PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Think you are the best” my advisor, Dr. Qiming Wang, said. Delivering my screening exam presentation, I shrank and choke before committee members. Everyone could readily figure out I was frozen solid. After it ended, my advisor kindly explained me in detail why I should be or, at least, try to look confident when presenting my idea (basically, no one buys yours when you don’t look like buying yours), and the best way to do so is to think I am the best. At that time, I could understand why he had sometimes told me “Audie, you are smart” or “you are doing great” in the lab – an aha moment. He had been planting seeds of confidence in me for about two years (gosh, I was too dull to figure it out early). Well, in fact, this advice itself is one that everyone can give out easily. But that advice from him reflects his long observation and thoughtfulness towards me – the best piece of advice.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
If my future children say ‘I wanna become a grown-up like my dad,’ that must be the greatest accomplishment ever in my life.
What's your favorite impulse purchase from the past 12 months?
Some Nintendo Switch game cartridges – I don’t have Nintendo Switch and have no plan to get one lol Doesn’t this make you laugh already? Well, just thinking “Someday I’m gonna play it so hard” makes me feel better when I get stressed. I didn’t purchase just a bunch of game cartridges, instead, I bought a collection of (well-sugarcoated) mood shifters.
Please describe a little about your research and what excites you about it.
My research fields include mechanics, wave propagation, metamaterials, and some novel structures. Does it sound like civil engineering topics? Most people usually think that civil engineering is all about soils, rocks, construction, earthquakes, and water. Right, but not ‘all.’ Surprisingly, due to many efforts for interdisciplinary research, the intersection area between research fields has been emerging wide – and that’s where something new is likely to come about. I mix civil engineering, mechanical engineering, materials engineering, and physics all together to bridge novel ideas with reality. Becoming an explorer looking for a treasure chest full of groundbreaking ideas, doesn’t it excite you?
If you could choose any other profession outside of engineering or computer science, what would it be?
Paleontology. Trojans love Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones, right? Forget that Dr. Jones is actually an archeologist. Harrison Ford in Jurassic Park, that’s what I want to be in my second life. Hmm, Han Solo in Jurassic Park is also not a bad idea.
What are some factors that helped you decide to pursue your PhD at USC?
Support from USC. USC always tries its best to offer students an optimal environment for research. Especially, I have been more than just satisfied with the assistantship that USC provides. With all concerns about money-related issues excluded, I can only focus on my research during my Ph.D. career. I profoundly appreciate USC and proud alumni for their financial support.
If you were to recommend to an incoming student 3 places to go in California/Los Angeles, what would they be?
Griffith Observatory: While many tourists perceive it as just one of the popular places in L.A., it comes to me as something like home where I can freely visit and blow away all the stress with the cool breeze, looking at the grid of the city.
El Taurino: It’s one of the best Mexican restaurants in L.A. Luckily, it’s right next to USC. Just go try burritos there. Further words are a waste of ink.
UCLA Rose Bowl: Watching Trojans vs. Bruins football match at Rose Bowl is the best thing you can do in L.A. – Trojans never lose.
What is a memory you'll cherish about your time at USC?
In early 2020, a tragedy visited my family, and I was withering away like barley plants during the Dust Bowl period. But my Ph.D. colleagues and USC staffs picked me up from the dust swamp. Their support was the rope of hope I could hold on to get out of that depression. It was the spirit of ‘Together We Fight On.’ This memory will never fade away.
What's one thing about you that might surprise me?
Nothing. My life has been boring, especially during the COVID-19 period.
What are your plans after graduation?
Pursuing postdoctoral researcher position and faculty position.
Hometown (city, country):
Busan, South Korea
Personal Website (if any):
Dr. Qiming Wang