Interview by Viktoria Pashtriku
For today’s Engineer Spotlight we are interviewing Duro Mechanical Engineer Jingyih Lee. One of the earliest members of the AUV team, as well as the youngest, Jingyih talks about what got him interested in his field, how his experience at Duro has helped him as an engineer, and his passion for nature.
Viktoria Pashtriku: Why don’t you start by introducing yourself?
Jingyih Lee: Hi! My name is Jingyih Lee and I have been working at Duro UAS since pretty much the beginning of the AUV Project, which is now nearing completion. I started last summer when I was in between my freshman and sophomore year.
VP: What are you currently studying in school?
JL: I am studying mechanical engineering at the City College of New York.
VP: What made you decide to pursue mechanical engineering?
JL: Back in high school I was in the Science Olympiad and I worked on a project where I had to build a wooden bridge. I found out that I like working with something that is tangible. If I work hard on something, I want to be able to see a physical contraption. I want to look at it and be able to say, “I made this!”
A lot of engineering is problem solving, that’s the portion that I like about it – I like to use my brain. Engineering is something that you need intelligence behind. Math and science are also something I am really passionate about.
VP: You said you started working here the summer when you were transitioning between your freshman and sophomore year. How did you find out about Duro?
JL: I found out about Duro through an email from the Zahn Center [an on-campus startup incubator at City College of New York]. They were offering summer internships. Duro is giving me the technical experience and has showed me what goes into a startup company. You cannot learn that at a corporate job because you are stuck in a pigeonhole – you are given one thing to do. At Duro, you can work on a variety of different things.
VP: When you first started working at Duro, what projects did you start to work on?
JL: Our first problem was making a vehicle that could withstand high currents and be very maneuverable, which most commercially available AUVs are not — they are generally designed for the deep sea or low-current waters, not dynamic environments. The vehicle also had to be very water dynamic. This means that it doesn’t catch too much draft from the currents. We were also working to tackle the problem of creating an underwater vehicle that would be “smart”, which means able to determine its environment and perform certain functions autonomously. There were many different designs and we did a lot research.
It was very daunting at first to come to Duro where everyone here had more experience and knew their stuff, but this environment really shaped me and brought the best out of me.
VP: Have you seen growth in yourself while working at Duro?
JL: Yes, definitely! I have grown a lot, especially when I compare myself to my peers now in school. A lot of the things we learn in school are very idealistic. It’s useful, but very theoretical. Duro gave me the opportunity to work on a project in which my decisions matter and have an impact on the project. It’s not about being idealistic, it’s about thinking practically about what works.
Duro gave me the opportunity to work on a team. It has stressed the importance of engineering as a group effort. As a team you can see so many more problems because everyone sees a facet that you do not see. Duro has exposed me to this team experience.
Also, personally, I feel as if I have gotten a lot more mature working with individuals who are much older than me. They have given me so much advice regarding life and my career path. They have become my mentors.
VP: What plans or goals do you have for your future career?
JL: I am not too sure yet, but I do have a dream that I was to pursue: I want to become an inventor. I want to probably one day have my own company and be able to develop a product that can be used globally that everyone needs. That’s what I want to do. I want to make a difference in this world by inventing new products.
VP: Is working at Duro helping you get to that goal?
JL: Yes, absolutely. Duro is giving me the technical experience and has showed me what goes into a startup company. You cannot learn that at a corporate job because you are stuck in a pigeonhole – you are given one thing to do. At Duro, you can work on a variety of different things.
VP: Aside from engineering and inventing, what other passions do you have?
JL: I am a nature lover. I like to go camping and skiing. I just love spending time in nature and it is very therapeutic to me. I am a very outdoors person and I do not like to be cramped up in the city. So I explore upstate New York, Vermont and other areas.
I also enjoy photography. I like to appreciate things for what they are and the beauty that is always around you. So I take lots of pictures when I go on my nature trips.
VP: Did your passion for nature motivate you to start working at a company where we use technology for environmental purposes?
JL: Yes. When I first learned about Duro through the email, I did my research and Duro correlated to all of my interests: engineering, environmentalism and doing good.
VP: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me today Jingyih!