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SOP for Msc. in computational science and engineering - objectives to reach through studies at EPFL

leodanbrock 1 / -  
Nov 23, 2022   #1
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.

I've always been interested in the workings of the natural world. Growing up I loved performing science experiments, participating in workshops and Olympiads and just learning new things. I first fell in love with math when we were introduced to calculus in high school. I remember being fascinated by the concepts of infinitesimal, limits, derivatives and integrals. These simple but powerful constructs are perfect for describing and solving any real-world systems that involve change. I was determined to learn more advanced math and how we can use it to better understand complex systems and their engineering applications. I did so through my undergrad degree in aerospace. Over the course of my degree and through my current job I've also developed a sizable interest in coding, computation and software engineering. Hence this led me to search for a master's degree that combined my interests in math, natural sciences and programming. This degree seems tailormade to my interests and also would be a seamless continuation of my previous degree and research.

My degree gave me a solid grounding in the various natural sciences. I found fluid mechanics, heat transfer, quantum mechanics and principles of flight particularly interesting. I also incorporated as many math and math heavy courses as I could into my coursework. I also participated in a few collegiate math and physics Olympiads and also worked on a few projects. I presented a project and article on the calculus of variations and its applications. I also obtained 12 credits from the computer science dept and learnt about programming fundamentals as well as optimization. It was in my third year that I was first introduced to the computational paradigm. I took courses such as FEM, CFD and aerodynamics which exposed me to how engineering problems are solved using numerical techniques. I implemented the SIMPLE algorithm to solve flow through a nozzle as a side project in MATLAB. In my final year I was selected to be a research associate in the process modelling research lab as part of a funded project. My task was to optimize the placement of components on a PCB to ensure the lowest possible temperature. I accomplished this by creating a workflow that involved simulating a model (using commercial FEM software), creating a neural network and coding a genetic algorithm to finally find the optimal placement. This was my first foray into research and I learnt a lot from it. Apart from my experience as research associate, I have industrial exposure as well. After taking a course on the mathematics behind machine learning I was keen to explore more practical aspects of it. I managed to bag an internship at a start-up as a machine learning engineer. I was tasked with modifying and training an object detection algorithm and integrating with their platform. After graduating I took up a job as a software developer, and my job for the most part involves automating tasks with python and shell scripts.

My goal is to be able to come up with and provide end to end computational solutions to diverse real-world problems. Firstly, this entails having a basic background in the various domains/application areas you might encounter. Through my research experience and studies so far, I'm familiar with modelling fluids and also Multiphysics modelling of systems involving fluid and heat interactions. I find areas such as climate modelling, financial systems and behaviour modelling interesting and would love to learn more about them through the electives offered. The cornerstone of any traditional computational solution is applying numerical techniques to reduce the governing differential equation to a form that can be solved by a computer. Advanced numerical analysis, algorithms, computational mathematics and programming concepts in scientific computing will be invaluable and create a solid base for any further research. High performance computing is an essential skill and is also growing in importance. Making sure you can parallelize your code and take advantage of multiprocessor architectures is vital to process a large number of calculations or large datasets. This is one of the areas that I'm most looking forward to strengthen and learn more about. I'm also looking forward to taking courses from list D (data science) as I think AI/ML solutions are an interesting alternative to consider in certain situations. I've explored DL based alternatives to FEM like PINN (physics informed neural networks) in the past as part of my research and I would love to learn more about such techniques. I hope to learn and gain expertise in all the areas mentioned above through my master studies at EPFL.

I've always been passionate about solving interesting problems and exploring and testing novel solutions. I would like to get a job that's fairly research oriented, ideally a role in a r&d setup. A job that mainly deals with creating simulation tools and software or using other computational approaches to solve business problems. I find the multidisciplinary nature of this field exciting. Climate change is THE problem of our day and I've always wanted to do my part in mitigating it. There are multiple avenues and areas that can either directly or indirectly benefit from computational solutions. Better simulations of dynamic entities and better algorithms lead to faster prototyping of possible solutions and better decisions. Somewhere along the line I do hope to come up with my own ideas and start my own company to combat climate change.

I'm well aware of the prestige of EPFL and the high standards it expects of its students. As a research-oriented individual I also like the fact that the program places an impetus on conducting original research through its semester projects, internships and master thesis. This is something that I highly value in a program as I see this as a vital skill that'll help me in my future plans. I'm confident that I possess the prerequisite math, programming skills and modelling skills and I hope that you find my previous work experience and academic qualifications well-suited for a Master's degree in Computational Science.

This is the essay I've written so far and I feel I've addressed all the questions asked in the prompt. Please check and review it and give me some feedback so I can make any necessary changes.
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 14,249 4652  
Nov 24, 2022   #2
Revise the presentation to be more purpose targeted rather than academically focused. When writing a statement of purpose, it is always best to work backwards in the presentation. By that, I mean that the first paragraph should outline the clear purpose for studies. These must relate to the current work experience of the applicant in relation to the desire to enroll in the masters course. The paragraph after that should explain how the work experience has created the professional foundation for the studies. Include any work related training and educational experience to give more consideration to your professional qualifications. These should lead into a discussion of how the college degree of the candidate has given him the proper foundation to succeed in charting his new or improved career path. Do not go all the way back to high school for this discussion or the amateur interest in the field. Those are not considered a part of the academic qualifications of a college degree holder who has at least 2 years work experience in the field.

I believe that the applicant is interested in a career as a researcher. However, he has not really charted a career path for that in this essay. He does not have a career goal in mind that would support his masters degree application. He has too many plans and ideas, but none leading towards a solid career application. The candidate will therefore be considered lacking in an actual purpose for his studies. Something that will be quite obvious since 95% if this paper focuses on his academic background alone. That will lead the reviewer to consider the applicant as not really being a skilled candidate for the program.

He must consider that the purpose needs to be backed by his background, resulting in a solid career forward result for him. He needs specifics to back up his academics. At this point the essay represents lofty ideas and ambitions, but no actual career strategy and goals. The strategy entails the career path. At what point is the research now? How does this relate to the end result he hopes to achieve? How does he plan to achieve that end result using this program? How does the program relate to his career progress leading into his final professional desire?

Do not just discuss interests. Prove that there is a viable path for the career or research that has been chosen. Do not just keep discussing interests and the importance of the research. These are not the only information that the reviewer wants to read about.

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