Why Engineering College Essays

As my thoughts drifted by with snapshots of scenes of the most memorable parts of my summer, I realized more fully than ever why I love engineering:

June 21st, 2014

Standing in the dim auditorium at the University of Texas in Austin, I nervously gulped as I nodded at my First Bytes computer science camp teammate. A switch was flipped, a mouse was clicked, and a dub-step version of Demi Lovato's Neon Lights began to play as the multi-colored lights on the board I held started to dance and weave patterns to the beat. When the last note and light faded away, the audience's thundering applause resonated throughout the auditorium.

July 31st, 2014

"Yes!" I thought to myself, as I stared excitedly at the 'program completed!' text shown on the statistical analysis software. The graphs and data charts showing the various statistical relationships between different biomarkers and cognitive functions are strewn across the screen in victory. Exhilaration rushed through me as I looked at my months of combing through research paper and hours spent on Saturdays debugging the program come to fruition.

Of course, my exposure to engineering had started far earlier than that - in fact, even before I knew what the subject was. While still toddling around, I've watched curiously as my mother drew diagram after diagram of mechanical parts as a mechanical engineer. While still in elementary school, I was already an old friend with the uniquely clean and acidic smell of the laboratory and the churning of the machines due to my father's job as a biomedical engineer. My parents' science and math aura must have affected me, as I have always been more naturally inclined towards logical puzzles and sudokus than crossword puzzles. I still loved to read, but instead of liking gushy romantic dramas like most of the girls I knew at my age, I preferred analytical mysteries.

Having been exposed to engineering all my life, I had never fully realized its true beauty until personally experiencing the thrill of programming christmas lights and participating in interdisciplinary research. It is with this same undying passion for discovery and creation that I had crafted cardboard boats, programmed robots, and executed my first Gram-Schmidt. Those moments of self-fulfillment were pure happiness - yet, that intellectual thirst for discovery could not be satisfied. My mind still constantly wanders from one thought to another, seeking new answers to the problems I notice in our world. Because of the current advancements in animation and gaming, my interest in virtual reality stemmed. Because of my research in psychology and my readings, such as Columbine and The Mask of Insanity, my curiosity about psychopathy stemmed. From those two interests an idea bloomed: Why not make a therapeutic treatment for psychopaths in a virtual reality setting?

To satiate my appetite for discovery and to fulfill my idea in the ideal facilities, I look to Cornell. With its world-renowned undergraduate research program in the College of Engineering, I would be able to fulfill my dream under the guidance of Professor Kavita Bak, who is well-versed in using computer graphics to model complex virtual worlds, and Professor Harry G. Segal, who focuses on psychopathology and therapeutic processes. With its unique Computer Science with Three-Course specialization feature, I would be able to pursue my interests in computer science as well as psychology. With its Diversity Programs in Engineering, famously recognized by President Obama, and its almost 1:1 gender ratio in a typically skewed engineering world, I will be able to truly fit in among one of the most diverse yet technological crowd. Last but not least, with historical alumni such as Steven Sinofsky and Marc Levoy paving the path before me and some of the most innovative and brilliant peers and faculty surrounding me and inspiring me, I know I will be able to reach further than anywhere else at Cornell.


Anonymous Student. "Why Engineering/CS" StudyNotes.org. Study Notes, LLC., 21 May. 2015. Web. 13 Mar. 2018. <https://www.apstudynotes.org/cornell/why-engineering-cs/>.

Ivy Application Written Responses: The “Engineering Statement”

1. Why are you interested in studying engineering?

Engineering combines the theory and application of math and physics, the two technical areas in which I have the most ability and interest. Engineering, therefore, provides a forum for my science and math skills that could result in a development that could change the world in some practical way. To paraphrase Walt Whitman, the verse I might contribute could affect the outcome of the play.

Projects I’ve worked on in AP Physics and, most notably, the course Concepts of Modern Physics at the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences have drawn me to engineering. Seemingly simple challenges like designing a shock mitigation device to protect an egg dropped from 15 meters, a basswood bridge designed to bear heavy loads, or a mousetrap-powered vehicle have fascinated me and satisfied my innate desire to solve practical problems creatively.

2. Briefly describe any particular experiences you have had that are related to engineering or that led you to have an interest in one or another field of engineering.

The most significant event that has led me to engineering has been my involvement with the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences (PGSS), which I attended this past summer at Carnegie Mellon University. I had full-blown college courses in discrete mathematics, computer science, molecular biology, the philosophy of science, chemistry, physics, art and science, and a team project. Our team project–The Establishment and Analysis of Chaos in a Forced Duffing Oscillator–was in physics and examined the order present in seemingly chaotic patterns. I also performed special studies of mechanical and electrical-circuit resonance. For five, intensive weeks we studied, wrote, analyzed, reported, learned, and laughed. I loved it.

I have included with this Engineering Statement a copy of the PGSS Course Descriptions document with courses I took highlighted. (See Attachment 3.) Also attached is a copy of the team physics project mentioned above. The copy provided here has not yet been edited for publication in the Journal of the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences, in which it will appear in the near future. I have provided a copy of the Preface to the Class Journal by Dr. Peter Bergmyer, University Director of PGSS. He gives an overview of PGSS and team projects. (See Attachment 4.)

3. How do you think the program in engineering at HYPer might suit your particular interests?

You asked me elsewhere in this application what I expect to gain from my college experience. I said I wanted a first-class program that allowed me to indulge my passions for engineering sciences and literature. That’s exactly how I see HYPer Engineering suiting my interests. It’s the balance of the program I like. The humanities and social science requirements comprise almost 20 percent of the B.S.E. program. I truly want to pursue engineering in college; I wouldn’t be offended, though, if my School of Engineering associates thought of me as a poet.

Another factor has to be HYPer’s faculty and physical resources. My parents and I took an unofficial tour of the Engineering Quad on a sunny Saturday morning last August. The Quad buildings were empty and quiet, which gave me the chance to peer unnoticed through lab door windows and into lecture rooms and faculty offices. The overwhelming impression was that of being somewhere important, where things of consequence happen. Call it a spirit of greatness. Whatever it is, it kept prompting me during our long drive home. My needs would be met here.

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