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Choosing between two Polymer Engineering (PE) departments - academic statement of MSU


hypersis 7 / 24 7  
Jan 8, 2016   #1
Your Personal Statement should concisely describe how your background and life experiences - including social, economic, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges - motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree

Personal Statement
Choosing between two Polymer Engineering (PE) departments of the same university seemed an easy decision for a high-school graduate: One is located in Tehran and the other is located in M., a remote city with a desert climate. Experiencing 68 °C heat in M. campus of (UT) seemed a logical reason for my peers to never apply there. However, the campus seemed a perfect place to me for other reason: fulfilling my ambitions of working as a PE apprentice in one of the largest chemical industrial zone in Iran to figure out a number of unsolved problems about the structure of everyday polymers.

It took me nearly one year to adopt to the harsh conditions in M. city, but finally I aced the highest mark in many courses and ranked 2nd among about 40 engineering students. My initial interest in research dates back to the final year of PE program, when I took several workshop and laboratory courses which involved preparation of literature reviews about structure and properties of polymer nanocomposites and conducting some tests on rheological and mechanical behaviors of rubber nanocomposites. These courses also provide me with the opportunity to improve my communication skills. One incident illustrates this point. There was a staff member in an adjoining laboratory who was a rather uncooperative person and had many problems with students in the past. I had to interact with this staff person in order to get the laboratory project done. I was able to find a common interest with this staff person, which was mountain climbing, and build a rapport based on this mutual interest. The staff person even gave me the laboratory key, so that I could conduct more dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) tests in the laboratory.

As my master thesis project, I developed a theoretical and experimental approach toward the preparation and characterization of bio-based nanocomposite foams. My extensive knowledge of polymer nano-systems and their morphological and rheological characterization proved to be very useful in understanding the principles that underlie bubble-growth phenomena in foam cells. This research was especially exciting due to the unique mechanical properties have been obtained by introducing a new material design based on bio-based plasticizer. It was the time that I realized my passion for research was motivated by the constant challenge of learning the structure-property relationships bionanocomposites.

Moreover, graduate school has allowed me to begin developing my leadership skills which I feel will be central to my future career. I volunteered to mentor two undergraduate students project on chemical crosslinking of PLA/ESO blends during my masters' thesis. Due to the limited funds for undergraduate projects, I assigned each student distinct role: one student was responsible for gathering relevant journal articles, another with coordinating several thermal, rheological and mechanical tests schedules. In this case, we were not only able to provide more resources of funding from PE department, but also meet the deadline.

I am highly motivated to join the Composite Materials and Structures Center at (MSU). I believe having access to the state of the art facilities of this center such as ARES Rheometer or FIB-SEM increases the efficiency of my research. In addition, I found many research activities of this center in complete accordance with my capabilities and interests. Among many valuable projects of faculty members, projects studying polymers strengthened by fibers or other materials, projects improving material properties by manipulating atomic structure at the nanometer scale, projects involving properties and/or processing of polymeric materials and projects for understanding the behavior of fluid flow fields seem quite eye-catching to me, since they completely overlap with my interests in Material Science and Engineering (MSE) program. I am so much enthusiastic about this field of study; therefore, I decided to spend the rest of my life working on it. Moreover, I am optimistic to promote a deeper understanding of the principles of bio-nanocomposite fabrication and processing, with special emphasis on their packaging performance properties.

After completing my PhD studies, as an Iranian alumnus at MSU, I will promote the community-diversity of MSU by initiating and expanding upon a sustainable polymer research network with the large community of interdisciplinary Iranian expertise at MSU and practitioners of plastic packaging companies in developing countries. I believe, my goal-oriented approach toward research and solution-seeking orientation in the development, processing and preparation of nanocomposites, with preferred emphasis on biopolymer technology makes MSE program at MSU a perfect fit for me.

vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Jan 9, 2016   #2
Zara, this essay will not work for the prompt. You need to write a new essay that discussed your background in the field of Polymer Engineering. You do not need to present a rehashed personal statement. Consider that you are being requested by the prompt to discuss the compelling reasons that drove you to seek higher academic studies in this field. Then read the essay that you are trying to currently use with the prompt. You will see a clear disconnect and lack of relevance of your current essay to the prompt.

