Free Sample Personal Statement in Engineering
Program: Electrical Engineering
As early as a senior middle school student, I held in great adoration of Chengning Yang and Tsung-dao Lee, two most prominent Chinese-born physicists to have won Nobel Prizes. Thenceforward, I have cherished the constant aspiration of becoming a renowned physicist myself the way these two Nobel laureates did. Even one decade later, I can still recall the first experiment I did in the physics course. When a transmitter in one corner of the lab was connected with electricity, a little bulb connected to a reception antenna in another corner lit up. Though by no means dazzling in itself, this light with its stunning magic ushered me as if into a wonderland, a world replete with intriguing mysteries that only belong to the realm of physics. I believed that I belonged to this special world. That marked the turning point in my life and with it I commenced my quests for answers capable of unraveling those mysteries.
With an unusually solid foundation in physics laid during senior middle school (I received straight A’s in virtually every physics exam), I entered the Physics Department of Dalian Marine University. By the time I graduated in four years, which could only be described as transitory, I found that I had become emotionally attached to this discipline. Realizing that undergraduate studies had only exposed me to the relatively fundamental knowledge of this subject, I embarked on a Master’s program, through very competitive entrance examinations, in fiber-optical communication at the College of Telecommunication Engineering, the University of Beijing Posts and Telecommunications (UBPT).
The moment I came into contact with this brand-new field represented by telecommunications(China tends to lag behind western countries in scientific and technological develop in any given field by many years or even decades), I was filled with excitement over the wonderful prospect that this industry could enjoy. I yearned to be satiated with new concepts, new knowledge, and new expertise and I devoted myself to my program with indefatigable efforts. To my regret, after completing our share of research responsibilities in the 863 Project under the direction of my supervisor, we had no further opportunities to participate in any meaningful projects. I had no alternative but to duplicate the Nonlinear Optical Loop Mirror and its Applications in OTDM System which had already been completed by scientists abroad and to verify their research findings by means of computer simulations. It was precisely those backward research conditions and the lack of challenging projects that prompted me to generate the idea of seeking further studies abroad. I believed that the status quo would impose serious restrictions on the development of my intellectual capacities and on the exploitation of my academic potential.
But for two years before I could bring my overseas studies into a reality, I worked at the leading enterprise in the country’s telecommunications industry—China Telecom Beijing Branch Company. As broadband networks engineer and as technical support engineer, I was responsible for the design and operation of four major projects—Construction of Broadband Integrate Services Experimental Network, Experiment and Construction of Broadband DSL Network in Beijing, Test of Timing Clock of Beijing SDH Networks and Equipment Selection for Beijing CDMA Wireless Network. My distinguished work performance resulted in my being sent to Marconi Company’s American headquarters to receive professional trainings in ATM technology. Nevertheless, I still felt that in a company environment work was routinized and technology lacked innovativeness, falling far short of my passions and ambitions. The work was meaningful only to the extent of serving as a means of livelihood. Refusing to be mired in a mediocre condition, I decided that the time had come for me to pursue research work that I had always loved.
Relying on my solid foundation in physics, my well-trained experimental skills and hands-on abilities that I developed over the heretofore studies and work, I succeeded in entering the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). In the superior laboratory conditions, for the first time in my life I had a proud feeling of being involved in real scientific research. When I see how my inspirations turn into reality in the laboratory, once again for the first time in my life I feel that I am creating a kind of wealth far more precious and valuable than money –knowledge. I realized that I had made an absolutely correct decision to come to the United States. At the Center of Nanostructure Materials and Quantum Device Fabrication and Electro Optical Research Center, I have done two years coursework and one year and half lab research. They have significantly enhanced my ability to solve research problems independently. Since last year, I have conducted extensive experiments in the field of nanotechnology and Semiconductor and optoelectronic elements. Although the approaches and solutions I generate during those experiments frequently differ from those of my supervisor’s in many important aspects, I have merited positive comments from him. I am fully confident that by the end of this year my research efforts would come into full fruition.
