Logo: University of Southern California

The first step toward an engineering dream

STAMPS Scholar and engineering student Eric Deng strives for success during his first semester at USC.
By: Samantha Romero
January 05, 2015 —
Eric Deng, 18, Mechanical Engineering Major

USC Viterbi freshman Eric Deng’s intellectual curiosity has opened the doors for new and exciting opportunities.

After demonstrating remarkable leadership skills, community involvement and a passion to innovate, Deng was chosen as a Stamps Leadership Scholar upon his acceptance into the University of Southern California. The prestigious four-year, $202,000 scholarship covers tuition.
Deng has certainly distinguished himself in his 18 years. In high school, he excelled in academics, played varsity water polo and taught girls about basic robotics through the “Expanding Your Horizons” program. Accepted to eight universities, including UC San Diego and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Deng chose USC because of the Trojan family network and faculty.
“I’m extremely excited about attending USC,” said Deng. “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. I cannot even imagine what the future holds.”
Strongly influenced by his father, a mechanical engineer, and his mother, a computer engineer, Deng developed an interest in science at a young age. His earliest memories involved watching his dad work on cars in his tool-filled garage.
Deng’s curiosity inspired him to start projects of his own. In 6th 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 most memorable 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 began, Deng was ready to become an active member of the USC Racing team
Each year the team creates a racecar from scratch that participates in a yearly competition hosted by the Society of Automotive Engineers in Lincoln, Neb.  This semester, Deng is working on a high-tech machine used to better cut car wings to improve the car’s aerodynamics. 
Eric Deng and Clay Shieh working on their competition robot for the First Tech Challenge in his garage on Saturday, Sept.12, 2013. The First Tech Challenge is a program hosted by For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.
“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.”
As if Deng’s schedule isn’t full enough, he recently began assisting USC Viterbi Mechanical Engineering Professor Paul Ronney with his research in turbulent combustion. Ronney believes Deng will leave a mark in the field.
“The number one thing is when you have someone as gifted as Eric, you kind of want to let him do his own thing,” said Ronney. “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 one day become a venture capitalist. Meanwhile, his passion for engineering continues to drive his curiosity.
“The possibilities, there’s so many things,” said Deng. “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.” 
Deng looks forward to participating in a Robotics Internship at Facebook this upcoming summer.