Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology

Research profile: Xiaolan Wang, School of Interactive Arts and Technology

November 14, 2012

Xiaolan Wang has come a long way from her hometown of Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province in northern China.

She graduated from Shandong University with a Bachelor's degree in software engineering and a Master's degree in computer applied technology. Even though she excelled in all of her classes, she decided that pure computer science was not for her. Fortunately, one of her professors pointed her to the emerging field of interaction design, where her strong computing background is of great benefit.

As a high-achieving graduate student in China, she was invited to the China Scholarship Council conference in October 2011, where she found out about SFU's innovative School of Interactive Arts & Technology (SIAT). She looked on the SIAT website, and found the work of Dr. Ron Wakkary. A month later, she registered in an international interactive design conference in Hong Kong, and then discovered that he was going to be a speaker at the conference.

She says, of their first meeting, "He listened to my words patiently and showed his understanding of my transformation from computer science to interaction design, and encouraged me to keep chasing my dream. That was the first time that I felt my dream of a career in interaction design would come true."

Xiaolan was one of the successful recipients of the SFU-China Scholarship Council agreement, signed by SFU President Petter in July 2011. She moved to Vancouver this Fall to begin her PhD in SFU's School of Interactive Arts & Technology. We're pleased to welcome her to Simon Fraser University and congratulate her on receiving this impressive award.

She sends word of her first impressions of her new city:

Vancouver! I arrived on August 20th. It is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. The houses, parks, bridges and buses rushed into my eyes. When I went to SFU's Burnaby campus, I was shocked by the beautiful view along the road and the unique design of the buildings. How nice that people can study in such a wonderful place!

In the orientation for international graduate students, I met a lot of students from around the world. It's really an international university! People from diverse backgrounds gather here, share ideas and collaborate.

I am studying at the Surrey campus. When I visited the advanced labs and study rooms, I was astonished by the fantastic equipment and convenient facilities. Staff are so nice and welcome questions from students.

Xiaolan's Top Tips for Future International Grad Students

  1. Look for a supervisor whose research field interests you. In addition to their online research profile, read their papers and projects.
  2. Connect with potential supervisors by email. If you are lucky enough to meet the professor in person, that's the best way! Be confident and brave.
  3. Prepare all of your application materials carefully and submit them on time — the earlier, the better in case of unexpected setbacks.
  4. Keep practising English — this helps you to adapt to study and life in Canada more easily.
  5. There are many different awards and scholarships you may apply for — familiarize yourself with the requirements. If you have questions, the staff at SFU are happy to help.

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