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Advice for aspirant Mechanical Engineering undergrad?


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I am an international student from University of British Columbia in Canada, and I just got into Mechanical Engineering since our first year courses are general engineering. I was thinking about applying for Grad schools and was hoping if someone could give me advice on getting into top mechanical engineering programs.


Some of the schools I am interested in are:

  • Princeton
  • UC Berkeley
  • ETH Zürich
  • U of Tokyo
  • Technische Universität München
  • Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen

And I'll be needing fundings for grad school... Which makes my dreams just dreams even more T.T


I know it's quite a diverse list and the schools will probably change in a few years' time. But it'll be great if someone could tell me what the requirements to enter these schools are, for both master and PhD programs if applicable. By requirements, I mean everything including GPA/Internships/GRE/Personal Profile/Paper(high doubt I'll get published though)/Projects.


In addition, I'll highly appreciate it if you would recommend some other schools with great mechanical grad programs.


And you can just leave any other advice to me as well!


Thank you all so much!

Edited by JuicyThio
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  • 7 months later...

GPA: nearly 4 out of 4/ Internship: NASA or RIM or Caterpillar like that you can Imagine/ GRE: for princeton and UCB: Q=168+,V=160+,AWA=5.0+, for Germany: I think so they have there exam based on core Mechanical Engieering which is similar to GATE(Graduate Apptitude Test for Engg.)(Mechanical)(this test is conducted in India you can get previous test papers online also) but no GRE for ETH, Utokyo, and TUM, RWTH / should have multiple patents, some International papers like 15 or 20 i guess/ Projects : something around 10/12 whichever is your lucky number.

and thats it there you go with some 50% chances of luck :)^_^

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I can't tell if Ash.Kot.original is joking or not... but I'm going to be attending UC Berkeley next year for PhD program and I'll share with you my profile (which looks nothing like what was mentioned above):


GPA: 3.86/4.00

GRE: V:154 Q: 170 AWA: 4

Internships: Two industry internships that did some R&D

Research: One year of lab research but didn't have any papers published. But did result in a strong rec from the POI


Other things that I feel helped my application: Focus SOP on what I wanted to do, took graduate level classes as an undergrad and aced them to show that I can handle graduate courses.


...and that's about it.


As you can see, my profile isn't spectacular and I'm no super star. But what I had going for me was that I knew what I wanted to do and with some good stats, and strong recs, I was able to appeal to universities that I FIT in with their research. So I'd advise really trying to be a good fit at these universities.


I would also like to add that its great that you already want to go to grad school, but from the sound of it, you're still pretty early on in your undergrad, and a lot of things change between now and application time. If you asked me just a year and half ago if I would do a PhD program, I'd tell you heck no! but the end of last year, I did a 180 and decided this is what I really wanted. Even if you remain committed to going to grad school, your research interest will change/develop and you might find some of these universities don't fit that very well, and you may want to look into less prestigious universities because they have the labs that do the research you want.


Just my 2cents.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I finished my PhD in Mechanical from UIUC in 2010, so I think I can give you some advice that helped me out after going through the entire process. I'll echo that you sound like you are early in your undergrad, so don't fall into a trap of trying to decide something too soon. However, kudos for thinking about this already! Your early preparation will hopefully increase your chances of getting to do what you like.


My second piece of advice is to not start looking at what schools you want to go to first. If you want to do PhD research, start looking at future advisors/professors that you would like to be mentored by who are active in the fields that you are interested in researching. Your relationship with your advisor and what you work on day-to-day are much, much, much (is that too many much's?) more important than the name of the school. I applied to several of the schools that you mentioned but ended up at UIUC because it was one of only two schools in the US that I found was doing research in the areas that I was interested in pursuing as well.


Most schools have lists of faculty and their research interests listed (e.g. http://mechanical.illinois.edu/directory/faculty) often with links to a prof's home page. Although these rarely are kept up to date, you may be able to get some emails from grad students who are working with the professor. They are more likely to respond to your questions than a professor will be. (If a prof does reply to you, that is a really good sign too).

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