Nevertheless, I still feel discontented. In retrospect, I developed a commitment to scientific research very early and have persevered under the spirit of this commitment. After my arrival in the United States, I realized that there is tremendous research potential in me to be tapped. All I need to do is to find an appropriate academic environment. Even UTA disappoints me in that I have been kept waiting for nearly four year before I could embark on a major research project that promises important research findings. I have come to the conclusion that whether in China or in the United States it is simply a waste of time passively waiting for research projects. Consequently, the best course of action for me to take is to pursue seek a Ph.D. program at one of the top American universities.
The University of # # # comes on top of my priorities because it is a top ranking university in the United States itself and in the entire world. In the field of Electrical Engineering, in particular, it enjoys an unparalleled position. It offers many research-intense programs and the research environment is impeccable. I am deeply aware that for a person who seeks excellence and who wishes to achieve some innovative research results in Electrical Engineering, it is imperative that he or she plunge into an environment which is as challenging and competitive as it is stimulating, promising the realization of one’s ambitions. If admitted, I plan to take advantage of the research resources to their fullest extent and within 4 to 5 years achieve major breakthroughs in research based on what I have so far accomplished. I expect that this may lay a solid foundation for me to undertake lifelong research at some reputed research institutes of American universities or world-class companies like Intel and IBM.
The conventional technology based in communication, control, date processing, signal processing, medical instrumentation and in mainstream computers is in a transition from electronics to optoelectronics and optically enabled technologies. Future generations of integrated circuits, the foundation of current high technology infrastructure, are expected to incorporate significant optical functionality. I hope that my prospective studies at your prestigious universities can solidify my knowledge and bring into full play my latent intellectual capacities. I have experienced too many disappointments and frustrations and what I look for is some truly creative and innovative research work that can lead to important breakthroughs, which can permit me to join the rank of elitist scientists exemplified by Prof. Cheng ning Yang and Prof. Tsung-dao Lee whom I idolize.
Kathryn Abell of Edukonexion shares some tips ahead of her talk at the British Education Fair in Madrid taking place on 19-20 October 2015.
When applying to a UK university, the discovery that school grades alone are not enough to gain entry onto the programme of your choice can come as an unwelcome surprise. This is especially true for international students, many of whom see the words 'personal statement' for the first time when starting their university application.
But far from being a barrier, the personal statement is, in fact, one of the stepping stones to achieving your goal of studying at a UK university.
A personal statement can help you stand out
If you have selected your study programme well – that is to say, you have chosen something that you are truly excited about that matches your academic profile – then the personal statement is simply a way to communicate to admissions tutors why you are interested in the programme and what you can bring to it. And given the fact that many universities receive multiple applications for each available place, and that most do not offer an interview, your written statement is often the only way you can express your personality and say 'choose me!'.
The 'personal' in 'personal statement' suggests that you should be allowed to express yourself however you want, right? Well, to a certain extent that is true: admissions tutors want to get a picture of you, not your parents, your teachers or your best friend, so it has to be your work. However, the purpose of the statement is to persuade academic staff that they should offer you one of their highly sought-after university places; although there is no strict template for this, there are specific things you should include and certain things you should most certainly leave out.
The importance of the opening paragraph
The online Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) undergraduate application form allows a total of 4,000 characters (around 700 words), meaning that you need to craft the statement carefully. The most important part is unquestionably the opening paragraph, as it acts as an invitation to continue reading. If you are not able to catch the attention of the admissions tutor, who has hundreds of statements to assess, then it is highly unlikely they will read through to the end.
The best advice here is to avoid much-used opening lines and clichés such as 'I have wanted to be an engineer since I was a child'. This kind of thing is not the invitation readers are looking for. Instead, try using an anecdote, experience or inspirational moment: 'Although tinkering with engines had always been a childhood hobby, it was the vision of the fastest car on earth, the Bloodhound, at an exhibition in London, that roused my desire to learn everything I could about automotive engineering'. Really? Tell me more!
