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SOP for MSc Mechanical Engineering - Swiss University - academic background and career strategy

tover 1 / 1  
Mar 21, 2016   #1
Hi everyone, I have written a statement of purpose for the application to an MSc in mechanical engineering at EPFL. I would like to get some feedback on the content and form. Also, do you know if I should address this to a specific person?

The guideline for the letter as given by the university are the following :
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.

Thank you!

Statement of Purpose

Dear Sir/Madam,

Since the very beginning of my engineering education, I have followed the idea of becoming an all-round capable engineer. My target has always been to learn to be an asset for product-based businesses without the constraint of being highly specialised in a single area. To progress on this path, I have put myself in positions where I could acquire knowledge about a wide range of fields whenever I was given the opportunity.

Coming from an Italian Liceo Classico, where the main focus was set on humanistic subjects, my choice of undertaking a degree in Automotive Engineering was mainly driven by a natural passion for the motorsport world. However, as the first year of studies progressed, I became more and more absorbed by the courses and I realised how project-based modules, where an idea had to be carried out all the way to production, really brought out the best of my skills. Examples of this are the vehicle systems and the machine elements projects, both of which resulted in some of my best grades (I am currently top 10-15% of my course).

After the first two years of university, I decided to invest one year doing an industrial internship for Lubrizol LTD, as this would give me the opportunity to validate and advance my engineering skills and get work experience in a real industrial environment. At Lubrizol I was part of the Field Test Team, a highly focused group of about 12 engineers aimed at testing and validating oil and fuel additive products on vehicles in real life conditions. In this role, I was required to design vehicle-specific drive cycles, devise test plans, design, programme and build data acquisition setups for a wide range of vehicle parameters. The job involved performing in-depth data analysis while also managing projects and liaising with the management departments of the company to discuss results and progress made. One of the most interesting projects I worked on was the proof of fuel economy benefit for a short-haul heavy duty vehicle. This included extrapolating a representative drive cycle from road data and building an instrumentation setup that included a driver aid system and over 120 data channels, several of which consisted of fuel flow meters and wireless torque transducers.

During my time at Lubrizol, I also strengthened an already existing interest in covering a managerial position as one of my career goals. I had the opportunity to work with extremely capable managers that taught me how important it is to widen and diversify my knowledge in various engineering fields and experiment in taking leading roles during my studies. This led me to the decision of transferring from a Masters to a Bachelors degree course, with the aim of acquiring an MSc from a leading university that would broaden my reach on the European industry, while also experiencing a different academic environment.

As part of my final year of Automotive Engineering, I have completed a group design project in which I took the role of team leader for the design of a fuel cell-hybrid underground mining truck. In this position I had the responsibility of managing the team, discussing and challenging each team member's design choices, designing a duty cycle for the vehicle and the overall chassis. At the same time, as I was involved in all areas of the process, I gained knowledge about fuel cell operation, hybrid electric control systems and energy regeneration systems. On the other hand, as part of my bachelor dissertation I decided to tackle a key issue in the areas of NVH and acoustics, which were still unfamiliar to me. The project includes analysis of the phenomenon of tyre cavity resonance and its elimination with the use of purposely-built and tuned Helmholtz resonators. To complete these research tasks, I had to design and build a representative test rig and instrument it with an array of microphones that could detect different mode shapes at different angles. So far I have received very positive feedback from my supervisor, Dr. Daniel O'Boy, and I am looking forward to completing the project in the next few weeks.

In the last few years I also had the opportunity of coming in contact with an Italian charitable association that managed to build a new hospital in Monza and fund research projects for the cure of leukaemia. By comparing this experience with the corporate approach used at Lubrizol and the overall profit-focused business model of the automotive industry, I realised how the engineering industry could have a much greater and direct effect on the current environmental and social challenges if the focus revolved around solving these problems rather than pure profit. For this reason, through my Master's of Science I aim to develop the skills and expertise required to steering the engineering business towards a more socially conscious approach. I am confident that continuing my studies at a forward thinking institution such as EPFL would play an important role in achieving this.

In conclusion, knowing my strengths as an engineer and my career goals, I am sure that acquiring an MSc in Mechanical Engineering at EPFL would be a great opportunity for me. I realised that EPFL offers the most interesting portfolio in terms of courses available and collaborations with other universities (such as TÜM), while giving students the opportunity to learn from some of the best researchers in the field. As a student at EPFL I would be thrilled to combine the Design and Production orientation, my main area of interest, with a minor in Management of Technology and Entrepreneurship. This course of studies would be an invaluable continuation of my path to widen my area of expertise and gain an understanding of engineering challenges that are not limited to the automotive world, while bringing me closer to the European industry and thus to my goals for the future.

I thank you for any time and effort you have taken in reviewing my application and I look forward to hearing back from you.
justivy03 - / 2,366 607  
Mar 22, 2016   #2
Hi Tommaso, I have read a few paragraphs of your essay and stopped, the reason being, its too long and a lot of unnecessary information is included in the essay.

I say this not to mean that your essay is not good but, I just want you to realize that some of this information about you may be needed in other succeeding essays in the future or following this SoP.

Now, speaking SoP, a general one should be about 1500 words and a little over but not this long, don't get me wrong the essay is elaborately written, which is good, however, I suggest that you revise the essay in a way that you get into the core and focus on the purpose of your essay. Having said that, a statement of purpose is meant to answer, Why do you choose to pursue Mechanical Engineering?, the essay should linger in this prompt and stay focused in this prompt.

I hope my insights helped and should you need further assistance, do let us know, we are here for you.
OP tover 1 / 1  
Mar 22, 2016   #3
Hi Justivy03, thank you for your feedback! However, you say the SoP should be about 1500 words but mine is under 1000, which is the guideline from the university. Also, if the guideline specifically says to focus on academic background and career strategy, shouldn't I focus on that?

Thank you,
justivy03 - / 2,366 607  
Mar 22, 2016   #4
Hi Tommaso, I sincerely apologize for the remark on the number of words in your essay, it just seemed too long as I was reading it. Now, as the SoP states that you focus on the academic background and career strategy then go ahead and do so, remember that the prompt is your guide in coming up with a well written SoP.

While you're doing the revision, mind the following;

- the focus or the idea of the essay, as it is an SoP then it should be an SoP and not a narrative of your academic history

- once you have established the subject, you can already replace them with "it" or "the", this way you don't have to be redundant and the essay will have a smooth flow.

Lastly, write with the sound mind that this SoP is your ticket to MSC and you will get the admission you deserve and has passion for.

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