MSE Senior Spotlight: Meet Kelly Liu

Kelly Liu

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

In my junior year of high school, I read a book called "Stuff Matters" for my chemistry class. It was about the materials science of everyday materials and I found it really fascinating. After exploring a few other majors at Cornell, I ultimately stuck with MSE because I enjoyed learning about the atomic origins of macroscopic phenomena and having tangible and visual examples of the concepts I was learning. I really appreciated and was excited by how versatile materials science is in a variety of industries and the flexibility that offered for my future career path.

Why did you choose Cornell?

I chose Cornell for its diverse student population and academic and extracurricular opportunities. I wanted to meet and interact with people from a variety of backgrounds and learn from their experiences. In addition, I felt Cornell's wide range of course offerings and extracurriculars gave me the most room to explore and grow as a person. It allowed me to pursue my various creative interests while continuing with a STEM education.

What hobbies do you have in your spare time?

My core hobbies include handcrafts (ex. knitting, sewing, origami), creative writing, and puzzles. On campus, I am a part of the Cornell Ukulele Club and the Assorted Aces, a beginner-friendly hip-hop dance troupe. During the pandemic I also started running an Instagram account for my sister's cats (@sterling_and_luna).

Do you have any advice for incoming Engineering students?

My first piece of advice is to not be afraid to go to office hours! I deeply feared being judged for asking "dumb questions" or I just did not know what to ask, but learning to ask good questions is a skill that needs practice. My TAs and professors have always been supportive and willing to help and sometimes just hearing other people's questions can be helpful in itself. My second piece of advice is to figure out a balanced schedule that has ample time for rest and relaxation as early as possible! A lot of people experience the "stress Olympics," but I found working myself to the bone was incredibly unsustainable. I realized that my happiness and mental and physical health are more important than feeling like I was doing "enough" academically. Once I started making sure I slept enough and made time for myself, I have had much more energy and motivation to meaningfully engage with my courses and friendships.

What is next for you?

I plan to go into industry, but I am not sure what that looks like right now. Ideally, I would like to enter a rotational program somewhere or work for a startup where I can learn in what positions I can best leverage my strengths for a company. I specifically want to explore technical positions beyond materials engineering, such as project or product management.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Given how much my idea of my career has changed in the last four years as I have learned more about industry and the world at large, I do not have a concrete vision for where I see myself in 10 years; I expect that vision to continue to change drastically in the next few years. In general, I hope that whatever work I end up doing sustainably improves people's quality of life and access to basic needs, especially in developing countries so that people there can fulfill their potential.

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