If I were to develop the essay response for the prompt, I would take some time to consider the actual reasons for my desire to enroll at MSU. Basically, I would look for a particular problem or piece of research related to my major that I feel requires further research, experimentation, or discussion and then use that as the launching pad or motivation for my interest in a masters degree at this point. I would explain the problem/ research I wish to continue pursuing at the university, how i would pursue it, and then, give an inconclusive result of the research, or my idea of the results of the research, in response to the prompt. For example, I would say something along the lines of "I am looking to become an innovator in the field of Polymer Engineering because of (state the problem), that I feel can be resolved provided I know how to (describe the potential solution)."Then develop the rest of the essay from there.
OP hypersis 7 / 24 7  
Jan 9, 2016   #3
Dear Louisa, thank you so much for your time and consideration :)
I want to apply for MSE program at MSU which has two statements, and it was really difficult for me to make a clear boundary between these two statements :( :

1- personal statement( I found the below questions in the guideline of the prompt of personal statement for many other programs of MSU. However, except the prompt these questions wasn't directly stated for the the MSE program website, but I suppose the same questions applies for MSE program as well, so I tried to answer them in my essay) :

Your Personal Statement should concisely describe how your background and life experiences - including social, economic, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges - motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree.

When preparing your Personal Statement, please address the following questions:
1. If applicable, please describe any barriers or obstacles that you have overcome in pursuit of your educational or personal goals. Examples might include economic, social or health challenges, being the first in your family to attend college, family obligations, etc.

2. How have you demonstrated your leadership skills, or your potential as a leader? For example, you might share specific examples of how you made contributions as an officer in a student organization or how you assumed a leadership role within a team or during a professional internship. You could also discuss your potential for leadership in graduate school and afterwards by sharing your career goals

3. How well do your personal goals for education and research fit with the interests of our faculty and the research activities within our department? Briefly describe research areas or questions that you find interesting and identify any specific faculty, labs or research projects at MSU that are of particular interest to you.

4. discussing your capacity to make a distinctive professional or scholarly contribution in your field.
5. How have you contributed to a diverse educational community, or how will you do so as a graduate student? How have you promoted understanding among persons of different backgrounds and ideas, or how will you do so as a graduate student? Examples might include service activities, leadership roles, study abroad, language study, etc

6. If applicable, please describe aspects of your personal background that will enhance the diversity of MSU's graduate student body.

2- academic statement
( I really tried two separate the contents of my personal statement with academic statement, but I don't know how much I was successful ! , As you see, some of the questions of personal statement like motivation for graduate studies overlap with academic statement and even I refereed to my personal statement at the end of my academic statement)


Please provide a concise academic statement of your plans for graduate study, your career goals, and how MSU's graduate program will help you meet your career and educational objectives.

1. Briefly describe key experiences that led you to graduate studies. Examples might include research experiences, internships, coursework or extracurricular activities.
2. Share specific, relevant examples of how these experiences helped you develop skills for success as a graduate student. For instance, you might demonstrate ways that you have synthesized knowledge from the classroom, developed research skills, communicated effectively, acted as a leader, or gained skills and responsibility over time.

3. Explain how your goals for graduate study relate to your longer-term career plans, including the pursuit of additional degrees or certifications if applicable.

Here is my academic statement:

Two main themes have emerged in my academic life that I believe make me well-suited to continue to pursue graduate studies: an aspiration for research and a passion for applied research jobs.

Achieving the know-how of PVC pilot plant production during summer internship was my first practical experience through which I applied polymerization methods I learned in Polymer Engineering (PE) program. During my second career, understanding the key principals of my courses like "Plastic Engineering" gave me a very strong grounding to troubleshoot extrusion problems in processing of PVC Compounds in vehicle's exterior parts.

As a top-ranked student, my outstanding performance and diligent attitude towards my studies drew the attention of one of the tier 1 professors in UT, Prof. N. I took the opportunity to cooperate with him in order to strengthen my laboratory skills prior to graduate school. I developed my passion for research on structure-property relationships of polymers by optimizing the melt flow of polycarbonate/Organoclay nanocomposites during this time.

