1. Not finding help here? Sign up for a free 30min tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Please Revise My Statement of Purpose

  1. Oct 16, 2012 #1
    Hello forum,

    I am posting the rough draft of my Statement of Purpose that I will be submitting to Southern California Universities. I am applying for a Master's in Electrical Engineering. Ideally, I would like feedback from some of you who have already gone through this process and know what works and what doesn't. Please be brutally honest. Any help is appreciated! Thanks so much.

    I have blanked out people's names to protect them. This particular version will be included in my application to the University of California, Irvine. For the sake of answering each part of the prompt, I broke the statement into several sections to address each topic.

    PROMPT - In an essay, please describe your aptitude and motivation for graduate study in your area of specialization, including your preparation for this field of study, your academic plans or research interests and experience in your chosen area of study, and your future career goals. Please be specific about why UC Irvine would be a good intellectual fit for you.

    Introduction and Opening Statement:
    I, _________, am applying for a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering (EE) with a concentration in Analog/Mixed-Signal IC Design. I hope to achieve this long-anticipated goal of receiving my Masters and soon after beginning a career in the space exploration industry as an electrical engineer. The electrical engineering program offered by UCI uniquely exhibits my interests of circuit design within the EE field; specifically in the design and fabrication of micro and nano devices.​
    Of the graduate programs to which I am applying for, I hold UCI’s in the highest regard for a multitude of reasons. During the summer of 2008, I had the privilege of conducting research in the laboratory of __________ in the department of medicine. I worked forty hours a week for two and a half months in the lab through the Bridges to Baccalaureate program; I had a sufficient amount of time to experience what the university had to offer. The student body of UCI is perfectly diverse, while the individuals that make up that body are all striving towards the same goals. The diversity of the university creates an atmosphere with many different perspectives, which encourages a broader scope of learning. Being a part of this unique learning environment, I know that I would take away much more just a classroom education. Also, the focus of the UC system on research forms the consummate environment to foster my growth as a scientific professional. With a Master’s in electrical engineering from UCI, I will have supreme confidence in my skills and knowledge to contribute to and positively impact the field of space exploration.​

    Aptitude:
    Being a Biophysics major, I was required to take over 60 units of physics curricula. This included courses in electricity and magnetism, quantum physics, and calculus classes such as differential equations. Among the broad range of subjects I studied at UCLA, I excelled in quantum mechanics and electricity and magnetism. By nature, the field of physics demands strong critical thinking in order to solve complex problems. This is a skill that I have built through countless math and physics homework sets, labs, and projects. Solving both simple and complex circuit problems requires this skill specifically. As an undergraduate student I also developed strong problem solving skills by constantly working through endless repetitions of math and physics problems. Having a strong background in math, together with an intuition for physics, forms a stable foundation for an electrical engineer. Understanding how to program in Matlab will also aid me in graduate school, particularly at the research level where such programs are required for the analysis and modeling of data. I am certain that my physics background makes me an ideal candidate for an electrical engineering graduate student.​

    Motivation:
    By becoming an electrical engineer I hope to achieve two important goals, financial independence/stability, and to satisfy my genuine interest of the subject. I am absolutely curious in understanding the underlying mechanisms of electricity and magnetism, and how we apply these theories to technology. The field of electrical engineering is as intriguing as it is practical. The unimaginably vast, unexplored space that surrounds our planet is the true final frontier of human exploration. Electrical engineers play one of the biggest roles in this effort; supplying society with the required technology to achieve our ambitions as explorers. There is still so much to learn in this field that the demand for electrical engineers can only grow larger. Therefore, from a financial standpoint, there is great stability in this line of careers.​

