Xuanya Zhang, '13

Hometown: Chengdu, China

Degree: BS, Industrial Engineering and Liberal Arts & Engineering

Why did you choose to attend WPI?
As a son of two engineers, I have always been interested in science and engineering. I chose WPI because of its great industrial engineering (IE) undergraduate program and awesome project opportunities around the world. I also received a personal recommendation from a friend who was at WPI a year ahead of me. I love the small-school atmosphere, where individuals have more of a chance to interact not only with the professors, but also with other students.

How has WPI’s philosophy of Theory and Practice, and working with teams, been beneficial to you during your time at WPI?
This philosophy will help me to adapt to the real world much faster and get a taste of the teamwork necessary in the workplace. It is not only good for my career, but also helps me to develop an easygoing character and the ability to better interact with others. WPI’s philosophy has gradually influenced my way of living and has given me the mind-set of an engineer: data- and fact-driven, with a serious problem solver attitude.

What do you think are WPI’s greatest strengths?
Its greatest strength is the critical combination of theory and practice for students. Specifically, WPI has a great undergrad focus on a strong education and awesome project opportunities around the world to give students experience in practice.

How have the professors in your department impacted your studies and your life?
Professor Schachterle has impressed me every time I have met with him. As an advisor, he has always provided me the best suggestions he can give on the issues I ask. Instead of giving me the answers, he’s given me instructions to be able to solve the problem myself. It is a very enlightening form of communication for me.

As a professor, he has helped me a lot on writing, specifically the emails I send out. He reminds me all the time the importance of writing accurately and clearly in communication. As a mentor, he is concerned not only with my academic career, but also my career-building activities and my life. He cares about my future and my well-being. I would say he is a true mentor and friend to me.

What are your research projects?
I did one Great Problems Seminar project during freshman year about the wastewater treatment plant proposal in Kingston Harbor, Jamaica. My IQP was titled, “A Feasibility Study of Biodiesel Plant in Cartago, Costa Rica." We investigated economic, social, and environmental impacts the plant may have through a cost-benefit analysis, site assessments, and research. From our investigation, we concluded that the plant would be profitable, accepted by the public, and should be implemented at a site in Oreamuno.

My MQP will be working with the VA hospital system. As a student team, we will help the VA reengineer its laundry process in order to be more efficient and environmentally friendly, with less energy and water, in addition to providing better quality.

What do you hope to do when you graduate? What would be your ideal job?
My plan so far is to find a job and experience the real world. I look forward to applying what I learned at WPI in real life. I would also like to attend graduate school, either in industrial engineering, environmental engineering, or in an MBA program. Finally, I would like my own consulting firm in an IE and environmental combined field.

Groups or extracurricular activities you participate in at WPI:

  • President, (former program director), Institute of Industrial Engineering, WPI Chapter, 2009-present.
  • Publicity Manager, WWPI Campus Radio, 2009-2010.
  • Men’s Varsity Crew Team, September 2009-present.
  • Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society: Eligible February 2011, became member October 2011.
  • Beta Gamma Sigma International Business International Business Honor Society, WPI, 2011-present.
  • Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society, WPI, 2011-present.
  • WWPI Campus Radio, WPI, 2009-present: DJ for weekly Chinese cultural and music show “Panda Express.”
  • Class Board 2013, WPI, April 2010-present.

Academic or professional awards you have received:

  • Harold & Inge Marcus Scholarship, Institute of Industrial Engineers, 2012 & 2011 (three winners/year nationally): Awarded for academic excellence and contribution to the development of the industrial engineering profession.
  • Charles O. Thompson Scholar for the class of 2013, WPI, September 2010: Awarded for academic excellence and outstanding activities in the first year of college.
  • Matching award in New England section, Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering, 2010.
  • Junior IQP, WPI/Costa Rica, San Jose, August-December 2011: Feasibility Study on Biodiesel Plant in Cartago, Costa Rica, COMCURE (sponsor).
    • Second Place, IIE International Student Technical Paper Competition.
    • First Prize, Northeast Region Student Technical Paper Competition.
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