Alumni Profile: Yijie Han

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Yijie Han (Ph.D. ‘06)

Yijie Han (Ph.D. ‘06) is currently a quantitative risk analyst lead in the Consumer Lending Credit Risk Management Department at M&T Bank. She received her Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 2006 under the guidance of Prof. Richard La (ECE/ISR), and her research covers wireless communication in ad-hoc networks.

Reflecting on her time as a student at the University of Maryland, Han noted that professors and staff members in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department were very friendly and accessible. “Without a doubt, my advisor, Prof. La was extremely influential to me,” says Han. “I remember working with him on several papers over and over again, which was certainly a challenge for me at the time, and it took me a long time to appreciate the thoroughness of his research style and the integrity of his work.” Han also worked closely with Prof. Armand Makowski (ECE/ISR), and under his guidance, they turned a one page draft from a course project into a conference paper. “Prof. Makowski was very patient and took the time to teach me how to make my presentation more effective. As an International student, I was still learning English at the time so he let me borrow several of his fiction books based on American culture so I could learn both English and about life in America. I am beyond grateful for the help and support they have both given me.”

Originally from China, attending UMD was Han’s first introduction to American culture, learning foremost that pizza is a staple meal among graduate students. She was a TA for two years and led many lab sessions and recitations. She recalls struggling to lead a 50 minute lab session for an undergraduate course initially, but improved over time and went on to lead recitations for several graduate courses. Han enjoyed attending performances at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, and also took two undergraduate-level dance classes. “Overall, the five years I spent at Maryland were very precious to me and that’s where my journey in America started,'' says Han. 

On advice for current Terps, Han says to be humble and patient, and to take the time to learn when one can. “Quoting what a professor told me as I was about to graduate, “One starts to draw from the well upon leaving school, so hopefully he/she has put something into the well,” said Han.

Putting these words into action, Han has been putting back into the well through her philanthropic efforts, which was inspired at the onset of the pandemic. “I reached out to Prof. La and Prof. Makowski, and I learned that state universities in general had experienced budget cuts in recent years, which may or may not be directly related to the pandemic,” says Han. “In the past, I assumed that the Department must have many financial resources to tap into, but after talking to them, I understood that small contributions of any kind really help.”

Over the past two years, Han has been making annual contributions towards several graduate and undergraduate funds of the ECE department. “I plan to continue my support for those funds in the future,” says Han, “and by sharing my experience with my friends who also graduated from ECE, I hope more will join me in this effort next year.”

Published December 7, 2021