Vincent Lan MSE undergrad
Once I learned about the fascinating work within the field, I knew MSE was for me.
Hometown: Hyattsville, MD
Expected grad date: Spring 2023

To start off, can you tell us a bit about your background?
I live in the nearby Hyattsville area so everyone in my family is connected to UMD in some way. I remember once I was at an awards ceremony for my sister and I happened to sit next to Dean (President) Pines. After he found out I was her brother, he told me he expected to see me at Clark – and the rest is history.
I guess that explains why you chose to study at the University of Maryland (UMD)....
Yep! I grew up connected to the campus community, so I always had a good impression of UMD and an understanding of the opportunities available within the DMV area. When it came down to choosing a college, it was not a hard choice.
How did you hear about MSE and what prompted you to declare it as your major?
I came into UMD as an undecided engineering major, but I was leaning towards materials because of the interesting coursework. I decided to take ENMA180 – the MSE intro course – and learned about the fascinating work within the field. After meeting some of the great professors and people in the department, I knew MSE was for me.

Have you conducted any research, either on or off campus? 
Currently I am working on a project with Dr. Windover of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The project focuses on removing excess data (diffraction, scattering, etc.) from X-ray fluorescence measurements. Because of the pandemic the NIST labs are closed so instead I am using Python to parse the data and develop models.  In the past, I have fabricated power converters at the Army Research Laboratory, researched single-atom catalysts in UMD’s Liu Research Group, and processed nuclear waste composition data at the Vitreous State Laboratory at Catholic University. 

What is the best thing about your experience on campus thus far? Any challenges you've had to overcome?
The best part about campus is the people that you meet. Whether it be a study session or a basketball game, everything is great when you’re surrounded by the people you enjoy.  Commuter students usually fall into the trap of viewing college as a place solely for education, and I was no different. After class, I would just go home and go about my day like nothing had changed from high school. After a while I realized I was not making the most of my college experience and decided to spend more time on campus – best decision ever.
Nice segue into this next question: when you’re not in class, how do you spend your time?
I like to stay active, so I usually work out at Eppley or play dodgeball at Ritchie Coliseum. I also volunteer with the English Conversation Partners program which helps international students practice their English in a casual setting. When I get home, I usually relax by playing video games or watching YouTube videos.
Any post-commencement plans?
Celebrating. A lot.
Do you have any advice for incoming students as to how they can be successful in such a complex major?
Take breaks often. Your brain works better during low stress situations so allow yourself to relax every once in a while – just don’t end up procrastinating!
Just for fun, what do you want to be when you grow up? 

Above all, I think I want to live a fulfilling life and have time to spend with the people I love.

UPDATE: In spring 2021, Vincent started Flower STEM, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting creativity within the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by showcasing projects where science meets art. Flower STEM hosts expert-led masterclasses, offers a mentorship program, and takes part in various community projects. Read more...