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MIT Technology Review

Forrest Liau ’06, PhD ’13, and Debbie Liu

Palo Alto, California
February 26, 2020
Forrest Liao and Debbie Liu at homeForrest Liao and Debbie Liu at home
Forrest Liao and Debbie Liu at home

Forrest Liau, a senior staff engineer at Tesla, and Debbie Liu, a program manager in worldwide education marketing at Apple, met as undergrads while Forrest was a materials science and engineering major and Debbie, a Wellesley College student, was conducting an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program project at MIT. Inspired by their twin six-year-olds and their time at MIT, they have established an endowed scholarship fund that will support MIT students for generations to come.

Cycle of giving. “I had generous mentors at the Institute who gave their time to advise me and others, expecting nothing in return,” Forrest recalls. “Being an MIT mentor and giving to scholarships are ways for me to pay it forward. The act of giving can have incredible ripple effects.” Debbie had a similar experience at MIT, although she was not officially a student. “I went as far as to write ‘A Love Letter to MIT’ in 2012 in The Tech, and I still feel immense gratitude for MIT’s openness,” she says.

Freedom to succeed. “Because of MIT, there will always be a safe place for people to ask the big questions, tackle the most challenging problems, and be different,” says Forrest. “There’s freedom to try different things, latitude to fail and recover, and multiple definitions of success.” It’s that environment that makes the couple confident that their support will pay off. “MIT students have the heart and mind to make meaningful impact in the world,” says Debbie. “Why wouldn’t we invest in them?”


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