Building Spaceships (Aeronautics and Astronautics)

I still remember the first space vehicle I designed.  In my sixth grade year at [redacted] Elementary School, my teacher, Mrs. [redacted], asked our class to sketch a picture of what the space shuttle would look like if we had designed it.  I drew mine to have trays of ice underneath the rocket engines because I wanted to make sure they didn’t overheat.  Since then I have decided to dedicate my life to spacecraft design.  I hope to pursue a PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics at [redacted] University so that I can make this dream a reality.

In graduate school I would like to be involved in research on space propulsion. Professor [redacted]’s research on measuring the electron density of steady-state plasmas is of special interest to me and I would hope to work with her as a graduate student at Purdue.  The experience I continue to gain with my Fulbright project of studying Laser-Induced Fluorescence of Xenon plasmas to determine the nuclear cross sections of certain transitions will be very useful for my future research.  My major in Applied Physics will also provide a strong basis for this research, and for more advanced study of space propulsion.  The Applied Physics major at [redacted] College was designed to prepare students for careers or further study in engineering or related fields.  I have taken many physics courses including Modern Physics, Thermal Physics, Circuits and Electronics I and II, as well as numerous math courses including Partial Differential Equations.

Humans have always been curious about what lies just beyond our reach and we keep finding ways to push a little further to learn more.  One way I have done this in my life is through integrating research with education.  In my Industrial Physics class, we learned about the magnetic levitation train and my professor told us that he had the materials to make a model if anyone was interested.  Even though I had no idea how to build it, I indicated that I was interested in undertaking such a project.  During my junior year, he guided me through the designing and building stages and, even though I did not finish it that year, this year I decided to assume more ownership of it and make it the basis of my senior thesis.  This opportunity to take something that I had learned in class and to make it the subject of a substantial project has been an experience that has solidified my interest in research.  The combination of education and research has led me to a deeper knowledge of science that would not have been possible with just one of these elements.

Since childhood, I have been fascinated by space and what it might hold.  Therefore, I wish to dedicate my life to furthering the exploration as well as our understanding of space.  I hope to pursue a PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics at [redacted] University in preparation for a career in electric space propulsion so that I might achieve this goal.


This essay was submitted to several programs.  The first offer of admission the author received was from a top program, and he withdrew his application from the other schools.

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