3° with Liping Huang

by Michael Mullaney on August 15, 2013

Liping Huang is an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer. We ask Liping about her work:

Q: What problems are you trying to solve?

A: Glasses are everywhere in our daily lives, functioning with excellent optical, electronic, mechanical, and bio-related properties. Yet, glasses are usually brittle; their service lifetime is often capped by mechanical failures. For instance, cracked or broken screens account for 82% of all accidental iPhone4 damages . My research has been mainly focused on understanding the brittleness of glasses and how to make glasses tougher.

How would you describe your research to a first-grader?

If you accidentally dropped a glass cup or an iPad on a concrete floor, what would happen and why? My research is to design glass that is less likely to break, or touch-screen devices like iPad can be used for long time without any scratches on the surface.

How would you describe your teaching style?

I believe that teaching is not just a matter of teaching the knowledge itself; it is furthermore about teaching students how to learn, where to find out what they need to know, and how to use the information they get. In this respect I am inspired by the proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

When you were a child, what was your dream job?

I always wanted to be a physicist. But for some reason, I was selected into the Materials Science Program in college, and have been very happy with it ever since.

Do you have a favorite website or blog?

I don’t particularly like web-browsing, so no favorite website or blog. I do like to listen to National Public Radio (NPR) whenever I have a chance.

What are your five favorite books?

I like reading all kinds of books when I have time, but I’ve never thought about which would be my favorite. Here are a few coming to my mind: “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” by Luo Guanzhong, “The World Is Flat” by Thomas L. Friedman, “My life” by Bill Clinton, “Six Crises” by Richard Nixon, and “Angels & Demons” by Dan Brown.

What will be the invention to change the world?

A cheap, robust, and reusable large-scale water purification/desalination system.