Three MIT students — Henry Aspegren '17, Katheryn Scott, and Joshua Woodard — were selected as Schwarzman Scholars and will begin postgraduate studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing next fall. An alumnus, Han Wu MEng '15, was also selected for this highly competitive program.
Schwarzman Scholars are chosen based on demonstrated leadership qualities and potential to bridge and understand cultural and political differences. They will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures, traveling, and developing a better understanding of China.
This year’s four Schwarzman Scholars bring to 11 the total number of MIT winners honored since the scholarship’s inception in 2015. In all, 142 Schwarzman Scholars were selected from over 4,000 applicants. The new class is comprised of students from 39 countries and 97 universities with 41 percent from the United States, 20 percent from China, and 39 percent from the rest of the world. The currently enrolled MIT students were supported by MIT’s Office of Distinguished Fellowships the Presidential Committee on Distinguished Fellowships.
“This year’s winners of the Schwarzman Scholarship exemplify the combination of intellectual prowess and public mindedness that characterizes MIT students at their best,” says Professor William Broadhead, co-chair of the Presidential Committee for Distinguished Fellowships alongside Professor Rebecca Saxe. “Those of us who have had the pleasure of working with them through the application process have been impressed at every turn by their immense potential for local and global leadership. It’s exciting to celebrate with them now; and it will be exciting to see what they do next!”
Henry Aspegren, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, is an MIT master’s student in engineering. He received his BS in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT earlier this year. Aspegren aspires to develop public policy for addressing the new challenges and opportunities created by technology.
Aspegren recognized the economic disparities of the Detroit area growing up, when he played ice hockey on a team with players from manufacturing towns around metro Detroit that had been hit hard by the decline of the auto industry. This reality drew him to think about how economic incentives can stimulate economies, which fueled his academic interests in currency and financial institutions.
At MIT, Aspegren began conducting research in the MIT Media Lab’s Viral Communications Group, where he worked to help build a voting and ranking algorithm to quantify subjective qualities such as emotion across the internet in real time. During his junior year, he participated in the Cambridge MIT Exchange program and received a first from Cambridge University and a full blue in ice hockey.
This past January, Aspegren traveled to Korea through the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives' Global Teaching Laboratory to lead a robotics workshop in which students programmed a Roomba vaccum cleaner to drive around an obstacle course. He has also interned with the electronic trading team at Goldman Sachs in New York and London, and worked as a software engineer with BetterWorks in Palo Alto.
Aspegren is now completing his MEng degree and conducting research with the MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative to examine injustices in financing. This led him to design a block chain-based system for agricultural financing in Latin America in collaboration with the InterAmerican Development Bank.
Aspegren has been an active participant in MIT Athletics, playing club ice hockey throughout his undergraduate and graduate career, and playing on the varsity lacrosse team his freshman year. He is also a brother of Theta Chi Fraternity.
Katheryn "Kate" Scott, from Barrington, Illinois, is an MIT senior majoring in materials science and engineering. She studied abroad at Oxford University in her junior year through the Department of Materials Science and Engineering’s exchange program. Scott seeks to pursue a future career bridging the gap between science and communications, and eventually plans to found her own communications firm.
In the summer of her freshman year, Scott traveled to Singapore to conduct materials research, fabricating thin-film membranes to create nano-filtration systems for smog. She later began research with the MIT Libraries Conservation Lab, prototyping two different devices for reversible flattening of manuscripts, which would automate part of the conservation process. At Oxford, Scott conducted polymer research with the Polymer Group and Ashmolean Museum.
Scott has a keen interest in industry, and worked as a chemical engineering intern at Honeywell UOP. While there, she worked to improve wastewater filtration by developing a disinfectant and low temperature tolerant bacteria. The system saves 400,000 gallons of wastewater per day, results that led to the adoption of her system in October 2016.
Scott is a sorority sister of Sigma Kappa, and has held the role of continuing membership chair and new member assistant coordinator. She was elected as vice president of programming for the MIT Panhellenic Association.
Since Scott’s freshman year, she has been a member of MIT’s only Division I sport, rowing. She and her boat earned a bid to the 2016 national competition, and placed 5th, and Scott was named a Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Scholar Athlete. When she was at Oxford University, she joined the university’s lightweight rowing club.
Joshua Charles Woodard, from Chicago, Illinois, is an MIT senior majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in Mandarin Chinese. At Tsinghua, Woodard will earn a degree in politics, with a focus on comparative government. He plans a future career in diplomacy and public policy, with the goal of enacting effective strategies for social change.
Woodard’s dedication to social justice issues began prior to arriving at MIT. As a junior in high school, he applied for and was granted a Boeing Scholars Academy award to research Chicago’s gun violence and devise solutions. He then coordinated a city-wide brainstorming event between youth and government officials.
At MIT, Woodard has been a pivotal voice on issues of diversity and inclusion. As a student advisor on MIT President L. Rafael Reif’s Presidential Advisory Committee, he has provided guidance on important campus issues and policies ranging from diversity initiatives to the influence of the current political climate. Woodard has also demonstrated his leadership skills as co-chair of the student community and living group Chocolate City, and has been instrumental in increasing campus awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement and creating opportunities for dialogue.
Woodard participated in the Internationally Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) worldwide competition for synthetic biology, and he has interned in industrial design at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory and HTC. He has also advocated to help local Boston high school students from underrepresented communities gain access to STEM experiences by co-founding the summer leadership program MIT BoSTEM Scholars Academy.
A talented artist and musician, Woodard has studied and performed Beijing Opera at the Shanghai Theater Academy in China, runs his own freelance photography business, JC Woodard Photography, and has performed on violin and viola with the MIT Jazz Band.
Han Wu graduated from MIT in 2015 with a master's degree in structural engineering focusing on high performance structures.
Prior to enrolling at MIT, he received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Los Angeles majoring in civil and environmental engineering and minoring in accounting. Currently, he works at Ove Arup and Partners Hong Kong (one of the worldwide leading engineering consulting firms) as a structural engineer and the chairman of Young Engineer’s Group.
Besides tackling challenging design problems, Wu also plays a key role in researching and implementing industry leading design tools as well as conducting training sessions. Upon completion of Schwarzman Scholars, he hopes to pursue a career in which he can combine his experience and knowledge in design and business development.