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Becoming a More Ethical and Skilled Engineer


Xu Li

Xu Li '13 traveled a long way to begin his Grand Valley journey. The Chinese native has had family living in West Michigan for decades, and they convinced him to make the trip overseas. “I heard about Grand Valley from them,” he says. “They kept telling me the university was growing and had a great engineering school. I became a Laker in 2009!”

Xu grew up in a family of engineers – both of his parents work in the field, and he cultivated an interest in machines and computers at a young age. Currently, he lives and works in Holland as a vision systems software developer for Gentex Corporation, where he designs camera systems to help companies improve the quality of their products and their manufacturing process.

“I believe that the quality of human life can be enhanced by advanced technology, so I always have had a desire to improve technology,” he says.

Xu remained in West Michigan to continue his education – he is now half way through his Masters in Engineering program at GVSU and hopes to complete his degree in 2017.

While he always knew that he wanted to be an engineer, having access to the Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Lab at Grand Valley helped Xu expand his perspective. He says there are a lot of jobs and opportunities within the field of EMC, and employers want to know if graduates are able to work with these tools. “This set of skills really set our students apart in the current job market,” he says.

Grand Valley’s EMC lab is the first of its kind in West Michigan, and pairs engineering students with local companies to provide the tools and facility to test their products. The center makes the required compliance testing more affordable for community businesses while providing hands-on experience for students. Xu completed his undergraduate research in the lab and continues to work on his masters projects there.

A gift from the DTE Energy Foundation earlier this year is helping to expand the lab’s services and capabilities.  “I really appreciate the DTE Energy Foundation,” says Xu, “Because of their generous gift, I’m able to have access to first-class facilities. Not many schools are able to have these advanced tools, but our students get hands-on experience with this equipment.”

He adds, “It’s a great benefit as a GVSU engineering student that we have access to these technologies within the EMC field.”

Xu believes that these facilities will benefit generations of Lakers, who can then take the skills they learn to help improve their communities. “I think the Laker effect means responsibility for me,” he says. “I want to use my knowledge and education to benefit my community, not only from my technical skills, but from an ethical point of view as well. The School of Engineering has helped me become a more ethical and skilled engineer.”