Tim Xu has an abundance of scientific experience thanks to his family


Eva Harshman

Tim Xu hopes to work in engineering when he is finished with school.

Senior Tim Xu found his passion and possible career path in a typical household item: a light switch. The illumination of the bulb at the flip of a switch fascinated Tim since he was as young as he could recall. However, after several years, Tim moved forward and became enthralled by a much more advanced piece of technology, the computer.

For a while, that satisfied Tim’s craving for learning about the inner workings of the technology surrounding him. With the wide variety of websites and programs available, the bright screen captured Tim’s attention. He progressed even further with his journey through the virtual world, making his next stop at video games and the behind-the-scenes of his favorite games. 

Despite his varied interests, his path gradually reached its final destination: engineering.

“Originally, I wanted to do computer science to make [games],” Tim said. “I do enjoy programming, but my attention shifted toward robotics. I wanted to do real-world applications that can actually help people rather than provide entertainment.”

I wanted to do real-world applications that can actually help people rather than provide entertainment.

— Tim Xu

Tim hasn’t limited his interests to at-home experiments with games and electronics. At FHC, he has managed to get involved wherever possible, from AP classes to after-school programs. Science may be his focus in school, but he doesn’t restrict his interests to the classroom.

Tim joined the Science Olympiad team during his high school career, which has heightened his experience with science, technology, and engineering.

“My brother [alumnus] James [Xu] did [Science Olympiad],” Tim said. “So, I did it because my brother did it and to get something from the school curriculum. I like the people there.”

James isn’t Tim’s only older brother; as the youngest of four brothers, he has had many years of knowledge passed down to him. Despite the fact that he and James, the brother closest in age to him, never participated in Science Olympiad together because of their age difference, he still was inspired by the influences that James had.

On the other hand, Tim has the opportunity to share his Science Olympiad experience alongside his younger sister, junior Melinda Xu. Since they are only one grade apart, they share several extracurriculars and can support each other.

“[I can] help [Melinda] with notes and organization,” Tim said. “The thing with Science Olympiad is that it’s not hard to know; the problem with the notes is that you need to be organized to know where the information is. On tests, you can’t just rely on your notes sometimes—you’re going to have to rely on your memory, so you can save some time instead of flipping through pages.”

Even though Tim shares many interests with his siblings, his specific path toward a career in engineering is different from each of his brothers’; in fact, none of them have chosen the same schooling and job.

His individuality within the scientific field has been amplified by his own choices in events in Science Olympiad. This year, Tim competed in Dynamic Planet, Remote Sensing, and Wi-Fi Lab. Each has different applications through a general knowledge of the subject and building. In Wi-Fi Lab, for example, Tim had to build an antenna and then test for the connection distance and signal strength.

“[I chose] Wi-Fi Lab because I’m interested in engineering, especially computer engineering or robotics, so I chose one about signals,” Tim said. “Others, like Dynamic Planet and Remote Sensing, didn’t have anyone who wanted to do them, so I might as well do it myself. There’s  a healthy [amount] of Earth Science in there.”

Even though Tim has had many experiences throughout high school in the science field and engineering, he looks to the increasingly-closer future and what he may do with the experience he has accumulated.

Regardless of how far-off it may be, Tim’s dream job would be a space engineer, maintaining space stations and improving the technology for exploring other planets. Earth has had much to offer Tim, but now he looks beyond his home planet.

“Humans are already all over Earth,” Tim said. “The next logical step would be to expand outwards.”