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Statement of Purpose / Admission Essay for U of Maryland ME Grad Program

MrDomino 1 / -  
Jan 6, 2009   #1
I wanted to see if someone on here could take a look at one of my admission essays. It's for the University of Michigan's Mechanical Engineering graduate program.

This is what we were supposed to write about: Here's my essay. Hope it's not too bad.

University of Maryland - Mechanical Engineering Program

My decision to continue my education by pursuing my Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering comes from the academic success that I've had during my four years as an undergraduate student and my interest in the field of Thermal-Fluid Sciences. Additionally, positive experiences from assisting with undergraduate research have also led me down the path of graduate study. The completion of a Masters program will allow me to deepen my knowledge in the field of Thermal-Fluid Sciences and prepare me for a research career with the ultimate goal of completing my Doctorate. I chose University of Maryland's Mechanical Engineering graduate program because of the quality of the academic program and my interest in UMD's research areas.

In the past four years I've strived for academic excellence. I've consistently done well in all of my classes with a current cumulative grade-point average of 3.88. In addition, I have been on the Dean's List all seven semesters including two semesters with a 4.0 grade-point average. In the area of Thermal-Fluid Sciences my grades are equally outstanding. I'm a member of Penn State Erie's Engineering Honor Society, Tau Beta Nu, and work part time for the School of Engineering grading papers for Thermodynamics and Fluid Dynamics in addition to teaching Thermodynamics labs for the Mechanical Engineering Technology program. I have also been the recipient of numerous scholarships including the Presidential Freedom Scholarship for outstanding community service (2005), the John H. DeVitt Scholarship for academic excellence (2006), and the National Coal Transportation Association At-Large Scholarship (2008) awarded to four students out of over 350 applicants.

I'm also currently involved in undergraduate research. While I do not have any publications at this time, I have received funding from the Penn State Behrend Undergraduate Student Research Grant Program for the Spring 2009 semester to research the modeling of residual stresses in aluminum from friction stir welding. My goal is to develop a model that will predict the residual stresses based on the rotational velocity of the welding fixture and the translational velocity as the fixture moves along the substrate. We're currently in the process of doing a literature survey and will be starting the research in the next few weeks. I'll be working with Dr. Jun Zhou at Penn State Erie. While this research is just beginning, the goal is to eventually model the effects of electrically pulsing the aluminum while it is being welded so that the residual stresses and microstructure can be predicted based on the current density. For some metals (including aluminum), electrically pulsing increases their formability which should lead to a higher quality weld. Concurrent experiments are being run by another student to experimentally determine the effects of varying the current density, pulse frequency, and pulse time. Our results will then be verified using experimental data and changes will be made to the model if needed.

The three specific aspects of thermal-fluid sciences that are most interesting to me are aerodynamics, cardiovascular fluid mechanics, and convective heat transfer. My interest in aerodynamics stemmed from watching Formula 1 racing. Since aerodynamics are mostly unrestricted, the teams are free to come up with whatever design they deem most effective in getting more downforce or changing the dynamics of the car. It's interesting to see all of the different devices and slight shape changes that they can use to get a significant increase in performance of the car. Cardiovascular fluid mechanics is interesting not only due to the difficulty of modeling the behavior of non-Newtonian fluids, but also because the flow is constantly changing as the heart beats and the boundaries are continually expanding and contracting. The human body is an amazing machine and trying to figure out how it works is fascinating. Lastly, convective heat transfer is an interest of mine because of the sheer number of things that can be done to manipulate the amount of heat transfer. Interior fins can be added in heat exchangers to trip the flow from laminar to turbulent to increase heat transfer, fins can be added to the outside of the heat exchanger, or small channels could be cut into the piping to increase the surface area of the heat exchanger. There are many different solutions to the same problem but the key is finding which one is best suited to the application and among those, which is most economic. The Mechanical Engineering program at UMD would give me the opportunity to pursue all three of these interests in their research labs.