    Preparation for this field of study:
    In my last year at UCLA, I was fortunate enough to join the laboratory of Dr. _______. Under professor _____’s wing, and with the guidance of several graduate students under his direction, I was able to learn much in a short amount of time. While conducting research in ______’s laboratory, I soldered my first simple circuit, learned the basics of programming in Matlab, and had a brief introduction to microcontrollers. Being a part of this laboratory was the highlight of my undergraduate experience because of the practical skills and knowledge I obtained, and also because I realized that I really enjoyed the subject of electrical engineering.​
    Outside of academia, I have learned how to build strong interpersonal relationships. I attribute this to my involvement with the community through a nonprofit, mentorship organization which I have been a part of for 5 years. Through this org., I have come to understand how to work well in team settings. I think working well with others is crucial to growing as a student as well as an individual outside of school and the workplace. I have also assumed many leadership roles in coordinating and managing teams. I also attribute my refined ability to speak in public to this organization, of which I am currently a program coordinator for. As a coordinator, I am responsible for managing and training mentors, and facilitating events/workshops with a group of up to 50 individuals.​
    At the conclusion of my research at UCI, I had the privilege of presenting the research that I was involved with at the SACNAS student conference in Utah. I received an award for the best poster presentation in the category of biology at this conference which hosted an exuberant 500 student poster presentations. This unique experience taught me the essentials of articulating and presenting scientific research to academic colleagues.​

    Academic plans or research interests and experience:
    My research interests are imbedded deep within circuit design. As a physics student, I was fascinated with learning of all aspects of circuitry. From the physics behind individual circuit components such as inductors and capacitors, to the innumerable applications of circuits through their programming. I now hope to focus on understanding the nature of circuit design and their applications. In reviewing the research areas of UCI faculty within the EE department, I see many potential advisors for which I would like to be involved with. I am most intrigued by the research currently lead by the ______ laboratory, specifically, in the design and fabrication of micro/nano circuits and circuit components. I understand that choosing the ideal advisor in graduate studies can make all the difference in one’s experience of the program as a whole. I carefully worked through the EE faculty directory before deciding that the _______ lab would be a good fit for me.​

    Future career goals:
    After attaining a Master’s in EE, I hope to work within the space industry. My interest in the fields of space science and space technology was sparked by a single astronomy course I took at a community college. My obsession with these fields has since been fostered by my own curiosity and the abundance of information on the subject that can be found on the world wide web. Above all else, I would love to work on projects directly involved in the human exploration of space. For this reason, companies such as JPL, NASA, and SpaceX would be ideal candidates.​

    Conclusion:
    At this point, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my statement. I hope that you will carefully consider my application. If accepted, I look forward to all that UCI has to offer me, but also to contributing to UCI’s greatness in my own capacities.​
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 23, 2012 #2
    I would just cut all of the personal opinions on stuff, like why you think EE's are important, that you're doing this for financial stability, that you regard yourself as an ideal candidate, that UCI has a diverse student body.

    Also splitting the essay in parts is not a good idea. You don't have to completely cover everything they ask. The best possible essay is one where you demonstrate your abilities relevant to the field you're applying to, and make it sound likely you can contribute. Wishful thinking of the type "i hope to contribute, or I believe that, and I've always wanted to" doesn't help.

    Stick 100% to facts. Also give more details on why UCI is a good fit, in terms of research topics. Saying that "you looked through the directory" doesn't mean much. It's all about specifics.
     
  4. Oct 23, 2012 #3
    Advice:

    - Don't say "Of the graduate programs to which I am applying for, I hold UCI’s in the highest regard for a multitude of reasons", just change it to "I hold UCI’s in the highest regard for a multitude of reasons".

    -Don't mention "I worked forty hours'', who knows, maybe you worked even more :D

    -"The student body of UCI is perfectly diverse, while the individuals that make up that body are all striving towards the same goals", if the student body really is perfectly diverse, they already know it. You're in no place to judge if those individuals are striving towards the same goals (unless you can justify it and explain it). This whole excerpt is actually very vague.

    -"The diversity of the university creates an atmosphere with many different perspectives, which encourages a broader scope of learning. Being a part of this unique learning environment, I know that I would take away much more just a classroom education". This part in not very clear. I dunno that an atmosphere can have many perspectives (it can't). What would you take away besides classroom education? Again, kinda vague.

