April 26, 2017
UTRC celebrates its volunteers

EAST HARTFORD, Connecticut - UTRC volunteers give generously in support of company-sponsored events and other outside programs, to strengthen the communities where they work and live. UTRC recognizes all its employee volunteers during National Volunteer Week by spotlighting two...in their own words.

Yasmin Khakpour
Senior Research Engineer, Thermo-Fluid Dynamics group, Thermal & Fluid Sciences Department

How long have you been with UTRC/UTC?
“I’ve been with UTRC for 2.5 years.”

How long have you been a volunteer?
“I have served as a volunteer since joining UTRC in 2014.”

For what organization(s) do you volunteer and why?
“I’ve participated in many United Way fundraisers, including the Otis volleyball tournament, as well as the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life event and STARBASE Connecticut’s STEM Olympiad. As part of the STEM Olympiad, I served as a team coach for middle school students, helping them find creative solutions to various scientific problems through engineering skills and teamwork. In addition, I volunteer at other times whenever I see an opportunity to serve. For example: the 2015 Green Apple Day of Service at Norris Elementary School in East Hartford, Connecticut. Also, this year I will be serving as a judge at Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Major Qualifying Projects Day poster competition for undergraduates.”

“I volunteer to help encourage those who may not have the means or wherewithal to cope effectively with issues that impact their lives. While I may not have the expertise or time to devote to helping others on a daily basis, I think I can play a small part by encouraging others to be positive. I believe that being hopeful is one of the most crucial means of coping with the challenges people encounter in their daily lives. For that reason, I view volunteering events like Relay for Life as great venues for promoting health and quality of life -- which is so important for those who are struggling.”

What about volunteering do you find most rewarding?
“For me, volunteering offers a great way to expand my skillsets into areas for which I have great passion. For example, I find it very exciting and rewarding to sit with students of different ages and walk them through the process of scientific problem solving -- whether for their homework, an exam, or some sort of competition. Working with these kids reminds me of when I was a student and loved challenging myself with interesting science problems.”

What is your favorite volunteer moment?
Whether it is in the context of helping students accomplish their educational goals, improving a public space or supporting those struggling against cancer, the greatest joy is to feel that my contribution makes a difference in people’s lives.”

Yonghua Zhu
Senior Research Engineer, Thermal and Control Group, UTRC China

How long have you been with UTRC/UTC?
“I have been with UTRC China for almost two years.”

How long have you been a volunteer?
“I began volunteering seven months ago as an extension of my career. Prior to that, I was actively involved in volunteering while in college.”

What drew you to volunteering?
“My passion to help/teach others and willingness to serve the community are the key drivers behind my volunteerism.”

For what organization(s) do you volunteer and why?
“Last year, I volunteered at STEM Expo 2016, which was held in Shanghai. I served as a mentor for a session entitled ‘Tech4Good Workshop,’ providing technical advice to project teams consisting of high school students and college freshmen. This was a very interesting and meaningful experience for me. Using my schooling and professional knowledge to mentor students interested in STEM is something I have wanted to do since stepping into the science and engineering field.”

What about volunteering do you find most rewarding?
“Seeing first-hand the improvements made by students during the course of the Expo and their delight at those achievements was extremely rewarding.”

What is your favorite volunteer moment?
“I really enjoyed interacting with the students at STEM Expo. It felt great mentoring them in terms of feasibility, efficiency and technical availability and receiving their positive feedback in turn. Also, I was truly impressed with their great sense of cooperation and teamwork.”

To further celebrate its employee volunteer population, UTRC plans to dedicate to its volunteers a "Volunteer Grove" on its East Hartford campus this summer.

Contact: Laura Stevens, (860) 610-1653

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