Considered as an exceptionally talented student, I had an offer from our department to continue my graduate studies as an M.Sc. student, without taking the qualifying national university entrance exam. In my next research, one of the major challenges I encountered in the laboratory setting of Prof. N. was the prevention of the prefoaming of polylactic acid (PLA)/Organoclay during mixing with chemical foaming agents (CFA). Our laboratory extruder was not equipped with scCO2 injector, so I had to use CFA. I explored a number of factors that contributed to the decomposition of CFA, but all of them failed. However, instead of setting a new deadline, I tried to ignite my curiosity and thinking for a new material design.

Finally, adding Epoxidized Soybean Oil (ESO) as a bio-sourced plasticizer prevented the prefoaming of my samples and also opened up new research directions for me. ESO, in combination with Organoclay resulted in a considerable enhancement in toughness of nanocomposite samples. Based on these results, I awarded a scholarship for development of bio-based packaging materials from ISIOP which is also led to a patentable research.

The three years of enjoyable researches in prof. N's laboratory put me in a very strong position in the R&D center of Isfahan Technology Town, where my experiences of familiarity with PLA hone my ability to integrate the same engineering techniques into our blends of commercial Starch masterbatch with polypropylene: The low impact strength of our masterbaches was a major downside of them being used in packaging applications which has been overcome by adding ESO.

Having such experiences, I strongly believe my academic participation in an industry-related project has a positive effect on my career. Therefore, as a student playing a leading role in the development of innovative materials for nano-enabled applications with special emphasis in packaging and automotive applications makes me more determined to pursue (MSE) program at (MSU). I believe industrial problems will be addressed more effectively by participating in the multidisciplinary environment of Composite Materials and Structures Center at MSU. In addition, as I stated in my personal statement, the scholarly orientation of MSE program is broadly compatible with my own, which makes MSU my top choice. Given my strong academic background and my serious intention for research, now I am confident enough to claim that I can fully be engaged in MSE program at MSU where I can embrace the challenges and opportunities it will bring to me.
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Jan 10, 2016   #4
Zara, don't overthink the essay. You are failing to develop the essay properly because you are trying to include information from other prompts that are not required in the essay. I don't care which guidelines these are and where you got the list from. You are only supposed to offer the information that the prompt for your statement indicates. Nothing more, nothing less. So when the prompt tells you to: concisely describe how your background and life experiences - including social, economic, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges - motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Then that is all you have to provide. it doesn't become difficult to write the personal statement when you do exactly what is required of you.

Now, as for the academic statement, you should discuss the research in great detail there. Just give the research a summarized form in the personal statement. You have to discuss way too many other important topics in the personal statement for you to offer a complete rundown of the research in that essay.
OP hypersis 7 / 24 7  
Jan 10, 2016   #5
Dear Louisa, many thanks for your answer and I'm sorry, I should included the questions in my first post. I checked the MSU website again and now I'm sure I should answer the questions in the prompt which applies to all engineering programs at MSU(Am I allowed to post a link here ?? egr.msu.edu/academics/graduate/academic-personal-statements-guidelines/#personal )
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Jan 10, 2016   #6
Okay. I have reviewed the requirements of the personal statement and I think I can help you sort out the parts you should discuss in detail and the parts that you should just summarize so that you can discuss it in greater length in your academic statement. I'll provide you with some hints as to what to discuss per topic to help you out :-)

1. How well do your personal goals for education and research fit with the interests of our faculty and the research activities within our department? - This should not be more than a paragraph long. Summarize the previous research that you did and highlight the connection with the current research being done in their department. Do you think that you can do this in about 6 sentences? Don't make it too long. Try to stick to 10 sentences for this paragraph.

2. How have you demonstrated your leadership skills, or your potential as a leader? - Discuss this in greater detail. Be specific as you leadership skills displayed and how it came about. Present the obstacle and the solution you developed.

3. How have you contributed to a diverse educational community, or how will you do so as a graduate student? How have you promoted understanding among persons of different backgrounds and ideas, or how will you do so as a graduate student? - A discussion of your socio-civic activities, volunteer work, and extra curricular activities that placed in such a situation will be the best information to present here.

