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Statement of Purpose for AeroAstro MIT

Over the past century, the aviation field has made remarkable progress in the way of travel for the
ordinary man. Technological marvels such as the worlds largest commercial wing, the Airbus A380
and Skunk Works reconnaissance aircraft, the U-2, are the fruits of extensive research and
development work. Personally, I was greatly inspired by Ben Richs Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir
of My Years of Lockheed the dedication and passion of research engineers towards achieving the
impossible designs. It was then that I began to realize the empowering nature of research
engineering and decided to pursue a doctoral degree.
My curiosity about aircraft dates back to my childhood years, when watching aircraft taking flights
and playing with Transformers toys quickly became a favorite pastime. This enthusiasm about
aircraft moved the interviewers for the XXX scholarship and I was awarded the sponsorship to
pursue my undergraduate degree in Aerospace and Aerothermal Engineering in University of
Cambridge. The course in Cambridge was unique as the content was broad and it exposed students
to a variety of engineering areas. Thus, I was able to take up courses that provide a cross disciplinary
approach. In fact, the subject that captivated me the most was Flow Instability, where we studied
about flutter, gallop and other fluid structure interaction phenomenon. While visiting the Whittle
Laboratory as a Masters student for coursework, I was deeply intrigued by some of the research in
the laboratory, in particular a complex design of a compressor with variable pitch stator blades.
Design was also a focus of the engineering course and my most memorable experience was
designing and building (by hand!) the blades of a turboexpander.
This alternative, multidisciplinary experience from college served me well when I embarked on a
career, as a Research Engineer in YYY in Singapore.
(Note: I removed work experiences from this document due to confidentiality)
Convinced of the potential of development of aeromechanical systems and my capabilities, the
Management Committee in YYY awarded me a full-time PhD Scholarship to enable my academic
pursuit. Drawing from my experiences in Cambridge and YYY, I have great interest to develop a
thesis related to turbomachinery aeroelasticity. As we strive towards high engine efficiency, blade
designs are being geared towards high performance and light weight. However, these blades are
expected to operate for long durations and withstand high loading and harsh conditions. In addition
to these stringent requirements, the highly complex interaction between unsteady flow in the
engine and the structure poses further challenges for design and optimization. To understand this
physical phenomenon would be high stimulating thus I am greatly looking forward to explore these
in the Gas Turbine Laboratory (GTL) in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The GTL is my first choice for doctoral studies as there are many ongoing researches in advanced
propulsion system, in particular work on smart engine. The laboratory is a wellspring of knowledge
as the faculty draws from some of the top minds in the world and offers many exciting opportunities
through interactions and collaborations with many of the researchers and engineers from the
industries, government and other academic bodies. I am keen to be advised by Dr ZZZ because he is
highly experienced in the area of instabilities in turbomachinery. His focus on the thought processes
while working through the project would equip me with the necessary skills and processes to
conduct future research after the graduate studies.
Over the course of finding out more about turbomachinery aeroelasticity, my research interest
began to align with reduced-order modeling of flow and aeroelastic response in turbomachinery as
such models would allow quick iteration of designs and evaluation at off-design conditions without
having to commit to time intensive computation. Hence I hope to eventually develop a thesis that
encompasses theoretical work which can be complimented by validation with computation or
experimental data if possible. I am also interested to gain some experimental work experience and I
understand that such opportunities are available at the GTL. Understanding that there are many
research options available in the laboratory and the vast amount of potential topics relating to
turbomachinery alone, I hope to continue to explore other turbomachinery features. To better equip
for research, if admitted, I would be interested to attend some of the graduate courses such as
Aircraft Engines and Gas Turbines, Internal Flows in Turbomachineries, Numerical Methods for
Stochastic Modeling and Inference.
Aside from academics and research, I am a lively individual, who enjoys helping others and I
volunteer with the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) in Singapore in a weekly
educational program for students from under privileged families. Besides tutoring the students
academically, the centre organizes activities that encourage students to read and be creative. In YYY,
I also participated in outreach activities that promote science and engineering to students to attract
suitable talent for research. I also search for inspiration for research work and life through the
diverse activities I engage in. This includes learning about nature, other cultures and history through
photography and travels. During my undergraduate years, I had visited a number of different places,
ranging from camel trekking through the dunes in the Merzouga Desert in Morocco to commuting
on the metro during rush hour in Moscow.
I believe that my unique work and life experiences (and adventures), as illustrated above, would add
to the diversity in the MIT community. Together with an inquisitive mind, an enthusiastic and
adventurous spirit, I am also confident that I will be able to contribute towards more innovative
research development in MIT by being part of the team in GTL. It is a well known fact that MIT is one
of the top institutes in Science and Technology and part of the contributing factor is because of
MITs many cutting edge research and achievements, both in the past and in the present. One of the
many examples would be the exoskeleton invention by Media Labs Biomechatronics Group (that
was reported in the media recently). More importantly, the success of MIT is due to its passionate
community. Home to 80 Nobel Laureates and 31 NASA astronauts in the past and present, amongst
other similarly illustrious members, it would be great honor to be part of MIT and to learn through
interacting with some of the best minds in the world.
Furthermore, graduate studies at MIT will be a milestone in my career as an aerospace research
engineer at YYY. Coupled with previous experience in airframe aerodynamics, it will be another step
towards becoming the innovative aircraft designer I had always wanted to be. I also aspire to
leverage on the resources in YYY to guide academic research in the Mechanical and Aerospace
Engineering Faculty in Singapore universities through adjunct professorship.
Hence, I hope that you would review my application favorably and I sincerely thank you for your
consideration.