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'domain exposure' - SOP PhD in Mech Engg

parthib19 1 / 3  
Dec 21, 2009   #1
Hi Everyone,

Could you guys comment on my SOP. I have not included an introduction, just cant think of anything 'wow'. Could the experts comment on whether i am jumping thoughts and the use of vocabulary.

Thanks indeed.

The highly competitive and rigorous undergraduate program at the National Institute of Technology, XX, provided me a comprehensive framework of mechanical engineering. Alongside conventional mechanical engineering courses, I tried to broaden my perspectives and knowledge by opting for electives and term-projects in varied domains like manufacturing, business management, and electronics. My undergraduate education has given me the basic analytical skills and critical reasoning needed a future career in research.

A job profile that had a blend of technical and business management duties attracted me to XX, a manufacturer of utility power equipments. However, the ability to synthesize various concepts of thermodynamics, heat transfer and fluid mechanics to design a system appealed me more. After a brief period of designing oil and gas fired boilers, I chose to evolve from an applications based engineer to a more research based engineer. Consequently, I contributed to conceptual projects like design of a new triple pressure Heat Recovery Steam Generator (HRSG) and a U-loop super-heater where I worked mainly on the multi-phase heat transfer aspects of the design .Likewise, my interests in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) took shape largely due to projects like design of a low NOX burner and thermal modeling and simulation of a HRSG inlet duct. Through these projects, I gained a better understanding of several CFD modeling aspects like meshing techniques, turbulence models, post processing etc, but more significantly, the importance of having a sound theoretical understanding before any software results can be applied. Thus, the need to get beyond superficiality and to develop an enhanced knowledge of the underlying physics, prompted me to pursue a master's degree with an emphasis on thermal and fluid sciences.

During my graduate studies at XX, I attempted to gain both experimental and theoretical/computational domain exposure. Courses like continuum mechanics, CFD, Viscous and Compressible Fluid Mechanics have given me an in-depth understanding of many transport phenomena. Class projects like development of a C++ code capable of solving Elliptical and Hyperbolic Equations has given me firsthand experience in programming and various numerical methods. XX, a pioneer in theoretical CFD introduced the concept of Flow field Dependent Variable (FDV) to me. This numerical scheme which can applied to all speed regimes, be it viscous/inviscid or compressible/incompressible was intriguing. Successful validation of a full Navier-Stokes equation solver based on the FDV method has been a source of immense pride and satisfaction. Through these projects, I was able to discover a flair for numerical computations as well as improve skills in allied fields like object oriented programming.

My master's thesis titled "Thermal Performance Characterization of a XX" performed under the guidance of XX involved experimental quantification of the high axial heat flux capabilities (> 1000W/cm2) of the XX. We also studied the theoretical aspects heat pipes and phase change materials and their applications in electronics cooling. It has also given me an opportunity to perform experimental work involving design of test rigs, data acquisition systems, data analysis etc. Long hours of repetitive testing have me realize the importance of discipline, data organization and perseverance. Results of this project were presented at an AIAA conference and have been accepted for presentation by the 15th International XX Conference. Thanks to this project, I have developed some valuable experimental skills which, I believe, along with my analytical skills will make me a better researcher.

As a Teaching Assistant for the Introduction to Heat Transfer class, I enjoyed working with undergraduates mainly because I could relate to the difficulties faced by the students and hence could explain the concepts better. Having to constantly juggle between course work, CFD projects, independent projects (Energy Scavenging), teaching assistant work and master's thesis work has given me valuable skills in time management. My percentile score in the verbal section (92 %) coupled with teaching and technical writing experience should stand testimony for my analytical writing skills.

An investigation of the mechanisms of unusually high heat conduction during the course of my master's thesis has segued into my current research interests in the field of nano/micro scale heat transfer. The book "Nanoscale Energy Transport and Conversion" by Dr. XX has further enhanced my knowledge in this field and my desire to pursue this field. I was fascinating to discover how bulk properties of solids differ from their atomic scale properties and the roles played by sub-atomic particles in the fundamental thermo-physical phenomena. I am fascinated by how atomistic scale manipulations in materials can lead to materials with better thermal properties for applications such as thermal management of electronics, thermoelectric energy conversion devices and, nano-engineered materials among others. Given my experience with computational work, I am particularly interested in microscopic modeling of thermal transport in solids. The multi-disciplinary aspects of this field, encompassing elements of quantum mechanics, solid state physics, and heat transfer makes it as exciting as it is challenging.

After completing my doctoral work, I plan to seek opportunities in academia. Factors like freedom to pursue one's own research interests and the ability to perform cross-functional research, which are available in academia, have been the motivating factors behind this choice. Having served as a teaching assistant reinforces my belief that I would enjoy teaching.

XX with its relevant research programs, renowned faculty combined with some of best students from across the world would be the ideal stimulating environment for me to grow personally and contribute professionally. I am particularly drawn to the Thermal Engineering Lab at XX whose research areas like quantum transport modeling aligns well with my interests. Also, course work offered in the nano-heat transfer by XX also has been a motivation factor behind my choice. I should point that XX learning resources and tools on thermalhub.org and nanohub.org have further stimulated my interests in the field.

While my professional experience and graduate work have helped me develop insights in many aspects of thermo-physics, I still desire to explore this field in greater detail and make my own contribution to them. I am confident that my aptitude, motivation and research skills will help me measure up to the rigors of a PhD program. I hope you find my purpose definitive and look forward to continue my research career at XX
Ellan 2 / 7  
Dec 21, 2009   #2
In the first paragraph, your first and last sentence say the exact same thing. Get rid of one of them. I'd start out with it, then back it up with the evidence (as opposed to working up to it as some grand statement).

Change "I tried to broaden my perspectives and knowledge" into "I broadened my perspectives and knowledge." Words like "try" "think" "seem" weaken what you are saying (and I suppose YOU since all they know of you is what you're saying).

In the 4th and 8th paragraph, you use the word "also" twice in a row.

Instead of "Thanks to this project, I have developed some valuable experimental skills which, I believe, along with my analytical skills will make me a better researcher" say "Thanks to this project, I have developed valuable experimental skills which, along with my analytical skills, make me a better researcher." Maybe even further edit it to "give me great potential for success as a researcher in this field."

Sounds very professional. Just get rid of the modifiers...be confident!
OP parthib19 1 / 3  
Dec 21, 2009   #3
Thanks indeed Ellan. Your comments are much appreciated.
merinadica 2 / 3  
Dec 24, 2009   #4
just a suggestion. most American readers like the eaasy to look compact.I mean it is better to combine the short paragraphs together to form a bigger one. about 5 paragraph should be adequate i bielieve.
Maryann 3 / 8  
Jan 6, 2010   #5
Great essay. You have all the key components but just that you need a strong introductory paragraph and some grammer review. I also suggest you remove the word "attempted" and be more confident. "During my graduate studies at XX, I attempted to gain both experimental and theoretical/computational domain exposure"

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