When Ton Duong was a young boy, he liked to draw spaceships and jet planes. He followed that up by “fixing stuff at home.”
Ton admits he didn’t know it at the time, but he was already deeply involved in engineering at a young age. Born in Vietnam, the 25-year-old Belleville resident holds an Associate degree in Engineering from Essex County College (Class of 2014) and this year earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering/Robotics from Stevens Institute of Technology. He has just been accepted into Stevens’ Accelerated PhD program for Mechanical Engineering.
An outstanding student, Ton points out that interestingly his grade point average was a 3.93 at both Essex and for his Bachelor’s degree at Stevens.
“This is what it’s all about, student success,” Essex President Anthony E. Munroe said of Ton.
“By the time I finished my Bachelor’s degree, I had already completed a number of courses required for a Masters,” said the high-achieving Ton. Based on his credits so far, he added he would like to complete the PhD program within four years.
Eventually, Ton wants to do research work at NASA. His long-term goal involves robotics.
“I’ve always been interested in eco-skeletons that I’ve seen in the movies, such as Iron Man,” Ton said, smiling broadly. His interest would translate into developing a portable system to assist people with various walking disorders.
Although he graduated from Essex three years ago, Ton is eager to relate his experiences to current students. In March, for example, he was one of several alums who talked to members of the College’s Math Club on making the transition to four-year schools.
“I had wonderful experiences at Essex, it’s such a caring institution,” he said.
Ton’s success has been especially gratifying to Essex Mathematics Professor Susan Gaulden. “Ton was a standout at Essex and he is continuing to achieve academically,” said Dr. Gaulden, who was his professor in her Differential Equations class.
Ton is not all about hard work, though. He is known at Essex for his drones. And he loves to dance.
Going forward, Ton’s philosophy is simple. “You just think what to do next.”