Tian Changzhuo, also known as CC Tien, is an influential Chinese-American in the fields of engineering and social works. Born in Wuhan, China, he received his Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering from Taiwan University in 1950 before getting his Masters in architecture at Purdue University, and then graduating from the University of Washington and Seattle University. After college, CC went on to work at the New York City Engineering Company in 1956, then at Boeing in Seattle. In the 34 years CC Tien worked for Boeing, he contributed to the works of numerous Boeing aircrafts, and was rated the chief engineer of Boeing pneumatic flutter technology. With this knowledge and experience, Tien held lectures and spoke with aviation students and others at the Seattle Chinese Engineers association along with other organizations. After retiring from Boeing, he began to participate more in welfare programs, as well as being involved in many organizations like the Chinese Institution of Engineers, Seattle Zhenghe Society, the American Federation of the American Association of Aerospace Engineers, SATEC, Meihua Forum, and many others. He also dedicated his time to politics and supporting public office candidates, along with efforts to connect Chinese and American culture among the many immigrants in the United States. In the rest of this article, we will share the details from an interview with Dr. CC Tien and his thoughts on our society and ways the youth can contribute to changes in their communities.
CC Tien provided us with insightful advice about how to navigate our past, present, and future. He highlighted that always looking into the future is essential to strategically plan and know what lies ahead of us. We can see that tactic being used across various organizations in our world today and doing so, helps prepare them for accomplishments. Perceiving the future in a careful way can ultimately lead to an outcome that paves the way for success. CC reminded us through his interpretations of always looking into the future at his age when figuring out his own passions.
Furthermore, CC illustrated the immense difference between life as it is today and the past. Our lives are continuously shifting, especially with new resources being discovered and created. He noted that taking advantage of the resources (like technology) that younger generations are given is vital. Using those will help assist and propel the activities we wish to pursue. Personally, I’ve noticed his words proving true in my everyday life. Technology is certainly prevalent around us at any given time and can be used beneficially. Most of the time, my use of technology is associated with academics or finding different ways to exercise passions of my own. He demonstrates that taking advantage of the various resources available to you will only further excel.
In parallel with the younger generation, he also describes that we possess a great deal of potential and the future will soon be dependent on us. CC propagates the idea that we have the power to change the world, even if we’re unaware of it right now. We are able to shape and influence the future of our society in endless ways. Even in our society today, CC has noticed and participated in various activities that have the power to impact the community and the younger generation. In my view, knowing the youth’s ability to change our world so quickly in a matter of time is difficult to fathom.
There are always new languages appearing out of thin air wherever we go and it never fails to captivate the people around us. CC Tien describes that learning languages, specifically Chinese, is helpful to acquire for our career and intercultural exchange. In the job industry, communication is key to conversing with others, and gaining the ability to do that will prepare you to succeed. To put perspective on its importance CC also describes that Chinese is the second most spoken language (after English).
Another piece of advice that CC emphasized to us was the fact that organizations are what give power to individuals; although one voice may be dismissed, a group of collective voices is more likely to achieve their shared goals. This is even exemplified by the existence of CIE as an organization. Us students know firsthand that we can have experiences that we would not be able to have normally as individuals. CC highlighted the advantages of organizations to us, a significant one of which is connections. For the younger generation, having connections is imperative in both enriching our lives, knowledge, and communities.
CC is, to this day, still giving back to his community. He indicated that if you can do something helpful, you should. By giving back to the community, you strengthen your peers, your family, and your friends, which ultimately helps yourself. In reflecting on our conversation, I realized that there are many ways to help out in one’s community, and one does not need to be restricted to only volunteering. Simply by taking the time to do our best in school, work, or other group activities – wherever there needs to be a sense of teamwork or community really – we can create stronger bonds with others, and our shared successes will continue to benefit us.
CC is still doing advocacy even in his old age, although he told us that he does not feel that age is a limiter. He further explained that it has always been other people who have brought up his age in relation to his achievements; he does not feel its effects on his ability to help others, and therefore he will continue to do so. He stays modest, never citing his age as a reason for special treatment, which is simply another admirable trait that we should learn from.
Additionally, we should acknowledge CC’s accomplishments again, and thereby see that we should not be limited mentally on what we can do. If we want to, we should be ambitious for leadership positions. If an opportunity is presented to us, we should take it. Rather than moving through this world with a passive mindset, CC stated that we must be conscious of our decisions and we should be assertive when needed. Ultimately, we should strive for a balance between prioritizing helping others and our community, and knowing our self-worth and capabilities enough to push ourselves forwards.