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Aerospace Graduate School

aerokid1491aerokid1491 Posts: 378Registered User Member
edited February 2013 in Graduate School
Hey all,

So I have a variety of questions as I start putting my mind through some pondering about graduate school. Some background on me, I am a third year Aerospace Engineering student at UIUC. I currently have a cumulative GPA of 3.63 and an aerospace GPA of 3.67. Up to this point, I have been very involved in various engineering clubs and a few leadership roles.

I have done some independent study work building some UAV tracking algorithms and next semester I will be doing independent study work with another professor with the initial goal of building some parallel code to simulate various flows using the Euler Equations.

Now, I have done most of my Aerospace coursework at this point and so I have been filling up time,for the most part, with mathematics and computational courses since I am interested in these areas.I have taken a few extra courses in fluid dynamics and applied aerodynamics and plan to take a few more system dynamics/control courses before I graduate, but I am very interested computational aspects to solving problems and I want to use it for aerospace applications.

For my computational courses, I have learned a lot of the standard numerical methods for solving linear/nonlinear equations, ODEs, PDEs, differentiation, integration and also learned finite difference, finite volume and finite element. I want to note I am currently learning to code finite element, which previously I just learned to find stiffness matrices using various methods. I have coded finite difference extensively and finite volume, however.

Also, I am currently in a graduate course that has covered more abstract linear algebra, linear ODE and a little bit of nonlinear differential equations and will soon cover complex analysis. I plan to take courses in the next year on nonlinear differential equations, applied mathematics towards numerical applications, linear and nonlinear programming and probably PDEs.

So given all this, I am planning to set goals to try and get into a graduate Aerospace program at a place like Stanford or MIT because they have some computational aerospace programs, which hits what I am interested in right on the nose. However, I don't suspect my grades are good enough right now, especially if I want to get some aid. My goal is to put the extra effort into my classes and bring up the grades so when I start applying next fall, I can be the best candidate possible.

Based on my interests and goals, does anyone have a good idea of a minimum GPA I should shoot for to possibly get into these two schools? I ask not so I can shoot for the minimum, but so I can see if I have a chance. I also understand that I should try to get involved with research/independent study more before graduating and I will work on that.

Thanks all for your insight and feel free to leave me any other advice you feel would be helpful. I know I want to go to graduate school, but I know if I can't get enough help or an assistantship or something to help me pay for it, I won't consider that school. I want to note I do plan to apply to UIUC for grad school, but I have heard mixed feelings on going to grad school at the same university you went to for your undergrad.

Anyways, thanks again for any responses you all give!

(Sorry for all the writing by the way)
Post edited by aerokid1491 on

Replies to: Aerospace Graduate School

  • xraymancsxraymancs Posts: 1,951College Rep Senior Member
    Getting into a graduate program depends on much more than your GPA. Your GRE scores and letters of reference have equal or more weight. In addition, your research experience will make a big difference for a Ph.D. program. For a Masters program, things are slightly different.
  • aerokid1491aerokid1491 Posts: 378Registered User Member
    Alright, I think that is a good answer. Essentially just get the GPA as high as possible and try and get involved with more research and get a good GRE score. I know research can help with getting good recommendation letters. I will note I am aiming for a Masters right now.
  • CatriaCatria Posts: 10,259Registered User Senior Member
    Where do you want to attend AeroE graduate school and at what level?
  • aerokid1491aerokid1491 Posts: 378Registered User Member
    I am looking at schools like Stanford and MIT as the schools I am making goals to get into, but I won't go if I don't have sufficient financial help, however I get it. I am also looking at UIUC since I am a student here currently, but I prefer the first two since they have specific Computational Aerospace focuses. I am looking into a Masters degree currently.
  • xraymancsxraymancs Posts: 1,951College Rep Senior Member
    Most of the research-oriented programs will support their Ph.D. students but not the Masters students. If you are interested in a Masters only, then it might be better to take a job out of college and then work on a Masters with your company's support (and funding) in a year or two. You might have a better idea of what kind of program will be best for you then. You might even decide that a Ph.D. is what works for you and engineering programs do appreciate a student who has been in the workforce and who has practical experience.
  • aerokid1491aerokid1491 Posts: 378Registered User Member
    Thanks for that insight xraymancs. I at least know at my University you can often get an assistantship or other positions to help out professors and get tuition waivered and a stipend, etc. I definitely don't know a lot about other Universities in that regard but if I can't get anything like that or any fellowships, I will most likely do what you said.

