From MRSD Student to Admissions Committee Member: A 10-Year Perspective

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My time at MRSD was a defining period of growth in my life – not only for the technical and business knowledge that I expected to acquire, but also because of the unexpected learnings assimilated from cross cultural interactions, working on varied teams, and meeting extremely intelligent people. When asked to serve on the MRSD Admissions Committee, I was honored to be trusted with the responsibility to help choose the next cohort that would get the chance to have a similar, potentially life-changing experience.

In the last decade since my graduation from the MRSD program, I have served on the MRSD Admissions Committee for 7 years, spanning my time in Pittsburgh, after moving to the Bay Area, and through the pandemic. In this time, I have worked in various sectors of the industry, including: a drone-based startup; an independent small team within a larger international company working on drones and gimbals; and a large MNC working on mobile home robots. I have had the freedom and privilege to drive both technical and business related decisions, contribute to cutting-edge robotics products that have a tangible impact, and enable larger adoption of these technologies.

Throughout my time in the robotics industry, I have seen the successes of various MRSD students who have gone on to become influential leaders in their fields at work, and it has been heart-warming to see many of them being able to realize the goals mentioned in their MRSD applications. My personal experience in the industry has also enabled me to better gauge how students with varied profiles may fare in their careers, to better select applicants who are well-suited to the MRSD program, and who would be the most benefited.

Over the years, we’ve seen applicants from different countries, backgrounds, and interests – but one common theme that runs through most successful applications is a clear focus on industrial-applications, usually with a strong affinity for entrepreneurship. While the technological focus of the applications has evolved through the years as robotics has become a more established field, with several subfields coming up, this theme has remained universal. The MRSD course is sought after due to its concentration on industrial applications as compared to many other majors which are more research-focused and this tends to attract applicants who are passionate about creating change in the world – either through building their own ventures or through supporting the efforts of companies doing cutting-edge work in various robotics sectors.

What started for me as a way of giving back to the MRSD program via my time on the admissions committee, has evolved into a process of learning and bettering myself by understanding various different perspectives – learning from the professors, some of the best in their fields, who have been teaching and evaluating students for decades, from people at the forefront of the robotics industry running their own companies, from other alumni in different work streams and from current students with big aspirations – understanding how each of them bring varied strengths to the table that help holistically evaluate all the applications received while keeping any individual unconscious biases in check, working together to ensure the most deserving students are given offers of admission. I hope to continue contributing to this effort through the years to come, to help make a difference in the lives of students, one application at a time!

– Anonymous MRSD Alum

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