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University Selection for PhD.


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Hello everyone,

I'm currently applying for several PhD programs in Mechanical Engineering based in the US. I made a list containing all the universities that I planned to apply for but not quite sure if they match my background, so I really hope to get some advice on what universities should I aim for. Here is some information about me.

Research interest: Control, (especially on Autonomous vehicle), robotics


Undergraduate (Electrical Engineering)  (3.73/4) in China

Master (Electrical Engineering)  (3.96/4) Columbia University, N.Y.

TOEFL: R-30, L-28, S-22, W-25 (Overall-105)

GRE: V-156, Q-170, AWA-3 (15th percentile..one of my major concerns)

Award: None

Research: Summer Research in UW-Madison, about the control of autonomous vehicle, no publication, two tech reports, willing to offer a great letter

                   Research at Columbia, about rehabilitation robotics, no publication, an ordinary reference letter

                    course project at Columbia

Work Experience: None

Goal University:

UT-Austin, Umich, Ann Arbor, 

OSU, PSU, UC Davis, Virginia Tech, UW-Madison, Notre Dame, RPI

I do have an skype chat with prof. from UT Austin and RPI, they all have open positions and encourage me to apply. Some professors in other university replied my email and gave some positive response (at least in my opinion). But I am afraid the ranking of ME for universities I choose is a little bit high... (20-40)

If you have any insights, please feel free to share. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think the lack of depth in research and lack of strong letters are the only issues.  Perhaps targeting some more schools the next tier down from what you have listed?  If the lab you worked in at Columbia isn't leading to success perhaps changing to a different lab?  

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@lanlan My son is a PhD student at Michigan in Aerospace Engineering.  One of his housemates is a PhD student in Michigan's great Robotics program.  Here's a list of current graduate students.  https://robotics.umich.edu/people/students/  Many of the students are from China and list their email addresses.  It couldn't hurt to send out some emails to ask for advice.

Edited by Beaudreau
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