Goodnight Spotlight: Timothy Chen

Photo of NC State Goodnight Scholar Timothy Chen of the class of 2019 at the Engineering Building II on Centennial Campus.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Timothy Chen ’19 has done it all in the Goodnight Scholars Program.

Goodnight Scholars Program: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Timothy Chen ’19: I am a senior majoring in mechanical engineering. I was born in New York City and lived in Long Island, but grew up in Cary, North Carolina for most of my life. Both my parents moved here from Taiwan, and I have many relatives living in Taipei, Tainan, Seattle, and Canada. I feel blessed to have family around the world and visit them often. My younger sister Rachel is currently a sophomore at NC State studying statistics. I attended Green Hope High School with a large population of competitive students and great teachers. While at Green Hope, I had the opportunity to work in the Pasquinelli Lab at the Wilson College of Textiles and became influenced by its passionate faculty members and Centennial Campus. Therefore, NC State was my number one college choice. My decision for college major was motivated by my challenging AP courses and desire to tackle real-world problems. While at NC State, I also added a minor in materials science and engineering to complement my major. I engaged in several undergraduate research projects on power packaging for the FREEDM Center with Dr. Hopkins and on polystyrene nanoparticle coating with Dr. Chang. I was able to present some of this work at a conference last year. Outside of school, I enjoy traveling across the United States and visiting unique historical places abroad, often with fellow Goodnight Scholars. I learned how to ice skate when I was young, and during my limited free time, I try to drag my friends to Cary Ice House.

If you had to summarize your personality in one sentence, what would it say?

I am a relentlessly supportive friend who can withstand pressure and push forward like a spring.

How would you describe your life as an NC State student?

It took time to adapt to NC State’s large student body. I remember arriving early into my first college class and barely finding a seat; one girl had to sit on a desk. Making friends with Goodnight Scholars and fellow classmates helped make campus feel smaller. Life as an NC State student is busy, but immensely rewarding. Most of my day is spent attending lectures, studying, and completing homework assignments, but my education is not confined solely to the classroom. I gained valuable lessons by attending professional events and trying new recreational activities with friends. It is important to start each semester punctually and positively in order to finish strong. Thanks to amazing mentors who helped me navigate college life, I can manage school and extracurricular activities while still reserving time each week to relax with friends.

Any personal accomplishments that you are proud of?

Last year, I was inducted into the honor society for my major, Pi Tau Sigma, which is usually reserved for the top one-third or one-quarter of students in any class. I appreciated this recognition as a reward for applying myself to my classes and consistently making the Dean’s List.

Goodnight Scholars are encouraged to reach our highest potential as students.

Tell us about your time in the Goodnight Scholars Program.

In the Goodnight Scholars Program, I appreciate and immerse myself in the wide variety of professional, service, and social events available every year, such as meeting inspirational leaders in STEM, volunteering at Shack-a-thon, or watching featured movies for free. My greatest highlights in college have been studying abroad in Hangzhou, doing service in Trinidad and across North Carolina, and visiting Boston; all these trips were made possible with Goodnight enrichment funding. Serving on the Program’s Shack-a-thon and LEGO Brick Build committees allowed me to pay it forward to the NC State community. Taking on Goodnight leadership roles has helped me improve my presentation skills. As an ambassador, I had the chance to promote the Program at my high school and help several students earn the scholarship. This year, I enjoyed being a mentor for two awesome first-year Goodnight Scholars. I am currently helping to organize fundraising for our senior Goodnight class gift to the Kramden Institute. Within the Goodnight community, I had the fortune of befriending top students whom are highly accomplished and lead organizations at NC State. I am excited to participate in the Goodnight Scholars trip to Vancouver this month!

What does being a Goodnight Scholar mean to you?

Goodnight Scholars are encouraged to reach our highest potential as students. Having educational resources and financial support means that we can freely make career decisions based on our interests and pursue our passions in college. Personally, although I work hard to achieve success in my specific field, I still interact with many students from different majors thanks to the diversity and cooperative atmosphere of the Goodnight community. My greatest friendships in college have been through this Program, and I have often referred to many older Goodnight Scholars for personal and professional advice. In this large school, it is common to bump into several Goodnight Scholars on the way to class. It is motivating to know I belong in a group that cares about me and wants me to succeed. These advantages come with a great responsibility to give back to the NC State community. Therefore, I am inspired to participate in service events and help others regardless of any personal benefit. This is my interpretation of being a Goodnight Scholar and whom I strive to be.

Do you have an unforgettable memory from your time in the Program thus far?

My most unforgettable memory has been the 2018 Goodnight Graduation Gala. Even though I have attended previous galas, this one was extremely memorable because of how close I was to the graduating class. It was heartening to see my friends’ accomplishments and their future career directions. I was inspired by the speeches of the Distinguished Goodnight Award recipient and the senior class speaker, both of whom were my close friends.

Where do you picture yourself after graduation?

After my graduation, I plan to pursue a PhD in mechanical engineering and focus on manufacturing novel materials with excellent mechanical, thermal, and optical properties. Nanomaterials interest me because they exhibit physical behavior not usually seen on the macroscale. I would love to spearhead projects in this field and eventually obtain a research position at a national lab.

Photography credit: Carmen Bollman/Goodnight Scholars Program