AAPI Heritage Month: A Vaughn Graduate Finds His Passion and Inspires Others

May 21, 2021 Vaughn Spotlights

As Vaughn College continues to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we are pleased to highlight Vaughn mechatronic engineering graduate Ryan Tang ’17. We caught up with Tang to hear his inspirational story after graduating from Vaughn and how his journey post-graduation has circled back to the classroom.

Steeped in his roots

Tang is proud of his Asian heritage and says being raised with strong cultural connections by his Taiwanese parents gave him the confidence he needed to be the inspirational professional he is today. Born in Ecuador, Tang explained how at an early age, his parents insisted he learn their native language of Mandarin. “We speak Mandarin in our household,” Tang said. “I’m grateful to my parents for being strict with me about learning our language. Being fluent in Mandarin is giving me a competitive edge in my career.”

Finding his passion

Even at a young age, Tang said he loved engineering, and says that his high school experience led him on the path to becoming an educator and mentor. “I believe my high school years fed my inner passion to want to help students, particularly in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs,” Tang explained. “My sisters are educators, so I suppose this passion to teach runs in our family,” he continued.

As a lover of robotics, Tang discovered Vaughn and was drawn to its mechatronic engineering program. “I knew Vaughn was the perfect college for me,” Tang said. “Sharing my passion for engineering and robotics with my classmates who were equally as excited gave me the inspiration and encouragement to excel.” Tang quickly made his mark on campus. In 2015, he co-founded the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) team, which he remains involved with to this day as a consultant and adviser. Tang said it was this type of role—as mentor and teacher—that shifted his path from future engineer to educator.

Teaching mechatronic engineering

After graduation, Tang didn’t need to go far to land his first job. He began teaching at Vaughn as an adjunct professor, leading courses in robotics and mechatronic engineering. “I owe my passion for both teaching and engineering to my Vaughn professors, Dr. Rahemi and Dr. He,” he said humbly. “Their dedication to their students’ success inspired me to do the same for others.”

Tang decided to take his passion for learning one step further and is pursuing a master’s in engineering education. “It was important to me to continue my education in both engineering and education,” he explained. “I want to be the best I can be for my students.”

Currently on the weekends, Tang works as the head coach and STEM coordinator at KG CompuTech, a computer-training center for young students in Flushing, Queens where he teaches computer technology and robotics to middle school and high school students. “I love motivating and encouraging my students to learn critical thinking skills. They love competing in the robotics competitions.” Tang says his students see him as combination of drill sergeant and big brother. “I work my students hard to keep them focused, but I always make it a point to spend time with them after our work is done. They need to talk, and I’m there to listen and mentor them. It’s a rewarding profession and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

His advice to students

As an Asian American, Tang said he’s proud to be represented during AAPI Heritage Month. Coming from an Asian American household, he encourages students to embrace their culture, work hard, stay motivated and not fall behind.

When asked why he chose to teach engineering instead of working as an engineer, his answer was simple: “It’s more rewarding to inspire 100 students to become engineers than to work in the field as one person. There’s power in numbers. I believe motivating and encouraging students to pursue their dreams is the perfect equation to creating a future of leaders and innovators.”

Vaughn College’s core values place an emphasis on embracing diversity in all of its dimensions. We offer some of today’s most sought-after degrees in engineering and technology, management and aviation. Find out where a Vaughn degree can take you. Apply today!