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My connections with chemicals - first draft for personal statement for masters in chemical review.

blackhawk9112 1 / -  
Jan 28, 2018   #1
Review is truly appreciated.

to excel in such stimulating and challenging environment

During my childhood, dish washing soap, detergents, paints, cosmetics and other chemical products that had a list of ingredients at the back were all captivating to me - drawing me closer to them and propelling me to scan each and every component even though I was unacquainted. I was fascinated by what each of those ingredients were and their origin point. Then I was introduced to subjects, chemistry and physics, at grade 5 and they immediately bewildered and transfixed me at the same time. It was as if I was living in a small, claustrophobic box and then my whole world widened up and I was able to finally comprehend the vast nature of astonishing secrets hidden amongst the tiny crevices of the Universe. At that point I decided that chemical engineering was the career for me to explore that Universe further.

Through sheer hard work and my absolute commitment in O'Level and A'Levels, the opportunity of a full scholarship in undergraduate landed on my doorstep. After enrolling at METU, I experienced a different world opening up to me; excited and thrilled by a new encouraging environment, I excelled academically gaining high honors status. Due to my outstanding performance I was the holder of merit scholarship for three consecutive semesters. During my time there, I developed a firm foundation for the theoretical side while at the same time instilling critical thinking and creative problem solving skills.

My final year project involved me working in a group of 5 designing a full scale coal to methanol plant. This being my first foray into research work, it greatly enhanced my research ability and broadened my academic vision. This helped me to develop time management, problem-solving and teamwork skills, as we encountered several problems along the way (like choosing the right gasifier type, which scale of plant to be built for profitability etc.) as well as having to cope with each other for long hours in order to meet deadlines. This project required me to utilize all of my accumulated knowledge and experience thus far, to the fullest and provided me with a window into the challenging nature of the work involved in the industry and convinced me that I was on the right track to meet my goals. As well as the challenges faced due to the technicalities of the project, as a team leader I had to face a great deal of obstacles which helped me foster and nurture qualities like leadership, diligence, confidence, patience and stoicism. I also participated in Hult prize where along with 2 of my colleagues we presented the possibility of use of photonics and electronics on the same chip resulting in higher speeds and less power consumption. Although not adequately knowledgeable in electronics engineering I was able to contribute towards developing the idea further and performing economic feasibility for the project. This displays my innate desire to pursue research and granted that I lack any publications thus far, it only strengthens my will to work hard more in order to fill up hole.

For my master's thesis I want to pursue and further research into the development of methane conversion into fuels and chemicals. The emergence of a number of untapped, unconventional natural gas reserves like shale gas around the world and its low cost makes it a viable feedstock. That is why I want to be able to contribute in this area so that we can utilize it as a raw material rather than simply a fuel for combustion and decrease our reliance on crude oil for petrochemical products. For many decades now, production of chemicals and fuels via direct methane conversion has been hailed as the "holy grail" of catalysis research due to its inherent unreactive nature, making it very challenging for chemical transformation. Currently, the only viable commercial processes in existence are methane reforming followed by Fischer-Tropsch process but these indirect processes are inherently inefficient and therefore the capital and maintenance costs associated with them are relatively high due to their complexities. However, a more direct route for conversion of methane to value-added chemicals can be quite efficient but significant research is required to make it commercially feasible. Among the many processes available in direct route I would like look into non-oxidative conversion route, more specifically into methane to aromatics or methane dehyroaromatization (MDA) which has been concluded to be a promising future technology by a review paper published in 2014 by Tang et al.

In the MDA process, Molybdenum has been found out to be the most active for methane conversion. But the major hurdles faced is due to the catalyst's low selectivity to the desired product such as benzene and deactivation via carbon deposition. Therefore there is a dire need for the optimization of the catalyst for process improvement. There have been some promising results shown through the use of incorporating a second metal (noble metals and transition metals) for improving catalyst stability and methane conversion. But some of the results are conflicting and so I would like to further explore this matter and perhaps gain some insight and advance the development of the catalyst. Though I remain wary about committing myself prematurely to a specific topic of research, I am also eager to elaborate, modify, and complicate my topic with the right guidance.

I am especially keen on performing my research under Professor Jafar Soltan as he and I share a similar interest in utilizing natural gas as a feedstock rather than simply a fuel. His extensive research and work in natural gas conversion both in industry and academia makes him the perfect choice for my master's research project. Moreover one of his current areas of research is conversion of methane to aromatics using nano Molybdenum carbide catalysts which falls exactly in line with my intent. He also has immeasurable amounts of expertise and proficiency in the field of applied catalysis and multiphase reactors in process and environmental engineering which are key in guiding my project to success. I would be more than honored if I can earn a spot in his research group. Additionally, I am quite piqued by Professor Ajay K. Dalai's cutting edge research in the drive to push for an environmentally friendly diesel fuel substitute from organic compounds and waste products. If the opportunity strikes then I am quite eager to work under him as well.

University of Saskatchewan's chemical engineering program looms large in my mind, mostly because of its outstanding faculty and interdisciplinary approach to engineering. In my own quest for a suitable graduate program, I was thrilled to learn that the university was among the top 15 research universities in Canada. In addition, U of S provides an ideal climate for me to develop my cross-disciplinary interests. In particular, the presence of a faculty with a diverse set of background and each specializing in different areas would foster, I hope, fruitful discussion with different professors and help me broaden and enrich my research. I hope to further pursue more research work in PhD after successful completion of masters.

I believe that I am well-grounded, well-motivated and clearly focused. I feel that U of S is a premier institution for an aspiring graduate student and as such, a very competitive program. But I know I have the right tools and the determination to excel in such a stimulating and challenging environment.

Holt [Contributor] - / 7,932 2187  
Jan 28, 2018   #2
Muhammad, your personal essay is not focused on the development of your interest in Chemistry in the proper manner. For starters, an applicant should never vaguely refer to his interest as having developed "in childhood". Nor should it refer to your childhood Science classes in elementary school. In all honesty, the reviewers consider these hyperboles and do not take such statements seriously from any applicant. If you wish to write a proper personal statement, then you must delete this essay and start over.

A more appropriate masters level personal statement opens from the time you were first exposed to Chemistry in a manner that would have you considering it as a serious career in High School. Based upon your exposure to the field in Chemistry class, what other activities did you do that helped you hone your interests and skills in this topic? Your performance in the exams that earned you a scholarship is relevant, but you have to show how your desire to pursue a degree in Chemistry helped you achieve that. You need to discuss extra curricular activities and academic activities that will show the development of your skills and interest in the course. Think beyond your regular classes and your final year project.

Remove the reference to the final year project in such detail within this essay. Offer only a summary of the thesis statement and the result of your experiment. The full discussion should be placed as part of your qualifying discussion in the statement of purpose. That goes the same for the mention of the mentor you wish to work and study under at the university. That also belongs in the statement of purpose.

Make a clear reference not only to the university in the personal statement, but the reason you opted to study in Canada as well. What does Canada offer you in terms of academics and internship preparation that you cannot get in your country? Why can't your home country accommodate your desire to study a masters in Chemistry at this point?

Focus the essay on convincing the reviewer that you have done everything you can to develop your skills and abilities as a Chemist and that you have the academic foundation to successfully undertake this line of study. That is what your personal statement should be all about.

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