Fung Feature: Wei Huang, MEng ’20 (MSE)

On the MEng program, addressing wildfires with technology, and making a difference

Wei Huang is an MEng student studying Materials Science & Engineering. Before he came to California, he had been living and studying in Beijing, China. Wei is passionate about changing the world through science and technology and living an impactful life. We had the chance to talk to him about how he decided to pursue an MEng degree, his Capstone project, and what he hopes to do in the future.

On why he chose the MEng program

“I chose the MEng program basically because of the following reasons: after I finished my undergraduate degree, I was not very sure about whether to find a job, start a business, or pursue a PhD program in the future. I thought that a master's program would be a good fit for me. Then, considering that the Bay Area has the most innovative science and technology and startup atmosphere, I wanted to choose a college in or near the Bay Area.

I found that the Berkeley MEng program not only provided technical courses, but also leadership courses and the Capstone project experience, which would be very beneficial for connecting technical skills with actual application in society. The program also provides me the opportunity to explore different areas beyond my major, broadening my horizons and inspiring me on some cross-area ideas. Besides, this program is less than one year so it’s highly efficient and time-saving. It just requires you to make full use of every day and all the resources here.

“The program also provides me the opportunity to explore different areas beyond my major, broadening my horizons and inspiring me.”

On why he studies Materials Science & Engineering

In my childhood, I had interests in a broad variety of fields and was not very clear about what I wanted to pursue in my future career. However, I knew I wanted to have an impact on the world. I like reading history, and in my reading, I find that it is science and technology that pushes human beings forward. At the current time, fundamental science seems to be paused, and the engineering field has a lot of potential to do something. My undergraduate major was Materials Science & Engineering, and I think this major will be one of the most promising in the 21st century; as someone once said, the 21st century is “materials’ century.”

Wei and his Capstone team with Professor Tarek Zohdi, who was named the 2019 Fellow of the American Academy of Mechanics.

On his Capstone project

My capstone project name is WildFire Technologies — Geographic Data Analysis, Multi-UAV Machine Learning Path Planning, and Computer Vision Efficiency Enhancement.

The team consists of MEng students of various backgrounds including mechanical engineering, materials science, and civil engineering. This team is led by faculty advisor Tarek Zohdi, and focuses on data collection, data visualization, and machine learning (ML) simulation related to wildfires in the United States and beyond. By collecting and visualizing data, we are finding out the most vulnerable places in the face of wildfire, and then using this valuable information to input to our ML model and computer validation model.

In this way, we will have a much faster, more accurate mapping and an informed approach when wildfires start, so we will be able to save more lives and protect our environment better. If applied to other fields, like transportation systems, our work would be likely to contribute to the creation of smart cities. A beautiful picture of human beings’ future lives is currently being drawn by us and we desire to devote ourselves to this spectacular world.

Wei poses with UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ at the University House during the first-annual reception for New Professional and Master’s students.

On his hopes for the future

To just live a common, repeated life would be so boring to me. I want to change the world and make contributions to humanity; doing something like that would be very amazing and exciting. I admire those who made a great contribution to humans’ history.

Improving people’s everyday life by innovation, making the economy more prosperous, exploring the secrets of the universe…These are all possibilities. Some people may think ‘impact’ is a large word or it is tied to financial means too much to discuss, but in fact, I do not think it is that complicated. You can exert your influence on this world by doing some small things like for example, the MEng Capstone project. Making an impact is often a process that you need to work on little by little, accumulating your work. Only then can you achieve big things.”

“Making an impact is often a process that you need to work on little by little, accumulating your work. Only then can you achieve big things.”

Connect with Wei // Edited by Lauren Leung

Fung Features is a series dedicated to showcasing the Fung community from various cohorts and backgrounds and learning more about their lives and their stories. If you’re interested in being featured, email



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Berkeley Master of Engineering

Master of Engineering at UC Berkeley with a focus on leadership. Learn more about the program through our publication.