Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Trang Luu was three when her relatives sponsored her family’s immigration to Houston, Texas. As she grew older and watched her parents work tirelessly to make a living in a land where they did not understand the culture or speak the language well, Trang felt a sense of responsibility to not only avoid being a burden but also to alleviate hardship for her family. Trang took full responsibility for her education and took the initiative to find mentors to navigate through the American school system. At home, she helped her family make and repair household items, which fueled her excitement for engineering. Trang studied mechanical engineering and graduated with both her bachelor’s and master's degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
As an undergraduate at MIT, Trang focused on assistive technology projects that allowed her to use her engineering background to solve problems impeding daily living. These projects included a new adaptive socket liner for below-the-knee amputees in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Thailand, a walking stick adapter for wheelchairs, a computer head pointer for patients with limited arm mobility, a safer makeshift cook stove design constructed from discarded oil drums for street vendors in South Africa, and a quicker method to test new drip irrigation designs. As a graduate student in MIT D-Lab under Professor Daniel Frey, Trang was awarded the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. In her graduate studies, Trang researched methods to improve evaporative cooling devices for off-grid farmers to reduce rapid fruit and vegetable deterioration.
While working on these projects, Trang became interested in innovating new technology and devices to meaningfully improve conditions for people struggling with tasks required for everyday living. During her senior year, Trang worked with a team to develop a working prototype of a wearable device that non-invasively reduces hand tremors for people with Parkinson’s disease or Essential Tremor. Watching patients’ joy and emotion after their tremors stopped compelled Trang and three co-founders to continue developing the device after college. Four years later, Encora Therapeutics has accomplished major milestones, including Breakthrough Device designation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Trang is now pursuing the MS/MBA program offered through Harvard Business School (HBS) and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). She hopes to bolster her business, technical, and leadership skills so she can continue developing and bringing to market impactful innovations.