AFAM: Hello Bingbing, and thank you for sharing your experience of being a student at the American University. Please tell us a few words about yourself!
I graduated from University of Michigan – Ann Arbor in December 2020 with a Msc in Mechanical Engineering. After my graduation, I worked as Mechanical Engineer in the theme park industry in Los Angeles for 3 years. I moved back to France in December 2020 and worked as an embedded software engineer in robotics in a French startup for 2 years. I am currently working as Research Engineer in AI for Robotics in a research institute in France.
TAKE MY WORD FOR IT:
The University of Michigan (Michigan or UMich) is a public research University in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Founded in 1817 it is Michigan's oldest public university. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university has expanded to include some 500 buildings spread out over the city. The university consists of nineteen colleges and offers degree programs at undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels in some 250 disciplines. The university's enrollment is approximately 32,000 undergraduate students and 16,000 graduate students.International students from some 130 countries account for 15 percent of the entire student body.
As a major research center, it ranked 2nd among American universities in research expenditures and produces a large proportion of the country's publications and citations.As of October 2019, 26 Nobel prize laureates have been affiliated with the University of Michigan.The university's noted alumni include eight domestic and foreign head of state of head of government, 42 cabinet-level officials; and 26 living billionaires.
(information taken from en.wikipedia.org)
Application requirements for Mechanical Engineering graduate degree:
AFAM: What was the most challenging for you while getting ready for your application? What supporting document for your application required more effort and attention?
The most challenging parts were the language tests and the application letters. TOEFL and GRE require a lot of preparation in advance and I strongly recommend future students to start preparing these tests since the beginning of the first year at Arts et Metiers. As the application letters require also a lot of work and preparation. if possible, get these tests done before starting the second year, so that you can focus on the application letters during the second year. The help of the English teacher at A&M Paris to review and rework the application letters, was really helpful when I make my graduate school applications.
AFAM: How many university applications are feasible to prepare and send without being completely overwhelmed?
I applied for 4 universities. In my opinion, there are a lot of common points between different universities’ application requirements. It is completely fine applying 5-10 universities, and select the best option.
AFAM: Looking back, what do you think you would do differently regarding your applications?
I would first prepare my English tests more in advance. Second, I would definitely put more importance in the choice of major and try to do internships related to what I want to do after the graduation. Doing an internship at university that you want to apply is very helpful for the application. Last but not least, I would try to overcome imposter syndrome. For example, I would try to write to the professors, who work in the domain that interest me, to find interesting collaboration opportunities.
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Congrats! You are in!
Starting mid-March you will be receiving answers from Universities. Once you are admitted to an American University, you’ll need to think about your future trip, classes and financing.
Explore all possible options to finance your studies. There are plenty of them!
A full time semester at Michigan University corresponds to 8 credits or more. The price is the same. You can take less than 8 credits (“part time”) for your last semester. The price will depend on the number of credits taken (~prorata of full time). You’ll need 30 credits: 6 crédits in mathematics and 6 other credits. You need to respect all the requirements to validate your diploma. So, please plan all your classes in advance!
On average American students will finish a master’s degree with 3-4 semesters and it’ll take 2-3 semesters for French students.
For the Master of Science, there are mainly 3 means to finance studies:
- GSRA (Graduate Student Research Assistant)
GSRA is helping research professors. 10-20 hours/week is average time to spend. Every professor has his lab on campus. The good thing about GSRA is that tuition is reduced.
To find a GSRA you’ll need to look up research projects online and then contact ( go meet) professors you are interested in working with.
The problem is in a lot of cases the funds are reserved for PhD students. That’s why it might be difficult to find a GSRA.
GSI position consists of assisting professors during an undergraduate class, to assure discussions (equivalent of “travaux dirigés”) and office hours when students are coming to ask questions.
There are different types of GSI - 25% ou 50%.
