Praveen started working after B.E. in Mechanical Engineering in India. Then he was faced with this question : Study in USA or Job in India?
First he decided to work in India, later he decided to study abroad in USA after 1 year. But why? Watch the video to learn more about his decision.
Watch the Program
Summary of the Video:
- Why he decided to work in India
- Why he changed his mind to study in USA
- Why study in Texas
- Visa interview Experience (few seconds)
- Apartment and Roommates
- Why University of Texas at Tyler ( this video sponsor)
- Courses, specialization and professors
- Managing finances
Here is the transcript of this interview:
Madhu: Hello, viewers! Today, we have Praveen with us. Praveen is doing his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Tyler. Today, we’ll be spending the next 30 minutes with Praveen.
Hello, Praveen! How are you?
Praveen: I’m fine. How are you?
Madhu: I’m good. I’m good. Thank you so much for doing this interview with us. This video is sponsored by University of Texas at Tyler.
Praveen, let’s start. Tell me about yourself.
Praveen: I’m Praveen Krishnan. I’m basically from Kerala, but I was born and brought up in New Delhi. I did my undergraduate in Tamil Nadu, Coimbatore, Anna University. I’m currently pursuing my Master’s in Mechanical Engineering at University of Texas at Tyler, and I came at Spring 2014, so this is my first semester.
Madhu: Welcome to the US. It’s been like what? Almost three months since you were here?
Praveen: Three months, yes.
Madhu: Three months, okay.
So probably now, tell us why did you plan to study, come to US to do your master’s? Is there any specific reason you have behind or is there any inspiration behind? Why did you come to study in the US?
Praveen: After I finished my BE graduate studies, I really wanted to work though I always knew that an MS degree will give a technical edge over the others. So yes, I was a bit confused, and then I got a job. I decided to work for a year. After that, it just struck me that, yes, if I need that edge… It convinced me that if I need the edge, I need to pursue my master’s. The best part is that I got to know which field I want to go into. That really focused me on the courses offered here that are related to that field. That’s why I’m here.
Madhu: So you did your bachelor’s in mechanical engineering as well?
Madhu: Why did you choose Texas at Tyler? Are there any specific reason you want to share with us?
Praveen: The place where I used to work, it was related to oil and gas, and that’s how I always go down to Texas because it is oil and gas hub. Then I got familiar with the UT system, and then I had to take a lot of factors into account like the fundings, the courses offered, the area, the locality, everything. And University of Texas at Tyler made sense. I got a scholarship for the first academic year, and the courses that are being offered which I wanted to do are in Texas. The research are based on the idea of interest that I like. It made sense, so yes, I came here.
Madhu: Okay. Let’s start with your GRE preparation, like how did you start preparing for your GRE, and how many months did you take. If you want to share your GRE score [unintelligible].
Praveen: I did my GRE in my eighth semester, and the papers are finally here. I had to do back up plan, so I decided to get GRE before I start job hunting or if I’m planning to do my master’s, because obviously, most students, they would be confused at their eighth semester. They won’t know what to do. I kept all my options open.
I prepared for two months, and I mainly prepared for GRE on my own because since I had classes, I had my final project. I was doing it side by side. The night, I used that time. I gave a lot of practice. That was main thing. Practice equals do a paper, do a paper. My score is 305, and I have a total score of 110.
Madhu: Can you sum up your visa experience? How was your visa experience?
Praveen: My visa experience was super. I never expected it to happen. When I went there—I got the morning shift at 7:00, so I reach there, and I saw people that are nervous. [Unintelligible]. It made me a bit nervous. I go there, and he asks me, “Why Texas?” I told him that the oil and the gas hub, the resource is based on that area. That’s why Texas. “Which university did you apply to?” I applied for three universities. I give the names, and after that, he looks at my application. You’re visa is granted. Okay. I had to wait…
Madhu: The talk didn’t take a minute?
Praveen: Yes, it didn’t take a… I had to wait for 45 minutes to get this, but it lasted…
Madhu: [Crosstalk]. I’m glad everything went well and you’re here. When did you come to US?
Praveen: I came on the first of January.
Madhu: That’s a perfect start of a new year!
Praveen: Yes. Yes, it was. I left New Delhi on December 31st. By the time I reached Japan, I saw New Year there. By the time I reached US again, because of the globe, I saw New Year again.
Madhu: Okay, so you had like two New Years, two 2014s.
Praveen: I have. Yes.
Madhu: Very interesting. It’s been nearly three months you’re here in the United States. How are you liking it here?
Praveen: It was difficult at first because I stayed in the hospital for my four years, so I’m used to staying outside my house. It’s not outside my comfort zone, but when you come here, there are lots of… You have to find a room. You have to find the right roommate, and then there are lots of paperwork involved in leasing an apartment, rental insurance, and electricity, electricity deposits, and internet, all that utility bills. They all come up, and then you have to buy basic stuff: bed, clothes, kitchenware, utensils, arrange the whole house. So yes, the first month, it was a bit difficult, but now, it’s really smooth.