    -"By nature, the field of physics demands strong critical thinking in order to solve complex problems." Stating the obvious.

    -"This is a skill that I have built through countless math and physics homework sets, labs, and projects. " You and every other physics and engineering student out there.

    -"Solving both simple and complex circuit problems requires this skill specifically". You're gonna tell that to electrical engineers? Try to tone it done, like "I think the skills I have acquired by studying physics might help me blah, blah, blah..."

    -"By becoming an electrical engineer I hope to achieve two important goals, financial independence/stability". Well, you can achieve financial stability doing a myriad of other jobs, I wouldn't mention this if I were you. Stick to your interest for the subject.

    I could go on, but I'm gonna make some general criticisms right now. You are being very vague. Try to be more specific and be very personal. Try to tell a story. Be very honest as to why you like EE, tell them about what sparked your interest, specifically what interests you and why, use anecdotes. For example, you say "Electrical engineers play one of the biggest roles in this effort; supplying society with the required technology to achieve our ambitions as explorers", but you should be more specific, you could replace Electrical engineers in that sentence with virtually any engineer or scientist. Remember, your letter has to stand out among dozens of others, how many people do you think are gonna say "I think my background makes me ideal for this, for that and that reason" or things like that? Everyone, that why I'm saying you have to be more personal in explainign why this interests you and it's a good fit for you. Put yourself in the shoes of the guys who are gonna read this and try to read it again, and then try to make it sound different.

    I wouldn't divide this is sections and I'd completely drop the conclusion. And try to make it as short and as to the point as possible.
     
  5. Oct 23, 2012 #4
    Basically don't tell EE's what EE's do or what they're good for. Tell them what you did and what you're good for, and let them decide if it's good enough.

    Also drop some of the unnecessary flattery like " I had the privilege of presenting the research", "I was fortunate enough to join the laboratory", or exaggerations like " am absolutely curious". You had a job to present the research, and so you did. You applied to and joined a laboratory, and then worked there and did your job. Don't make it sound like you didn't deserve to do any of that, but someone took pity on you and let you do it.
     
  6. Nov 1, 2012 #5
    First off, thank you both for your feedback. Here is my 1st revision of the rough draft. I tried to incorporate each of your suggestions and also tried to take out some of the fat. I cut away 400 words to make it more concise. Please let me know what you think. The divisions were really for my own sake of keeping the statement organized but I will remove them in the final version and it should flow more smoothly.

    Introduction and Opening Statement:
    I, Kenneth Liao, am applying for a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering (EE) with a concentration in Analog/Mixed-Signal IC Design. After achieving this long-anticipated goal of receiving my Masters, I will begin my career in the space exploration industry as an electrical engineer. The electrical engineering program offered by UCI uniquely exhibits my interests of circuit design within the EE field; specifically in the design and fabrication of micro and nano devices .
    I hold UCI’s electrical engineering graduate program in the highest regard for a multitude of reasons. During the summer of 2008, I conducted research in the laboratory of Dr. John Longhurst in the department of medicine. I was placed in John Longhurst’s lab through the Bridges to Baccalaureate program. I worked full-time, sometimes over forty hours a week, for two and a half months; I had a sufficient amount of time to experience what the university had to offer. The diversity of the university’s student body creates a unique learning environment that separates it from other universities. It encourages a broad scope of learning where insight and knowledge can be gained from colleagues and not just from the classroom. I know that in addition to a great education, I would also be walking away with a one-of-a-kind life experience. Also, the focus of the UC system on research forms the consummate environment to foster my growth as a scientific professional. With a Master’s in electrical engineering from UCI, I will have supreme confidence in my skills and knowledge to contribute to and positively impact the field of space exploration.

