嘀~您收到一份卡内基梅隆Video Essay视频面试

一只梨创新

梨公益 | 卡内基·梅隆 Video Essay

【该部分你将听到如下内容】 申请冲刺季,一只梨帮大家做了研究 结合近年来的优秀成果案例 15个CMU/1个MIT大满贯 导师团初步沟通了关于Video EssayPoints 奇葩Q&A互动问答 在各种无效信息和渲染恐慌的阶段 我们更需要业内专业人士的倾囊相授

cmu video essay

三种常见投递类型 拍摄Video Essay,直接给offer,视频面试

各个学校要求不太一样,有的学校要求比较奇特,对于申请的同学会有额外的要求,尤其是 顶尖院校 比如皇家艺术学院RCA,阿尔托、卡耐基梅隆CMU、UCLA。大多数院校要求拍摄Video Essay。 80%的院校 都是第一波申请完之后,它就会决定要不要你,比如米兰理工,美国的大多数院校,都是直接给offer。

cmu video essay

还有一些学校申请之后会给你一次 面试机会 ,比如皇家艺术学院,香港理工,他们会和申请者有一个面对面的沟通。两三个老师一起,尤其是特殊情况下,如果知道是中国学生的话,旁边还会有一个博士或者助理研究生协助沟通,希望能够全面地了解申请者的一个背景条件,情况的属实性,你现场的沟通情况。面试大概15到20分钟,再过大概一个礼拜左右发正式offer。

公益分享主题「Video Essay」的起因

今天分享的主题是Video Essay,因为梨爸Tony收到了申请CMU的同学de 诉求,或者对Video Essay主题比较感兴趣。 上述的三种投递之后的类型,除了CMU之外的话也会经历,比如奇特又苛刻的麻省理工的面试,想了解的话,可以跳转 《MIT告诉你,最不按套路出牌的面试究竟长啥样?》 ,面试要签保密协议,面试的问题都不能透露。MIT面试上来之后就问,假如你是一棵树,你怎么样去感知这个世界,你会怎么想? DDL逼近,就问你怕不怕?别慌! 梨爸Tony携手CMU导师团陈红雨导师一起拯救你的发(申)际(请)线(季)!

cmu video essay

Video Essay既没有标准答案,也没有标准问题 考察现场沟通能力,英语流畅程度,遇到问题坦然面对 Video Essay是比较random随机的状态, 没有标准答案,也没有标准问题 。但是红雨老师非常用心地整理一些题库过往的题库。梨CMU导师团大概的反馈就是,这些问题相对来讲都比较随机,什么都会有,有的会问你生活中的问题,问你最近在干什么事情,你读的书,你喜欢的设计师诸如此类。那么你的回答也不一定和academic相挂钩,不一定是体现专业性。 那么在回答的时候,主要还是看你们的 现场沟通,表现能力 。所以一定要放松,遇到任何的问题的话,那就坦然面对,如果说想要去了解面试的问题的话,怎么样 化被动为主动 ,参考MIT 《面试来了,莫慌!》 ,以及上次Tony指导 申请哈佛和MIT的黄晨学长 面试,有现场的一些问题解读。

所以我们主要是考虑在短时间之内 临场发挥的能力以及英语的流畅程度 。一个就是现场发挥,场控,还有就是你英语沟通的自由度。怎么样提前准备,网上可以看一些题库。 问题包括你的未来的规划,你喜欢的设计,你喜欢的设计作品,你喜欢的设计师,都有可能,所以到时候的状态就当做是你们考托福时候的练题,考雅思、托福练题的状态,把它当口语去对待。希望到时候 遇到任何问题不要慌 ,就是像我们聊天的状态。

面试,是展示能力的另一面, 是补充,是加分项,并不像硬性考试 红雨导师:面试其实就是对我们另外一个能力面的补充,并不像硬性考试一样,大家千万不要拿着压力去看待这个面试,把它就当作对方院校,想更了解你一样,类似就跟你聊聊会儿天之类的。 我以前投递院校的时候,不管是人面的还是机器面,最后 并不会说把面试作为非常严格的唯一的让你过or不过的标准 ,最多是作为一个补充。我觉得我们要换一种心态,看作附加题。就对我来说,是一道附加题,我发挥的好,那最棒;发挥的不好其实也没有关系。不要带着压力去看待。

