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  • Writer's pictureAnderson Lam Wei Cheng

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Application Personal Insight Statements

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.

Amid a confusing time of this global pandemic - escalating cases, deaths rising into the millions - I created my community where we spread the gratitude of what was given every day in our lives by sharing and supporting the communities that have been disadvantaged. I was given the opportunity to meet people from all over the globe with different cultural backgrounds, beliefs, experiences, colleges, and others, virtually through Zoom, which allows VolunFlex to be an international community consisting of over twenty international students from different colleges and universities such as Foothill College, De Anza College, and Taylor’s University. That is the community I belong to. We became our own support network and family for each other in such a common but unique place.

We host weekly educational seminars, helping over three hundred students in Malaysian schools, and built a non-profit website Compidia where we share free programming tutorials, helping over five hundred students. It felt great helping so many, but more than that, we were proud to be part of a like-minded community, all striving to have a positive impact. At VolunFlex, I get the chance to coordinate and lead the team for better success since serving the community is our responsibility and helping people in need is our mission. I firmly believe building a strong-knit community is exactly what will get us through these challenging times. Even small acts of kindness have profound impacts on people's lives.

Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?

In college, I want to gain the skills that would allow me to contribute to the upcoming Fifth Industrial Revolution. In my mind, this requires two steps: innovating new ideas and promoting them to the world. The University of Michigan’s Engineering School, and its Electrical and Computer (ECE) department uniquely allow me to engage in hands-on practice of entrepreneurship and gain knowledge outside of the engineering field. Courses such as High-Tech Entrepreneurship and Mobile App Development for Entrepreneurs directly feed my interests in developing the skills to become an engineer and an entrepreneur. Innovating new ideas to benefit the society has always been a dream for me. I hope to receive the building blocks from UMich to make my dream a reality.

I am eager to join the Michigan Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (MAAV) and UM Autonomy clubs and be part of the like-minded peers who are just as passionate about acquiring and applying the knowledge they learned from the ECE program to a higher level. As a student who has no hands-on experience in anything technological, the passion of wanting to learn more about how to design, manufacture, and program an autonomous robot has grown immensely. I strive to push my physical and conceptual knowledge to participate in national and international competition levels, help my team to succeed, and increase the reputation of UMich worldwide. I am committed to using the knowledge I acquire from MAAV and UM Autonomy to design and build the most cost-efficient agricultural vehicles not only for farmers back home in Malaysia, but also every other nation. UMich ECE’s faculty, along with the small tight-knit community of talented peers from all around the world, would bring out the best of me as I commit myself to their success.

Having mentored my peers, I was eager to read through the student testimonials from the ECE Alumni Interactive Mentoring (AIM) program. I want to apply the knowledge I gain at UMich into the professional world, and I believe that the AIM program will be instrumental in my success. Building connections with alumni would allow me to obtain knowledge about work-life balance and synergize with my mission to innovate within the agriculture industry.

Furthermore, ECE’s unique curriculum path provides me the flexibility to complete internships during summer, where I can seek once-in-a-lifetime opportunities in Michigan. Due to my experiences at ECE, I would be ready to lead a team to empower them while taking on the world’s magnificent challenges to create a transformative technological world.

Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve.

Having completed most of the lower-division courses need to transfer, the spirit of grit is now engraved in my mind. In the process, I have developed an extreme hunger for in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience in the engineering field at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

My reasons for transferring are almost entirely academic. I was caught up by the Robotic and Autonomous system research at the world-recognized EECS program at UMich and was hoping to be part of it one day. That UMich offered almost 2 billion dollars to the ECE department to build an exoskeleton for people with disabilities to lift, walk, and climb the stairs astonished me. Moreover, I have the opportunity to acknowledge the study environment and lovely community of UMich through many of my connections at the National Assembly of Malaysian Students in America, EducationUSA Malaysia, and Michigan Malaysian Students Association. Transitioning to Michigan as a transfer student during a global pandemic will be difficult. But I have dealt with similar difficulties during my time at Foothill College, and I have the capabilities and resourcefulness to adapt to Michigan. I am excited to complete my last two years of upper-division courses on the journey of graduating as an Electrical and Computer Engineering major. Undeniably, receiving an unrivaled education at UMich would be a life-changing opportunity to guide me one step closer towards my dream.

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

The Development of EECS Dream since Young

Hearing the slightest hum, I rushed to the window, anticipating harvesting and seedling machines, the most mythical transformers I had ever seen. As the increasing undercurrent of vibrations and buzz coursed through my body, so did my excitement for the tractors lining up outside my home.

Growing up in Malaysia, my father ran an agricultural seed and farm chemical company. Our house was a safe space for all the farmers to share their experiences and hardships. I witnessed first-hand how expensive the machinery was, the physical and financial toll on the farmers when they couldn't even afford to fix broken sensors and electronic chips. Seeing all the agricultural problems makes me emotionally and psychologically prepared to be an engineer and solve these issues. A desire to help them has burned in me ever since. I started researching machinery, electronics, and feasibility for chip design and development.

My interest in engineering really solidified when I won my first robot in a lottery, a cleaning robot, and along with it, an immense motivation to further my knowledge in the engineering field. Strangely, I was very excited when the robot broke down after a couple of uses. The curious seed of electronics in me blossomed as I took it upon myself to fix the robot. With wires and parts and a screwdriver, the complexity of the relation between electronics and software astounded me; everything fit perfectly. However, with so many attempts at repair, I finally burned its circuits, yet in the process, my desire to pursue Electrical Engineering and Computer Science had grown immensely.

Agriculture has always been synonymous with hope for me. While my peers viewed agriculture as unlucrative, I've made it my mission to empower the farmers back home in Malaysia through modern technology and principles. It pained me to watch the farmers of our community grow increasingly fatigued, their shoulders gradually drooping. Not only did they suffer physically, but they had to bear the mental stresses of frequent weather changes. Their techniques were ages behind modern global technology, and new generations have grown reluctant to take up their vocation. While my desire to help the farmers has grown exponentially, anxiety at seeing this likely future outcome never released its hold.

My burning passion didn't fizzle out over time, I fostered it through an internship at Advansia Drone Co.Ltd, an agricultural drone company. It was there I had the opportunity to closely examine drones' electrical designs and artificial intelligence systems. My desire to combine cloud computing and artificial intelligence to enhance agricultural technology for the farmers back home has never faltered. Taking STEM classes has furthered my expertise in EECS, and I firmly believe that the world-class education at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor will help me achieve my dream. By investing in me, the UMich invests in the future of our global food supply, considering the nation of Malaysia is a net exporter for more than half of the world’s commonly-consumed agriculture products.

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