Pioneer Scholar Spotlight: Hung

Pioneer Academics > News > Pioneer Scholar Spotlight: Hung

“My goal with any type of project or problem solving I do is that it needs some sort of social impact and some form of human motivator to give me a reason to do this right.”

Pioneer scholar Hung has liked to make things as long as he can remember. Hung was born in Vietnam, grew up in Portage, Michigan, and is currently attending MIT, where he thinks he will major in mechanical engineering and minor in entrepreneurship. His interest in making things began, he says, with “the sack of Legos we got from a garage sale.” He would build “all sorts of stuff from random spaceships to tanks and buildings and things that you only conjure up in your imagination.” He didn’t yet know that was called engineering, but his love for making things took another step when he took a woodworking class in sixth grade and made balsa wood bridges and catapults using “an intuitive approach to engineering.” He enjoyed that so much that he took the woodworking class all three years of middle school.

Finally, in high school, Hung was introduced to the concept of “engineering” and realized that there are engineers in virtually every field and that the “things” that engineers make are not just tangible objects. He attended both a public high school and a magnet school that focused on STEM subjects, where he learned computer skills and did three years of research projects before he applied for his Pioneer Research Program. This variety of experience gave Hung a solid foundation for his Pioneer experience in the research concentration of nanotechnology. It was another new field for Hung, and that was part of its appeal. His goal was to learn something new.

In addition to making things in an engineering sense, Hung is also a creative thinker who makes metaphors and creates concepts, and this gift for visualizing and verbalizing the learning process is a key to how Hung can learn so much about so many different fields. He describes the relationship between STEM subjects as a series of mounds (concentration areas) connected by a web of roots (things that all the areas have in common). He describes the learning process as “scope exploration,” figuring out how large an area of study is, how many “branches” it has, and where individual “leaves” of learning fit onto the branches. If you can mentally map where something fits into the overall structure, he says, you’ll remember it longer.

Hung has also acquired an important insight about learning anything new: there will be things you like and things you don’t like. “There’s never a perfect thing to learn or a perfect topic.” The point is to keep going and enjoy what you can and know that what you’re uncomfortable with is probably helping you grow as a person.

Hung is already becoming an entrepreneur in his first year of college study, working with a group of colleagues to develop an SNS based integrated learning service to help children in communities with little or no access to wifi develop good learning skills, addressing a need that has been made clear by the same pandemic that is giving him time to work on it.

Dear educator friend,

In the critical process of preparing students to transition to college, you are key. The
ramifications of your guidance are far-reaching.

The Pioneer Research Program believes that it, too, has a role to play in preparing students of special potential and passion for learning. This is a role we trust you will appreciate knowing about. Our mission is to offer a deep and otherwise unavailable opportunity to exceptionally motivated young scholars who want to learn and research at the college level and to explore their potential for innovation.

What makes Pioneer a unique deep-dive learning experience is not just the mentorship of distinguished professors. It is the rigorous quality controls developed conjointly by Pioneer and Oberlin College. Professors (must) adhere to rubrics for

1) setting learning goals;

2) syllabus development;

3) oversight, feedback and evaluation, and

4) grading standardization.

This rigorous academic system is supported by thorough admission process and a high-minded ethics code. The combination gives students an exceptional learning experience that is brought to fruition in a college-level research paper documenting their findings.

You can follow this link Pioneer’s concrete academic system to learn more about the academic system. Academic quality control and academic oversight assure Pioneer’s focus is on learning and learners, and therefore all of our practices were built upon the following principles:

No conflict of interests Pioneer’s academic ethical standards
Because of its high academic and ethical standards, the Pioneer program has earned the trust of college admissions departments and formed the basis for the ground-breaking collaboration with Oberlin College. Pioneer scholars get two college credits upon completing their Pioneer research.

Click to learn about Pioneer and Oberlin College's groundbreaking academic collaboration.

Pioneer has a rigorous admission process. Students who have genuine academic interests and are highly motivated are a good fit with Pioneer’s values. Pioneer’s founding board insisted that Pioneer commit to a professor-blind policy during the application process, ensuring that applicants have authentic field interest and correct priorities. Consequently, no information about professors is released before admission to the program. This policy is much appreciated and respected by universities. Professor-blind admission policy
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Matthew Jaskol

Founder & Program Director