Statement of Purpose
Please describe your aptitude and motivation for graduate study in your area of specialization, including your preparation for this field of study, your academic plans or research interests in your chosen area of study, and your future career goals.Please be specific about why UC Berkeley would be a good intellectual fit for you.
My understanding of undergraduate learning was to lay a strong foundation of knowledge and experimental skills to which advanced teachings and understandings could be built, whether that be in graduate study or professional experience.From that basic understanding, I drove myself to perform above that of my piers academically and pursued gaining scientific research experience.One of the best ways, I found, to truly understand material was to teach it.Even though I read textbooks thoroughly, worked problems until I fully understood every aspect of them, and supplemented my classroom learning through professor office discussions, online journal articles, and library sources, I didn't consider I understood a topic adequately until I could teach someone the theories and ideas behind it adequately and/or learn from others about the topic.
By approaching learning in this fashion, I was able to not only become knowledgeable in core chemical engineering courses such as Principles of Chemical Engineering, Physical Chemistry, Transport Phenomena, Chemical Reaction Engineering, and Mass Transfer Operations but courses not all chemical engineers have to take but I saw prospect in pursuing to strengthen my base like Polymers, Material Science, Engineering Mechanics, and Japanese.Not only did I engage in Japanese classes pursuing a second degree, I also became heavily involved in Engineering Ambassadors, a small group of about 30 students invited from throughout the college of engineering.My dedicated academic effort paid off by graduating with highest honors and being awarded the prestigious "Award for Excellence" my senior year.That award is given to less than 1% of the graduating student body and can only be received through nomination by faculty and piers.
For me to be successful in furthering my academic career, I saw it important to gain teaching experience alongside the technical skills needed to perform research.For research to advance and improved, the ideas discovered must be communicated successfully or else it makes it difficult to build on work previously done.My passion for the material science in the renewable energy field, specifically photovoltaics and solid oxide fuel cells, was spurred from working at MSU's High Temperature Corrosion and Corrosion Protection Lab, under the guidance of Prof.Max Deibert and Prof.Paul Gannon and the Functional Material Research Lab (FMR Lab), under the guidance of Prof.Stephen Sofie.As part of those labs, both sponsored by the US Dept.of Energy, our research focused on the deposition and analysis of metallic oxide coatings to be used in high temperature applications through the development of coatings for stainless steel interconnects in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs).In addition, the FMRL Lab conducted various doping and synthesizing of ceramic anode and cathode structures through freeze tape casting techniques for SOFC use.
My particular research was with two projects.One, to investigate Lanthanum Strontium Manganate (LSM) as a novel coating on stainless steel substrates inhibiting oxidative degradation of the substrate and two, characterize the oxidation of T430 stainless steel in an atmosphere resembling that of a SOFC, air and hydrogen.The first project examined the effect of coating composition, surface treatment of substrate prior to application, sintering temperature, sintering atmosphere, and pressure applied during sintering.After each coating application, the steel was placed in an oven for various time scales for testing of the coating as an oxygen barrier.
The latter, project placed steel discs in a custom made apparatus allowing air to flow on one side of the steel and hydrogen on the other while in a high temperature oven.That experiment resulted in a paper and publication in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 2008.Separately, in the FMR Lab, I began a project investigating the effect of doping on the luminescent properties of photolumincesnt ceramics.For all the projects, I had to formulate experimental matrices and procedures, setup laboratory equipment, perform the experiment, and analyze the results.Various techniques were used which can be found in my submitted CV in detail.
My future plans for a lifelong career as an academic scientist and teacher are deeply rooted.I am determined to reach those goals by developing myself into a well-trained chemical engineer; however I am very aware that it will not be without immense amounts of work and effort.That reason stands beneath my present application for a Ph.D.program from the Dept.of Chemical Engineering of UC Berkeley.The most important reason for choosing Berkeley is that there are multiple groups and centers/institutions collaboratively performing research investigating nanotechnology and its use in renewable energy, specifically solar energy.Secondly, the design of Berkeley's curriculum forcing students to not only focus on core curriculum but also work within disciplines outside of chemical engineering to develop a broad depth of knowledge, make me believe that I will receive a very powerful education.
I am convinced that I am a prepared candidate for your program.In addition to my undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering, the laboratory research experience in two separate labs, teaching experience, professional article publication, as well as professional experience may give me important preparatory experience over other applicants.My teaching experience ranging from collegiate TA positions in beginning and intermediate Japanese courses to a full time teaching position in Japan, could enable me to contribute to your program through a teaching assistantship.My ability to perform independent research is shown in working multiple projects as an undergraduate as well as the results of one of those projects becoming published.With my previous research experience, I also have the ability to perform as a research assistant.However, the most important aspect of an applicant to consider is commitment and dedication.My personal dedication is shown by the fact that I plan on removing myself from a well paid and stable position as an engineer in the renewable energy field to give full time concentration toward my academic work.Many coworkers consider me crazy to do such, however I see myself being much more passionate and influential for industry as well as in people's lives through the path of teaching and performing academic research.Combining my strong academic foundation, previous research and teaching experiences, professional engineering experience, and the importance of my research interests in the world, I have no doubt I will become successful in your program.