Graduate Student Spotlight: Jiali Huang

Pursuing a career in engineering was an easy and natural choice for ISE Ph.D. student Jiali Huang. You see, she grew up watching her parents, both engineers, tackle a variety of challenges, and she wanted to be a part of that world. “Engineers solve problems,” believes Huang.

The first step in launching her engineering career was to select a discipline. She decided to be an industrial and systems engineer after learning that the field offered a lot of possibilities. “You get to learn a remarkable breadth and depth of knowledge that equips you with skill and confidence to handle any future challenges,” explained Huang. “The ISE journey exposes you to all sorts of opportunities and you get to find the one that suits you the best.” 

She received her B.S. in industrial engineering from Shandong University in China but had a passion for learning more. “After undergraduate studies, I felt the need to dive a bit deeper into areas that particularly interest me,” Jiali said. “In grad school, I would get to study and work with people who shared the same passion as me.” 

Huang determined that NC State was where she should get her education because of its long history of excellence and its “Think and Do” attitude. “The innovative and supportive atmosphere at the ISE department made me believe this would be a good place to pursue my degree,” she recalled. “Also, Raleigh is a nice city to live in.”

In the ISE Department, Huang teamed up with professor CS Nam, whose constant encouragement, along with that of the rest of the research team, helped her forge ahead with her research. Under his guidance, she submitted a paper to the 2020 Alphonse Chapanis Student Paper Competition. Jiali did not expect her work on human-automation interaction to make it far. “I did not expect it to survive the multiple rounds of selection processes,” confided Huang. To her surprise, her paper not only survived the first few rounds, but even made it to the finals. “It is especially encouraging because neuroergonomics is relatively new in the field of human factors,” Jiali explained. “Getting in the final round means this method is gaining more attention and is being recognized by professionals. It is also a pat on the back for the work I’ve done, so that felt great too.”

Once Huang graduates, she intends to stay in academia. This way, she can teach what she’s learned to future generations of engineers and also continue her research. “Hopefully, I can put what I’ve learned to use and pass it down to people who shared the same passion as me,” she said. “Life is full of changes, and I cannot speak for my future self, but staying in academia seems like a good path.”