photo of Shawn Lee

Hyeonseung "Shawn" Lee


Computational Engineering


Seoul, South Korea 

What aspect of computational engineering interests you most?

The versatility of computational engineering is the most noteworthy aspect of the major to me. Simulation and modeling is something that can be applied to any discipline, from medicine to aerospace engineering. UT Austin's computational engineering degree has been teaching me with specific principles and tools that can be applied in essentially any work of today's society.

What has been your biggest reward while pursuing your computational degree at UT?

My biggest reward while pursuing my computational engineering degree was having an opportunity to work for Blue Origin in the spring of 2020 as a systems engineering intern. At Blue Origin, I was able to utilize the computational engineering skills I learned at UT Austin to support requirement verification planning and contribute to the development of New Glenn, Blue Origin's orbital launch vehicle.

Who has been your most influential COE, ASE or EM professor and why?

Dr. Corey Trahan has been my most influential professor. When I was taking his COE 352 course last year, he showed his passion for the topic of finite element method and the genuine care for his students. He always made sure that we understood the "why" behind every principle (and not just the "what"), which is something that I really appreciated. Last but not least, Dr. Trahan went above and beyond to guide his students to success even outside of the classroom through extended office hours where he made sure to answer every question his students had.

What has been your most influential COE, ASE or EM course and why?

COE 352, Advanced Scientific Computing, has been the most influential and my personal favorite COE course. Taught by Dr. Trahan, the course introduced me to the principles behind the finite element method and how MATLAB can be used to solve certain FEM problems. The class has also given me great foundational knowledge for my future computational fluid dynamics (CFD) courses.

What has been your favorite computationally based project?

When I was working as a systems engineer during my internship at Blue Origin, I had an opportunity to develop a MATLAB-based system modeling tool that models and analyzes the power and energy consumption levels of a launch vehicle stage. It was awesome to experience firsthand how computational engineering can be applied in the launch vehicle industry.

Has involvement in student groups and/or organizations made a difference in your education?

I was the system design lead and Program Manager for the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Team (UAV Austin), and more recently, I served as the Director of Operations and CEO for the Texas Rocket Engineering Lab. Through my involvement in these two great student organizations, I was able to gain leadership experiences while working alongside some amazing student engineers. Additionally, through my leadership roles, I became more and more comfortable with managing my teams and my peers while contributing to achieving awesome engineering feats such as UAV Austin's current aircraft, Phoenix III (featured in my photo above!).

How do you plan to use your COE degree in the future?

I plan to become a fluid dynamicist focusing on computational fluid dynamics in the launch vehicle industry. I want to use and apply computational engineering to contribute to the effort of expanding humankind's capability of space exploration.

If you participated in study abroad, please include a brief description about your experience.

I studied abroad in Toulouse, France, and Barcelona, Spain to study Engineering Dynamics with Dr. Thomas Connolly in the summer of 2018. Outside of our studies, we had opportunities to interact with some of the major industry leaders in Europe, including Airbus. As a student who just finished his first year in college, I was still unsure about how engineering principles and fundamentals I learn in the classroom environment are incorporated in the industry. Thanks to my study abroad experience I was able to gain a wider perspective on how aerospace and computational engineering are practiced in the industry.

Where is your favorite place to study?

My two favorite places on campus to study are ASE and the 3D printer floor of Texas Inventionworks.

What are some things you really enjoy about living in Austin, TX?

Though I was born and raised in South Korea, I have been an Austinite for the last decade. Over these years, I have never gotten bored with the city. Austin is vibrant and active. There is always a local restaurant to try for the first time, a concert I can go to with my friends, and a park my family and I can have a picnic at. Personally, one of my favorite things in Austin is Trail of Lights at Zilker Park during the holiday season. Also, because UT is integrated into the city, it is very easy to have adventures in Austin as a Longhorn.

List three things that most people don't know about you. 
  • I was born and raised in Gangnam, the fashion district of Seoul known for the 2012 YouTube sensation, Gangnam Style. 

  • I have played flute for 10 years, and I was part of a jazz band for a little while. 

  • Aside from computational engineering, I enjoy modern architecture and art history.