For Junhao Dong, Rutgers–Camden is a long way from home. A native of Suzhou, China, Junhao came to the United States to earn his bachelor’s degree at Rutgers–Camden – a place which, as Junhao puts it, “was an unknown territory to explore.” When he first arrived to campus, he planned to major in computer science, and set about adapting to his new life: studying, taking part in extracurricular activities, and making friends. A change was imminent, however; in his first year, Junhao indulged his passion for “exploring new things,” and in the process decided to switch his major to mechanical engineering, which requires him to transfer to the School of Engineering after spending the first two years at Rutgers–Camden.
Junhao admits that acclimating to a new culture and setting were not always easy and that the second semester of his first year was a difficult one; he credits the course Introduction to Scientific Computing, taught by Dr. Luca Larini, Assistant Professor of Physics, with helping him to regain his focus and passion for science in his sophomore year. Introduction to Scientific Computing is a course which introduces students to scientific programming and numerical methods such as MATLAB, which lets students analyze, process, and visualize relevant problems in biology, physics, and engineering. This course allowed students to put knowledge into practice, which reinvigorated Junhao. Dr. Larini took notice of Junhao’s enthusiasm and aptitude, and offered him a research opportunity. “I felt so excited that my passion for science, my curiosity for the unknown, was supported by a real scientist,” says Junhao.
It is this experience as a research assistant that Junhao feels has well prepared him for the next part of his journey, which starts this fall when he’ll transfer to the School of Engineering to complete his mechanical engineering degree. Calling his research experience with Dr. Larini a “great opportunity to learn things beyond textbooks,” Junhao worked with the physics professor and fellow students on an iron mobility measurement project; the ultimate goal of the project is to use molecular dynamic simulations to discover the motions of the protein in a specific circumstance. Junhao’s primary duty was to run weekly computer-based simulations and monitor the results. Junhao acknowledges the struggles and challenges associated with research, but also reiterates that the process helped him to “gain insight in molecular dynamics and bioinformatics and enhance my thinking and analytic ability.”
The personal and academic growth Junhao experienced at Rutgers–Camden will surely help him at the School of Engineering; while excited about this next step, Junhao also anticipates the high-level engineering courses to be challenging. Nevertheless, he’s certain that his time at Rutgers–Camden, and especially his time in the lab as a research assistant, have well prepared him for the challenges that lay ahead, and that he’s on the right track to his dream job, which is to design automobile engines. With a robust research background and his strong work ethic, we know that Junhao will succeed in whatever path he decides to take.
About Junhao Dong
Major: Mechanical Engineering (Junhao is a member of the Engineering Transfer Program)
Hometown: Suzhou, China
Written by Julie Roncinske