Madhu: Okay. Praveen, can you tell us something about your scholarship, the experience like how you got your scholarship in Tyler?
Praveen: Yes. I used to follow the Facebook webpage of the university, and they gave us tips on what to do, how to prepare for your visa interview, what are the documents you need to bring when you get here, and then they told me about the scholarship, the new graduate fellowship. That’s what they call it. I filled in the application. You have to give your student name. The interesting part there is you have to write a paragraph on why you deserve the scholarship. I filled that up, and fortunately, I got it. I’m very grateful for that.
Madhu: Can you tell us, tell our students how did you prove yourself? What were the reasons you certified there that you should be eligible for a scholarship?
Praveen: Yes. Basically, what I advise the students is don’t Google. Use Google as references, and just be yourself. Write the SOP, any statement of purpose or letters like these. Just be yourself because you’re going to study there. You shouldn’t pretend to be anyone else. What I basically wrote is that I’m interested in research, and that’s what drives me. If I’m given the platform for the research, then I’m very happy to do that. With this financial assistance, then I won’t have any other burden on me. Yes, that’s what I wrote.
Madhu: Okay. That will really help our readers. Praveen, can you tell us in brief about your department and your professors?
Praveen: Yes. The department, they offer a number of courses for a number of years, because as a mechanical engineer… As in mechanical engineering, there are lots of fields, and you have to choose one. When you do your master’s, know which field you want to follow. There are lots of fields. There’s solar energy. There’s energy management, finite element analysis, CAD car modeling, bioengineering, material scientist, and solid mechanics. You could research a lot on those areas.
And we have experienced professors, really helpful professors, because the student-to-teacher ratio here is pretty low, and you have to just fix an appointment, meet them, and they clear all the doubts, basic doubts. Right now, I’m doing a course in solar energy, energy management, and vibrations. Dr. Brown takes solar energy, and she’s very helpful. Dr. Crippen in vibrations, it’s an online course. I was a bit skeptical about online courses, but the content they give is helpful. I can go to him anytime I want, and he helps me out. Dr. Fumo is there for energy management, and it’s a very interesting course. It’s a hybrid course, and they actually ask you to do various exercises, like one was I had to go to the Federal Energy Management Program. I had to get an online course and that thing, and I got a certificate saying that I can live with energy audits.
They’re really pushing students, and the course is challenging. It is challenging. It’s completely different.
Madhu: That was a really good answer, Praveen. What kind of projects do you do, and what kind of thesis do you do? Can you explain in detail about those?
Praveen: The department generally offers three options for students. You could do a thesis option, a project option, and a full-on course. That’s 36 hours. You could do 30 hours of project or thesis and six hours of the research area which you’re interested in. The best part is the students actually get to decide after a semester. So right now, I’m thinking of doing a project, something that will benefit the industry.
My first question was what’s the different between a thesis and a project. A thesis is complete, full-on research on a new thing, and project will be more towards the industry. What are the problems they’re having and what other steps and measures we could take to fix them? It’s more application-oriented. That’s why I got the basic difference there. All 36 hours of course.
Madhu: Great. Let’s talk about like something about the cost of living in Tyler, like is it an expensive city or I mean is it an expensive place? Talk more about the cost of living in Tyler.
Praveen: It’s reasonable compared to other cities. I talk to friends, and it’s very reasonable. We rented an apartment over here that are four people. The monthly rent is about $600, and then my living expenses, my total expenses including electricity, food, once in awhile outings, shopping, groceries, all that, total comes to about $300 to $350 a month. So yes…
Madhu: Your share… I mean you divide it by four and you…
Praveen: No, that’s $350. Yes, it’s my share.
Madhu: Oh, okay. How do you do the finances? How do you handle the finances within your friends?
Praveen: We have got a smart way of doing it because it’s not like one guy would always go and buy and then we just divide it by four. None of us have the time. We go to college. If you have classes, we go in the morning, we come in the night. There are days that you just come to sleep and then go back again. When we are out of groceries, the guy who has time, he goes. He gets the groceries done. We have this online Split-My-Bill thing. We just upload it there. We just upload it there, put a copy of the bill at the site, and by the month’s end, we know what our… If we owe someone or someone owes us, it just tells you. The tool tells you. That’s a really good way of saying…
Madhu: [Crosstalk]. Do you want to share the tool?
Praveen: It’s Split-My-Bill. That’s what it’s called. There’s an app for it. That’s a really good tool. The numbers are right, and it tells you [unintelligible]. After a month, it tells you if I owe anyone or if anyone owes me.
Praveen: That’s how we go through.
Madhu: Can you brief us about your cooking experience, like did you know cooking before? I’m sure you don’t. How was your cooking experience, like exploring cooking?
This interview is continued in Part 2 which is available to viewers now.
To watch it, click here.