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MS@Carnegie Mellon vs PhD in Georgia Tech


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Hi folks,

I have dual BS degrees in Electrical Engineering (specialized in Control Engineering) and Computer Engineering and am currently a master student in Information Technology program. Also, I have been a research assistant for more than 2 years in university laboratory researching on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Technology.

I have applied to several phd programs for fall 20009 and have been admitted to Gatech Aerospace Engineering, PhD program. I have also applied both MS and PhD in Robotics of Carnegie Mellon University and hopefully been admitted to MS in Robotics program. There is no funding information for both programs yet, and I try to find a research assistanship to cover my expenses. But one of my relative has committed to gift- loan for MS in Robotics program of CMU. I am really in a trouble to decide which program to go.

First of all, my final objective is to get a PhD degree preferably in a top institution in the field of Control Science (EECS or ECE program in one of MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, Gatech, UIUC or Caltech's Control and Dynamical System PhD program). Unfortunately, I got 98 scores from TOEFL IBT and therefore I could not even apply to MIT and Stanford :( and I already got rejection from Berkeley EECS- PhD, Gateh ECE-PhD. I do not hope to get good news from both UIUC and Caltech. I think that these two acceptances will remain my best choices. I have two options:

1) Get the loan and go to CMU for MS in Robotics program. Get a higher score in TOEFL IBT or waiver because of being a student in a US institution for two years. Study hard and get some research published, gather well references from well known professors and reapply those top schools with better qualifications 2 years later (double BS degrees, double MS degrees, but get behind back 2 years of your peers :( )

2) Try to find an assistantship in Gatech and go to Aerospace phd program. Take extra undergraduate classes in order to learn basics of Aerospace Engineering (flight mechanics, guidance and navigation). As far as I know , there are also well known faculties studying in Control Science (Eric Feron, Jeff Shamma, Magnus Egerstedt). Try to research under supervision of one of them and hope to study in those top schools for a postdoc.

I really do not know what to do ? giving up from my dreams and directly going to a phd program related with control but completely different my undergradute degrees or going for a second master degree and pursue my dreams again.

Probably, taking a second master degree in CMU will cost 100K $ (but i may find an assistanship from beginning of second semester) and spending two more years( I am currenty 24 years old). Does the Carnegie Mellon, Robotics worth for all and will it increase my chance to get those top schools in your opinions? I know that it is a top school in Computer Science but how about in Robotics?

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As far as I know, it's one of the top for Robotics, but I'm in humanities and not in engineering. My husband went there for Computer Science and I'm only going on what he knows. He has certainly done extremely well with his degree.

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