Hey all, this essay is for Princeton, as you could see. I wanted to post the prompt and ask if anyone could look it over and give me suggestions. I also need to get the word count from 700+ to under 500 so any suggestions for that will be greatly appreciated as well. Thank you for the advice, if you provide it!
Prompt: If you are interested in pursuing a B.S.E. (Bachelor of Science in Engineering) degree, please write a 300-500 word 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. (500)
I think that my interest in the engineering field lies in the fact that in its purest form, engineering poses and answers questions. My interest in engineering first stemmed from growing up in South Korea where I lived in high rise apartment complex where a good view of frequent fireworks from the park was available. While the rest of my family were captivated by the beauty of these projectiles, I was captivated by the science that allowed them to fly. Obsessed with making aerial projectiles, my friends and I constructed a makeshift rocket using coke and Mentos, and this became my first attempt to "engineer" something. This surely won't be my last as Princeton offers Freshman Seminars, where I can engage in interesting topics such as this with my fellow peers and professors in an intellectually cultivating environment.
Following this, I dabbled in little bits of engineering such as taking Robotics in 8th grade and learning basic mechanical engineering through Lego EV3 and 3D Printing modeling. My hobbies in sketching complex mechanical parts like the robots from Transformers and steampunk art intersected with my passion for assembling parts like Legos. For an art project, I made a simple moving version of a steampunk machinery I had drawn using wind up toy parts and the fact that I could make something move on its own with such basic materials made my vitality for engineering grow.
Funnily enough, my first experience of recognizing the merit of engineering didn't come from any of this. Challenging science courses I took in high school were enjoyable to me but the excessive focus on concepts was starting to make me a little unsure about pursuing my path in engineering as what had initially got me into it was the building aspect. The spark came in the missions trip to Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota that I did for all four summers of high school. Tasked with running a vocational bible school program, I noticed that the kids were getting bored and as a way to grab their attention, I presented them with every kid's hobby: making paper airplanes. I used my physics knowledge and couple youtube videos I had seen prior to make an airplane that handily outflew everyone else's. The excitement in their eyes when I was explaining the basics and the passion they showed over something considered child's play reinvigorated the passion of engineering in me. Princeton's application based engineering education and the availability of research through independent work junior and senior year means I can be one step closer to my goal of benefiting my community and the world.
As my interests in engineering grew, I stumbled upon an article about how the washing machine was picked as the most impactful invention since the industrial revolution, beating out the likes of the Internet, GPS system, the automobile, and others. Since engineering, at its roots, was the process of proposing a solution to preexisting problems, the innovation that single-handedly bettered women's lives across the world by reducing the time of laundry from a whole day job to under an hour being picked wasn't that surprising. A large part of engineering is recognizing problems in the world like this and the interdisciplinary curriculum Princeton offers me the chance to do this. Education in humanities will allow me to have a better understanding of the culture that I live in and how engineering can play a role in it.
I was given the opportunity to really see this in action when I interned at a materials engineering lab in the University of Illinois at Chicago over the summer. Helping out with multiple projects that addressed real-life problems such as microencapsulation technique for road salt to prevent damage to the environment and water harvesting technique to develop surfaces that can collect water from the air in places with scare access to water was an eye-opener as it helped me realized the kind of large-scale impact engineering could have in this world. Princeton, with its Engineers Without Borders program, can allow me to have this type of hands-on impact through engineering and projects like the portable water project by the Peru team would be an amazing extension of my internship.
Studying engineering at Princeton would assist my endeavors of impacting society and fulfill my self-efficacy of bettering people's lives.