automatic Control class, I engaged in a wide range of pedagogical practices, from composing homework to hosting discussion sessions aiming to boost students’ comprehension. The awareness of inequalities also prompted an effort to combat the uneven distribution of educational resources on the NTU tutor team, where I serve as a voluntary physics lecturer to help disadvantaged high school students prepare for the university entrance exam.
I am currently seeking a Ph.D. opportunity in an institution where academic rigor and innovative spirit are highlighted, and where interdisciplinary collaboration is encouraged so that my unconventional background could thrive. I am open to working with any advisor on all kinds of inventive topics, especially in the field of space engineering, robotics, transportation, and green technology. I would love to devote myself to the development of unique and innovative technologies that could contribute to the advancement of human civilization.
After my fruitful tenure in the Ph.D. program, I could envision a galvanizing future. I would love to serve in academic institutes under the influence of my scholar father. With my unconventional background, I could bring a different dimension to the class and invigorate aspiring students. Concurrently, I would immerse myself in the arduous but rewarding life of a researcher and continue to contribute to the scientific society. After a stint as a scientist, I may like to undertake a start-up company to combine both my expertise in engineering and business. With corporate social responsibility highlighted, I hope to impel positive changes and achieve common successes beyond the corporate level.
Going back to the inception of my journey, the deeply rooted passion in childhood sketches planted a seed that burgeoned a decade later as I found myself becoming an unconventional engineering student. With extensive knowledge and skills capable of imminent impact on any scientific research, I believe MIT is the place where I can live up to the ultimate potential and devote myself to the scientific world. Maybe one day, the innovative spirit in that little girl could wield the magic she had yet to understand and turn the futuristic world of prosperity into reality.