Spotlight Series

Women in Technology

Dr. Xiaojing Yuan 

Continue to be curious about the world and how things in it work. Share the joy of your work with everybody around you!” – Xiaojing Yuan

yuanDr. Xiaojing Yuan is an associate professor in the engineering technology department of the University of Houston College of Technology. Her courses cover a variety of engineering network technologies and applications including wireless, sensor, data, and network security. Dr. Yuan started the intelligent sensor grid and informatics lab in 2005, leading graduate and undergraduate researchers on various projects throughout the years. The National Science Foundation, NASA, Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Heart Institution, University of Houston, and local industry partners have funded the projects.   Dr. Yuan’s award-winning work has been recognized by prominent professional societies in computer engineering and networking -  the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers  and the International Society of Automation -  where she has attained senior membership status.

Q. What is your background and how did your interest in technology begin?

A. My interest in technology started when I was a child. I was always curious about how things work and tried to figure them out by taking things apart. I began studying electrical engineering and focusing on control systems as an undergraduate student. At that time, the education system’s introduction of the computer was just beginning in China. By the time I reached my senior year, I had become hooked on the computer, eager to learn more about it. I imagined how this technology would help me solve equations in control systems and draw schematics, instead of doing everything manually, which consumed a huge amount of time for a perfectionist like me. Consequently, I earned a Ph.D. at Tulane University, in an inter-disciplinary robotics program that required knowledge in mechanical, electrical, computer, and artificial intelligence algorithms.

Q. Describe your research focus and tell us what sparked your interest in your research area of focus?

A. My research focus seems to shift throughout the years, which is very interesting. However, pulling back the curtain, all of the research projects are about how to make data-driven models, identifying patterns and trends, creating a simulation platform to test various scenarios, and developing predictive models to make knowledge forecasts within certain confidence intervals.

Q. What is your vision for how your work change and advance the future?

A. In recent years, I have poured more energy into mentoring students and junior colleagues. It is a real joy to see the students receive various awards and recognitions. For example, two teams of undergraduate students received the best poster presentation award in the ISA Process Control and Safety Symposium in November 2018; and, three of our engineering technology students received ISA scholarships of up to $2,000 last year to support their education this academic year. These students made me proud!

I would like to see more of our students succeed and become technically competent and socially aware industry leaders of the future. The goal   is   to be able to use research to make some difference in our everyday lives. I have been blessed to experience the transformation of computer networks and the evolution of wireless networking.  It is not just theories on paper anymore. I can point to something in our everyday lives, knowing   what it was like decades or even just 5 years ago, what it looks like now, and how the algorithms, protocols, and systems that we are researching will make the experiences much better.

Q. What significant events or circumstances have played a major role in your personal and career endeavors and why?

A. Throughout my career, people have always encouraged and supported my efforts. Many go out of their way to help when I ask. My appreciation of such timely help only grows when I reflect on this privilege.

Q. Share words of wisdom for young women that can help shape their future successes in STEM and technology driven careers.

A. Continue to be curious about the world and learn about how things work. Share the joy of your work with everybody around you!