Susan Su thought she was discovering a brand new café. She was in Beijing for the second half of her hole yr, working with a biomedical engineering group at Tsinghua College. However the lab was comparatively new, and he or she was filling her time by exploring the town.
She quickly realized she had as a substitute stumbled into the primary nonprofit, independently owned theater in China, which supplemented its earnings with a café. Productions had been halted and employees had left due the Covid-19 pandemic, but the place nonetheless had an environment that intrigued her. By the tip of the day Su had joined a listing of volunteers, and for the subsequent six months she discovered herself on the heart of a small however vibrant arts tradition.
Now a mechanical engineering main at MIT, Su had childhood desires of being an artist, however she had by no means been uncovered to theater earlier than. Although she largely helped out in café operations, simply being round her co-workers was an eye-opening expertise.
“It was then that I discovered to actually respect artwork, but in addition how distinctive these areas had been, particularly in China,” Su says. “All of my co-workers had been utterly totally different than me. They had been all performing arts college students, [but] it was very nice how nicely we bought alongside, regardless of how totally different we had been.”
Su returned to MIT with a brand new appreciation for theater, not solely as an artwork type however as a medium for expression and social change. Since then, she’s labored with MIT’s Musical Theatre Guild and the Wuming Theater Membership in technical and design roles.
A broad vary of pursuits
Su’s openness and appreciation for brand spanking new experiences led her to review mechanical engineering with a focus in bioengineering and world growth. Although she got here to MIT with an curiosity in molecular biology, being surrounded by the maker tradition pushed her towards engineering.
“I by no means bought down on my palms and knees and constructed a curler coaster,” says Su, referring to the East Campus dormitory’s custom of setting up a curler coaster (or an in any other case giant construction) in its courtyard throughout Residential Exploration Week. “However I believe it extra subtly influenced me,” she says, including that she was additionally impressed by pals who labored on private tasks in makerspaces, that are retailers designed and staffed particularly to assist college students to just do that.
Like that theater in China, MIT’s vibrant maker tradition has been uniquely inspiring for Su. “I see all these items being created throughout me, and that influenced me to be a extra inventive particular person,” she says.
Nonetheless, she hasn’t deserted her curiosity in biology and medical analysis. She finds time to pursue her curiosity in biology by way of interdisciplinary UROP tasks “the place [she] can use mechanical engineering for a biology or medication utility.”
To date, she’s labored on tasks involving microfluidic programs for sepsis detection, surgical devices for neuroengineering, patient-specific coronary heart fashions for testing out cardiac therapeutics, and strategies for diagnosing lung most cancers.
Her curiosity in these applied sciences goes past the most recent improvements; Su additionally strives to make an influence on the worldwide scale. After getting back from her hole yr, she began taking lessons in MIT’s D-Lab that concentrate on engineering options to world poverty challenges. Already, she has helped design a water desalination system with companions in southern Madagascar, and an assistive stair-climbing gadget for households in Latin America.
Su says it’s this type of work that she needs to proceed after graduating: “I wish to not solely work straight with communities to create options to their issues, but in addition empower them to take possession of those merchandise and the method.”
Searching for new views
When requested what she’s trying ahead to in her senior yr, Su says she is worked up for the Wuming Theater Membership’s fall manufacturing of “I like XXX,” an experimental play written by Meng Jinghui. She first discovered in regards to the play in China on Stage, a category she took throughout her junior yr after returning to MIT. It explores the society that emerged in Twentieth-century China after the Cultural Revolution by way of its characters’ private accounts, with most of their traces beginning with “I like…”
“I actually like theater that tackles social points, notably in China the place individuals might not have as a lot energy to talk out,” says Su. Because the technical director of the manufacturing, she will probably be in command of “costumes, set design, props, all of that. From a design standpoint, this will probably be a very attention-grabbing manufacturing.”
Together with her broad vary of pursuits and concentrate on social change in each engineering and the humanities, Su is poised to be a considerate world citizen. Although she’s nonetheless uncertain on what precisely the longer term holds, Su is aware of needs to journey quite a bit in her profession — “not essentially within the vacationing sense. I actually take pleasure in assembly new individuals and getting uncovered to totally different cultures or individuals of various backgrounds.
“I would like my perspective to be continuously modified, renewed, and challenged. And I really feel that touring and assembly individuals with totally different backgrounds, totally different tales — that’s a really efficient manner for us to place our personal backgrounds and biases into views and see what others worth.”
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