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Seeking advice for a statement of purpose needed to apply for a master in robotics at EPFL.


fratopa 1 / -  
Mar 19, 2020   #1

your academic background and career strategy



Hi, I'm writing a statement of purpose in order to apply to a MSc to the EPFL. I'm open to any advice and criticism, it's my first time writing something like that and my first language is Italian. I'm very happy having stumbled on this site.

The guidelines given by the EPFL are the following: "The statement of purpose should not exceed 1000 words. You are required to describe your academic background and your career strategy. Please be precise about the objectives you wish to reach through your studies at EPFL."

My SOP seems quite short but I am scared of bloating it up, any advice?
I volunteered for 1 year as a STEM tutor with refugees under the age of 18, should i put it in? (it's in my cv but seemed out of place here).

The application window closes in a few weeks, I hope to get as much feedback as soon as possible!

To whom it may concern,

My name is XXXX XXXX, I am currently attending my third and final year in Mechanical Engineering at Politecnico di Torino. I am writing to apply for the master's degree program in Robotics at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne. I hope to gain in this course a deeper understanding of how mobile robots work and how they can interact with humans having the goal of one day free these wonderful machines from the research laboratories and into the world.

My academic career in Mechanical Engineering gave me the chance to dive into a broad spectrum of disciplines and to learn how to apply them to the industrial world. This trained me to work daily on different topics and prevented me to become narrow minded on a single endeavor. I will bring forever with me this mindset since it enables me to approach a problem from different viewpoints, this is paramount when working with a field so interconnected such as Robotics where divergent minds are always needed to come up with new solutions.

I am the youngest member of the student's team DRAFT, a team sponsored by Politecnico di Torino. DRAFT's main goal is to study and develop innovative solutions aimed at increasing the current autonomy of micro aerial vehicles. Our current project is to build a drone that will take part in a competition sponsored by Leonardo, an Italian company focused in aerospace and defense projects. The drone will be capable to explore autonomously a large, open and unknown environment in order to build a comprehensive 3D map of an urban canyon while being denied the use of GPS and lidar.

My role for the past few months has been to research the best suited state of the art Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (SLAM) algorithms to be implemented as part of the drone's software. Researching this topic gave me the opportunity to work on my shortcomings as a mechanical engineer and overcome them. I gained experience in C++ and Python while working in ROS and learned how to communicate with embedded systems. I always loved coding but now I had to learn how to write efficient and optimized software solutions to be integrated into an already existing framework in a way that would allow other people to intervene and understand my ideas.

I hope that in the next two years I will get the chance to lay a solid theoretical foundation for the skills I learned in the field during the last months while at the same time exploring new avenues such as machine learning and motion modelling. I am most excited for the classes on human robot interaction. Autonomous systems are becoming everyday more prevalent both in the domestic and in the industrial markets, to stop being segregated from humans these systems will need to learn how to interact with other intelligent actors in a dynamic environment. The hands-on experiences and the semester projects present in the curriculum of the Robotics MSc will greatly enhance my progresses.

Developing as an engineer at this most excellent institution is going to bring me closer to my goals. I would be honored to having granted this opportunity, I will be sure to make the most of it. My goals are bold, and I am ready to keep working harder every day. Spending the next years in a French speaking community will be the best time to improve my French, I am sure that it will broaden my views just like learning English did. Moreover, joining the EPFL community will be a moment of personal growth that will let me know people from different academic and cultural backgrounds.

Kind Regards

Holt [Contributor] - / 9,514 2957  
Mar 20, 2020   #2
The first question I have is, why are you applying for admission to a master's course without first having completed your undergraduate course? Is this a master's course that does not require the minimum 2 years work experience? If so, that will explain why you are not yet focused on your career strategy. More specifically, you lack a detailed explanation regarding how this master's course will help enhance your practical and theoretical skills on the job. It is the uneven focus of the discussion, specifically the lack of professional expertise that makes the essay weak.

While being ateam member is a good qualification, it is not an excellent professional qualification. Other applicants will focus equally on their academic background, professional requirements, and a 5 year career plan. The essay is delivering only the academic aspect of the discussion.

You can remedy that situation by discussing apprenticeships and internships which could have influenced you to create a 5 year career plan. Start from the point of graduation as an undergrad, discussing how you will complete the masters course based on semi professional exposure as an intern or apprentice, which will then lead to an aggressive 5 year career advancement after.

Based on my observations, it would be better for you to write a new essay that tries to deliver on all required points instead. Honestly, this sounds more like a college application essay than a masters course application essay.


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