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Building Bridges-Cornell College of Engineering Supplement Essay (Minus Conclusion)

dasadhikarik 5 / 10  
Dec 24, 2011   #1
Hi! International student here, desperate for heads up on this essay. Here's my dilemma: I've already finished the engineering essay for Princeton, and found Cornell's Engineering prompt to be very similar. I've included both:

Princeton: Please write an essay describing why you are interested in studying engineering, any experiences in or exposure to engineering you have had, and how you think the programs in engineering offered at Princeton suit your particular interests.

Cornell: Engineers turn ideas (technical, scientific, mathematical) into reality. Tell us about an engineering idea you have or your interest in engineering. Explain how Cornell Engineering can help you further explore this idea or interest.

So, I was wondering if I should just take the Princeton essay, scrap the ending, which refers to that university, and add in some new ideas specifically about Cornell. I'm just not confident enough to act on this "laziness" without external advice, so I turn to you. What do you think? Thanks. The essay, "Building Bridges", is below!

Building Bridges

Blackouts really scared me when I was younger-and that didn't help during my visits to India. The house would be plunged into darkness each evening, and we'd just lounge around a rechargeable lamp in the living room, braving the mugginess without fans. I'd be hysteric after an hour. "Where's the power? Call the electricity board!" Once, I asked grandpa, "Why do we have blackouts?" "Because of the rain", he said. They have to burn coal to make electricity, and the rain wets the supply, making it difficult to ignite. The answer seemed suspect. Why don't they cover the supply? When I told dad, who's a power plant engineer himself, he laughed, "No, it's because they can't make enough power, so they have to cut some of us off sometimes." I was less scared-blackouts weren't such a mystery anymore-but quite confused as well. "Why can't they produce more?" "No money; not much skill either. Maybe you can do something about it when you get older." Hmmm, interesting idea; maybe I'll do just that.

It's quite fortunate that I grew up in Japan, with all its engineering marvels. The world's longest single-span suspension bridge is just a little way from my house. What's most helpful, though, is that the people are genuinely interested in the technology of their environs. There's always a program on TV talking about the Seikan Tunnel's design earthquake resistance. I recall an appealing series titled Project X~ Challengers, which described the work of twentieth century Japanese engineers; including Kiichiro Toyoda, founder of Toyota Motor. Project X was unique in that it painted innovators like Toyoda as unsung heroes who helped revive Japanese society. The portrayal strongly affected me. I'd found that learning about technology meant I wasn't as scared when something went kaput, but Project X promised that I'd be helping others as an engineer. Like Charlie Brown from Peanuts, I was "going to be the hero".

As I grew older, applications of engineering cropped up in school. There was the chopstick bridge challenge in eighth grade, for example. Each team of three was to make a two meter bridge out of a hundred chopsticks attached with rubber bands; the one that withstood the most weight won. Deciding a truss structure was best for the materials we had, I quickly explained it to my teammates. Fortunately, one of them was experienced with chopsticks, and quickly demonstrated how to mass-produce the sturdy triangles we'd need for the trusses. We arranged the leftovers into a beam for the base. Construction took a week, snapped many rubber bands, and broke two chopsticks. During the presentation, another chopstick snapped with five kilos on the bridge, a second at seven point five, and a crucial third at nine. The last fracture was along the beam, slipping one end of the bridge off its table onto the floor. Luckily, we won that challenge, but I haven't built with chopsticks since-wooden barbecue skewers cost the same, weigh less, and are far more flexible.

mukhia08 7 / 22  
Dec 25, 2011   #2
really good effort :)

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