A structural engineer in the Facilities Engineering department, Yin Yin provides structural engineering support for both capital and maintenance projects, offering assistance during the design, construction and contracting phases. She plays a crucial role in identifying and troubleshooting structural issues and ensuring a safe and sustainable environment for both science-related and operational areas. One of her current key projects is supporting the Seismic Safety & Modernization project, which will provide the Lab with a future welcome center, cafeteria, and conference space.

Yin Yin started her education at San Jose City College (SJCC) before transferring to UC Berkeley to complete an undergraduate civil and environmental engineering degree. While at SJCC, she came to the Lab as an intern as part of the Community College Internship program, a move that greatly impacted her later career. Yin started her career position at the Lab as a structural engineer in June 2018 after she earned her master’s degree in structural engineering.

“At the Lab, there are a lot of existing conditions to be considered, and I enjoy working with a lot of smart people to figure out solutions.”

Yin Yin


Q: What interested you as a child that led you to your current position?

A: My dad was a carpenter. He built the dining table and cabinets that my family still uses today in my mom’s house in Burma. So I was used to seeing things being built from scratch. And I feel that’s kind of what I’m doing right now. With the work that I’m involved in now, I get to see things being built, and I like to be a part of building things.


Q: Who has influenced or inspired you on your career path?

A: I can think of two people. One is my professor in community college who introduced me to the Community College Internship program that got me started here at the Lab. He’s had a big influence on my career path.

Another person who influenced me is my current supervisor. He was one of my mentors during the internship program. Through working with him, I became more interested in structural engineering.


Q: How many different jobs have you had in your career journey, and which one was most rewarding?

A: I had several Japanese, Korean, and Chinese restaurant jobs. Those were my first paying jobs. Then, while in community college, I was a tutor teaching algebra and precalculus to adult college students. Then there was the CCI internship here at the Lab. Then I returned to the Lab two years after the internship program as a student assistant, and I continued in that role through my master’s program.

I find my current role to be the most rewarding. It is challenging, and I get a lot of satisfaction from doing the work. At the Lab, there are a lot of existing conditions to be considered, and I enjoy working with a lot of smart people to figure out solutions. Those outcomes are very satisfying.


Q: Who was your most influential mentor, and how have they shaped your career path?

A: That would be the professor I mentioned before who introduced me to the CCI program. Only through him did I know that kind of program was available for community college students. That opportunity opened the door to what I’m doing right now, so my professor is one of my most influential mentors. He played a very important role in my career path.

My current supervisor was an influential mentor as well. I changed the emphasis of my studies after I had worked with him. He converted me from studying civil and environmental engineering to structural engineering. That’s also when I decided to go into the master’s program for structural engineering.


Q: What career setback or mistake has helped you succeed and grow?

A: I think they are all good. Maybe if I had spent less time working in the restaurant jobs. But that’s not a big regret. I feel like sometimes things happen for a reason, and I also learned a lot from those jobs. I met nice customers and demanding customers, and I really learned how to deal with people.


Q: How did you decide on your current career path? And to what extent has Berkeley Lab supported you on your journey?

A: The whole internship program opened the door and led me to my current position. And then I kept coming back because I would be told about this program, or asked to come help with different projects. I’ve found people at the Lab to be nice and supportive.


Q: What would you say is the most important piece of career advice you have received?

A: Take a break and recharge. It is very important.


  • Valerie Applebaum says:

    So nice to see you here on this Yin Yin, loved the story about your Dad building the dining room table and cabinets!

  • Dominic Benton Beard says:

    Thank you to Yin Yin for everything you’ve done to support our seismic anchorage requests here on ALS-U Project with the Magnet Measurement Facility! It is great to hear more about your story.

  • Jeff Philliber says:

    How wonderful to see this feature on Yin Yin. Not just an accomplished engineer, but a pleasure to work with and be around, and it’s nice to learn of her wide-ranging back story. It’s also inspiring–but not surprising–to hear how supportive Facilities Engineering (and Yin Yin’s supervisor in particular) is in helping students and newly minted engineers develop their careers.

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