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A freshman races toward his dream

Stamps Scholar joins USC automotive team and helps engineering professor research turbulent combustion

Eric Deng
Eric Deng, left, and Clay Shieh construct a robot for a competition. (Photo/Crystal Jiao)

College life is in first gear for Eric Deng, a freshman with his pedal to the metal at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

Deng, 18, who has demonstrated leadership skills and a passion to innovate, was chosen as a Stamps Leadership Scholar after his acceptance at USC.

In high school, he excelled in academics, played varsity water polo and taught basic robotics through the Expanding Your Horizons program. Accepted to eight universities, Deng chose USC because of its faculty and the Trojan Family.

“Even though I’ve only been here a short time, I have experienced so many facets of the opportunities available not only at Viterbi but at USC,” Deng said. “I cannot even imagine what the future holds.”

Parental influences

Strongly influenced by his father, a mechanical engineer, and his mother, a computer engineer, Deng developed an interest in science at a young age.

In the sixth grade, he joined the robotics team on campus and attended a robotics camp at Stanford University. In high school, he created a club to build remote-controlled vehicles.

One of his top achievements was the construction of a 3-D printer that he created by using an open source design and then modifying it to reduce the production cost.

Deng’s passion for science and hands-on experiences has continued at USC. Before the fall semester ever began, he was ready to become an active member of the USC Racing team.

Each year the team creates a car from nuts and bolts that participates in an annual competition hosted in Nebraska by the Society of Automotive Engineers. This semester, Deng is trying to improve the aerodynamics of a high-tech car.

It’s uncommon to see a freshman this involved this early in the process.

Michael Baltz

“It’s actually uncommon to see a freshman this involved this early in the process,” said Michael Baltz, a USC Racing electronics lead. “Because the way we work, we do design work in the fall semester and then we do manufacturing in the spring.”

Future ventures

As if Deng isn’t busy enough, he recently began assisting USC Viterbi Professor Paul Ronney with his research of turbulent combustion. Ronney believes Deng will make a mark in the field.

“When you have someone as gifted as Eric, you kind of want to let him do his own thing,” Ronney said. “I don’t think of my role as necessarily advising him as it is maybe steering him.”

In the future, Deng said he would like to pursue a career in aerospace, electronics or the automobile industry. He also hopes to start his own company and perhaps become a venture capitalist one day. Meanwhile, his passion for engineering continues to drive his curiosity.

“The possibilities, there’s so many things,” Deng said. “Before the Internet, nobody knew that could exist, so I just imagine what we can think of now and what’s going to happen in the near future.”

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A freshman races toward his dream

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