PhD in Mechanical/Aerospace - Decisions, Decisions - The GradCafe Forums
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PhD in Mechanical/Aerospace


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Hi all,

I apologize ahead of time for the wall of text. Appreciate anyone willing to read through. 

I'm graduating with my Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from a small school and applied to PhD-track programs at various schools. As it stands I have offers from Penn State (Aerospace), CU Boulder (Mechanical), and Lehigh University (Mechanical). I'm having a tough time making a decision between the three, as all have made a pretty good case for accepting. 

Penn State - great campus, familiar with the area and people (might have friends in the area), well-known Aerospace program, awarded their University Graduate Fellowship, and potential research is really enticing. Drawbacks are the lab space is pretty small, most graduates take on average 7 years to complete (according to potential advisor). 

CU Boulder - FANTASTIC campus (people are cool, great surrounding area), although it's Mechanical my potential advisor is cross-listed with Aero so I'd have access to top-notch Aerospace resources. Drawbacks are mainly that research doesn't seem to be particularly a great fit to my interests, and it's a bit far from home (Pennsylvania). I think it's worth emphasizing their campus was what really drew me in. 

Lehigh - research is very relevant to my interests (probably a bit more so than Penn State), awarded their University Fellowship (typically only awarded to 1 student in the department each year according to meeting with department head), professor is extremely invested in getting me on board, plans to grow their robotics facilities and make a name for themselves which is something I could be apart of. Drawbacks: I'm not too fond of the campus, it's super close to home (not much of a jump out of my comfort zone in the slightest), less well-known institution than the others previously mentioned, the grad students I met were very dry, boring, awkward, and otherwise seemed unhappy (no offense, just my observation especially compared to students I met elsewhere). Despite its relevance to my research I'm having trouble seeing myself there for 5+ years. 

Any thoughts on what might help make the decision easier? I've requested papers from all three, Boulder is the only one who hasn't responded yet. It's also worth mentioning I am still waiting to hear back from UPenn, which was my original top choice. Although as time goes on I am less confident in their decision. 

Thanks ahead of time! 

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