Master's Profile: Yaying Feng

Yaying FengCurrent Position: PhD Student in Materials Science at Duke University

Undergraduate: Bachelor of Engineering, University of Science and Technology Beijing (China)

Duke MEMS Path: Master of Science (MS) in Materials Science, 2015

Why did you choose Duke for your graduate study?

Duke is a prestigious university, so Duke's reputation was a big draw. The school also offers a two-year Master of Science (MS) program with research opportunities. This is different from many other universities, which only provide 1-year or 1.5-year, class-based master's programs with little research requirement. Research experience is a big attraction to me. I also had an adviser at Duke who could supervise my research and give me advice and direction, which was a big draw as well.

What has been the most valuable part of your education experience at Duke?

I think the research component was the most valuable part of my experience as an MS student at Duke. From day one until my last day, I never stopped doing research. The program is very supportive, and it was very encouraging of master's students to pursue research experience. Additionally, the multicultural environment gave me ample opportunities to interact with different people with a variety of backgrounds and interests. I also had a chance to participate in extracurricular activities that helped to develop my interpersonal skills and broaden my own perspective.

What courses have been the most useful?

As an international student, I think the English courses offered by The Graduate School at Duke were the most helpful ones, which was unique at Duke. These classes helped me to better communicate with my classmates, and I am sure will be helpful in my future career development.

How did your experience as a MS student prepare you for your PhD?

My MS studies gave me opportunities to try my hand at different research paths, and it gave me time to make my decisions for my future. The research experience I received from Duke cultivated my interest in research, and equipped me with necessary skillsets to advance in mechanical engineering. This also factored into why I decided to stay at Duke for my PhD.

What advice would you give to students who have received an MS and are going on to pursue a PhD?

I'd suggest to new PhD students to plan ahead before you start your PhD. We need clear goals to do everything efficiently, and we need to remember that the PhD is not a destination, but something to help you advance in the long run.