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"Modern High Frequency communication standards" - my Statement of Objectives to MIT

untonov 1 / 1  
Sep 16, 2009   #1
Please, settle my doubts about what was inappropriate in my Statement of Objectives. This is the exact essay I submitted and I have never written an essay in English before. I appreciate any help and critic from you.

Official establishment of MIT did not give any comments except "I am truly sorry to inform you that we are not offering you admission to..." and I don't really know what I did wrong.

I attempted to enter the Massachusetts institute of Technology (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, PhD program) in previous year.


Please explain why you are a good candidate for graduate school. You should describe why you wish to attend graduate school, what you would like to study, and any research experience you have. Describe one or more accomplishments you are particularly proud of that suggest that you will succeed in your chosen area of research.

My answer:

My metal detector I constructed during the summer between 10th and 11th grade to detect mines remained from World War II. Field test in a garden bed demonstrated that the equipment could detect tin can 2 inches in diameter at a depth of 6 inches. I had already been attending regional radio club activities for 3 years by that time.

I wish to attend graduate school because I want to develop my understanding of what is possible and impossible in microelectronics. Later on, I plan to develop DSP chips at American Electronics Company. I make no secret of my real ambition: to develop central concluding unit (CCU), that is integrated circuit for handheld advisers. These devices will derive logical consequences from set of beliefs as input. This will be an essential thinking aid for people who are born with a deficiency in brain power in the Knowledge Worker Age. The devices will assist in the use of thinking patterns in such manner as calculators assist in the use of rules of computation.

I would like to study microelectronic circuits of signal processors. I am interested
in both analog and digital or mixed-signal processing.

At the request of research manager I prepared a paper "Modern High Frequency communication standards and equipment" and had a presentation on 51-st Scientific Conference of Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. I read public released American federal and military standards, ITU recommendations and discovered that channel coding techniques (convolutional coding, interleaving, randomization and modulation) used in HF modems are typical for modern telecommunication standards. Then I prepared a listing of principal works and selected bibliographical sources for further study. When I choose an engineering book to read I always find a less difficult book on the subject and a more advanced one. Then, after reading a chapter on the subject in all the books I prepare a summary, usually, one-two pages of notes, as if I reinvent the material. That notes helped me a lot when I was assigned a task of training less experienced colleagues. I developed my own pedagogical approach: when I do paper-and-pencil design of a circuit, on another sheet of paper I write formulas with boundary conditions (typically same as previously taken notes). Then, drawing arrows from formula to formula, I show to my colleagues exactly how I came to the solution, demystifying development process.

Accomplishments abound. I studied electronics and practiced in local radio club as after school activity. I developed tuned radio receiver, soldering iron temperature regulator, visitor counting system and multi-tone transmitter for radio-controlled model aircraft. When I left the club, I organized my electronics laboratory in a corridor at the dacha and my father bought to me analog multimeter on my birthday. I read Amateur Radio Encyclopedia, took components from electronic junk and developed metal detector and logarithmic RF power detector. I even consulted school teacher of physics what flux, solder and soldering irons we needed to organize a radio hobby group in my secondary school. I graduated from the school with high grades, but didn't get into university at my first attempt. I was utterly depressed but I decided to pursue my goal, because It had been my dream to go to BMSTU. I solved more than 570 problems in all examination papers of last years that I could find. And when the time came, I passed the entrance exams with 9 from 10 and was enrolled in N.E. Bauman Moscow State Technical University (BMSTU). On my second year in university I was given out an assignment to develop an Internet site for my department needs. I trained myself in HTML in 3 months and made a good site on the theme of RISC and CISC computer architectures. At that time university's psychologist carried out 6 hours test on students in my group. She concluded that I will be the most productive in the field of engineering and symbolizing.

My father retired in 1999 and my parents divorced in 2000. I needed to start work as soon as possible in order to resolve my financial difficulties and bring home extra money. I took summer internship between the 3d and 4th academic years in the form of a full-time job. I started as Electronic Technician and grew up to Lead Circuit Engineer in Russian Electronics Company (REC).

As you may see from subjects taken, my grades got low in 2005. That time I was given my first task in REC to develop Control module of external attenuators and a Motherboard for GPS/GLONASS receiver (see curriculum vitae). I struggled to read through PICMG 2.0, IEEE 1101.1, IEEE 1386 standards, more then 180 pages overall, and I felt like I became a part of a team. Being a student, I tried to meet work deadline, this drained me to fatigue level and eroded my studies.

