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'I brainstormed methods of cooling the system' - Significant Experience Common App

PurpleShark 1 / -  
Oct 21, 2011   #1
Here's my essay for the significant experience common app essay. I'd appreciate feedback on it.

I was one of the lucky ones, having escaped the epidemic that so many others failed to avoid. The Red Ring of Death, the most feared failure of the Xbox 360, had plagued millions of users and filled the headlines for months. Then one day, my precious console flashed the dreaded red rings, leading me into frustration, but also an important discovery.

I attempted to repair my system, however, it would only work until it overheated and the red rings would reappear. I sought advice from an online forum where members had devised solutions, but they were only temporary at best. Members failed to realize that the repair process should involve two stages: repair and overheating prevention. Member solutions for cooling involved unsightly fans protruding from the console's case; I found this unacceptable.

So I brainstormed methods of cooling the system that would fit within the confines of the original case. I noticed the Xbox 360 had square heat sink mounting points, and having built my own computer, recalled the perfectly square mounting holes of the Intel processor I used. With modifications I was able to fit a suitable computer heat sink onto one of the processors. Improving the heat sink for the second processor was more challenging because of the space constraints, so reused the original heat sink except with a new heat spreader with a larger surface area. Upon testing the heat sinks, they showed an increase in cooling of up to 30%!

To my knowledge, I am the only individual with practical, well performing custom heat sinks for the Xbox 360. Following this success, I started my own business where I fixed and modified Xbox 360s. My customer base grew and my business quickly became profitable because of the lower repair costs and faster turnaround time I could provide to my customers over Microsoft. The first Xbox 360 I sold was Red Bull themed one, which netted a 60% profit margin. As I became more skilled, I extended my experience to PlayStation Portables, modifying them with custom firmware that enabled the system to play games without the disc, and wiring in sound reactive LEDs that would flash in sync with sound emitted from the speakers.

What started as a challenge led me to the discovery of new career possibilities in the field of engineering. My success in revamping gaming consoles has fueled my passion for creating technological change and encouraged me to take more risks and try new approaches to improve products. Having overcome my fear that I would ruin $300 piece of equipment and turn it into a paperweight, I am now more confident in my problem-solving abilities. I know that by approaching problems thoughtfully, assessing risks and persisting until a good solution is found, that I will be successful in my future ventures. As long as challenges remain, I will continue to take new risks to expand my knowledge and proficiency so that I can make significant contributions to the field of engineering.

(500 words)

Thanks in advance
B. Lin
daniel44992 13 / 29  
Oct 22, 2011   #2
Let me just say that when I first started reading it, I had my doubts. It seemed like it was going to be just about a gamer's loss of an Xbox but as I read on I was pleasantly surprised. I'm really impressed at how you turned it around and made a business venture out of the whole deal and I think any admissions committee would be too. The details about the specs wasn't entirely riveting, so you might want to find a way to change that to make it less technical. Also, like I said, the introduction kind of tricked me so maybe change that a bit? If you don't its not the end of the world but if you have better ideas for an intro; use them.

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