5 Questions with Kun Huang

ISE alumnus Kun Huang (Class of 2011) has already made his mark working for such internet giants as Google and Facebook as well as Macy’s

In the short time since his graduation, Kun Huang has already made his mark working for such internet giants as Google and Facebook as well as Macy’s Department Store. As a data scientist, he specializes in optimizing the delivery, performance and pricing of consumer advertising. Huang received his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from NC State in 2011.

What’s the single most important experience or understanding you gained in the ISE department?
The most important lesson I learned while at NC State was that finding the right problem was as important, if not more important, than coming up with the solution. This understanding has served me well throughout my career. Solving problems is great, but solving the right problems has allowed me to be part of significant and effective change.

What’s the most pressing issue facing society that engineers should be working harder to solve?
One of the most pressing issues facing engineers today is to create powerful tools and platforms that are easy and more friendly to use and don’t require complicated technical skills to understand. Amazon, Google and Facebook have revolutionized their industries by simplifying the customer experience. This allows people to utilize their creativity and imagination to invent new things.

What would you like to achieve in your career? What are you most proud of so far?
I am proud that I have maintained the balance between my work and personal life even through the most difficult times in my life. I take photos and make paper models which helps me relax and stay creative and organized.

What’s the best book you have read?
It is an old Chinese book The Art of War by Sun Tzu, a high-ranking military general, strategist and tactician. The war strategies and wisdom in the book can also be applied to career and life. My favorite quote is: “The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage and strictness.” I think it summarizes well what defines a good leader.

What advice do you have for current ISE students?
Be bold; break things. Failure is never the end but a gas station along your highway. The world has more places and things than the ones described in textbooks. The world is changing fast, so are the problems and methods we face. Coming out of your comfort zone can help you learn new skills, make new friends, and stay inspired.