5 Questions with Xueling (Julie) Luo

Dr. Julie Lou

February 8, 2022 - 3:15pm

Dr. Xueling (Julie) Luo knew engineering was her pathway in life after she participated in a technical competition during her sophomore year at the School of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China. Inspired by the movie Iron Man, Luo and her teammates constructed a gesture sensing system for a robot hand. The team received third place in the national competition.

Since that time Luo has pursued many learning pathways to hone her engineering expertise. Originally from Guiyang, China, Luo earned a Bachelor of Engineering in automation and a Master of Engineering in control engineering from Sichuan University and received her PhD in mechanical engineering from York University. She previously worked as a Professor of Robotics and Automation at Centennial College in Toronto. Luo joined Vancouver Island University’s Engineering department in 2021.

We caught up with Luo to discover what kindled her interest in engineering and teaching.

What originally sparked your interest in engineering?

I was good at math and physics in high school and someone told me that engineering could be my specialty. So I applied to engineering school and took electrical engineering, a popular discipline in the job market at that time. I didn’t realize engineering could be my pathway until I participated in a technical competition at the end of my sophomore year. My team and I built a gesture sensing system for a robot hand which was inspired by the movie Iron Man. After that, my path became clear. I wanted to be an engineer who would be able to build an idea into a real project. 

What do you enjoy most about being an engineering professor?

Engineers are also artists, using science and technology to create works. Being an engineering professor gives me the freedom to be creative. In the meantime, my students bring their unique perspectives about new technologies into my job to inspire me. Because of them, my job not only centers around new technology but also focuses on how to integrate new technology into education for a better student learning experience. My students and I are learning from each other, and making progress with my students is the most joyful part of my job.

Tell me about the most challenging engineering project you’ve worked on and what you enjoyed about it? 

I worked on a robot arm that could understand its own movement and tasks with a camera system during my PhD study. It was a cross-field research among control, machine vision and mechanism. The project was devoted to implementing flexible and accurate parallel mechanisms, also called gripping devices, with a motion sensor device. Such systems have great potential in future manufacturing. The interdisciplinary aspect is the most challenging part of it. I started with zero mechanical background and spent two years preparing myself through undergraduate courses and several hands-on projects. The process was tough but I enjoyed it. Outlining a project from a simple idea (the robot arm) and building it into meaningful work is the most rewarding part.

What drew you to VIU?

I enjoyed teaching even when I was just a teaching assistant years ago. The Integrated Engineering Technologist Diploma (IETD) program at VIU perfectly fits with my passion for a multi-disciplinary engineering career and teaching role. The program’s vision of interdisciplinary learning becoming the trend in engineering education is also something I completely agree with. I have so many ideas and experiences I would like to share with my students and the program. 

What do you want people to know about VIU’s Engineering programs?

Skilled engineering technologists are in demand with the fast-growing economy in BC. The IETD program emphasizes practical knowledge in civil, mechanical, electrical and structural engineering. Rather than becoming engineering technologists in only one specific area, the program prepares students for a wide range of jobs including working for engineering consulting firms, fabrication facilities, heavy industry and municipal engineering departments.

Students will experience hands-on training and real-world engineering projects in the IETD program. The small class sizes at VIU provide students with a lot of support and individual attention from our faculty team to help them succeed.


Tags: 5 Questions | Engineering | International | Science & Technology

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