cmu video essay

往年CMU面试题基本会比较像托福口语题,在申请网页里点开一个屏幕机器录制即可。面试官会收集录制视频再回去看,并不是直播面试,所以大家更不需要紧张,干脆把它当成托福考试一样。而且大家想申请CMU的话,相信大家在托福的考试中成绩肯定也不低,所以英语语言这方面对大家来说都不是太大的问题。 虽然是一个附加题,我们还是需要稍微有 针对性地准备 。CMU MIPS是设计学院、工程学院、商学院三个学院合办的项目。目前可能有些教师资源的一些调整,稍微偏向HCI一点。除了设计能力之外,整体还是会比较看重 跨专业合作能力 。

cmu video essay

设计能力,专业能力,学习能力,沟通能力, 跨专业合作,综合素质全面发展 通过题库你会发现,CMU更专注于了解你本身的 综合素质 ,除了设计硬件条件专业能力之外,院校还想了解比较general的点,比如你是如何和别人沟通学习的。院校想知道你的可塑性。比如入学前你的专业能力弱一点也没有关系,院校主要想知道你这个人是否好学,学习能力是他们教学产生比较重要的决定因素。 如果你的专业能力弱一点,但是你 学习能力 很好,和别人 沟通能力 很好,尤其现在不管是公司还是学校里面,大家和不同专业的人,跨团队合作的这种机会是很多的,所以如果你在面试中有实例去证明,表明你这几个方面的能力还不错的,那这道附加题你能拿到比较高的分数。

Video Essay不一定直接会影响你的最后录取结果,但 至少会是一项比较高的加分项 。做过一点研究的同学会发现题库是最近几年比较常见常用的,大家有时间可以把它当做就是以前托考托福口语的准备。之前是怎么样准备,现在也可以这样准备这类题目。

cmu video essay

Video Essay出题形式是给你30秒或者60秒准备,用三分钟时间去回答。以前是一分半时间回答,但是最近增加到三分钟180秒。所以在这时候,我们可以稍微加点例子把三分钟给填满。 一般两三道,也可能就问一道题,让你去作答。题目也是比较随机形式。我觉得我们可以从就是刚刚讲的标准来看一下,就几个比较常见的题目进行分析。

cmu video essay

Video Essay 随机题库

「STAR」项目面试阐述原则

「STAR」项目面试阐述原则S:Situation T:Task A:Action R:Result 第一个问题What’s the most creative thing you’ve ever done?你最具有创造性的事情是什么?招聘官想了解一下你觉得自己过去做过最有具有创造性的事情是什么?拿到这个问题,我们可以运用「STAR」项目面试阐述原则来回答。 S:Situation ,解释你当时所所处在的situation是什么,你当时的处境是什么?比如我做过一个最有创造的事情是当我就遇到比较困难的设计问题就是我当时拿到的某个项目我可能觉得这确实是常见的一个痛点,或者说在平时生活中我奶奶在生活中遇到了问题,某个东西很不好用。这就是一个situation。 简单的把自己的处境稍微讲一讲。 T:Task , 这时候你在特定处境下,你要做什么任务 ,比如说我奶奶觉得,使用细筷子不太灵活。她拿着筷子吃饭的时候感觉很不舒服,手不舒服,而且很容易发酸。所以,我要resign筷子这一小项目。 A:Action ,你要 说明在这个设计里,你做的action是什么 。可能我做的action是我先去做了一些快速的竞品调研,看一下海内外东西方的就餐文化,他们对筷子或者刀叉的新设计有哪些,就是专门为老年人设计的那些东西有什么?接着我做了一个表格来梳理竞品调研。 梳理之后,我觉得A竞品可能做的比较好,但是它是一个叉子,可能A手柄的宽度、长度、手握方式对老年人来说比较友好。所以,我从那一点去入手,把idea转换到筷子里面,做了一些小模型的测试。然后拿给其他人用,再看一下用户的反馈,再重新打磨迭代一下,最后做出了一个我奶奶用着比较舒服,她也挺喜欢的老年人专用筷子。 R:Result ,要讲一下结果,我们做了这件事情之后,凡事都会有个结果。可能不单单我奶奶会比较喜欢,我也逐渐推广到她的朋友圈、附近的老年人,或者其他一些老年社区。他们也遇到了同样的问题,所以我也把设计出来的筷子慢慢推广给他们,让他们一起用。 逐渐把用户群体泛化了,于是就会有一种量化的结果。

