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Need serious guidance. (MS in VLSI, low acads, good co-curriculars)


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Hello guys.
I am aiming for Fall 2016/17. I'm here because I need some SERIOUS guidance.
I am sorry for this (very) long post, but I'd appreciate any help.
I intend to do my MS in Comp Arch (mostly Memories)

My Profile:

I am from Mumbai University. Currently in Sem VI.
CGPA: 6.65 (with 3 backs in Analog Electronics, Circuit Theory and Integrated Circuits) 
GRE: 320 (q=170)
TOEFL: Not yet given

I was the Creative Head of my college. (1st ever second year student to get the post) So, in that pressure to live upto it, I made horrible life decisions. (Reason for the backs)

In 5th Sem, I did a course in Front End VLSI under a Prof. who did his MS in VLSI from USC.

PROJECTS (till date):

Major: Designed a 32 bit Reconfigurable 5 stage Pipelined Processor.
Minor: Designs of various 32 bit Fast Adders, Programmable Timers, ALUs, a controller for Vending Machine using Mealy Model.

I got selected as the TA for that course. But the Prof had a heart condition recently, and so he cancelled the upcoming module.

As a part of the University Curriculum, I did various mini projects. (DTMF based motor control, Water level detector, etc.) I made a Mask Layout of a digital FIR filter using Wallace Tree Multipliers in Microwind in the last semester.


After my Second Year I did a Summer Training with Hewlett Packard Edu Services. (Embedded, made a GreenHouse Controller)
This Semester, I got a 2 month Internship under a Prof who did his PhD in VLSI from IITK.
The Project I will be working on is, Design of different digital circuits using Quantum-dot Cellular Automata. (An alternative to the current CMOS technology). I'll write a paper or 2 on that.

My final year project will be research based. Mostly an extension of my internship project.

My ambi list includes: CMU, GaTech, USC, UMCP, UWM and UMNTC.
(Please suggest Mod/Safe Unis too.)

So, my question is; what should I do after my BE IF I want to get selected in one of my ambi universities?

1. Apply with this profile for Fall 2016
(Other options will need a LOT of convincing to my Mom)
2. I could drop an year, do a major project or two under an experienced faculty. And then apply in 2017.
3. I could start preparing for CCAT. It's the entrance exam for C-DAC (India) PG-Diploma in VLSI and then apply in 2017.
4. Suggest any other option to remedy my CGPA so that I can apply for Fall 2016.

Thanks a lot!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Peruse the universities' websites and see if they have faculty members with research interests that match with yours. If they do, go through the admission requirements and average admitted scores (that's a good enough GRE score btw) and see how they compare with yours. Apart from your scores, you have projects and internships to back you up. You may want to try and contact a POI at the universities you wish to attend and see how they respond. I'm not sure how the  Indian grading system works, but you can address the reason for a low GPA on your SOP. Also note a lot of institutions weigh your performance in the last two years of your undergrad more than the first two, so that usually helps if your earlier semesters were a bit bad.


About applying now or later, it's actually up to you. If you plan on raising your GPA in your final year, it might be a better idea to apply next year instead. A lot of universities have a 3.0 threshold, so a "safe zone" is going to vary depending your your university. (option 2?)


Another option is to apply to a lower ranked uni (that has research in your area of VLSI), and then apply for a higher ranked uni for PhD. That way you'd have an MS to make up for a bad undergrad (I guess that's what your no. 3 is?)

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