ME Student Paths: Faculty Appointments in Top Programs
UMN ME students are set up for success, whether they are joining academia or going into industry. Here's one example: former ME PhD student and postdoc Xuanting Hao will join the University of California, San Diego as a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
One of the indicators of a strong department is that its PhD students become faculty at top ranked universities. Our department has been successful in preparing future faculty members at Big 10+ schools through very competitive processes, and Hao's appointment is no different. The Jacobs School of Engineering of UCSD is #10 in the U.S. News rankings of the top engineering schools. UCSD's fluid mechanics is particularly strong, and their physical oceanography in the Scripps Institution of Oceanography is one of the best in the world.
Hao started at ME as a PhD student, the first student Professor Lian Shen advised after coming to the U, graduating in 2019 and staying on in Shen's group as a postdoc. In addition to his research, Hao served as an RA, a TA, and was a member of the University Senate, among other roles. He specialized in computational fluid dynamics, writing computer programs and solving mathematical equations to study fundamental problems in fluid mechanics. While at UMN ME and SAFL, Hao built numerical models and performed simulations to study the wave-related energy transfer across the atmosphere and ocean boundary as part of his thesis, “A Song of Atmosphere and Ocean: Modeling and Simulation-Based Study of Nonlinear Waves.” The outcomes of this study have great implications for applications including weather forecasting and marine infrastructure protection, helping to understand and protect our planet.
"The ME faculty was a group of wonderful mentors to me," said Hao. "I learned extremely valuable academic survival skills fro Professor Shen, including identifying research areas, scientific writing, and self-management. I also benefited greatly from the flexibility of the ME PhD program so that I could take courses from ME, AEM, CEGE, and Mathematics." Hao also shared that ME alumni served as role models for him, and seeing their award plaques was inspiring and encouraged him to continue with his research. He also enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere at ME, which allowed him to spend his spare time serving the community at the department, college, and university level. Hao's proudest accomplishment is initiating the first student-led annual safety training program in ME, under the guidance of Professor Zongxuan Sun.