Perfect Symmetry

Smart Home's Gu Twins
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Apr 11, 2008

Tim and Mark Gu are identical twins in the truest sense. The sons of an engineer, they had the same interests as kids and pursued the same fields of study at Duke. They room together at the Smart Home and they even share the same clothes.

Both are juniors at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering with a keen interest in making the world a more sustainable place.

The brothers were born in Xi’an, China, the home of the famous terra cotta soldiers, and moved to the United States when they were five years old. After a few years in Texas, the Gu family moved to Greendale, Wisconsin, where the boys grew up tinkering.

“Our first project was in the seventh grade,” recalls Tim, who is the President of Smart Home. “In anticipation of the arrival of the Hale-Bopp Comet in 1996, we decided to build a telescope to watch it. Once we finished building it, though, we lost interest in the comet. I guess that was a sign that we should be engineers and not astronomers.”

As they considered colleges, Smart Home was still in the planning stages, but the opportunity to one day live there was one of the many reasons why the brothers chose Duke. In January, they became a part of the inaugural class of Smart Home residents.

Both Gus are taking a double major – electrical and computer engineering and economics -- and like his brother, Mark hopes to become a leader in the green movement.

“My passion, whether it be as a consultant or the leader of an organization, is to further sustainable development efforts,” Mark said. “The time is right in the public consciousness to push these issues forward. By living in the Smart Home, I’ve gained unique insights into how different technologies can be put to practical use.”

Like Mark, Tim wants to use his engineering training not so much to devise actual devices or gizmos, but to play a role in advancing green policies and their implementation.

“My time in Smart Home is giving me an understanding of how the normal world might perceive different technologies,” Tim said. “It is extremely important to not only develop technologies or processes that are environmentally friendly, but to make them in such a way that people will actually accept and use them.”