Why School (Cornell Engineering) + Analysis

Sample Essay #1 

Cornell (Theme: Personal Growth)

Intended Major: Engineering 

Essay Prompt: Cornell Engineering celebrates innovative problem-solving that helps people, communities…the world. Consider your ideas and aspirations and describe how a Cornell Engineering education would allow you to leverage technological problem-solving to improve the world we live in. (650 words)

Student Response

When I was five, I was inseparable from my remote-control cars. Not only did I enjoy watching my cars sprint like flashes of lightning, but I found joy deconstructing and remodeling my cars to “enhance” their performance, which oftentimes ended in them breaking. My dad, a seasoned amateur craftsman, would save the day: wielding his electric welding to add a few magical touches on the mysterious built-in chips, he would have the cars running like new in no time. I was enchanted by it all: the chips, the welding, the antenna, and the circuit board.

Entering junior high, I was presented with an opportunity to handle the electrical welding. In a radio-mechanics competition, I had to assemble an antenna. After a series of careful taps on the circuit board and burning my fingers, my first product assembled by electrical welding functioned perfectly. The amazing taste of the actual engineering process prompted me to further study physics in high school to determine the laws behind those magical chips. Immersing myself in the countless hypotheses about the possible applications of those laws into real-life machines, I was taken by the self-driving automobiles. A sci-fi fan, I was thrilled that a self-driving automobile can one day be actualized. This specific research combines my childhood interest with robotic engineering, computer science, and AI – all fields awaiting my exploration. 

Cornell’s College of Engineering is the perfect place to pursue my academic interests. The diverse and comprehensive curriculum can not only further my understanding of physical laws, building a solid foundation for me to be a capable engineer, but also guide me to academic scopes that I have not yet explored. In the Electrical and Computer Department, I am eager to join the computer architecture research. Diving into courses like Advanced Microcontroller Design, I will learn the structure of any electronic chips that facilitate the functioning of the remote-control cars, solving my childhood mystery, and possibly even make groundbreaking efforts in creating more sophisticated chips that will make self-driving automobiles possible. 

In the Information Age, high-tech gadgets such as smartphones, tablets, and electronic reading devices are widely used. Often, I am bothered by the excessive heat generated from the overloading operation of the built-in electronic chips. Under the guidance of Professor Albonesi and by working with the Cornell Highly Integrated Physical Systems, I will immerse myself in a more diverse ground of physical theories, seeking ways to produce energy-efficient chips to solve problems that modern-day people face on a daily basis. Furthermore, I will have a chance to apply theoretical knowledge into actual practices through the Cornell NanoScale Science & Technology Facility. The JBX-9300FS machine could not be more alluring to an aspiring engineer! In the Kavli Institute, I will have the chance to follow cutting-edge research on nanotechnology, which would prepare me for future exploration into micro-electronic devices. For instance, I could contribute to developing a more accurate and sensitive sensor, which is critical for the development of driverless cars as they serve as eyes and ears to detect the cars’ surroundings. 

In addition, students can explore fields in other departments, establishing a broader range of knowledge, which is significant for engineering students. As Professor José Martínez remarked, “We have to be willing to put the time and the effort to look to other disciplines, to try to see our problem from their perspective, and to produce a solution that is workable.” 

What’s more, I will have better chances to apply the knowledge I learned into practical and commercial staff with the help of the targeted curriculum provided by the Upstate New York (UNY) I-Corps Node with the intention to prepare participants to innovate and create beyond the academic sphere.

Cornell truly is the place where any person can find instruction in any study. And at the College of Engineering, I would utilize all the invaluable resources to forge myself into a capable engineer.

Essay Analysis

Viktor’s essay flows logically, in a chronological manner. He starts off with an anecdote of his childhood days playing with remote-control cars. An anecdote is a great hook for any essay, as it makes the reader feel closer to the writer by sharing personal life experience. The tone of this essay—as seen through the imagery and diction—shows how Viktor views anything related to construction as almost magical, and he is “enchanted” by the materials involved in creating remote-control cars. It is also cute and humble that he admits his flaws and that he idolized his father, the “hero” who would seemingly magically reassemble what Viktor had destroyed.

In the next paragraph, Viktor talks about how his opportunities with mechanics grew in junior high school. He gives a specific example of welding an antenna, again admitting that he burned his fingers. Inserting some humor or being brave enough to admit your faults in an essay is much more endearing than simply coming off as a Mr. or Miss Perfect. The Admissions Officers are aware that all humans are flawed, so there is no use in pretending you aren’t. In the second half of this paragraph, Victor describes his further exploration of physics in high school, and his detailed concluding sentence on his interests allows for a smooth transition to the topic sentence of Paragraph 3, introducing Cornell Engineering. 

In Paragraph 3, Viktor is sure to mention why he wants to study at Cornell in concrete terms. He doesn’t only say that there is a “comprehensive curriculum,” which would be far too vague, but he mentions specific subjects and courses that the curriculum encompasses. His course example is linked to his childhood example of playing with remote-control cars, which brings the story full circle. In Paragraph 4, he mentions a specific professor whom he wishes to work under, and he gives specifics on how he will apply theory to practice using the state-of-the-art facilities at Cornell. 

In the remaining paragraphs, Viktor shows that he really perused the Cornell website: quoting a professor and mentioning more Cornell-specific programs that would abet his studies, and in his conclusion, alluding to the university’s motto.  

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