    One professor I am working with next semester said he will work with me to get some scholarships and fellowships down the road, so I can only hope for the best! Thanks again for your insight though!
  • fiddlerkrtfiddlerkrt Posts: 17Registered User New Member
    I know many people say GPA isn't the only thing that matters but I think a GPA of at least 3.7-3.8 is what you need to shoot for so you are very close. As other people have mentioned, universities typically don't fund you unless you are doing a PhD. Stanford is tricky because they typically accept a lot of people for masters and fund very few students. I know at least one person who went to Stanford to do a masters and is paying full tuition. Most of the other schools will most likely fund you if you are going on to do a PhD.

    Based on your research interests, might I suggest you also take a look at Caltech? Professors Meiron and Pullin in particular would probably be good fits with the sort of work you're doing right now.
  • aerokid1491aerokid1491 Posts: 378Registered User Member
    Well fortunately after last semester's results, I am in that 3.7-3.8 range. Just need to keep up with the decent grades, which shouldn't be too bad this semester. Yeah, it seems like it is common not to be funded. It seems at my school, almost every grad student is able to be funded through an RA or TA position but that may just be us.

    Also, I have heard about Standford's tricky situation and I really doubt I will try to go there due to it. As much as their computational aerospace focus interests me, battling for a TA or RA position isn't worth it.

    Also, thanks for that advice! For some reason I never thought about Caltech. There's probably a few other institutions I should consider as well. I will figure things out over this summer most likely. I am hoping my experiences this semester and summer help give me some good credentials to stand out a bit at some of these top schools. I am in another grad course on advanced finite element methods which will have a research project as part of it, so I am hoping this experience can help set me apart with the computational programs I will apply to.

    Anyways, if I can't get funding, off to industry I will go and just come back when I have the money saved or a company to aid in the educational expenses. Thanks again for the advice though fiddlerkrt!
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Posts: 5,319Registered User Senior Member
    Funding for a master's degree depends wildly on the school and the department within the school. With Stanford they also have a few other quirks that I have heard about regarding their graduate programs. A faculty member with whom I work closely here formerly worked there and ended up leaving as a result of some of them. I don't recall what the quirks were exactly, it is just something you need to be aware of when looking at schools.

    As for institutions to look at, don't narrow it down to just MIT, Stanford and now Caltech. For one, in graduate school you don't need to find a school with an official "computational aerodynamics" concentration of sorts unless you plan to do a coursework-only degree. Otherwise, you really just need to find a university with a professor whose research group focuses on computational aerodynamics, and there are many of those. The other thing is that once you move on to get your PhD (should you end up going that route), the reputation of your advisor is more important than the name of your school. True, the well-known schools tend to accrue well-known faculty, but they aren't the exclusive locations for these sorts of excellent advisors. Just keep your mind open.

    One quick question based on your original post (old, I know). How do you plan to simulate viscous flow with the inherently inviscid Euler equations?
  • fiddlerkrtfiddlerkrt Posts: 17Registered User New Member
    I agree with what boneh3ad has said and I know that there are many other very good aerospace programs outside the three that have been mentioned so far. I would not immediately rule out Stanford because of the funding situation though. That's a hurdle you jump over when you get to it.
  • aerokid1491aerokid1491 Posts: 378Registered User Member
    That is very interesting boneh3ad, hopefully that faculty member is happier where he is now!

    Also, I don't plan to just focus on those couple schools. When I posted this, they were just a couple schools I was interested in due to their computational programs. But I realize there are professors that do plenty of computational work I would be interested in at schools that don't have actual focuses in that area. Anyways, I really plan to just scout out for some schools where some profs do some interesting computational research and look into them.

    Also, with the Euler solver I don't plan to directly solve any viscous flows. I know there are artificial viscosity terms you can add in numerically to add some viscous effects but I am primarily developing a parallel inviscid solver and hope to attack the Navier Stokes at some point for any viscous flows.

    Also, I suppose I will see what happens with Stanford around a year from now.

    Thanks for all the advice, I appreciate it!
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