William Li – President of UC Berkeley’s Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society

UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

Being raised in a culture where education is a prized commodity was probably the underlying factor in how I ended up where I am today.

Who are you?

I am a Master’s student at UC Berkeley studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. I’ve been programming since middle school and I love every minute of it. I’m currently the President of UC Berkeley’s Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society chapter, and I’ve been involved as an officer for a total of five semesters now. I also created Ninja Courses, a class scheduling website for UC Berkeley that about 20% of the undergraduate population uses. In fact, I’m planning on creating a startup with this website after I graduate. When I’m not working in front of my computer, I love playing tennis, running, snowboarding, or just exploring the great state of California.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

Tau Beta Pi serves as an honor society for distinguished students, but also provides plenty of student services for the entire student body, including exam files database, an email help desk, and two child organizations. One of these organizations is Pioneers in Engineering, a high school robotics outreach program; the other is E98, a student-led course on how to survive Berkeley engineering. As for my personal role, I started out on the IT committee writing new features and even rewrote the entire website from scratch when our server was compromised. Eventually, I became more involved in a leadership role – first as IT Committee Chair, then VP, and then President. I used to be a really shy person before I joined TBP, but the people are amazing and I soon unlocked my potential within the organization (and also outside).

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

Inspiring high school students to pursue a degree in engineering is awesome. I served as a mentor for a team for Pioneers in Engineering, and the students all look up to you for both short-term robotics advice and long-term college and career goals. The world can’t have too many engineers.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Being raised in a culture where education is a prized commodity was probably the underlying factor in how I ended up where I am today (I’m a 2nd generation Taiwanese American). Many people didn’t have the same support for education that my parents provided (both in school and extracurriculars), and I’m very grateful for the way I was raised. It manifests itself even today when I’m continuing to explore new topics and challenge the limits of my knowledge.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I made a game that ran on the XBox 360. I thought that was mindblowing. Also, I made a 3-minute long domino chain/rube goldberg machine while my parents were out of town on a vacation. They came home to a snaking line of contraptions that stretched throughout the house – I still consider this one of my greatest moments.

Random fact: I wear toe shoes! People think it looks funny, but they’re very comfortable and my feet don’t hurt while running now.

Another random fact: I don’t eat ice cream. Why? I’m not really sure… we all have our quirks.

http://ninjacourses.com
http://williamhli.com

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