Wednesday, April 19, 2006

PSU impresses!

Travelling. I seem to do a lot of that. Even though, I have plenty of "air time", I still get nauseous when the plane bobs up and down. You know, I should have been acclimated to that by now. But, oh well! The trip was fine except for the 3 hour delay at Detroit. That meant I got to Penn Stater at University Park at 2.30 am. Include 5 hours of sleep.

I met with Dr. Carlo Pantano for breakfast and he talked to me about the two projects pertaining to glass fibres including one on nanodiameter fibreglass. He has a lot of projects from industry and no dearth of funding. I was also enlightened about an Entrepreneurial program that graduate students can enroll in to gain business sense. That is something I intend to look into more when I decide on Penn State. The MSE department at PSU is one of the best in the country ( ranked 8th for graduate school), and ranked 1 for highest research spending. This information was courtesy Dr. Pantano while exalting the Materials Science and Engineering program. I met three other professors who described the research (thin films, photonics) that they needed students for including a Chem professor (Dr. Karl Mueller) that collaborated with Dr. Pantano in NMR studies of fibreglass. I was also taken on a tour of the most of the research facilities (MRI, MCL, MRL and Steidle Building) and shown a ton of equipment. I was duly impressed by the sheer scale of instrumentation available in user facilities including W. M. Keck Smart Materials Integration Laboratory. They are also constructing a new building in the next couple of years of MSE which is a multi-million dollar project.

I am now waiting for an offer from Dr. Pantano. The stipend should be around $18000, and he wants me to start in the summer. Unfortunately, that will not be possible to the immigration constraints. I won't have my US visa in time for that to happen..

Apart from the science, I also got to interact with a few graduate students during the tours and meals (dinner: Korean). I have a good feeling of graduate life, and what is expected as a student. There is plenty to do outside work and school. There are a lot of clubs, and recreation opportunities. It is also within 4 hours of major cities like Philidelphia, Washington DC, Pittsburg and such. The town is essentially a college campus as PSU has 40,000 students. They are crazy about football. The downtown is compact but has plenty to offer with nightlife and stores. One of the grad students took me to a bar that had 180 different kinds of beers from various countries. The cost of living is not very high, and so I should be comfortable with the stipend. I need to get an apartment and lease a car. So, I will have quite a few expenses..

Now comes the tough decision of choosing in between Vanderbilt and PSU. I am calling Vanderbilt to see if a visit can be arranged because I want to see what else they have to offer. I am incredibly impressed with PSU's MSE department, and swaying in that direction for a fewreasons apart from being awed. I get to start in the fall and I can live off the stipend to state a few.

Need to sleep. Only had 10 hours of sleep in 3 days. Fatigued and lethargic. Need to replenish self.

Tags: Life
[Listening to: Everything Is Alright - Motion City Soundtrack - Commit This to Memory (3:26)]

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