25% means 5 hours of work (answering students’ questions)
50% means offering classes for small groups ( about 3-5 hours/week). GSI can also do the exams topics and exams corrections too. What you’ll be doing is different depending on a class or a professor. Being a GSI, you will not pay tuition fees.
If you are both GSI and GSRA, you can be paid for the second position.
The dean of the faculty will choose a GSI. Criteria is to privilege PhD with no funding, then master’s degree students who choose the correspondent classes and finally those in master’s who did not choose these classes.
Another advantage of GSI is that the insurance will be paid by the school too (mandatory health insurance is $2,315/12 months)
Correcting exams copies or home work ( about $12/hour or more, between 5-10 hours/week).
If you did not find GSRA or GSI position.
Questions to Bingbing:
AFAM: When did you receive the answer from Michigan University? Did you have any other admissions before/after? If there were other options, how did you decide that you’ll go to Ann Arbor?
I received the admission email in May (I am not sure…). I received two admissions in total. I selected University of Michigan because it is very well ranked in Engineering departments.
AFAM: How did you finance your studies?
I was very fortunate to receive the “Louis Magne Award” (le prix Louis Magne). In addition to that, I got a student loan from a French bank. I have worked in University labs and I have been grader during my master at University of Michigan. In addition to that, my summer internship at Disney has helped me to finance the last semester.
TAKE MY WORD FOR IT:
You are in the US! Yeeeee!
Mechanical engineering degree. Classes list:
Current students are here to help! The Mechanical Engineering Graduate Council (MEGC) has mailing lists you can contact for each functional area. They will respond to your inquiry promptly.
AFAM: What was your first impression of Michigan University when you arrived on campus?
I was very impressed by the size of the campus. The transportation inside of the campus (MBus) is free and very convenient. In addition, I was very pleased to be received by the university and the other students. People are very open-minded and helpful.
AFAM: What was your favorite spot on Ann Arbor campus?
I really enjoyed walking around the North Campus. As there is a lot of green space in the campus, you can frequently encounter deer and squirrels.
AFAM: What were your favorite classes?
I really enjoyed classes related to robotics, such as introduction to autonomous robots. I learnt a lot about robotic programming and robotic applications. They made me decide to work in Robotics for my career after the graduation.
AFAM: What were the most challenging/difficult classes/ activities/practical elements for you?
The most challenging part is classes choice. Opposite to France, students choose their classes themselves. In the beginning of each semester, students can try different classes to choose the ones they want to take. Ideally, you would like to take as many classes as possible. But, it is difficult to assess the amount of time required for each class in addition to the class time. You may fail some classes if you have too many classes.
I would recommend to take as much credits as possible during the two first semesters, so that during the third semester, you can take less than ten credits to reduce the tuition fees. Moreover, you will be able to spend more time in job application preparation.
AFAM: Do you think you missed some things at Ann Arbor you could have been able to enjoy?
I think I was very lucky to meet excellent students from all over the world. I am very grateful of this experience. I don’t have things that I have missed in mind till now.
AFAM: Looking back to your Michigan University academic experience, what would you do differently and why?
Looking back to this experience, I would definitely spend more time thinking and finding in what domain I want to work during that time. For example, I would probably apply for EECS major instead of ME and I would choose my classes to match my professional projects. Because I think the academic quality is very high at Michigan and a solid background in the domain you want to work is very helpful for the career development.
AFAM: After your graduation from Michigan University you found a job in the US but in 2020 you decided to come back to France. Why?
I decided to come back to France because of personal reasons. What I want to highlight is the experience of studying and working in the US has been very helpful not only for my career development, but also my personal development. I highly recommend students to do a master and to have a professional experience in the US.
Bingbing Wu's and Florian Julé's Louis Magne report is available on request.
Please contact us to get a full Louis Magne report
Also read "Being grateful: from beneficiaries of Louis Magne grant"
Photo credit: Bingbing Wu
Picture credit: me.engin.umich.edu