Name: Qingnan Liu
Program: MUP 2013
Hometown: Inner Mongolia, China
Undergraduate school/major: Tsinghua University, Civil Engineering
What was your work experience/background before coming to the GSD?
I worked two years in the Beijing Tsinghua Urban Planning & Design Institute as an assistant engineer at Transportation Planning Department from 2009 to 2010.
Why did you decide to pursue planning as a career?
I’ve always been interested in urban studies, from different perspectives and scales. Especially after working in the planning field for two years, I realized the importance of planning in urban development. Planning is the key determinant in terms of public policy and urban strategies. I would love to become the leader and the pioneer for shaping a better and sustainable city life.
What made you decide to come to the GSD?
The urban planning program in GSD is quite diverse and has seven different concentrations. Here I could explore what I’m actually interested in and also learn from my classmates and colleagues with different backgrounds. The GSD is also a good place to exchange ideas and insights with other programs such as architecture, landscape and urban design. The ability to cross-register system with HKS, HBS and MIT is also attractive for planning students to explore more than design.
What are your main interests in planning and concentration area?
Transportation and infrastructure planning.
What was your impression of Harvard and the GSD before you came?
Harvard is the top university in the world, which has a very high quality of faculty and students. GSD is the top design school for architecture and landscape.
How has your impression changed since coming to the GSD?
After I came, I learned more of Harvard and GSD except for only their reputation. The cross-field platform among GSD, HKS and HBS or even MIT is very helpful for planning students, since planning itself is such an interdisciplinary subject. I also changed my idea of GSD as only a design school. GSD has provided such a large and open platform for all the students from different programs to exchange our ideas and learn from each other since planning is also a team work of cooperation.
What has been the most surprising aspect of the GSD?
GSD is very open and diverse.
What did you do over the summer? How did that add to your education and goals?
I did an internship at the Asian Development Bank in the Philippines and completed on-the-ground research on multimodal transportation hubs. Working in the ADB was a great experience not only because it helps me think about my future career but most importantly I learned the financing part of urban development which I didn’t have too much understanding of before.
What are your career ambitions?
I’ve always wanted to be a problem-solver. I found urban studies so fascinating that I would love to be the problem-solver examining the rapid urbanization in developing countries.