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What it’s like to be a student at the University of Georgia

What does it mean to be a student at the College of Engineering, University of Georgia?

One student shares his thoughts and insights into the student experience at this charming university.

Are you an engineering graduate or professional keen on upskilling yourself? Are you ready to take your career to the next level? A postgraduate degree can help you stand out, give you the ability to solve complex problems driven by specific needs and future-proof your skills in an increasingly competitive job market.

If you’re looking to study at a university that fuses a modern curriculum and immersive learning experiences with an enviable student lifestyle, you may want to consider the University of Georgia (UGA). Its College of Engineering offers prospective students a rigorous engineering education combined with real-world, hands-on experience to catapult graduates to greater heights.

This public university is located in Athens – consistently rated one of the best college towns in the US – and offers a comprehensive engineering curriculum for both its undergraduate and graduate programs. You’ll have the chance to learn from leading academics in a tight-knit academic community, uncover new trends within your field and develop valued skills in today’s employment market.

An unparalleled learning experience

The combination of a welcoming environment, the freedom and encouragement to explore world-changing research and state-of-the-art laboratory facilities led international student Rui Li to UGA.


Rui Li. University of Georgia.

A native of Beijing, China, Li is in the third year of his doctoral studies in UGA’s College of Engineering. After earning his bachelor and master’s degrees in the UK, he worked for a major telecommunications company for five years before making the decision to pursue his PhD at UGA.

He hasn’t looked back since, waxing lyrical about his experience so far.

“UGA is a very welcoming university for international students and faculty members are extremely supportive,” said Li. “Also, the university’s location in Georgia makes it convenient for domestic and international students as Atlanta’s international airport is nearby.”

Research that makes a difference

As a student at UGA, Li has the opportunity to engage in research that changes lives.

For instance, his primary research area is image guidance therapy; the use of medical imaging to plan, perform, and evaluate surgical procedures and therapeutic interventions. Image-guided therapy techniques help make surgeries less invasive and more precise, which can lead to shorter hospital stays and fewer repeated procedures. Li is particularly interested in applying this emerging technology to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

One of his research projects, funded by the National Institutes of Health, involves the development of an MRI-compatible template to assist physicians in the treatment of prostate cancer.

“The device is designed to increase the accuracy of diagnosis,” he said. “This template is easy to use and has a low cost, which could help to bring down the cost of medical treatment.”

Li is also developing a small, low-cost tracking device designed to assist in the treatment of patients with movement disorders. These disorders are neurological conditions that cause abnormal increased movements, such as Parkinson’s disease and Tourette syndrome. Li’s tracking device monitors and records a patient’s movements over a period, providing valuable data that physical therapists can use to recommend targeted treatments.

The project also involves researchers in UGA’s department of kinesiology and College of Engineering’s Cyber-Physical Systems Lab, reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the college’s research.

Study in a close-knit community

Li explained that one of the unique benefits of being a UGA student is the close working relationship between faculty and students. His mentor, Zion Tse, may be a prominent researcher in the field of medical robotics but treats Li like a colleague. Together, they develop research ideas, with Tse giving Li the freedom to design and conduct laboratory experiments.

“He’s very keen to guide me through the whole process,” said Li. “He knows it’s not just about projects, but that it’s also about how to train me to be a successful researcher and prepare me for my future career.”

Another key differentiator between UGA and other universities is UGA’s focus on entrepreneurial support and career services, said Li. Resources such as UGA’s Innovation Gateway, Innovation District and I-Corps helps students and faculty transform their ideas and turn them into businesses, in addition to moving new technologies into the market.


University of Georgia

To boot, UGA is consistently ranked among the top 100 universities worldwide for the number of US patents granted. In addition, UGA is ranked first among 193 US institutions for the number of commercial products reaching the market. The university also ranks in the top 20 of US public universities for active startup companies.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant city of Athens

While UGA offers students like Li opportunities for personal and professional growth, there is so much more to enjoy as a student in Athens.

When he’s not in the lab or teaching engineering courses to undergraduate students, Li enjoys soaking up the culture of Athens. His favourite activities include swimming at the university’s massive Ramsey Student Center and visiting the many restaurants, coffee shops and other unique locally-owned businesses in the historic heartland of Georgia.

He has also become a fan of the Georgia Bulldogs, the university’s American football team, and enjoys cheering on the team with other students in Sanford Stadium, one of the iconic athletic venues in the US.

“I think Athens is one of the best places to live and study,” said Li. “There is a rich history and the people are extremely friendly.”

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