Make sure that you use no more than 2 paragraphs at the most to discuss each question. Although, the ideal discussion should not be more than a paragraph long :-) The last 3 questions are actually optional so unless you have a real relevant, and impressive response to share for those questions, I don't suggest that you discuss it anymore. The fact that the questions all start with "If applicable" means that you may or may not opt to respond to the questions.
OP hypersis 7 / 24 7  
Jan 10, 2016   #7
Dear Louisa, I tried to cut many parts of the essay. I hope this draft would be in accordance to what you have recommended. Thanks for your time :)

Experiencing 68 °C heat in M. campus of (UT) seemed a logical reason for my peers to never apply there. However, the campus seemed a perfect place to me for other reason: fulfilling my ambitions of working as a PE apprentice in one of the largest chemical industrial zone in Iran to figure out a number of unsolved problems about the structure of everyday polymers.

...
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Jan 10, 2016   #8
Zahra, your last question is not clear when it comes to your promoting diversity. Promoting cooperation between scientists and countries is not the same as promoting diversity on campus or in your professional life. The concept of diversity is defined as encompassing "acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences."

Keeping that reference to the definition of the concept in mind, review your final paragraph and try to determine if it represents this concept. You will find that it does not. That is because you remain focused on prompting your study of polymers in this section when you should be showing off your non academic background and extra curricular activities in this part. Explain to the reviewer how you have the ability to blend in with the other students or become a productive part of the community in general through your diverse interests and inclinations. This part is no longer about the research you are doing. Refer to my explanation in my previous response about how to approach this question and follow the instructions I gave within the thread.
OP hypersis 7 / 24 7  
Jan 11, 2016   #9
Hi Louisa,
Thanks for your useful instructions :) :)
I added a second paragraph to my essay to address the third Question of personal statement:


Experiencing 68 °C heat in Mahshahr campus of Amirkabir University of Technology (AUT) seemed a logical reason for my peers to never apply there. However, the campus seemed a perfect place to me for other reason: fulfilling my ambitions of working as a Polymer Engineering (PE) apprentice in one of the largest chemical industrial zone in Iran to figure out a number of important unsolved problems about polymers.

Matriculating at a campus 1900 km away from home and spending my internship in south port of Iran, provided me with the opportunity to establish rapport with students and interns of diverse ethnicity and cultural backgrounds. One incident illustrates this point. There was a staff member in an adjoining laboratory who was from a minority group from and had many problems with students in the past. I had to interact with this staff person and confront biases and preconceptions in order to get the laboratory project done. I was able to find a common interest with this staff person, which was mountain climbing, and build a rapport based on this mutual interest. The staff person even gave me the laboratory key, so that I could conduct more dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) tests in the laboratory.

Interested in the subject of structure-property ...

...

After completing my PhD studies, I am highly motivated to promote the community of MSU by initiating and expanding upon a sustainable polymer research network with the large community of interdisciplinary Iranian expertise at MSU and practitioners of plastic packaging companies in developing countries. I believe, my goal-oriented approach toward research and solution-seeking orientation in the development, processing and preparation of nanocomposites, with preferred emphasis on biopolymer technology makes MSE program at MSU a perfect fit for me.
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Jan 11, 2016   #10
Reformat the essay to follow the chronological order of the questions as indicated on the website. The information you must present to the reviewer should be in the order of importance that he expects to read it in on the page. Right now, your statement about diversity is misplaced. It should take the place of the second addition that you made which is marked in blue at this time. You should conclude the essay with the diversity statement since that is the last question on the list for you. The other 3 questions do not apply to you.

In all honesty, your statement at the end about completing your PhD studies does not have any bearing on the responses that you have provided. A plea for admission by justifying your skills should not be done in such a blatant manner. That is what the list of questions for this prompt is supposed to do, justify the reasons for you admission. It is something that the reviewer will base upon the responses that you have given. Nowhere in the guide questions were you asked why MSU would be a perfect fit for you, so why are you explaining that? Simply provide an answer to the required questions. If it is not part of the question list, then why are you answering it? Your response will best be saved for a more appropriate application essay question. As an MSU masters degree student, you are not expect nor required to respond to college essay level application prompts.
OP hypersis 7 / 24 7  
Jan 12, 2016   #11
Thanks a lot Louisa, I reformatted the essay. I hope this draft will work out :) -

Experiencing 68 °C heat in M. campus of (AUT) seemed a logical reason for my peers to never apply there. However, the campus seemed a perfect place to me for other reason: fulfilling my ambitions of working as a Polymer Engineering (PE) apprentice in one of the largest chemical industrial zone in Iran to figure out a number of important unsolved problems about polymers.

