Meet as many people as you can, and you will find the world bigger than you imagined. Always work hard and play hard. Go Bears!
Can You Tell Us a Little Bit About Yourself?
I am currently studying Material Science at the National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) in Taiwan, and completing my Bachelor’s degree during the final year of my undergraduate career. I have been trying to find an opportunity to study abroad since sophomore year. When I was in my junior year in Taiwan at NTHU, the department announced the exchange program with Berkeley, so I applied for it right away! That is how I came to the Dado and Maria Banatao Center for Global Learning and Outreach from Berkeley Engineering, GLOBE Online program.
How was your online experience in Berkeley?
In the beginning, I was afraid that online classes will be less efficient considering we are not in the classroom together and there will be fewer interactions, but Prof. Matthew Sherburne made us feel really connected. It was as if there were no time-zone differences, and he greeted us really well and it really warmed up my heart.
The content of the class is pretty broad while not being shallow. The important part is that we are given lots of advice about how we can connect what we are learning to the work we will do in the future. The talks we were given during classes conveyed that we should realize the importance of “Interdisciplinary Learning”. The course “Material Production” gives me a lot of new insights in terms of interesting knowledge and intellectual thoughts.
In addition, the students I met in Berkeley were a highlight of my experience. My group mates are really nice during group meetings. I was taking MSE120 Material Production with them. During zoom meetings and messenger chats, we really opened up to one another and shared about the troubles in our lives. They are incredibly kind and it is heart-warming to make friends on the other side of the world.
What are some differences and similarities between classes in Taiwan vs Berkeley?
In Taiwan, we would not have many chances to ask the professors or lecturers questions. We will only ask the Teaching Assistants(TA). In UC Berkeley, we could ask the professor a lot of questions during office hours and it would be a more efficient way to get our questions answered than if we were to only ask our TA. I can ask Prof. Matthew Sherburne questions about MSE120 directly and solve my issues instantly.
What challenges did you encounter in the class in general and through online? Would you have done anything differently?
While the quality of the class in Berkeley is really good, the only downfall is the time difference. I did not attend any virtual activities offered by Berkeley because much of them are held during the time I am sleeping or having classes in NTHU. I also cannot attend the College of Engineering hosted virtual touring of the Berkeley campus. I really wanted to join them to get to know all the buildings and all the scenic viewpoints; however, it takes place really late in my time-zone.
In terms of different things I would have done retrospectively, I would try my best to attend all of the office hours if I got a second chance. I feel that it would be more worthwhile and efficient to ask professor questions during that time as opposed to using email to ask questions.
What are your future career goals? Did you find your experience here to be helpful for grad school/job?
I am going to start grad school in NTHU and I want to start a start-up once I find enough partners who are professional enough one or two years after graduation. I am still thinking about applying for PhD . For the start-up, I am interested in the CS industry or conventional industry in alloys. I am still trying to look for partners, so I am not super sure what I will found in the future.
I think the concept of “Interdisciplinary Learning” I gained from Berkeley can be applied to some of my career plans during my grad school life, and perhaps give me guidance in what classes to take or which company I should apply for an internship.
Overall, did you find the virtual program to be worthwhile?
Yes, indeed. The entire semester is a special experience for me, especially during the pandemic. This program and the online classes in Berkeley gave me a special chance to know companies in the field such as Intel, and it conveyed to me the importance of interdisciplinary learning.
In Taiwan, there haven’t been many classes combining machine learning or artificial intelligence with material science yet. The combination of machine learning techniques and material science in my class is something I enjoyed quite a lot at UC Berkeley. When we combine machine learning knowledge with our domain expertise in material science, it will be much easier for us to apply our knowledge to the real world and even get a job because the intersection between the two subjects will create greater results.
Do you have any advice for future GLOBE students?
First of all, congrats! You should be proud of yourself to get a chance to study at Berkeley. Meet as many people as you can, and you will find the world bigger than you imagined. Always work hard and play hard. Go Bears!
Jason Chen studies material science as an undergrad at National Tsing Hua University (NTHU). He is an alumnus of the GLOBE visiting students program.
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