Cornell Admissions Essays

Why Engineering/CS


Tell us about an engineering idea you have, or about your interest in engineering. Describe how your ideas and interests may be realized by—and linked to—specific resources within the College of Engineering. Finally, explain what a Cornell Engineering education will enable you to accomplish. (Please limit your response to 650 words.)


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.


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How to cite this essay (MLA)

Zhou, Ran. "Why Engineering/CS" Study Notes, LLC., 21 May. 2015. Web. 23 Jun. 2024. <>.