Interested in the subject of structure-property relationships of bio-/nano-Composites, I developed a theoretical and experimental approach toward the preparation and characterization of bio-based nanocomposite foams during my master thesis at AUT. My extensive knowledge of polymer nano-systems and their morphological and rheological characterization proved to be very useful in understanding the principles that underlie bubble-growth phenomena in foam cells.

Moreover, graduate school has allowed me to begin developing my leadership skills which I feel will be central to my future career. I volunteered to mentor two undergraduate students' project about chemical crosslinking of polylactic acid blends. Due to the limited funds for undergraduate projects, I assigned each student distinct role: one student was responsible for gathering relevant journal articles, another with coordinating several thermal and mechanical tests schedules. In this case, we were not only able to provide more resources of funding from PE department, but also meet the deadline.

I am highly motivated to join the CMS Center at (MSU) to have access to the state of the art facilities such as ARES Rheometer or FIB-SEM. I found many research activities of this center in complete accordance with my capabilities and interests in bio-/nano-composites. Among many valuable projects of faculty members, projects which invlove studying polymers strengthened by fibers or other materials, improving material properties by manipulating atomic structure, studying properties and/or processing of polymeric materials and understanding the behavior of fluid flow fields seem quite eye-catching to me, since they completely overlap with my interests in Material Science and Engineering (MSE) program. I am so much enthusiastic about this field of study; therefore, I decided to spend the rest of my life working on it. Moreover, I am optimistic to promote a deeper understanding of the principles of bio-nanocomposite fabrication and processing, with special emphasis on their packaging performance properties.

In my quest of serving as an Iranian polymer researcher, I believe ethnically-diverse universities such as MSU will offer me the opportunity to collaborate with students, faculty and staff of all diverse backgrounds and to enrich the research environment through exposure to new perspectives on Persian culture. Given the challenges confronted by matriculating at M. campus which was 1900 km away from home and spending my internship in south port of Iran, I have already prepared myself to establish rapport with students and interns of diverse ethnicity and cultural backgrounds. One incident illustrates this point. There was a staff member in an adjoining laboratory who was from a minority group from and had many problems with students in the past. I had to interact with this staff person and confront biases and preconceptions in order to get the laboratory project done. I was able to find a common interest with this staff person, which was mountain climbing, and build a rapport based on this mutual interest. The staff person even gave me the laboratory key, so that I could conduct more dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) tests in the laboratory.

In essence, given my strong academic background and my serious intention for research in a multicultural environment, I believe the MSU will allow me to make a meaningful contribution to the field of MSE through the enhancement of advanced polymer properties and processing and serve the MSU people of all backgrounds in efforts to improve the diversity- community outcomes.
OP hypersis 7 / 24 7  
Jan 13, 2016   #12
Dear Louisa, if you think the format of this personal statement is okay, would you please take a look to see if there it has any grammatical mistakes or not? I have to submit the essay tomorrow :( - Thanks for your time
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Jan 13, 2016   #13
Errors corrected. The essay is ready to submit. Do not add anything. Do not change anything. It is ready. You can't do anything more with it. Submit it.

However, the campus seemed a perfect place to me for other reasonS...
fulfilling my ambitions of ...
one of the largest chemical industrial zoneS in Iran...

two undergraduate students' SprojectS...
I assigned each student A distinct role...
we were not only able to provide more re sources...
projects which invlove INVOLVE studying polymers
with my interests in THE Material ...
I am so much enthusiastic about this field of study; therefore, THAT I decided to spend the rest of my life working on it DEVOTE MY LIFE TO THIS RESEARCH FIELD.

Moreover, I am optimistic to THAT I CAN promote a deeper understanding ...

In my quest of serving TO SERVE as an Iranian polymer researcher,


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