An Interview On
University of Delaware

Background

Interview Date:Summer 2018

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Chinese American
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: December 2018
High School Experience: I went to a public school in Delaware with a graduating class of about 200 students. I was one of the first students to go through the IB program there. It was a lot of work, but it was helpful because it helped me pass college classes. There wasn’t really a culture of going to college, I think only about half of us went to college.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Major: Computer Engineering
Minor: Computer Science
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in a dance club, I’m in anime club, I do ballroom dancing, and I’m in the Asian Students’ Association, to name a few. I’m in a lot, but those are the ones I mostly go to.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The dance club, even though I joined my senior year. It was really fun being in it because it’s fun to meet people with the same interests. Also, after dance we go out to eat and watch a lot of movies together.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
As a computer engineer, you have a lot of work, especially labs. I think the workload is most during your freshman and sophomore courses because, not only do you have the Computer Engineering labs, but you also have to take a lot of math and physics courses, and those require labs too. Your schedule is quite packed. If you can get past the first two years, the workload will actually decrease in my opinion. The work gets harder but the amount is a lot less, so if you know what you’re doing it’s a lot easier to handle.

Can you briefly explain the difference between Computer Engineering and Computer Science?
In my opinion, I think the bigger difference is computer engineers have to know the inside and outside of the computer itself and you also know how to code, so you know the hardware and software. Computer Science majors mainly focus on software.

Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
What they did really well is in one of my freshman classes the professor really taught us about how circuit boards work and how they’re made. In terms of what they did poorly, the only thing I can think of is there was one class where we had to memorize an astronomical number of equations for an exam.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it was particularly competitive or collaborative?
I’d say it’s more collaborative. I think it’s really important for engineers to work well with each other and feed off each other’s strengths. All the labs and most of the homework assignments were done in groups of two to four people depending on the difficulty of the project, so you’re encouraged to work with your classmates. It’s not the best to work by yourself because the projects are quite big, and when you make a mistake while coding, it’s a lot easier to have multiple perspectives of how to change things or make it better.

What has been your favorite class in your major?
One of my senior level courses, I forget the name. It was about how the internet works and how all the protocols and search engines are working, such as Google and Yahoo, and how the code is written and how it predicts what the user is going to type.

What has been your least favorite class in your major?
It’s not really an engineering course per se, but the hardest course for me was the first physics course. Every engineering major requires you to take physics. If you don’t have a strong background in physics it’s really difficult, especially because you have to take at least two of them.

Why did you choose your major? 
I think most computer engineers like playing video games. A lot of people grow up playing their favorite game and grow up wanting to be one of the game designers, and I’m that way.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Typically, I like to go out on Main Street with my friends, and maybe eat some food together. Sometimes I would go to play some sports at the Bob [Carpenter Center]. Typically, in the nighttime I’d go to the dance clubs, hang out with friends to eat, or go to the gym.

What have been your favorite times at Delaware?
One of them was the International Dance Festival and you’d have to learn how to do a different variety of dances from different club members. There was some tap dancing, some ballet, some Irish dancing, etc. It was really fun because you get to experience what it’s like to be one of those dancers and how to move your body differently. Another event I really enjoyed was going to was Second Chance Prom. It’s actually really fun. You get to dance with a lot of people, eat food, and there’s a contest for best dressed and best dancer. I just enjoy whenever UD has events. Bill Nye the Science Guy came which was so much fun. It was one of the happiest moments because I got to see one of my favorite celebrities from growing up.

How happy were you with the weekend options at Delaware? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I wish I went out a bit more when I was a freshman. I was really swamped with a lot of work. I still had time to go out but I didn’t because I was really tired or I didn’t feel like it. When I got older I realized that this is something I should do before I head to the workforce because after that I won’t have all this free time.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus? What was your favorite?
Freshman: I lived in a single in Rodney on West Campus, but that is closed now.

Sophomore: Thomas McKean in North Campus. It’s a relatively new dorm compared to the others in North Campus. I had three roommates. I liked it the most because there was a piano in the lounge. I liked being in North Campus because you could meet a lot of people by being on the turf up there. You are also near your friends because the people who live there are mostly sophomore and juniors.

What was your favorite living situation?
Thomas McKean.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
On campus is really safe. Nothing bad happened to me at all. There’s lots of safety on campus, so I’ve been on campus walking around at 1AM and felt fine. There is also lots of lighting and security cameras. In terms of off-campus, Newark has a lot of police officers going around, especially on weekends. That makes me feel safer because there are usually officers nearby at nighttime so if somebody gets too drunk and something does happen, they are nearby.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I like going to the reservoir and taking pictures because a lot of my friends are photographers. In springtime it’s the best and you can take a lot of nice pictures there. If I’m feeling stressed out, I like to go there and relax and have some fun.

Campus Culture

How did being a first-generation student affect your time at Delaware?
I feel that there’s a different expectation for you when you’re a first-generation student. Your family wants to make sure you’re doing well and make sure you do well enough so that your offspring can receive some benefit that your other family members couldn’t.

How did you meet your closest friends?
One of my closest friends I met when I was younger, and then we met again freshman year. The two of us didn’t know a lot of people at that time, so we rekindled that friendship.

How would you describe the overall social scene?
I think a lot of the groups, at least the groups that I’ve been in, usually work together really well. In one instance, we had like 10 or 12 groups that were completely different and we were all working together for this big event at UD and every group worked really well with one another. We just wanted to make sure that the event was successful. I think the social scene is great. I think everyone is quite friendly and interact pretty well with one another.

To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
It really depends on the person. I have no problems with anyone. I’m friends with a lot of people that are LGBT or of different ethnicities. It’s easier for me to interact with other people because I speak about three languages and I understand other peoples’ cultures a bit better. I think people need to brush up on cultural differences and so they don’t overstep them on accident. [About 71% of undergraduate students are White.]

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you in applying to graduate school or finding internships?
I few alumni have helped me. I want to become a professor later on, so I need some experience teaching. I’d ask alumni where they started and what the best place for me to start would be. They recommended me some areas where I could specialize in different areas before returning to Delaware later on to try to become a professor.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Delaware before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how difficult some of the classes were going to be. I felt like when I was younger, I would have prepared a lot better for it.

Reasons to attend Delaware:
1) There are lots of clubs that you can join. You’ll definitely find a group that you fit in with.
2) It’s a really well-rounded school. There are a lot of departments that we excel in.
3) It’s a beautiful campus. We have lots of different types of buildings with different structures.
4) The dorms are nice.

Reasons to not attend Delaware:
1) Delaware’s a quieter place. If you want to go outside of Newark and explore, there’s not much else there.

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