The Society of Women Engineers celebrates International Women’s Day with a Women in STEM Highlight: Dr. Xiaorong Zhang

By Rhoanna Perez | March 1, 2021

Dr. Xiaorong Zhang

Dr. Xiaorong Zhang is a Professor of Computer Engineering at SFSU. In college, she majored in Computer Science in China and upon receiving her B.S., she was undecided on what to pursue as her career. She came to the U.S. to study Computer Engineering at the University of Rhode Island. She took her first computer architecture class, spent nights developing her own CPU for a course project. Her interest in computer engineering grew. She started research work with her Ph.D. advisors in the fields of neural-machine interfaces, embedded systems, and cyber-physical systems. They worked closely with experts to develop neural-controlled prosthetic limbs for patients with amputations. She decided to continue to pursue her career in engineering. She’s been working on different projects, to name a few; developing next-gen neural-machine interfaces for neurological rehabilitation, wearable sensor and mobile app for in-home stroke rehabilitation, and a Wi-Fi sniffing system for transit ridership estimation. She is currently working on improving SFSU’s computer engineering curriculum, developing new courses, and improving courses within the embedded systems track.

What do you like about your field?

“In my research field in embedded computer systems and cyber-physical systems, I like that it can be used in many different application fields. I got to collaborate with researchers and experts from different disciplines on many interesting project topics. As an educator, I like that I have the opportunity to develop curriculums in my field of interest and share my knowledge and experiences with my students to help them succeed”.

What are some of your greatest achievements?

“Personally, I feel the most rewarding achievement is the success of my students. I have always been trying to improve my classes and my advising methods to better prepare my students with the knowledge, skills, and ability for success in future engineering careers. When I see my students landing good jobs, winning research awards, and publishing high-quality research papers, I feel that is a great achievement for myself. Another achievement is that I have established good collaborations with researchers from many different disciplines to conduct interesting and meaningful research projects at SFSU. I also received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, which is a recognition of my work in developing next-generation neural-machine interfaces”.

What is one piece of advice that you have for students?

“1) Be persistent and be patient. 2) You are not alone. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to people (professors, staff, student organizations) for help when you need it”.