Zhenninig Li


Story by Francesca Pascual

Ph.D. student Zhenning Li has made great strides this semester, marked by his impressive academic performance and is currently working on a next generation heat exchanger. He uses CoilDesigner to create models while adopting several mathematic models and writing source code. After having spent the last two years polishing these skills, Li would like to find other ways to incorporate them into projects. As a parallel task, he is addressing refrigerant and air distribution for heat exchangers with Dr. Vikrant Aute. “Our goal is to improve the accuracy of our model so it better predicts performance,” he explains.

Credits his experience at CEEE of becoming more efficient

Li became a CEEE student September 2014, and has appreciated every moment of the experience. “In terms of knowledge and techniques, my programming skills have improved significantly. I also feel that I am more efficient and my work habits have improved,” he mentions. In addition, Li values the hands-on experience he gets in a lab because it provides him with a way to learn practical skills efficiently and use his knowledge every day. The close ties with sponsors has also given Li a better understanding of customer desires and real demand that he would need to be successful in an industrial career. More than anything, Li likes the people he works with. “Everyone is talented, and I am lucky to be surrounded by people who have a lot of expertise about many topics,” he smiles.

Originally from the Gansu province, Li misses his hometown’s famous beef noodles. He likes to visit at least once a year for the specialty foods and to see his parents. “I think I miss my parents more than most students because we’re very close,” he mentions. With the current technology, it’s a bit easier to stay in touch. Prior to coming to the University of Maryland, Li earned his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in July 2014. The appeal of industry work became apparent to him when he had an internship at Audic for a semester in his senior year. Li hopes to become a post doc for a couple of years before he moves on to industry work. “I want to approach my career with as much knowledge I can,” he replies, “and like the idea of making a real product that people use, so industry seemed like a good fit.” 

Love of knowledge includes pursuits in the arts and sports

Although Li has proven his skill set and dedication through his work, he pursues more opportunities to learn in his free time. He has earned his Microsoft application development certification, Matlab professional certificate, and his A2 language level certificate in German. His love for knowledge has also lead him to pursue piano. “I take lessons at the Clarice Center, and my teacher is very talented. I was not able to learn piano in China, and I’m glad I have an opportunity to now,” he says. He also enjoys playing tennis and swimming. Li hopes that before he graduates, he will publish three papers, become a Microsoft Associated Professional Windows app developer, and pass the B2 language level, marking him as an independent speaker.