Tell Us about Yourself

Nhon: Apprentice

Waiching: Mentor

At Columbia University in New York.

What AEOP program(s) did you participate in?

Undergraduate Apprenticeship Program

What is the most important part of the mentor relationship?

Nhon: The vast knowledge of the mentors on their research and studies is astonishing. They provide a strong foundation and support for mentees to explore new topics and conduct research. In addition, their desire for us to succeed is motivating.

Waiching: Seeing my students learn and grow intellectually is the most rewarding part of my job. It makes me proud that many of the former PhD students I taught are now enjoying their own success. Now, they are much more knowledgeable than me in their respective fields!

Advice to a student, just beginning to consider a career in science?

Nhon: Rather than letting the unknowns stop you from proceeding further, make them a reason to proceed. Instead of avoiding an unknown, in my case machine learning, I chose to confront it, which led me to a door that previously I did not know existed: graduate study.

Waiching: Be proactive; actively ask for research opportunities, find mentors who appreciate your work, improve your skills and don’t saturate your schedule with a lot of meetings.

What got you interested in the field?

Nhon: After witnessing the erection of numerous buildings and bridges, I developed a passion for civil engineering and engineering mechanics. Whether it is by providing valuable information regarding the structures or directly designing and constructing them, I want to be involved in shaping the structures of our society.

Waiching: I love solving problems and drawing. My research area is a combination of both where we convert our understanding of the world into equations, models and computer codes that allow others to see how we see the world.

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Nhon Phan and Waiching Sun

Nhon Phan and Waiching Sun
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