CEEE Hosts Visiting Students from Abroad

Story by Francesca Pascual

Visiting students Oliver Schmid, Ji Wang, Nan Zheng, and Zili Yang have ventured to the United States to join the CEEE and pursue their work. All four are working in the heat pump lab under the guidance of Jan Muehlbauer and Dr. Yunho Hwang. The students are enjoying the enriching atmosphere created by their advisors, and are enjoying their time in the United States.



Oliver Schmid is an undergraduate from Karlsrhue University, Germany.  His interest in environmental energy engineering made CEEE’s intern program a perfect fit. In the first two months that he has been here, he has been working on his first research projects. “I’m learning how to start a research project and present the findings,” Schmid said, excitedly, “but I’m also learning to interact with international corporations and use new software to assemble heat exchangers.” Schmid is also working on an absorber and a desorber to build and run tasks. “I’m also helping a Master’s student with his dissertation by researching a roll bonding heat exchanger,” he further explained.” Before coming attending college, Schmid served in the German Navy. “It’s normal to volunteer or travel for a year, but I decided to serve in the military,” he explained. After his military service, Schmid pursued his interest engineering. Now he has new plans; “I would like to come back to UMD for a Master’s degree,” he said.

Schmid first came to the United States five years ago during a German-American friendship program for 10 days. The trip left an impression on him. “I really like how people here are more social and open. I’ve been able to make a lot of friends that I hang out with on the weekend.” he replied. He also believes he has more space to pursue his own work, and he was able to pick his own focus when he came to the United States. However, he misses the bread and pizza from his home in Weingarten, Germany.  Before he returns to Germany in September, he hopes to travel and learn more about American culture.

Ji Wang is currently focused on fundamental research involving condenser flow in microchannels for heat exchanger applications. Under the guidance of Dr. Yunho Hwang, Wang is working on simulation models for his Ph.D. thesis. He met Dr. Hwang at a conference in China while a student at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. “I could tell Dr. Hwang is very professional about his research, so I contacted him when I decided I wanted to come to the United States for an exchange program,” Wang said. Wang feels that his time at the Center for Environmental Energy Engineering (CEEE) has been productive. “At CEEE I have the opportunity to pursue topics that I care about,” he explained.

 “While I’m here, I would like to finish an analysis of data that I’ve collected, run simulations, and write some papers,” he said of his goals, “but I would like to also make friends here and get a taste of American culture.” Wang has already visited Atlanta, where he explored caverns. He would like to travel more during his stay. Wang feels his time in the United States is an exciting opportunity, but misses certain aspects of home, especially the food. “I have a hard time finding authentic Chinese food here, but I’ve liked trying new things, like Indian food,” he replied.  Wang’s experience at CEEE and in the United States will hopefully be an enriching one. Though he is currently tied up with work, he feels that it is appropriate for the United States’ culture. “The people here are very hard-working and efficient. I like that,” he said with admiration. He hopes this motivation will allow him to graduate in just a year.

Zili Yang, is a Ph.D. student from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. He’s here to work on a project researching a novel high-efficient absorption cooling system by building a new experimental setup in the CEEE Heat Pump Lab.  Yang graduated from Xi’an Jiao Tong University in China with a B.S. in Civil Engineering, with a focus on HVAC.  He became interested in the field, because he says, “My hometown is polluted by coal burning, and I want to benefit the environment by developing energy saving equipment.” He further explains that HVAC and refrigeration takes up on average 40 percent of the energy use in a home.  By making HVAC more energy efficient, there will be decrease the use of coal.  

Yang remarks about the contrast between working in China and the USA.  “There is a huge difference,” he says, “People here are self-motivated and lead their lives more independently.”  He further explains, “I notice here that people of their own five year plans.  In China we are more group motivated.”  One of the advantages to his time at UMD is the chance to attend visiting lecturer seminars. “I have enjoyed attending these lectures and learning from professors from around the world.”

When he has a bit of free time, Yang enjoys visiting Washington, DC and also swimming at the campus recreation center.  He also hopes to visit California before he returns to China.  He looks forward to visiting his parents, retired mineral factory workers who live in a town that's name translates to ‘Silver’.  ‘They’ve done a lot for me, to give me a good education’, he says.  He has one more year of Ph.D. studies before his graduation in summer 2017.  Following graduation, he wants to conduct research and teach at a university. He also plans to marry after graduation.  His girlfriend, Rong Cao, is a medical student.

Nan Zheng, a Tianjin University, China Ph.D. student, conducts research work in thermal engineering.  His project here relates to refrigerant mixtures and applications in heat pump systems with Dr. Yunho Hwang.  Under his supervision, he Zheng is building a test system to run basic experiments, and hopes to create a novel heat exchanger. Additionally, Zheng is conducting theoretical work and calculations for vapor injection that can be applied to heat pumps for better performance.

During his time here, Zheng has been able to experience many aspects of American culture, and has had the opportunity to travel the west coast. He and his wife spent two weeks in California and Las Vegas. In addition to his sightseeing, Zheng has experienced other aspects of living in the United States. “I like the environment. There is a lot of pollution in China, and here there is clean air,” he said. He also enjoys seeing the wildlife, from squirrels and deer to swans and eagles.

Zheng has spent the last year working toward his ultimate goal: earning his Ph.D. He expects to graduate by the end of 2016. He hopes that before he returns to China, he will be able to improve his professional skills, write several papers under Dr. Hwang’s guidance, and expand his engineering horizon. Though he has been committed to his research and education, Zheng also has a number of personal goals. “While I am here, I want to experience as many new things as I can,” he said, decidedly, “but I also want to go to the NBA Championships game.”