By Amanda Olavarria
What does every field of engineering have in common? According to undergraduate Yanghuang Lu, they all involve utilizing materials to maximize the performance of their products. Since MSE is an integral component in all areas of engineering, Yanghuang was interested in further pursuing it.
Yanghuang was actually intrigued by materials science and engineering from an early age—his father’s career as a blacksmith in China exposed Yanghuang to metal when he was very young. As he began to learn more about materials science, this interest progressed into a fascination for metallurgy and alloy casting. Yanghuang specifically enjoys the casting process because he gets to design the molds with computer-aided design (CAD) and then cast real things.
He further explores these interests in Professor Brody’s lab, where he performs directional solidification research. This research focuses on minimizing defects such as pores, impurities, and precipitates by leveraging computer-simulated methods. Professor Brody said, “Yanghuang Lu is making excellent contributions to the research, teaching, and outreach of our casting and solidification group. He understands that materials processing, like most engineering, is both art and science. Yanghuang enjoys using both his hands and his mind. He has developed great communication skills, organization skills, and personal responsibility that make him an excellent member or leader of a team.” Technical Lab Associate, Adam Wentworth, added, “Yanghuang has an excellent work ethic and is able to independently produce high quality results.”
Along with the exceptional experience he gains from the lab, Yanghuang also enjoys the benefits of having a close bond with his classmates and having a relationship with his professors. Unlike large majors, in which students are rarely acquainted with their teachers and peers, the MSE environment fosters strong relationships between students and professors.
“I get to know everyone in my major, and some people from my major became my best friends, since we spend almost everyday together. Also, the professors in MSE know who you are and are willing to offer you guidance in various projects,” Yanghuang stated. He enjoys seeing familiar faces in his classes and creating bonds by working and studying together. Yanghuang finds having a strong relationship with his classmates makes learning easier and more enjoyable.
MSE has taught Yanghuang that education is not solely about attaining high grades, but also about learning how to cooperate with a team of engineers to maximize results. He puts this skill to practice through his involvement in organizations such as the UConn Materials Advantage (UCMA) and the 3D printing club.
Yanghuang will be graduating in 2019 and he already has his sights set on his future career goals. After completing his education, he plans to work as an engineer in the materials industry. During this experience, Yanghuang hopes he will gain further skills that will enable him to ultimately start his own successful business.