Louise Lu

Louise Lu

In 2011, when Louise Lu was a high school student, she and her family immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Northern Virginia. Just two years later, Louise had to start looking for her next new home when she began her search for a college. Her search ended at GW.

“The new [Science and Engineering Hall] really attracted me, but GW offered me very generous financial aid, which is exactly what I needed,” she recalls. 

With an interest in art and architecture and an aptitude for math and physics, Louise decided to study civil engineering. She dove into her studies and into opportunities outside of her classes, thriving during her four years and getting an introduction to a breadth of research fields within civil engineering.

The summer after her freshman year, Louise took an internship with SK&A Structural Engineers here in Washington, D.C. During her sophomore year, she completed a semester of study abroad at Korea University (KU) and followed that up with a research internship assisting with a vibration control project at a KU lab. That was a turning point for Louise.

“GW helped me to land on that experience at KU, and that was my first research experience,” says Louise. “At that point I realized that I actually enjoyed research and I like being in a lab environment. I changed my whole point of view after that, and now most of my experience is in research. GW also gave me the funding to pay me while I was doing research in Korea.”

Louise says that her summer research at KU taught her how to think as an academic researcher and helped inspire her to focus on structural engineering. So, when she received a prestigious fellowship the following summer from the National Science Foundation’s Undergraduate Research Fellows Program, she decided to undertake structural computation research at the University of Southern California.

Louise’s curiosity pushed her beyond that research field, too. During her time at SEAS, she also has worked in two other labs in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. In Dr. Danmeng Shuai’s environmental engineering lab, she learned about wastewater treatment technology, and in Dr. Samer Hamdar’s Center for Intelligent Systems Research Lab, where she currently works, Louise is constructing a laboratory- scale autonomous electric vehicle.

Referring to this range of research experiences, Louise adds, “These have all enabled me to see different disciplines within the engineering field.”

Although Louise has focused on research as a college student, she also has served as a teaching assistant for two undergraduate courses and has been involved in campus activities, including the Women’s Leadership Program, the Global China Connection, and GW’s student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

When asked what she has enjoyed most about her activities, Louise steers the question back to her department and its professors and students. “I really don’t know what I would become without my department,” she remarks. “All the professors know us by name; it’s like a family. The professors and students have all been really encouraging, caring, and inspiring. I will always remember my professors and classmates after I graduate.”