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Rocket scientist, dragon dancer 

Wayne Wong dives into space science and ethnic culture with equal zeal 

As chief of the thermal energy conversion branch at the NASA Glenn Research Center, Wayne Wong ’89 helps design power systems that will allow the U.S. to explore deep space. As a leader in Cleveland’s Asian American community, he helps to animate and showcase Asian culture for everyone to explore. 

Both roles fit the personality of the outgoing aerospace engineer who dives into science and culture with equal zeal. 

Wong appeared in news reports in May as the campus community celebrated Asian American Heritage Month. He’s a vice president of the Greater Cleveland chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans — and the leader of its dragon dance team. He leads a noisy, mystical dance designed to bring good luck to all who see it.

“My ethnic identity is something that I cherish and am very proud of,” Wong told The Daily, CWRU’s online news source. “My involvement with these organizations is ultimately because I’m invested in seeing the growth and continued vitality of this community.”

Wong immigrated with his family from Hong Kong as a boy and grew up in Cleveland’s AsiaTown. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Case Institute of Technology while active in the Asian American Alliance.

About a decade ago, Wong helped found the Cleveland Asian Festival, which showcases the art, foods and performance groups of the region’s Asian cultures. Typically, the festival includes a dragon dance — led by a Case engineer.

“I’m happy to support AsiaTown and Cleveland’s Asian community in any way I can,” Wong said. “These are all opportunities to reach out to the wider Greater Cleveland community to show that we’re part of America, but we come with a different background and a different point of view. Let’s enjoy this together.”

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