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Engineering Senior Wins Piano Competition

Raymond Wu, BSEE '09

Raymond Wu has had a busy spring quarter. While preparing for the Senior Design Conference, the electrical engineering major took time out to compete in the Music Teachers’ Association of California 2009  Solo Competition Northern Regional Auditions, taking first place with his performance of the Chopin Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brilliante. Raymond, a music minor, “competed with ten other pianists, including majors from Stanford University and the San Francisco Conservatory,” announced Hans Boepple, SCU music professor. "Raymond has worked as hard and consistently as most music majors during his four years at Santa Clara, and it has been my privilege to be his piano teacher during this time. He is such a good pianist that, if he chose to, he would be accepted to just about any graduate music program in the country."

But Raymond has other plans for the time being; he is enrolled in the five year dual degree program and will complete his master’s degree in electrical engineering next year. “I really love both fields,” he said, “and I have a hard time choosing one over the other, but I think I will definitely be playing piano as a hobby even while completing my master’s degree. What I love about playing the piano is that it relieves my stress. It’s very useful to me; it helps me find the strength to continue my engineering work.”

It is no wonder Raymond needs a diversion from his engineering work every now and again. He and fellow senior Cole Li have been research assistants in the Center for Nanostructures for the past year, studying contact resistance of carbon nanofibers and making a test structure to determine their properties. “Dr. Yang [CNS director] has allowed us to use the Center to continue our research for our senior design project,” he said. The investment has paid off as the pair’s research led to their presentation of an oral paper at the Materials Research Society meeting in San Francisco in April. Cary Yang, who also chairs the electrical engineering department, notes, “At this international conference, it is highly unusual for undergrads to present research papers orally. Even doctoral students generally present their work in poster form.” Prof. Shoba Krishnan, the pair’s advisor, agrees: “this achievement is almost unheard of and represents an incredible amount of work.”

Following commencement, Raymond will face off against the winner of the Southern California competition in July. He looks forward to the challenge, but notes, “It will definitely be intense!”

Update, September, 2009: Raymond Wu, an undergraduate music minor, went on to win First Place in California in the 19-24 year old age group, competing against a graduate piano major from University of Southern California.