Will Cheng

Major: Materials Science and Engineering
Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan
Activities: Nominations & Elections Committee (NEC) of Penn Student Government
Interests: Swimming

Why Penn Engineering?

More than ratings, it was the fact that engineering at Penn isn’t just pure engineering study. It’s a springboard to launch your career in any direction you want. Application is always reinforced in our classes, with professors dedicating a good portion of their time to teach us how the subject applies to life outside college.

How is life different for you at Penn?

I went to an international high school in Taipei. The transition to Penn was more about a different way of life; it wasn’t the location that really mattered. As an international student, I’ve seen a lot of things and been a lot of places, so coming to Penn from Taipei wasn’t that hard. It wasn’t really a culture shock. What was different was what most freshmen find: the fast pace of life on campus, not being around parents, having to make your own decisions. Suddenly you realize you have all the time in the world, and yet you don’t have any time at all.

What does the Rachleff Scholars Program add to your education?

Being a Rachleff Scholar gives greater access to research opportunities on campus. I can explore what I have learned beyond the textbook level of understanding and apply this to real life problems and fields of study.

Currently I’m working with Professor Cherie Kagan, who does research on nanostructured materials and their application in electronic and optoelectric devices. I will be working on a 10-week research internship in her lab in the summer.

What are some of your extracurricular activities?

I joined the NEC of Penn Student Government. I had been involved in student government back in high school so I wanted to continue that here. Being part of NEC has helped me see and interact more with the rest of the school, and I have the privilege of meeting people from all walks of life. Student government is quite different here than it was in high school since we are dealing with an undergraduate population of 10,000.

I’m also a swimmer. I started at age 3 and began competing at age 5, but I figured I wouldn’t have time for varsity swimming at college so my career ended in high school. But I do get into the pool two-to-three times a week. I feel any sort of exercise is a critical component in a student’s daily regimen. You don’t have to be a professional athlete; just 30 minutes of exercise a day will make your life better.

What advice would you give those about to enter college?

One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve ever received was through an orientation program on my third day at Penn. The speaker opened my eyes to a simple truth: that at the end of the day, nobody really cares what you do. Nobody really cares how many organizations you join on campus, or whether you’re the president of ten clubs, or if you have a 4.0 GPA, or if you choose to go out and party every night or stay in and study. Nobody cares – except for you. You’re not out to impress anybody; stay true to yourself.