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"Functionality vs. Function" - Princeton Enginneering Essay

daniel44992 13 / 29  
Oct 17, 2011   #1
I'm using this same essay for the Yale and Princeton engineering essays. Any help would be great!

If you are interested in pursuing a B.S.E. (Bachelor of Science in Engineering) degree, 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.

It always appears as if there is some war, a constant struggle, between functionality and design. If something is to be truly functional, then it cannot be too aesthetically pleasing. But if something is designed to look good then it's not seen as truly useful. I have noticed this in recent years through different classes I have taken as well as through past experiences outside the classroom. I first noted this looking at the skyscrapers of American cities and any modern ones just looked so boring. They looked like the straight pieces in a game of Tetris, just stuck there. So many things, especially in the nineties were just made for economical purposes and the design was forgotten even all the way down to the ugly, tan phones and the plain, boxy cars. But when I looked into the past I saw the sweeping curves of Art Deco buildings and the sleek lines of a '69 Corvette, flashy diners and park beautification projects. I discovered a time when functionality met design but it would take first-hand experience to truly understand the struggle.

My first experience with actually building something (outside of Lego's) was in my tenth grade physics class. We had three major projects in there where I learned firsthand of the struggle between design and functionality. Our first project was the classic egg drop; build a container to protect the egg, under 4"x4"x4" and with no parachute. My teacher, Mrs. Monteith's, example she showed us was a wooden box. Guess what everyone but me made, a wooden box. Theirs of course all survived because they chose to be boring. I, on the other hand, used a plastic Cashew container packed full of different materials. I am a big dude and it was strong enough for me to stand on and I threw it off the roof and it survived but for some reason when I got to school it cracked like a bad liar under a police interrogation. I had strived to design differently and was met with something that didn't function well at all.

I set out to redeem myself on our next project which was to build a cannon. Once again Mrs. Monteith showed us an example and once again I set out to not copy it. This time I partnered with Michelle and Brian and we wanted to make a cannon with power. The details are boring but the cannon actually ended up not firing the ping pong ball. Eventually I figured out it was because the plug we were using to fire the ball was creating a vacuum in the cannon and trying to pull the ball in. So we drilled holes in the tube to the point where it looked like Swiss cheese, but after that it worked like a charm, and although not beautiful, it looked good in its simplicity.

Our final project was my masterpiece. We had to build a Popsicle stick bridge and this time I only partnered with Brian. We knew we did not want to just to make a bridge with a flat deck and minimal support; it had to be better than that. We modeled our design after the Amygen Helix Bridge in Seattle and I would like to think we created a good representation out of Popsicle sticks and wood glue. We captured the helix nearly perfectly yet I was able to push in it with my full force and it wouldn't even creak. I had finally created a functional yet beautiful structure. However when it came testing day, we had a problem. We had to lay weights on top of the bridge but the top of our bridge was essentially only a cover. So after all of the tedious work of assembling the helix, it has to be disassembled before it could even be tested. That is when I realized that for all the lofty ideals that come with design, you must look ahead for what it will actually be used for before adding extra features.

I've had my struggles in the past combining design and functionality but that is exactly what I want to solve as an engineer. Princeton's joint architecture and engineering program I think would prepare me perfectly to create truly remarkable structures. Over the past decades, America has stagnated as far as its structural design goes while places like Dubai have continued to innovate and create new and incredible buildings. I want to bring some innovation to America so that I can show we haven't lost our American ingenuity. And that means we cannot have more of the same. It is time to innovate for the future and that means going natural. I want to make cities more self-sustainable with more green areas, even within buildings. I want the city not to interrupt the landscape but to blend with it. And that means it not only has to be functional, but also created with good design in mind.
NeonGhost 5 / 20  
Oct 18, 2011   #2
I'm pretty sure this goes about the word limit, you should shorten some of the descriptions, otherwise it's really good
admission2012 - / 481 90  
Oct 18, 2011   #3

Your essay received a computer generated grade of 48/100(see photo) and an editor assigned grade of 55/100. This essay started off really strong. Towards the middle, you start to babble and readers gets completely lost. To keep things clear, keep your opening. Then talk about one really interesting experience you had with engineering. Then close with how the programs at Princeton can help you further explore and learn more about your chosen field. Remember, admissions staff want to see true passion. Especially at Princeton, where you will find the sharpest students, you really need to show that you belong there. We can help. admissions essay advice.

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