While UMD has a multitude of interesting research areas, three in particular sparked my interest. The first was Dr. James Wallace's research in experimental turbulent fluid flow. The uncertainty and lack of understanding of turbulence makes it one of the most difficult parts of aerodynamics. In order for the aerodynamic devices to be fully effective, the flow of air must remain attached to the various wings and spoilers. As soon as the flow becomes turbulent and vortices are created, the amount of downforce is greatly reduced. Understanding the how to prevent the onset of turbulence and how turbulence behaves would be extremely beneficial to increasing the aerodynamic efficiency of the racecars. The second was Dr. Elias Balaras' research in biomedical fluid flows. Dr. Elias' research that was most interesting was the modeling of blood flow after coil embolization of intracranial aneurysms. I would also not have a problem taking a few biology courses if required for his research. The last research area was Dr. Michael Ohadi's research involving smart heat exchangers. It's amazing that, by simply adding an electrical charge to the working fluid, you can increase the efficiency of a heat exchanger. In the pursuit for more fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly vehicles, smaller radiators and heater cores made possible using electrohydrodynamics would decrease the overall vehicle weight leading to greater fuel-efficiency. All three facets of research are equally interesting and I would be happy working with any of the three faculty members.

In addition to academics, a number extracurricular programs and activities have prepared me for a graduate education at the University of Maryland. In February 2005 I achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. The rank of Eagle Scout is earned by approximately two percent of scouts and enforces values such as leadership, hard work, dedication, and service. For my Eagle Scout project, I planned, coordinated, and executed the work of over fifteen people while the entire project required well over 100 man-hours to complete. I also served in a number of leadership positions within our local troop. My experiences at different camps gave me the opportunity to work with a large, diverse group of individuals over the years. Lastly, during my last few years as a scout, I was a member of the Order of the Arrow, a service organization and a subprogram of the BSA. I had the opportunity to work with a number of people doing anything from cleaning up storm damage at our local camp to putting on a haunted trail ride for the youth of the area.

My commitment to serving others has continued into other aspects of my life as well. During my first two years of undergraduate study I was a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity. While a member, I accumulated over 20 hours of service work per semester and had the opportunity to work in a number of different positions within the program. After my initiation I served one semester as the coordinator between our service program and the local Boy Scouts. I also spent a semester serving as VP of Service whose responsibility is to plan, organize, and execute all of the service events. Lastly, this December, I became a member of Alpha Beta Nu, our school's Engineering Honor Society after meeting the required number of service hours. This coming semester will be our first as a chapter and I'm looking forward to serving in a leadership position.

Besides community service, I have gained a great deal of experience from working at Penn State Erie and the three internships I've spent with FirstEnergy. At Penn State Erie, I was a grader for both Thermodynamics and Fluid Dynamics for the Spring 2008 semester. In Fall 2008 I continued to grade for Fluid Dynamics and also taught Thermodynamics labs for the Mechanical Engineering Technology program. These experiences have helped me to see the faculty side of the Engineering program and have given me teaching experience that will be beneficial as I pursue my Masters and Doctorate. My internships at FirstEnergy included one summer working at various combustion turbine and hydro power plants and two summers of working at a coal power plant doing entry-level engineering work. I had the opportunity to work on a number of projects including setting up a system for indentifying leaks into a water storage reservoir by measuring the local water table and evaluating new technology for increasing the efficiency of the air heaters used to increase the overall efficiency of the power plant. The diversity of my work experiences has given me a deeper understanding of the different aspects of Engineering.

I'm confident that, if admitted to the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland, I will be successful academically and can greatly contribute to the all three of the research labs that I'm interested in. I work hard in everything that I do and strive for continuing improvement. My positive experiences in not only academics but also in my extracurricular activities coupled with the experience that I will gain from my undergraduate research will make me an asset to both the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the school as a whole. Thank you for taking the time to read my application and I look forward to attending the University of Maryland as a graduate student in Fall 2009.

EF_Kevin 8 / 13,335 129  
Jan 7, 2009   #2
This essay is excellent! You cannot help but write an impressive essay, because you truly are a serious student. Everyone has to SEEM like a serious student but you are the real thing. So, congratulations. I think you can improve the essay by trying to eliminate one unnecessary phrase or sentence from each paragraph. Try to say it all in fewer words.

You also might want to look for a certain THEME that the essay conveys, and mention that theme in the 1st and last paragraphs.

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