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Sample Personal Statement for Civil Engineering

“The Foolish Old Man Removing a Mountain” is an allegory known to virtually every Chinese. The story tells that in ancient times there was an old foolish man by the name of Yu Gong who was determined to remove the WangWu Mountain, a mountain that blocked him and his family from having access to the outside world, in an attempt to carve out a road leading to the outside world and hence create conditions for his posterity to achieve economic prosperity. The project was a Herculean task and, to make the matter worse, the old man was rather advanced in age. His neighbors all came to dissuade him from the endeavor. But the old man’s answer was that if he should die, his children and grandchildren could succeed him. The day would come when the mountain could be removed ultimately.

Inconceivable as they are, modern versions of this allegory occur in the frequently impoverished mountain areas in present-day China. The mountain folks resort to primitive manual labor (hence inevitably involving casualties) and simple tools and usually spend many years, even more than a decade, to open up routes inch by inch in order to have access to the market outside the deep mountains to sell their farm produce, so that their descendants will no longer be confined to the kind of isolated and economically unprivileged life that they are living. As a student with a Master’s degree in Road & Railway Engineering, I can never maintain a tranquil state of mind whenever I read of stories of this kind. I tell myself that I have the obligation and responsibility to help halt this dire reality. For this reason, I am determined to seek a Ph. D. program in Communication & Transportation at your esteemed university, a program that will enable me to reward my country with my knowledge of the advanced transportation engineering technology in the world. Of course, I am soberly aware that to be accepted into your highly-respected program I will inevitably be faced with fierce competitions. Nevertheless, my sound academic background, rich work experience and the ability to undertake independent academic research all testify to my qualifications as a worthy candidate for your program.

My choice for Industrial and Civil Airport Construction and Highway Airport Construction and Highway during my undergraduate program at the Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture, XX University, seemed to have derived from my family tradition. My father has long been a construction engineer and my interest in civil engineering grew as I saw my father working on construction plans and drawings and picking up bits and pieces of civil engineering knowledge. My academic performance at XX University, which is a key university in the country, has been consistently characterized by top ranking, receiving Student of Excellence award for four consecutive years. My solid and comprehensive academic foundation and outstanding performance came to the attention of the renowned airport construction expert Prof. XXX, under whose direction I undertook my graduation project Design of an Airport Runway. In this project, I completed the overall design of a civil airport together with the airport’s roadnet. The roadnet design fully met the relevant national standards and the overall airport layout was rationally designed, leading to unanimously positive evaluation by the reviewing panel.

My undergraduate program was immediately followed by a postgraduate program at XX University, into which I was enrolled in my capacity as the top performer in the entrance examination. On a fiercer lever of competition, I doubled my academic efforts and managed to be among the top five in my class, winning “Class-A” scholarships. My active involvement in research also bore fruits. I published several research papers, including XX, in such central natural science journals as XX and XX.

Entitled Study of the Low-Noise Mechanism of the Asphalt Pavement, my Master’s thesis focused on those issues: the mechanism of noise production of tyres, the parameters affecting the tyre’s noise, the noise-absorbing mechanism of asphalt pavement and the pavement configuration parameters affecting the low-noise asphalt pavement. The thesis offered in-depth analysis of the effective voidage of the asphalt pavement and the pavement thickness as major factors in reducing the noise production. The new subject as well as the unique perspectives of my thesis won positive comments from the reviewing panel who rated my work as “significant for the subsequent research on low-noise asphalt pavement”.

My distinguished academic performance and research potential led to my employment with XX Province Expressway Co., Ltd. which made me responsible for the construction and management of the XX Expressway, a key national project. As a major technical specialist, I was in overall charge of drafting relevant tender documents of pavement,participating in the construction of the roadbed, bridge, and pavement, organizing the spot check of the raw materials for the asphalt pavement, holding meeting to discuss technical details of the asphalt pavement, launching technical trainings and field inspections, implementing the Superpave projects. The accumulation of rich and comprehensive experience in construction and management, and the problem-solving skills, and the ability to work effectively and efficiently, both independently and in teams, are the three most important results I have achieved. Over the past four years, I have been given the “Model Employee” honor in my work performance evaluation.

An equally important component of my employment is my independent research work. Two more papers, Construction Craft and Quality Control of SMA and Application of Superpave in XX Kaiyang Expressway were published in XX (national core journal of highway transportation). Some experts believe my papers offer detailed elaboration on highway SMA and Superpave pavement, providing important reference for the construction of other expressway projects.

While feeling proud for engaging in national-level projects, I have also gained an insider’s knowledge of China’s underdeveloped conditions of civil engineering in road and highway construction. The areas of study that I will focus in my proposed Ph.D. program are closely connected with those conditions—the methods of designing asphalt mixture, predictive evaluation of asphalt pavement performance, quality control of asphalt pavement construction, and the regeneration technology of old asphalt pavement. I expect that through your program I will be extensively exposed to the latest theoretical and technical developments in the world academia and take up fruitful research. If your highly selective program accepts applicants with sound academic performance, rich work experience and promising research potential, I can assert, without any shame of arrogance, that I am exactly the candidate you are looking for.


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