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Why Did I Chose Engineering?

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In the summer of my first year at university, I suffered from a neck injury, which prevented me from studying and pulled me out of daily life for nearly four months. It was really a hard time, since I could not do anything except for practicing yoga meditation to assuage headaches. However, thanks to this time I realized the importance of working because of my strong natural demand for it. During these months, I began to understand myself clearly. I was aware that I want to dedicate myself to a research career to invent new things for people’s need. Since then firm determination on being an expert in Electrical Engineering – my favorite field since the childhood, has been engraved on my mind.

When I graduated from Mathematical School for Gifted Students – Hanoi National University, my first university was Hanoi University of Science and Technology – one of the best technical universities in Vietnam. After the official admission, I got the highest score in a very selective entrance exam among top freshmen to enroll Department for Training Talents, where a very competitive atmosphere with harder training was provided. In the first semester, I achieved an excellent academic performance, and then I had some choices for study abroad. South Russian State Technical University was my choice because I thought that Russia was a country with advanced technologies in my field of study – Automatics.

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After my recovery from the neck injury, I started to work more intensively to keep up with classes and perfect myself to realize my objective. Participating in a wide range of activities such as Olympiads, fabricating two printed circuit boards with graduate students, I learnt valuable knowledge beyond what one can learn in classrooms and different practical skills for example solder, using the software program Diptrace, etc. My interest was totally captured by the laboratory work. Sometimes not having breakfast I worked in labs until a tremble of hunger, and then I left for dinner. In my third year, I was recommended to work under Dr. Nickolay S. Savelov’s supervision on stiff systems of ordinary differential equations (ODE) using a new approach – a combination of explicit classical methods and state vector correction. The research was characterized by frequently using the software program Matlab to compare our results. Although the results for problems with vibration were not as good as expected, I kept on adding modifications to the algorithms nearly a year. Then I independently proved that the correction of state vector could be implemented many times, which led to better results. In many cases, our results had higher accuracy than specific methods provided in Matlab for stiff ODE systems. From this work, I not only gained insight into many concepts of mathematical simulation but also learnt a meaningful lesson that determination and perseverance are crucial factors in research success.

In March 2011st, an important change came to me. I was employed as the first foreign research assistant in a battery project in the company Mechatronika, which specializes in power electronics, fuel cells, battery management systems (BMS), and inductor motors. Among different research trends recommended, I chose BMS because batteries play an important role in vehicles and grid. Working at the company gives me an opportunity to know characteristics of different batteries like lead battery, lithium ion battery, zebra battery, etc. I participated in building an electrochemical model of electrolyte concentration using real-world experiments with the method of mathematical statistics. Currently, I am designing for my thesis a based on PIC18Fxxx sensor device to monitor battery condition and to calculate state of charge using a Kalman filter. Since the BMS is made for flooded lead batteries in XXX, its working environment is featured with electromagnetic perturbation, high humility, etc. These make my current task more difficult but more interesting.

While working in the company, I had chances to be familiar with censors for many purposes for example electrolyte concentration measurement, electrolyte level control, etc. From all of them, I was strongly impressed by optical sensors which have several advantages such as immunity to electromagnetic inference, ability to work in gas and viscous liquid media, etc allowing them to have a wide range of applications. Therefore, I want to study further about these universal sensors. Thanks to reading scholars’ books, attending technical seminars, writing papers, making presentations in conferences and accessing up-to-date technologies in the company, my ability to independently conduct research for practical purposes has been formed. I strongly believe that I can realize my objective with the help from your department – a top institution in US.

I consider Stony Brook University as my first choice of my graduate study because of opportunities to participate in commercial projects on optical sensors. The ECE department is well-known for strong efforts in semiconductor laser and photo detectors. If admitted, I wish to focus my study on fiber optic sensors using intensity-based or life-time based sensing methods. To be specific, I plan to study mechanisms of calibration the sensors to help them work normally in harsh environments without often maintenance, i.e. when its sensing surface could be degraded or covered partially by dust. Besides, I would like to conduct research on censor networks for industrial applications. Thus, Center for Advance Technology in Sensor Systems and Diagnostic Tools would be my best choice. In addition, sensing microsystems for medical application and radiation detection at Integrated Microsystems Lab strongly attract me. I am confident that I can adapt the research groups quickly because of my solid background and research experience. I am open to working under other professors’ supervision involving all aspects of semiconductors devices, quantum electronics and very large scale integration design.

With my research experience and determination, I am well prepared for challenges of the PhD program at your department. I am looking forward to being a member of your working community. My personal experience and characters certainly guarantee that I am being a cooperative member in any research group at your school. Above all, I strongly believe I will be able to contribute my intelligence to the variety and competitiveness of your school. Please give me the chance to realize my goal of life.

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