Of course, your opening paragraph could start in a variety of ways, but the fundamental purpose is to grab the reader’s interest.
Provide evidence of your commitment and skills
Following on from that, you have to provide evidence of your passion and commitment to your chosen programme, and highlight the specific and transferable skills you possess to study it successfully. You can do this by following the ABC rule.
Action: Include examples of what you have done, experienced or even read that have helped you in your choice of degree and boosted your knowledge of the subject area.
Benefit: By doing these things, explain what you learned or gained; in the case of a book or article, put forward an opinion.
Course: The most successful applicants ensure that the information they include is relevant to their course in order to highlight their suitability. Flower-arranging may allow you to realise your creative potential, but will it help you study astrophysics?
It is perfectly acceptable to base this ABC rule on school-based activities, as not all students have opportunities outside the classroom. However, if you can link extra-curricular pursuits to your desired programme of study, you are further highlighting your commitment. As a general rule of thumb, the information you include here should be around 80 per cent academic and 20 per cent non-academic. So, for example, as a member of the school science club – a non-curricular, academic activity – you may have developed the ability to analyse data and tackle problems logically. Taking part in a work placement falls into the same category and could have helped you develop your communication, time-management and computer skills. You get the idea.
Non-academic accomplishments may involve music, sport, travel or clubs and can lead to a variety of competencies such as team-working, leadership, language or presentation skills. A word of warning here: it is vital that you sell yourself, but arrogance or lies will result in your personal statement landing in the 'rejected' pile. Keep it honest and down-to-earth.
Provide a memorable conclusion
Once you have emphasised your keen interest and relevant qualities, you should round off the statement with a conclusion that will be remembered. There is little point putting all your effort to generate interest in the opening paragraph only for your statement to gradually fade away at the end. A good conclusion will create lasting impact and may express how studying your chosen course will allow you to pursue a particular career or achieve any other plans. It can also underline your motivation and determination.
Use a formal tone, stay relevant and be positive
As you have to pack all this information into a relatively short statement, it is essential to avoid the superfluous or, as I like to call it, the 'fluff'. If a sentence sounds pretty but doesn’t give the reader information, remove it. In addition, the tone should be formal and you should not use contractions, slang or jokes; remember, the statement will be read by academics – often leaders in their field.
Referring to books is fine but don’t resort to using famous quotes as they are overused and do not reflect your own ideas. Also, while it's good to avoid repetition, don't overdo it with the thesaurus.
Negativity has no place in a personal statement, so if you need to mention a difficult situation you have overcome, ensure you present it as a learning experience rather than giving the reader an opportunity to notice any shortcomings. Also, bear in mind that your personal statement will probably go to several universities as part of a single application, so specifically naming one university is not going to win you any favours with the others.
Get some help but never copy someone else's work
Checking grammar, spelling and flow is essential and it is perfectly OK to ask someone to do this for you. A fresh pair of eyes and a different perspective always help, and, as long as the third party does not write the content for you, their input could be of vital importance. And while you may get away with not sticking to all of the above advice, there is one thing that you absolutely must not do: copy someone else’s work. Most applications are made through UCAS, which uses sophisticated software to detect plagiarism. If you are found to have copied content from the internet, or a previous statement, your application will be cancelled immediately. Remember, it is a personal statement.
Get your ideas down in a mind-map first
Finally, I will leave you with my top tip. If you understand all the theory behind the personal statement and have an abundance of ideas floating in your head, but are staring blankly at your computer screen, take a pen and paper and make a simple mind map. Jot down all your experiences, activities, skills, attributes and perhaps even include books you have read or even current items that interest you in the news. Then look for how these link to your course and highlight the most significant elements using arrows, colours and even doodles. Capturing thoughts on paper and making logical deductions from an image can give structure to your ideas.
Register for our British Education Fair in Madrid, taking place on 19-20 October 2015, for a chance to talk directly to staff from 40 UK universities, vocational colleges and English language schools.
Get more advice from our Education UK site on your UCAS application and writing your statement.
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