Mike Shao: Chemical Engineering Graduating Student Q&A

| May 6, 2021

Shao has worked in Professor Andrea Armani’s lab researching core-shell nanoparticles and will now take on a role in BP’s Trader Development Program in Houston.

Mike Shao

Mike Shao

Mike Shao
Sugar Land, Texas
B.S. Chemical Engineering

What first inspired you to study engineering?

I decided to study engineering because I had so many questions about how the world worked. In high school, I enjoyed my chemistry and math classes, so I gravitated towards chemical engineering, but still wasn’t sure about what I wanted to study. However, classes like transport phenomena and thermodynamics were key in helping me understand more about the world, and the engineering labs helped me apply those concepts in real life.

What was a highlight of your time at USC Viterbi?

One of my fondest memories at USC Viterbi was being able to travel to Orlando, FL for the 2019 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Annual Student Conference with our USC student chapter. Working with the Mork Department, Viterbi, and USC, we were able to send 19 students to the conference for free. At the conference, many members were able to showcase their research, talk to graduate schools, and our chapter won the 2019 AIChE Jeopardy competition, beating out other schools like MIT.

Are there any extracurricular activities or organizations you have been part of during your studies?

I have been involved in on-campus research, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Undergraduate Student Government, and Freshman Academy. In Undergraduate Student Government, I was able to help enable organizations develop their initiatives and projects through providing funding and logistical support, and in Freshman Academy I was able to help a class of freshman every fall transition to engineering and college smoothly.

Tell us about the research you have been working on that made an impact on you.

Over the past 3 years, I have worked in Professor Andrea Armani’s lab researching core-shell nanoparticles. Research allowed me to apply the theories that I learned in my classes into hands-on experience, where I was able to help solve problems that have no solution. Working in the lab has taught me many skills that I would not have learned otherwise, like how to problem-solve when a hypothesis fails and how to communicate complex topics in an easy-to-understand manner.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will be heading to Houston, Texas to join BP’s Trader Development Program in their gas & power trading department.

What is something you’ll miss most about USC?

I will miss the people at USC the most. Along the way, there have been so many people that have helped me get to this point: friends and classmates who studied and finished homework with me, lab members who patiently explained concepts to me, and professors who were always there to answer my questions. Being around so many other creative and driven individuals has helped me grow as a student, and I am sure that it will help me as I move to the next chapter of my life.

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