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grad school statement of purpose - why do i want to do research ?

gokuler 1 / 1  
Apr 2, 2014   #1

I am applying to grad school in India. The particular institution I am applying to, instead of asking for a straight forward SOP has broken it down into 3 questions. I would like to state the questions and my answers for the same. The answers might seem a tad too concise as there is a general word limit on each answer - 200 words. This is just the first draft. Looking forward to your opinions. Please feel free to let me know if you don't find my answers convincing.

1. What is it about research as a career that interests you the most? In which subject area(s) would you like to pursue research? What led you to choose this area of research?

Research is fueled by curiosity and the drive to do something meaningful. It encourages us to push the boundaries of science. Such an endeavor could be considered either daunting or challenging. I choose to think of it as the latter.

Steven Weinberg through the following statement, best summarizes why research is a satisfying career pursuit (at least for a few):
"The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy."

Success in the field of research, is not easy. But that does not prevent me from taking it up and giving it my best.

Aerospace and Fluid Mechanics (CFD of Transition and Turbulent Flow, Rheology of complex fluids, insect flight dynamics, Convective Flow) are my primary areas of interest for research.

I was fourteen, watching my mother stack up books to be disposed. My eyes fell upon a book. It was on the history of flight and aerodynamics. I will never forget the awe and amazement I experienced at pouring over diagrams and descriptions on the workings of aerofoils, ramjet and turbojet engines. This experience has been the reason for me to evince interest in the above mentioned areas. My performance in Engineering Mechanics, Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics at the undergraduate level stand testament to my ability (grades A, A and B respectively).

2. Describe any project, or laboratory experiment, or research-oriented training programme that you have been involved in. Please highlight the aspects that you particularly enjoyed.

I was a summer research fellow at the XXX from June-August, 2011 under YYY. I had the opportunity to study Quantum Mechanics, Linear Algebra and Differential Equations under his tutelage. Apart from informing me of the rigor and methods of research, this opportunity helped me appreciate the physics of phenomenon at the imperceptible level. It also served as an instrument of widening my knowledge of mathematics as required for this subject. Additionally, on interacting with PhD students under YYY, I got to witness the amount of effort that goes into research, which increased my respect for scientists/researchers (and PhD students) multifold!

I also independently worked on a project that involved determining the life of welded joints in bicycles. As bicycles are subjected to multi-axial fatigue stresses at high cycle fatigue, this project aimed to apply a gradient based formulation of a multi-axial fatigue criterion to analyse the life of bicycle weld joints made of steel. Unfortunately, this project could not see fruition due to lack of proper guidance. Nevertheless, for this project, I had to independently search for and read many research papers on fatigue strength of alloy steel and various formulations of gradient dependent high cycle fatigue criterion. Assimilating and structuring all this information in itself proved to be a challenging yet satisfying task.

3. State the reasons on why you want to opt for ZZZ for your advanced research / academic studies.

I had the opportunity to spend time at ZZZ as a part of AAA . I got to witness my fellow summer research students interact with their professors, PhD and Masters students at the department. It was remarkable to see world class faculty in the field of fluid mechanics take their time to guide and teach the students. There was palpable excitement in the air. It felt like a fascinating world unto itself. ZZZ encourages inter-disciplinary work, something that I am interested in exploring. Additionally, I am interested in the work of BBB and CCC (faculty).

As a potential future researcher in fluid mechanics, I would like to spend any normal day learning new concepts, engaging in thought-provoking discussions with like-minded people, working on exciting (sometimes frustrating) problems and retire for the day with the satisfaction that I have challenged my limits, learned something valuable and that the day has been well spent. I believe, I will be able to obtain that satisfaction at XXX, studying in the department.

dumi 1 / 6,928 1592  
Apr 10, 2014   #2
If you have subdivided those sections on your own, it is better you re-do this SOP to flow as an essay with more creativity. However, if those are the questions asked by them, then you can ignore my above comment. The SOP is generally presented to grab their attention to you as a person and therefore you would be at an advantage if it is presented more creatively. That's the point I was trying to explain :)

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