McCormick School senior Edward Pang, whose goal is to create a more sustainable world using materials, is one of only 14 students nationwide to receive a Churchill Scholarship this year. He credits hands-on experience, including four years with the Northwestern Formula Racing team, as key to his success. (Photo by Sally Ryan)
Edward Pang, a senior engineering student at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, has received the prestigious Churchill Scholarship from the Winston Churchill Foundation, allowing him to pursue his graduate studies at the University of Cambridge.
Pang, the eighth Churchill Scholar from Northwestern since 2003, was selected from among 90 nominees nationwide for the 14 scholarships awarded this year. The foundation’s competitive scholarship program offers American citizens of exceptional ability and outstanding achievement the opportunity to pursue graduate studies in engineering, mathematics or the sciences at Cambridge.
MSC graduate student Andrea Nazarian had a chance to chat with Edward to learn more about his time at Northwestern and his plans for the future.
Why did you choose Northwestern over other schools?
The main reason I chose Northwestern was because of the individualized attention and opportunities offered to students as well as the unique engineering curriculum.
Because of the small student body at Northwestern, everyone has an opportunity to interact with the world-famous faculty both inside and outside the classroom. This has allowed me to gain invaluable research experience and build a close relationship with many professors who were instrumental to my success. I was also able to work individually with our fabulous Office of Fellowships. I know that I would not have been able to win the Churchill Scholarship without their help.
Being a builder and tinkerer since childhood, I was drawn to the engineering design and communication (now called design thinking and communication) curriculum. While many other engineering programs offered a wonderful technical education, Northwestern is unique in that it allows freshmen to immediately gain hands-on engineering and manufacturing experience while building soft skills to complement the classroom experience. This program, as well my four years on the Northwestern Formula Racing team, has given me a diverse set of practical skills that I would not necessarily have gained somewhere else.
It also didn’t hurt that the campus is located on Lake Michigan just a short train ride from the wonderful city of Chicago!
What is your fondest memory of your time at Northwestern?
It’s hard to pick favorites. But I’ll always cherish the late nights spent with friends, whether it be cramming for tests, building the racecar for the Northwestern Formula Racing team, hanging out in Chicago or chatting on the rocks.
What attracted you to the field of sustainability?
I have been fascinated by airplanes since I was a small child. I continued to follow the aviation industry as I grew older and learned about environmental issues. This period of my life coincided with rising fuel prices and increasing awareness over growing carbon emissions, which led manufacturers like Boeing to face pressure for more fuel-efficient aircraft. As I looked around me to appreciate how technologies such as airplanes have transformed our lives, I did not want to leave future generations with a planet unable to support such ubiquitous innovations.
Motivated by a desire to improve the efficiency of future aircraft, I wanted to learn more about sustainable living. During my first two years of college, I lived in GREEN House, a small dorm of fifty undergraduates with a shared devotion to the environment. Believing that change occurs when people with different skills and experiences come together over a common goal, I hoped that GREEN House would challenge me to think more broadly about ways to preserve our planet’s ability to sustain us. Here, I became friends with a group of passionate upperclassmen who also recognized the urgent need for change. As I watched them guide environmental policy in Evanston and create nonprofits to support sustainable innovation, I wished to leave my mark as a materials scientist as we pooled our talents to support the greater goal of sustainability.
Have you ever traveled to the UK before? If not, what most excites you about traveling there?
No, I have never been to the UK or Europe. I am most excited to be immersed in British culture. Hopefully, I will be able to pick up a British accent!
What are you most looking forward to at Cambridge?
I am looking forward to meeting new people and learning from them. Cambridge, and especially Churchill College, attracts a plethora of amazing people from around the world. But beyond this network and the members of my research group, I also hope to get involved in music, soccer and sustainability groups. Maybe I’ll even get into rowing!
What would you like to do after school?
I plan to pursue a PhD in materials science and engineering and obtain a faculty position at a research university. As a professor, I hope to teach and mentor the next generation of scientists and engineers and pursue my research interests in energy-efficient alloys. I plan to combine the use of experimental and computational techniques to accelerate the discovery of novel engineering alloys, including lightweight structural alloys, high-temperature alloys, and shape-memory alloys, to accommodate more energy-efficient technologies. This is part of the greater goal to expand the boundaries of energy-efficiency to preserve and expand availability of basic technologies for everyone and minimize irreversible climate change.
For more information on fellowship opportunities, contact Sara Anson Vaux, director of the Northwestern University Office of Fellowships, at 847-491-2617 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more stories from this month's Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University's online community.