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  • [June 6, 2012]

    Part 3: Life as a COE Student

  • [Editor's note] On the occasion of the admissions season, in order to present an insider’s view of the College of Engineering (COE), we interviewed six current students to talk about their study and living status. The interviews will be presented in six episodes.

    Huan Shen is a junior majoring in Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is currently secretary general of the Boeing Aviation Club at Peking University and has won several awards including: “First Prize of Zhou Peiyuan Mechanics Competition,” “Third Prize of the National Undergraduate Physics Contest,” the “Schneider Scholarship” and the “ExxonMobil Scholarship.”

    Q: Why did you choose COE?
    A:
    I made COE as my first choice when filling [out] my university application form. On one hand, I have a very strong interest in physics and mathematics. On the other hand, having heard of many patriotic deeds of predecessor scientists like Father of Chinese Rocketry Qian Xuesen, I had a vision to "serve the country with engineering work."

    In my opinion, China's economy and society is undergoing a rapid development and will need strong backup from solid industries. The engineering field is very promising in the coming decades.

    COE attracts me with a history that can be traced back to the early 20th century, as well as its youthful vitality. It boasts of both mature curriculum and international visions.

    Q: What kind of platforms has COE provided for your studies and research?
    A:
    All the laboratories are open to the undergraduates, so sophomore and junior students can choose to conduct research in labs that suit their abilities and interests. Funding will also be provided by the college and the teachers. These are good platforms to improve our hands-on skills.

    I would also like to talk about my experience at the beginning of the second year when choosing a major. I was interested in the aerospace professional, but at the time the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics [had] just been set up, with not many undergraduate students. I had concerns about whether there was a reasonable curriculum and adequate faculty in the Department.

    I can recall that my mentor Professor Xiaolei Wu said to me: "Do not worry. What Peking University intends to do will be done properly. Even though there are a lot of difficulties, COE is determined, because this is a major national need, and Peking University should come to bear! "

    Indeed, in the two years, I witnessed the development of the department, from the introduction of a large number of world-class scholars to the construction of large-scale research platforms, from the increasingly close cooperation with major universities, research institutes, and large enterprises to the improved teaching system, from the internationally renowned scholars teaching to summer internships in Shanghai and Shenyang, I have witnessed the vitality of the young department and its effort and love toward the students.

    Q: Does COE care about the students’ after-school life?
    A:
    Yes, the College offers a wealth of grants and scholarships to support its students. For the undergraduate students, it is both financial and spiritual help. COE also organizes frequent and various activities to enrich our extra-curricular life, such as visits to museums, science museums, picnic outings, galas, Karaoke Contests, etc., which flavor our college life. In addition, the teachers of COE in charge of student affairs provide meticulous care and enthusiastic help in both studies and college life. I am very grateful to them.

    Q: How have you grown since you entered Peking University?
    A:
    The biggest gain should be the self-transformation. In the past several years, I have gained a broad vision, a solid professional foundation, a flexible thinking style, inner courage, dear friendship and the PKU spirit of tolerance and inclusiveness. I think compared to other things like scores, certificates and offers, the most important thing is achieving self growth.

    Q: What advice do you have for incoming freshmen about university and major selection?
    A:
    Major choosing is a two-way thing. The first point is that you choose the major you like or [are interested in]; the second is that you have to consider if it likes you, or in other words, is appropriate for you. Nevertheless, the most important issue is the interest.

    Regarding university choosing, comprehensive universities like PKU have more advantages, and in some way, are more attractive. You may achieve rational thinking style as well as humanistic feelings and artistic accomplishment. These will boost you in different fields, increase your competitiveness and therefore prepare you better for more complex environments.