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Engineering program: CMU- Why your major and why Carnegie Mellon

miss_anthropic 4 / 6  
Dec 30, 2010   #1
Prompt: Please submit a one-page, single-spaced essay that explains why you have chosen Carnegie Mellon and your particular major(s), department(s) or program(s). This essay should include the reasons why you've chosen the major(s), any goals or relevant work plans and any other information you would like us to know. If you are applying to more than one college or program, please mention each college or program you are applying to. Because our admission committees review applicants by college and programs, your essay can impact our final decision. Please do not exceed one page for this essay.

I'm a little worried about the first paragraph. I want to be specific about my interests and how they led me to want to pursue engineering, but I feel like some of the transitions are awkward. And I'm aware that it's long, but it does fit on one page (font size 10). Do you think the length will be a detriment?

My decision to apply to the mechanical engineering program at the Carnegie Institute of Technology stems from the fact that engineering unites all of my major interests. My enthusiasm for science was evident at an early age; by the time I was seven, I had the entire Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds nearly memorized. These same scientific inclinations have recently led me to begin collaborating with a local research lab specializing in imaging technology on a project to evaluate effects of the BP oil spill on zooplankton. I am also attracted to art, particularly photography, drawing, and music. In 10th grade, I initiated what has since become a fairly successful venture in the field of portrait photography. Art and science came to me far more naturally than math; but in middle school, after years of professing my dislike for the subject, I realized that math was essential to understanding all the things I did like. In high school I have come to appreciate the fact that everything, from the position of a projectile to the reason behind our intuitive aesthetic preferences, can be expressed as an equation. If all things can be reduced to numbers, then the ability to manipulate those numbers translates into the power to shape the world as one sees fit. Engineering lies at the junction of all these things-of science, artistic creativity, math, and their application-which is why I have concluded it to be the logical "next step" in my education. I specifically selected mechanical engineering because it emphasizes energy and design. After joining the FIRST Robotics program at my high school I discovered my affinity for the transfer and transformation of energy within a system, and I want to explore it further. The design aspect, meanwhile, appeals to my artistic inclinations. Additionally, I have always been primarily idea-oriented; a major in mechanical engineering will enhance my proficiency with regard to detail, logistics and execution, enabling me to successfully convert ideas into realities.

My primary interests lie in using my abilities as an engineer to mitigate the negative impacts of human activity on the environment, which is why I plan to pursue a designated minor in environmental engineering. Efficient, sustainable energy is the area of study I am most drawn to (and have been drawn to since I was old enough to understand that fossil fuels are non-renewable). These interests have been deeply influenced by my father, who was CEO of Building Knowledge, Inc., the company chosen by the U.S. Green Building Council to develop the national LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Homes program. When I first expressed interest in his work, he began bringing me to his construction sites and explaining the underlying mechanics of energy-efficient design. I was fascinated. It was my father, also, who first introduced to me the effectively limitless possibilities yielded by nanotechnology. I have believed for years that nanotechnology will be a substantial and (literally) integral part of the future of every scientific field. However, due to my overarching concern with the environmental issues currently facing mankind, I recognize the importance of understanding the potential ecological impacts of any new technology. The Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology at CMU is therefore of great relevance to me as it represents the confluence (as well as the conflict) of two of my most prominent areas of interest, and if accepted I plan to apply for one of its Research Experiences for Undergraduates.

Carnegie Mellon University itself appeals to me in nearly every manner imaginable. My interest was piqued when I noticed Carnegie Mellon appearing with astonishing frequency in Science Daily's research news. It was the name Carnegie that initially caught my eye; I have always admired Andrew Carnegie as one of the only truly self-made men in history. A more in-depth investigation (which included a campus tour last spring) revealed CMU to be ideal. Not only are the academics and research opportunities consistently ranked among the top in the United States, but the class sizes are small, the facilities (most memorably the Gates-Hillman building) are state-of-the-art, and the campus is beautiful. Most importantly, I sincerely believe I would be happy at CMU. To be surrounded by the ambitious, wildly intelligent group of people that comprises CMU's student body in a city like Pittsburgh would be a more than welcome departure from the stifling influences of my "small-town" upbringing. At the same time, I would be living in a climate reminiscent of (but still more tolerable than) Minnesota's, continuing my practice of martial arts with the CMU Sport Taekwondo Club, and exploring my Scottish heritage. All things considered, Carnegie Mellon is my first choice.

EF_Kevin 8 / 13,324 129  
Jan 2, 2011   #2
You have a cool username!

You are doing a great job with this, but you got into the body of the essay too quickly without giving a full introduction.

it does fit on one page (font size 10).

Ha ha, well, I could fit any amount of text on a page if I reduced the font size enough! If they say a page, they mean about 300-350 words. So... I think it is cheating if you reduce the font size!! But then again, how important is the page limit? I guess it is important enough that you should try to get under 350 words, because if you write a lot more than you are supposed to they will fear that your failure to follow directions gives you an unfair advantage over other applicants...

The good news is that eliminating words always improves writing:
My decision to apply to the m Mechanical engineering program at the Carnegie Institute of Technology stems from the fact that engineering unites all of my major interests. (Now I think you should give 2 or 3 more sentences in the first paragraph to express the main idea of the essay, the inspirational idea that makes you want to write an essay. What is the theme? End the first paragraph with a thesis statement.

Paragraph 2:
My enthusiasm for science was evident at an ...

In the first and last para of this essay, you should express a theme that shows how meaningful it can be to combine science, mathematics, and art. They combine to form your way of looking at the world. Express that theme, and then go through the essay and eliminate unnecessary words and sentences... when you are focused on a theme, it is easy to find content that can be eliminated. Think of the experience of reading this essay... what feeling do you want it to convey?

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