Meet Onsang Yau, an MCIT Dean’s Master’s Scholar

June 21, 2023

Onsang Yau is a first-year, second-semester master’s student in Penn’s Computer and Information Technology program. Onsang studied animal science at Cornell for her undergraduate degree with an interdisciplinary focus on agriculture, animal health, biomedical sciences, and biophysical research. Once she learned that agriculture technology is a rapidly expanding field, she was excited about the prospect of bridging different industries together for the chance to create something new and help her community. 

What made you interested in Computer and Information Technology and what do you like about your coursework so far?

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“There’s a very strong network that comes with this degree. The resources MCIT provides are tremendous. The people I’ve met so far have led me toward interesting entrepreneurship opportunities. I wanted a very solid foundation in computer science because I wanted to understand the ‘whys’ behind technology and algorithms so that I’ll be more adaptable in the future when I encounter new technology.” 

But classwork isn’t Onsang’s only focus. She also worked as the product manager and front-end developer in hackathons nationwide. Most recently, Onsang’s hackathon team won the “Most Innovative Award” at the 2023 FemmeHacks hosted by Penn Women in Computer Science at Pennovation. Within 8 hours, her team created MeCoo, a simple yet powerful sensing bracelet that aims to provide menopausal women with hot flash relief that is seamless, lightweight, and low-cost.

“These experiences have further fueled my passion for technology and leadership, and I aspire to use my skills to create technology for marginalized populations in our country,” Onsang said.

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Onsang’s hackathon team includes Lina Sunga Byland, a web development student at Montgomery County Community College, Suhani Patel, a bioengineering and computer science undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, and Aurunima Samaddar, an electrical engineering master’s student at the University of Pennsylvania.

Why did you choose Penn for your master’s? 

“It seemed like one of the only programs that would prepare me to have a very strong foundation in computer science while helping me make invaluable connections. I also liked the exposure to many resources including computer science research and entrepreneurship opportunities. This program won’t only help you get a job in the industry, but will also open doors for you that you may have never considered before.”

What career path do you hope to take following graduation?

“I hope to become a software engineer after I graduate, but I also hope to find unique opportunities that will help me achieve my goal of being a bridgebuilder between industries. Currently, I’m searching for opportunities where I could be a software engineer in the agricultural technology industry so I can help secure our country’s food system. I would like to incorporate all parts of my background and apply it to different fields.” 

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What advice would you give to a prospective student interested in applying for the MCIT program at Penn?

“I came into this program with a Dean’s Master’s Scholarship and a really great support system from the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This scholarship is geared toward underrepresented minority students and it’s created a very strong community for me. It’s a one-year-long program that was designed to connect URM students getting their master’s and Ph.D. through biweekly seminars and networking events. I’ve gained great friendships through this program. I’m thankful for the inclusive space where I feel like I can express myself. Dr. Ocek Eke is our program director and he has introduced me to so many new opportunities and encourages us to strengthen our community within Philadelphia and use our skills to help our community. For underrepresented minority students, don’t be afraid to apply for scholarships that might help you. Penn has great resources and support systems for us.”

“Secondly, I would encourage you to think deeply about what you want from your degree aside from just getting a job in the tech industry. The coursework is very solid, and it’s going to guarantee that you gain a strong foundation in computer science. But nothing will take you further than your passion and dedication. Your passions and personal goals will be what carry you through two years of challenging courses.”