Present time I work in REC and develop mixed-signal circuits on basis of Xilinx programmable ASICs for modern Russian radars. Since I received an engineering degree, with a specialty in Computer Design and Technology, I can look at design process from system perspective. I anticipate the possibility of system changes in the future and develop circuits, where new capabilities in IC packages (e.g. unused op amp section or additional signal bank in more expensive FPGA) could be used by changing resistors and jumpering on the same board.
Rajiv 55 / 400  
Sep 16, 2009   #2
You have the kind of hands-on experience that American kids drool for, and so would colleges. The reason for MIT rejecting you is simply that in the two years or so as you work towards your PhD, you would have polished your exterior, in use of language, expressions etc.. that you would be on top of the candidate lists that companies would be looking to hire. Then reality will strike - as discrimination against you, as a Russian. Not within the company you're working in, but more socially. You will miss your old friends and family back home, and their warmth and genuine feelings towards you. But since you are placed in such a scientifically advanced field, and of importance to both defence and national economy, you make a soft target. US stands much to lose if you were to shift loyalties or decide to migrate to your own country. By then you will know a lot about the company you're working in and probably have complete grasp of its technical competencies.

I am certain even MIT is manuvered in a fashion by government policy. And this may be the reason you're not taken on board.
EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
Sep 16, 2009   #3
I doubt that the reason is as ornate as Rajiv proposes. MIT, like every other top university, receives many more applications from qualified applicants than it can accept. In other words, after all of the unqualified people have been rejected, there are still more applicants than places. This is particularly true for graduate programs, which is why would-be graduate students in popular fields are often advised to apply to at least 10 schools.

All of which is to say that there might not have been anything wrong with your application. It might be, simply, that other applicants had even stronger applications. We're just seeing your essay. There's also your transcript and etc.

To the question of the essay itself, the grammar is rough. You consistently leave out articles and often phrase sentences awkwardly. The essay lacks organization, having no clear introduction, few transitions, and no conclusion. While the content, as Rajiv said, is strong, the form of this essay is quite weak in comparison to the well-polished essays MIT will have received from other applicants.
Liebe 1 / 542 2  
Sep 17, 2009   #4
All Universities have their own respective methods of choosing applicants. I am not even an undergrad student, but I do know that Universities try to choose students that they feel would be best for the academic program and the University at large. We, as people not on the Admissions Board, can not say why MIT rejected you. Perhaps your competitors had more qualifications, had better essays or had something else that gave them an advantageous edge.

But I can see that your first paragraph itself has caused me to scratch my head, and not in a good way.

My metal detector I constructed during the summer between 10th and 11th grade to detect mines remained from World War II. Field test in a garden bed demonstrated that the equipment could detect tin can 2 inches in diameter at a depth of 6 inches. I had already been attending regional radio club activities for 3 years by that time.

If I had to revise it, it would be :

During the summers of 'year' and 'year', I created my very own metal detector to find World War 2 mines in my backyard (or wherever it was that you used it)

*Your sentence as it stands requires a bit more, given the way youve written it.

I do not quite understand the second sentence, because of the grammar involved.

By that time, I had already been attending the regional radio club activities or three years straight.

Your grammar is a bit off target, and perhaps that is what disadvantaged when you were compared to another applicant.
OP untonov 1 / 1  
Sep 20, 2009   #5
Thank you Rajiv, EF_Simone and Liebe for your valuable feedback.
At last some aspects cleared to me!
To wrap up, I was probably rejected because of:
1. possible treat of industrial espionage;
2. stronger application packages of other candidates
(for instance, greater tests scores and GPA, and more impressive work experience);
3. errors, which are evident for native speakers;
4. weak delivery of ideas;
5. absence of structure in the essay.
creation2k5 2 / 5  
Sep 23, 2009   #6

My two pennies worth of thought.

I like the fact that you have a lot to say. I have been working on my essays and I just feel inadequate when it comes to experience. You have done a good job with prying out the important aspects of your life and connecting it to your desire to do Master's

The problem I find is with the flow of the essay. If you could rewrite it in such a way that the events come one after the another..it would make it more presentable.

Also, I am not an authority on grammar, but you might want to change some of the sentence constructions. Make it smoother.

I am sorry MIT did not happen. I wish you all the luck.
reader2011 4 / 9  
Sep 23, 2009   #7
I have to agree that the organization of the essay itself was not very strong. You start the essay pretty point blank. I was like wow maybe some type of introduction before going into a list of what you do. The essay shows that you as a person is very smart and would blend in at MIT, but the way it was organized, most would stop reading before they would come to this conclusion.

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