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What does being at the Academy mean to you?
I love the “polymath” culture here where people are always experimenting and innovating, where curiosity bridges disciplines and everyone is set up to learn from one another’s unique strengths in the cohort system. To me, it means having an education that I control, one that values the freedom to explore and supplements our curiosity with opportunities like pitching to expert entrepreneurs, “RLM” workshops to learn various skills, field trips (sometimes abroad!) and more, all while having an amazing workshop space dedicated to the major.
What is something about the way the world works that you'd like to disrupt?
It’s time to abandon the boring engineer stereotype and embrace the value of aesthetics for all aspects of technology! One of my absolute favorite things is bringing the joy of design and creativity to technical teams. In high school on my FIRST robotics team, The Funky Monkeys, I had fun creating vinyl graphics for our robot, sewing a custom mascot, and designing our apparel, all while collaborating and machining and the robot itself. I also took that one step further to do branding for robotics competitions.
What are three goals you have this year?
I want to complete my first short story 3D animation that I started with my robotics animation team last fall. I want to learn and apply business skills I currently lack. I want to educate myself on my responsibility in democracy and social change.
Who is the most impressive entrepreneur alive today? Why?
I’ve been amazed by Elon Musk. Although he started from humble origins, he is now a world-famous visionary and a talented engineer, who can grow his seemingly wild ideas into tangible realities. His skills transcend many fields as his awe-inspiring companies bridge technology, business, philosophy, and aesthetics to create beautiful products of the future. Listening to his interviews is to step into a bustling analytical mind ready to discuss the complex physics of rockets, or just why Tesla cars have a secret feature that makes them dance (~true story!). They also reveal that at the core, his goal is simply to improve life for all of humanity.
I view him as an enigma. Not a lifestyle I would want, but an inspiration nonetheless.
What are some things you want to know about your future senior self?
I can’t wait to see where I “end up.” I have a gut feeling that I will surprise myself. Among my (ever-changing) recent career aspirations, some include being a visual director or designer at NASA JPL or SpaceX, maker/engineer at Industrial Light and Magic, creative director at Pentagram, Imagineer at Disney, or startup founder... We’ll see what happens ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Describe one thing most people don’t know about you?
I did Asian (specifically mostly Chinese) traditional dance, went to after school Chinese school throughout middle school, and also studied Mandarin in high school.
What is one thing your parents taught you that you’d like to share?
To be open to multiple perspectives, and to stand up for myself.
What is a recent project you’ve worked on that you’re really proud of?
Oo I’m always working on multiple projects at once (currently: 3D animation, logo/apparel design for some USC clubs, and some digital character designs) so it’s hard to pick a favorite recent project. However, I’m still really proud of the pitch video I created when applying to the Academy. I was inspired by the book Bigger Than This, pivoted to learning Blender after having been a Maya user, picked up 3D printing, and pulled it all off right before the deadline. I still fondly remember running from class with a giant bag of supplies and a few awesome friends so I could finish shooting all my footage in the lunch slot I had in the school studio.
What are the essential things you always keep in your backpack?
Well, my backpack is always an absolute mess, but somewhere in the black hole of missing pens, wood shavings, and random nuts and bolts, you will likely find the current design book I’m reading, right now: Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman. I also always have a sketchbook handy for recording spontaneous ideas!
Favorite app, service or website?
The podcast app! For daily commutes or listening while working, I can’t recommend enough the podcasts 99% Invisible by Roman Mars and Everything is Alive by Ian Chillag
If you could be best friends with one fictional character who would it be?
Entrapta from Netflix’s She-Ra and Princesses of Power! I admire her positive personality and nerdy passion for robotics.
~"Imperfection is Beautiful"~