ECHS@MC salutatorian escaped political insurgence, looks forward to mechanical engineering careerJune 20, 2024

The image to use for this article. Listing image managed through RSS tab. Biak Tin Mang

Approximately 15 years ago, Biak Tin Mang and his parents immigrated to the United States from Myanmar (formerly Burma).  They first arrived in Fort Worth, TX and then shortly thereafter moved to Midland.  The family only spoke Senthang and Hakha Chin, and Mang’s parents had no formal education.  Mang did not learn English until he started kindergarten in Midland.  

Last month, Mang gave the Invocation at Midland College’s commencement ceremony and the Salutatorian speech at the graduation ceremony for Early College High School at Midland College (ECHS@MC).  In August, he will begin working toward a mechanical engineering degree at the University of Texas (UT) Austin.

“At ECHS at Midland College, I was able to become a person who strives to be the best at everything I do,” Mang said.  “The rigorous coursework made me adapt to high standards that were expected by the high school teachers and Midland College professors.”

Like all ECHS@MC students, Mang’s high school education consisted of an accelerated high school curriculum during the 9th and 10th grades, and then Midland College coursework during the 11th and 12th grades.  On May 10, Mang graduated from Midland College with an Associate of Science degree.  Midland College professors took notice of his determination and ambition.  

“Mr. Mang spoke no English when he entered public school,” John Anderson, Midland College Chemistry professor, said.  “Today, he speaks flawless English, as if he was native born.  This shows his ability to take on new challenges and handle adversity with ease.  He will easily adapt to life at the University of Texas and hold his own in the engineering program there.  In addition, he has an outgoing personality and is well liked, respected and regarded as a leader by his fellow students.”

During the time he attended ECHS@MC, Mang conducted mathematical research under the mentorship of Midland College Math Professor Jamie Kneisley.  He also participated in the Higher Orbits Go for Launch! summer program.  The multi-day camp uses Space Exploration as a platform to launch student involvement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), as well as teamwork, communication and leadership. 

“My team, the Chaparral Champions, at the Go for Launch! program received guidance from Mike Foreman, a former astronaut, to make a silk worm experimental design for space,” Mang explained.  “We were awarded the experimental design award.  Since that time, we have continued to work on the project, including revising the design, writing a synopsis, and answering questions given by the judges.”

Last month, Go for Launch! announced that the Chaparral Champions’ experiment won the second series of the contest, and that the project will be launched to the International Space Station on one of the cargo flights.  Once it is installed, the team will get 30 days of data while their experiment is in space.  

Mang said that both the Midland College research and the Go for Launch! program impacted his desire to major in mechanical engineering.  He credits his parents with giving him the desire to learn and work hard.  

“While we were in Myanmar, my father had to work away from home for long months at a time in order to earn enough money for us to come to the U.S.,” Mang recalled.  “When we got to the United States, my parents cleaned houses to earn a living.  Then, my mother had a sushi business, but she had to close it during the pandemic.  Now my mother works at Walmart on Midland Drive.  My father has not been able to work for a year because of injuries he sustained in 2023.”

The Myanmar Civil War, also called the Burmese Spring Revolution, Burmese Civil War or People's Defensive War, is an ongoing civil war following Myanmar’s long-running insurgencies, which is why Mang and his family immigrated to the United States.  The political upheaval that began in the 1980s escalated significantly in 2021 in response to a military coup d’etat and the subsequent violent crackdown on anti-coup protests.  

Mang said that he looks forward to the day when the country is stable.  He would like to visit his grandparents who are still living there and whom he hasn’t seen since his family left the country.

“Biak’s journey from being a first-generation student from Myanmar to his ambitious career aspirations in mechanical engineering showcases his resilience, determination and unwavering commitment to his education and family,” Kneisley said.  “Despite facing significant challenges, including his family’s financial struggles exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and his father’s injuries, Biak has persevered with remarkable strength and determination.

“Biak earned Honors credit in trigonometry by participating in a research project exploring the process of mathematical modeling and solving problems with limited information.  His commitment to academic excellence and his ability to apply mathematical principles to real-world problems were truly impressive.”

In addition to being a Midland College Honors student, Mang was also a member of the ECHS@MC National Honor Society and a member of the Midland College Chemistry Club.  In his spare time, he enjoys exercising and plays the bass guitar for Midland Senthang Christian Church.  He said that he chose to continue his college education at UT Austin because of the opportunity for competitive research and study abroad.  

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