Carnegie Mellon University

Yuanhao Li competes at the NCTTA national championship tournament

October 31, 2022

Li Spins Success in Engineering, Table Tennis

li.pngCEE PhD student Yuanhao Li is putting a spin on integrating engineering with sports. As a table tennis champion, he uses fundamental principles of engineering to continually improve his performance. 

“If you want to improve your game, you must work very hard on the drills and strokes and repeat the basic training many, many times. That is also the mindset used when I try to solve a hard engineering problem,” he says.  

Li began playing table tennis at the age of 8. “I was deeply attracted by the speed and the spin of ball but stopped [playing in my teens and] focused on studying.” An exchange program in the United States reintroduced Li to the sport. “I made great progress over the years, and I am currently one of the top three players at the local clubs in Pittsburgh,” he states.

He'll be participating in the fall 2022 season of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) and is excited about his “strong team” that qualified for the 2021 NCTTA Collegiate National Championships in Round Rock, Texas. “As a college table tennis club that competes on the national level, our team is extremely outstanding both at the regional and Pennsylvania Divisional competitions."

Li plays in both individual and team tournaments and plans to participate in the 2022 U.S. Open in Los Angeles. His achievements include earning multiple championships at local USA Table Tennis (USATT) events including first place at the Spin-smash Hard Bat/U1800 Open. He was also top 3 in the U2000/U2300 Singles Event at the 57th Robo-Pong St. Joseph Valley Open/Samson Dubina Tournament.

At CEE, he works with Professor Gerald Wang to research nanoscale fluid flow and heat transfer processes through disordered materials and across interfaces. Li emphasizes that while his two passions—engineering and table tennis—may seem worlds apart, they both require practice and skills that are reinforced in his studies. 

“I always start with learning the most fundamental knowledge related to the problem. I believe that advanced solutions really come from a solid understanding of the basics.”