Arun, Washington State University, Master of Electrical Engineering thesis program, with a specialization in power systems

ArunBlossoming in Washington State

I distinctly remember orientation day, Mr. Cody, the International Advisor said, "America is all about independence and choice". As I enter the last semester of my Master of Electrical Engineering thesis program, with a specialization in power systems at Washington State University (WSU), I realize how much the statement has resonated with me and stayed with me over the course of last eighteen months.

Located in the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. and set in a small town called Pullman, WSU offered me a wonderful opportunity to experience the American slice of life. The area is verdant and very green and resembles landscapes that are akin to the wallpapers images on my Microsoft desktop back home. The city is sparsely populated with just about thirty thousand people and located at an elevation which ensures pleasant weather through out the year, ranging from sporadic autumn rains, varying intensity of snowy winters to mildly warm summers.

Far away from the hustle and bustle, there are times in summer on campus when you are the only person in the building. Additionally, since the Indian student population is in the order of few hundreds, it provided me with truly an international experience. I have also been adventurous and tried cuisines from different countries including the Middle East, China, Taiwan and Europe to name a few and have developed an American sweet tooth especially for donuts!

Independence and Self-reliance

One major difference I perceived in the academic life in the U.S. is that, a student is expected to be independent and responsible for their course work and performances. Research experiences will also vary depending on the faculty background and seniority. The courses are outcome based and in some of them, there's a flexibility of deciding end-goals as well. In general, the program involves a lot of self-reading and is quite intensive.

Following my sterling academic performance in the first semester, I was called by my faculty and advised to switch to the thesis track, though research had not been on my radar during the application process. As a thesis student, I got the opportunity to be a part of the department's research work and also received a full tuition waiver and a generous monthly stipend.

My Advisers at WSU, Dr. Anjan Bose and Dr. Anamika Dubey have been my mentors and have supported me immensely in my academic journey in the U.S. The power systems courses that I am pursuing involves actual case studies including those, which the professors have worked on, guest lectures from industry experts, use of actual industrial software and discussion of recent events within the domain. The program also sponsored my travel and stay expenses for IEEE Power and Energy general meeting and other power related conferences.

In addition to the coursework, there are a lot of on-campus resources like free Professional Development Initiative (PDI) events for communication, leadership skills, a robust career services office, numerous student organizations (close to 300) and recreation center. I have explored several of these campus opportunities and made some wonderful friends. As a student, you also get to have voting rights on certain issues and debates happening on campus.

Leading up to my U.S. university application process, I sought advice from the EducationUSA center in Chennai. My adviser's support and feedback on shortlisting universities, writing the statement of purpose (SOP) and the application process at large was of great help. On one of my recent trips to Chennai, my EducationUSA adviser mentioned that I had blossomed into a new individual altogether and that she did not recognize the new me. She could not have said it better; the U.S. has made me self-reliant, confident and provided me with an insight into my academic purpose and career goals.

I would encourage students in India to consider pursuing their higher education in the U.S.; it can be a life changing experience. Here is to welcoming more Indian students to WSU, the cougar nation. In closing, I chant our slogan: Go Cougs!


This article was sourced by EducationUSA and published in The Hindu.

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