Chen Bao with his EcoCar teammates.
Fresh air and clean water are privileges newly graduated mechanical engineering alumnus Chen Bao does not take for granted.
Bao comes from Hefei, a town in China that until recently experienced the same fresh air and clean water that Fort Collins enjoys. Unfortunately, Hefei has become contaminated by dirty river water and heavy smog pollution – both negative impacts of vehicle exhaust.
Bao is determined to use his CSU mechanical engineering degree to make a difference in his hometown, in China and the world: “Over the past 20 years I’ve noticed my hometown environment getting worse, and I wanted to do something specifically related to eco-friendly vehicles in order to contribute to my hometown’s recovery.”
Hands-on experience through EcoCAR
Luckily for Bao, one of the first programs he discovered at CSU was the EcoCAR 2 project. Now two years into the four-year EcoCAR 3 project, students, including Bao, have been challenged with redesigning a Chevrolet Camaro “to reduce its environmental impact, while maintaining muscle and performance.”
Being on the EcoCAR 3 team was the perfect opportunity for Bao to gain the hands-on experience he needs to advance his knowledge of hybrid and electric vehicles. “I’m glad that Dr. [Tom] Bradley provided these opportunities for undergraduate students to solve real-world problems related to vehicle emissions,” Bao said.
Breaking through language barriers
While EcoCAR has been a positive experience for Bao, it wasn’t the original reason for his attending CSU. His girlfriend came to CSU a year ahead of him in order to study landscape architecture, so Bao studied English to join her in Colorado. Though he spent time practicing English in China, Bao still experienced a language barrier upon his arrival in the states. “No one could understand what I was saying because of my heavy accent. I’m fortunate to come to CSU because everyone is warm-hearted and willing to provide help when you ask for it.”
Bao’s first semester at CSU was no easy feat. He struggled with the language barrier in classes and had to become familiar with new software. Fortunately, he was able to ask classmates for help, and after adapting to CSU study practices, he aced his first exam. (His classmates were shocked, he said.)
Bao spent the rest of the semester returning the favor and helping his peers with their homework and studying. At the end of the semester, he had the 4.0 he needed to get his credits transferred from his university in China, allowing him to finish his degree in just three more years, rather than five.
To Berkeley and beyond, with his bride-to-be
Just before walking at commencement last week as a cum laude graduate, Bao proposed to his girlfriend, Yue Pan, on the CSU oval. He plans to join his fiancee at the University of California, Berkeley, in the fall. He wants to take business classes in addition to earning a master’s in engineering, and is currently seeking sponsorship support for his new academic goals.
“I don’t think it’s enough for me to only have engineering skills to make environmental recovery in China a reality. I hope to meet people with similar goals so we can work together to find solutions to environmental problems.”