    Aptitude:
    Being a Biophysics major, I was required to take over 60 units of physics curricula. This included courses in electricity and magnetism, quantum physics, and calculus classes such as differential equations. Among the broad range of subjects which I studied at UCLA, I excelled in quantum mechanics and electricity and magnetism. The strong problem solving and critical thinking skills I have acquired as a physics major make me feel prepared to study electrical engineering at the graduate level. Understanding how to program in Matlab will also aid me in graduate school, particularly at the research level where such programs are required for the analysis and modeling of data. I am certain that my physics background makes me an ideal candidate for an electrical engineering graduate student.

    Motivation:
    I want to go into the field of electrical engineering to satisfy my own curiosity and interest in the subject. I am curious in understanding the underlying mechanisms of circuitry and circuit components, and how we apply these theories to technology. I am fascinated with learning about all aspects of circuitry, from the physics behind individual circuit components such as inductors and capacitors, to the innumerable applications of circuits through their programming. The field of electrical engineering is as intriguing as it is practical. The unimaginably vast, unexplored space that surrounds our planet is the true final frontier of human exploration. Electrical engineers play a large role in this effort by supplying society with the required technology to achieve our ambitions as explorers.

    Preparation for this field of study:
    During my last year at UCLA I joined the laboratory of Dr. Mehta Mayank. Under professor Mayank’s wing, and with the guidance of several graduate students under his direction, I was able to learn much in a short amount of time. While conducting research in Mayank’s laboratory, I soldered my first simple circuit, learned the basics of programming in Matlab, and had a brief introduction to microcontrollers. Being a part of this laboratory was the highlight of my undergraduate experience because of the practical skills and knowledge I obtained, and also because I realized that I really enjoyed the subject of electrical engineering. Since my time in Mayank’s lab, I have honed in on my programming skills in Matlab through independent study and practice.
    At the conclusion of my research at UCI, I presented the research that I was involved with at the SACNAS student conference in Utah in the Fall of 2008. I received an award for the best poster presentation in the category of biology at this conference which hosted an exuberant 500 student poster presentations. This unique experience taught me the essentials of articulating and presenting scientific research to academic colleagues.

    Academic plans or research interests and experience:
    My research interests are imbedded deep within circuit design. I want to focus on understanding the nature of circuit design and their applications. In reviewing the research areas of UCI faculty within the EE department, I see many potential advisors for which I would like to be involved with. I am most intrigued by the research currently lead by the Li/Bachman laboratory. As technology progresses, electronics shrink in size while their computing power increases. Understanding the design and fabrication of micro/nano circuits and circuit components would be a good step towards innovating the next level of space technology. This is something that I want to be a part of.

    Future career goals:
    After attaining a Master’s in EE, I hope to work within the space industry. My interest in the fields of space science and space technology was sparked by a single astronomy course I took at a community college. My obsession with these fields has since been fostered by my own curiosity and the abundance of information on the subject that can be found on the world wide web. I am constantly amazed at the technology we create year to year allowing us as a worldwide society access to the space surrounding our planet and which allows us to explore more and more of it. Above all else, I would love to work on projects directly involved in the human exploration of space. For this reason, companies such as JPL, NASA, and SpaceX would be ideal candidates.
    At this point, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my statement. If accepted, I look forward to all that UCI has to offer me, but also to contributing to UCI’s legacy in my own capacities.
     
  7. Nov 7, 2012 #6
    I think it's much better, but you can still get more personal and really explain (in more detail) why you think combining EE with astronomy and space exp is cool (I'd really think this would be the most interesting part of a statement of purpose, from a reader's point of view). Also

    -"The unimaginably vast, unexplored space that surrounds our planet is the true final frontier of human exploration. Electrical engineers play a large role in this effort by supplying society with the required technology to achieve our ambitions as explorers."

    I think you really need to reformulate this. It's very cliche (final frontier) and it's not only EE's who provide society with technology. Unless you can get more specific than this, you should lose this part.

    - Exuberant is not really a good adjective, it means excessive. Just say the thing featured 500 posters and you won a prize. That'll do it.

    -This is a purely stylistic advice, but I like to avoid ending sentences with prepositions.

    As I said, it's much better; shorter and to the point.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook