By Megan Andrew, Written Communication Assistant
While Yinyu Wang, a UConn MSE undergraduate student, initially wanted to pursue civil engineering to follow in the footsteps of his father, his acceptance to the MSE program changed his plans. “It is an interesting field of study, and it also interacts with other engineering fields, including civil engineering,” he said.
Today, Wang is participating in clean-energy research alongside graduate students in Professor Jasna Jankovic’s research group. Specifically, he is working with graduate student Sara Pedram in Jankovic’s lab on electrospinning nanofibers, which can be used in fuel cells. They are working to create and test tubular nanofibers, which are based on a cylindrical cell structure, rather than a traditionally cubic structure. He said as climate change increasingly affects the globe, “it is even more imperative for scientists and engineers to look into this area of creative materials configurations for future energy generation.”
Wang said the reason he so thoroughly enjoys UConn MSE stems from multiple aspects of the program, but “professors are the most important here, in my opinion. It is the caring, knowledgeable, and helpful professors that keep encouraging me to move forward,” he said.
Wang pointed out Jankovic as a large motivation for his research. “Her knowledge, patience, and caring nature are what drive me to move on. She would help me analyze my failures and encourage me to tackle challenges in the lab.”
Wang was granted funding during the summer of 2021 through UConn’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program to do research with Jankovic.
Wang said his experience working with Jankovic has transformed his life outside of the lab as well. “I become a more curious person both in academics and life,” he said, “I have become handier than I was before, and prefer to fix things on my own by using my own skills and online resources.”
“I remember Professor Kattamis and Professor Brody giving us insights about metallurgy, and Professor Leek providing us with hands-on experience in the lab. I’m very fond of professor Frame’s energetic class lectures too,” Wang said.
Wang especially appreciates Professor Leek‘s influence on him as a student: “I learned many valuable and important lessons from her, from paying attention to lab safety to gaining all the hands-on experiences in MSE. I was able to cast metal in her lab for the first time in my life, and to learn basic operations of an SEM machine. She is always patient with her students, and she always does her best in helping her students learn and develop in the field of MSE.”
“I remember Yinyu struggled initially to find a student research position but never gave up. He has been part of Dr Jankovic’s research team for some time now. When I ask how it is going, his reply shows he is passionate about his research area and really enjoys working with his colleagues. Yinyu has become a careful experimentalist with a good eye for detail. Seeing this transformation is the absolute best part of my work.” Leek said.
Wang elaborated on his undergraduate experience and said that both classes and undergraduate research enrich his MSE experience. “Lab classes here are exciting to take, and the feeling of accomplishment when I successfully perform an experiment is satisfying … What’s more, UConn also offers undergraduate research programs to students, so we are able to work with a professor on projects interesting to us and develop independent learning skills,” he said.
Wang’s excitement towards his undergraduate research reached new levels after relocating to the new Science 1 building this year:
“Words can’t really express how excited I was when I visited the labs in the building. The automatic fume hood is eye opening, and the office environment is simply bright, clean, and comfortable. The most important thing I noticed is the new design of the eye washing station and shower station: It reduces the procedures to turn them on by simply pulling the handles, making labs much safer,” he said.
Another area where he has grown as an academic is in his motivation to read. “I just felt like I should receive knowledge not only from school but also from extracurricular sources. I also started writing a diary just to keep track of my feelings and thoughts, and I think it helps me calm down and relax.”
Outside of class, Wang participates in the UConn Airsoft club and enjoys cooking.
“To me, cooking is like performing experiments in a kitchen setting. Spices and foods become the “chemicals” and I love trying out different combinations of them. Sometimes it comes out great and sometimes it may require further…adjustment,” he said.
After graduating this spring, Wang plans to continue his education at UConn MSE in the graduate program.
Published: May 5, 2023