Over college to the capability of solving engineering

Over recent years, China was suffered from severe water pollution and shortage. In
spite of government efforts to adopt a variety of measures, the problem has not been
alleviated. I have been living and studying in Beijing since middle school, and have
consequently had experience of the harm that environmental pollution can do to the
society. I strongly felt the significance of environmental pollution control to our
contemporary society and even the future of entire humanity, and I believe it is a cause
worth fighting for with my whole life.
In terms of my long-term career, to begin with, I expanded my knowledge
foundations and theory basis through undergraduate study. Then during my graduate
study, I kept learning learn cutting-edge science, and convert theory-oriented knowledge
acquired in college to the capability of solving engineering problems. In the meantime,
the more knowledge I acquired, the more I would like to explore. Thus I want to
become a PhD student and carry on research, go deeper in environmental science, and
expand the territory for my research area in the future.
During the past years of study, I trained myself to be clear and logical, and upgrade
personal abilities in the following aspects as best as I can:
Firstly, I kept acquiring knowledge and the basic theories in engineering field. The
undergraduate study at China University of Petroleum allowed me to master principles
of chemical engineering, chemical reaction engineering and physical chemistry, which
have in turn enabled me to laid a solid foundation for my research and further study in
environmental engineering. During the graduate study at Cornell, I went further in water
chemistry, but also expanded my area to hydrology, fluid mechanic. Moreover, I had a
better knowledge of MATLAB and Python to solving basic engineering problems.
Secondly, I gained rich scientific research experience and can be innovative and
persistent when facing challenges. In order to obtain knowledge beyond textbooks, I
have worked with three scientific research through past years. During the first semester
of my junior year, as a research assistant, I started to study about treatment of NOx in
the exhaust fumes of motor vehicles. I focused on the design and synthesis of deNOx
catalysts, mainly by preparing a core?shell structural catalyst that have better
low-temperature activity and SO2
-tolerance. The biggest challenge in the experiment
was how to make the CeO2
thin film as the shell of catalyst. When we directly added
Ce(NO3
)
3
, the ions of Ce would agglomerate instead of coating the as-prepared
MoFe/Beta grain, and the critical shell structure was unable to form. However, this issue
had not been resolved before, it presented itself as a prime opportunity for innovations
instead of simply an obstacle. To address it, we dug into a huge amount of literature. In
the papers about polymerization process, we noticed that coagulant PVP boast good
adhesiveness and can be easily removed. We made improvements in our experiment
method immediately: before adding Ce(NO3
)
3
, we added PVP into as-prepared solution,
PVP can adsorp onto grains and draw Ce(NO3
)
3
. After crystal grains had been fully
encapsulated, PVP could be totally removed by calcination, the final product was denoted as MoFe/[email protected]
, thus the problem was solved and the catalyst exhibited
satisfactory activity and stability. As one of the research achievements, I, as the second
author, wrote a research paper published on Applied Catalysis B: Environmental. By
participating in this project, I obtained the ability to transfer knowledge: dissecting ideas
from other fields into basic principles, then reconstructing and applying them in a novel
approach. This experience made me realize that the opportunities of technological
innovations are often stacked in challenges that no one else has addressed.
Thirdly, I accumulated my practical engineering experiences when I am in Cornell.
Obviously, research experience in the chemistry and catalyst lab was not exhaustive
enough, so I joined a global-scale sustainable water supplement project team,
AguaClara, which currently running several water treatment plants in different
developing countries. I was assigned to a brand new subteam worked on new method of
coagulant addition, with a goal of cutting down budget by reducing coagulant dosage.
Though we had no previous work and experienced members, I decided to taking the
lead role for I have more relative knowledge and research experience. Out of nothing,
we began with massive literature review to build our theoretical basis, then designed
and fabricated our apparatus, which modeled the complete water treatment plant,
including pumps, contact chambers, flocculater, sedimentation tank and complex tube
and valve connection. However, the apparatus did not return desirable data at the
beginning, to address this, we analyzed the negative result thoroughly then introduced
LabView based software to operate the apparatus automatically and created Python
code to calculate and vary the chemical dosage. Finally, we came up with conclusion
about trade-off between difference coagulant addition method. In this project, I
developed my ability of critical thinking: we should not only lead by the positive result,
learn from the negative feedback or failure is also a critical part in research.
In conclusion, I have built a solid foundation of basic knowledge and research
capabilities and developed keen interest in not only environmental engineering, but also
catalysis science and pollutant treatment. Without any doubt, I still need further training
and guidance to succeed in academic career in environmental area. Yale is known for its
academic rigor and academic innovation. The focused fields of professor Elimelech are
well-aligned with my existing knowledge and my future career plans. Therefore, I am
excited for my application, I believe that my study at Yale would not only improve my
desirability as a future researcher, but would also help me to fulfill my dream of being a
precursor in my field. It is my hope that the admission committee will recognize my
fervent determination and consider my application favorably.