Above and Beyond Scholarship – Hsiu-Chin Lin
Year of Scholarship and Conference Attendance: 2008
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Country of residence at the time of receiving the ACM-W Scholarship: USA
Hsiu-Chin Lin is an Assistant Professor in the School of Computer Science and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at McGill University. Her research spans model-based control, optimization, and machine learning for manipulators and quadruped robots. She is an associate editor of IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, and IEEE International Conference on Humanoid Robotics. She is also the program co-chair for the 19th and 20th Conferences on Robots and Vision.
What has been a highlight of attending the conference (utilizing the ACM-W Scholarship)?
The ACM-W scholarship sponsored my first international conference when I was an undergraduate student. As an undergraduate student, a research career was an unknown world to me. The scholarship provided me with the opportunity to experience a real conference and a chance to interact with researchers who are interested in the same topics.
How did attending the ACM-W-sponsored conference impact your career?
I was the first person in my family to receive higher education, and I was very lost while navigating my career path. I was not aware that there were scholarships and fellowships available, and I once believed that going to graduate school was a privilege for rich families. I was very lucky to meet Prof. Colleen van Lent and Prof. Darin Goldstein at California State University. They encouraged me to apply for scholarships and graduate schools, including the ACM-W Scholarship.
Attending an ACM-W-sponsored conference helped me realize that the financial situation of my family does not determine what I can do for my studies. It certainly helped me decide that I wanted to go to graduate school immediately after my bachelor’s degree. It’s been almost 15 years since I received the ACM-W Scholarship. I am still very grateful for this opportunity. Without it, I might have been on a completely different career path.
What has been your career highlight? What are you most proud of?
I came from a very traditional and conservative town. Growing up, I was repeatedly told that women are not capable of doing science and technology and women should focus on their biological duty. I followed what was taught as a child and as a teenager. I discovered programming when I was in high school (by chance) and became determined to study computer science. My formal education did not prepare me well for universities, certainly not in STEM. I slowly filled those gaps along the way and eventually found myself in robotics and machine learning research. I am proud of my decision and my persistence. I
haven’t regretted my decision since.
What aspects of your career have you found challenging?
Being a minority is not easy in any professional career. This certainly adds more hurdles on top of an already stressful job. I call this a challenge because it is out of my control. I can work harder to get a difficult task done, but I cannot easily alter how someone perceives another race or another gender. Throughout my career journey, I have had a few unfortunate encounters that almost pushed me away from this career. Thanks to my stubbornness, I am still here, and my challenges have become my driving force to be a better and stronger person.
Anything else you would like to share with us that we can highlight about your
My career path has been an emotional roller-coaster; it has a lot of highs and lows. I can recall many occasions that were full of joy and excitement that I got from my work or my studies; I can also remember days of depression, frustrations, or anger, being overwhelmed by every single aspect of my life. Success and failure are both normal parts of the job. Learning from failure and criticism is as valuable as any successful experience. I hope this will set an example for future generations.