这三分钟讲下来有了 situation,有了你的task,也有你在中间所做的一些行为action,以及最后的结果 ,那这个三分钟的话,其实会讲的东西会比较饱满,对方也会能够根据你的实际例子, 了解你做事的方式以及对创新的态度是什么样的 。按照这样回答下来的话,其实我相信不管是什么题目给到大家,其实都是可以比较容易地去回答的,而且回答应该还是不错的结果。

剩下的一些题目,我觉得大家也不需要一个一个剖析,也可以用类似的一个方法去想一想,如果是你,你应该怎么去回答。还有一个技巧,用同一个例子去套,所以大家在想的时候先去想好一个之前用过的一个例子。 如果我用回之前那个例子,这个题目可不可以套进去?如果可行的话,会减少很多准备成本,我们不需要准备那么多的例子,而是尽量准备一个比较万能的例子。但是这个比较讨巧的方式,对时间紧的同学来说会节省很多时间成本。

cmu video essay

Q&A互动环节,犀利奇葩问题来袭 面试时长、着装、背景、光线,思维逻辑...... 及时回复邮件,经常查看邮箱,包括垃圾邮箱

  • Q:TL都由哪些角色担任?

红雨导师:有同学问Technical leader,TL,我知道你这个名词是从哪儿要用在哪个地方,比方我们在公司里面有一个strong team。一个strong team,有一个TL就是technical leader,它一般是developer software engineer出身,然后他会作为一个leader的角色去分配每个队员的工作任务。 TL应该是根据公司的不同而不同 。大部分公司会让developer来当,也有公司会让designer,甚至是copywriter来当TL。

cmu video essay

  • Q2:一个问题已经说了三分钟了,怎么办,会限时吗?

红雨导师: 每个问题三分钟 ,就跟你考托福分开录音一样,VE也是分开录屏。一个问题结束之后,才会问你下一个问题。 讲的时候尽量保持顺畅 。比方说什么时候突然卡住了,讲不出来的时候,大家就尽量不要emmm嗯嗯啊啊。你可以就不说话,就停顿一下,反而对方可能会觉得你在做一些思考。 或者一些比较常见的那种话,就是帮助你思考,你就可以说This is really a good question. Let me think about this one.为自己争取几秒钟的时间做调整。大家可以拿着题目,自己尝试着开始录好之后再看一遍,你会很容易地发现,如果你一直在嗯嗯啊啊的话会比较尴尬,反而暂停一下不说话的节奏会OK一点。 Tony导师:我补充一点,你拿到一个问题之后,其实你可以有10~20秒的思考时间, 主要是在脑袋里面先过一遍回答问题的逻辑 。不要一拿到问题就开始回答,比方说你面试完之后自己都不知道回答成什么样子,所以一定是先知道这个问题想了解哪几个点,比方说最基础的话,你可以把它分成两三个点去介绍。 遇到一些稍微比较特殊情况的话,你可以在脑子里面过一下,我主要是想讲什么东西。不要把它当成一次面试,而是把它当成一个朋友间的交流,就是一个朋友问你最近在干什么,跟你寒暄的状态,你大概有 明确的表达思路 。 红雨导师:对,而且video essay可控变量,不像真人面试,不太好把握,因为每个面试官都有不一样的mind-set,或者可能同一个面试官,他在每天不同时间段跟你面,他的情绪态度都会不太一样。但是机器帮你录制的时候,你受外界因素影响比较小。所以 大家都处在一种比较公平的状态 。 现在有些学校会节省一些面试资源,也会采用VE面试模式。对大家来说,有好也有坏,好的是大家都处在一个比较公平统一的标准。不好是大家觉得机器没啥情感。但是总的来说,只要大家针对性回答,以及把自己的意图表达清晰的话,其实对方会觉得你在认真对待,好好去看一下,听一下你所讲的内容。

  • Q:面试VS的时候,我的时间是可以选择的吗?我是不是可以选择我状态比较好的时候?还是提前预约时间?

红雨导师:他会发你邮件一个link一个时间段发给你比方几天内录完。具体的时间点,你可以在那几天内选择任意一个时间点,只要在deadline之前。具体要求还是看邮件,比方在那几天里面,你只要觉得你OK了,准备好了,你就打开去面试就行了。一旦你点了”开始测试“,就不能结束了。 Tony导师:大家可以去找一个 更好的时间段、好的网络环境。 如果说自己不是特别确定,可以把你的问题梳理成文字,或者说我们测试rehearsal都是没问题的。所有的面试一般来讲的话,一只梨的面试都是由我把控过的,大家不用怕,担心时间怎么样。只要你们给我留言,我看到之后,会给大家一些回复和反馈的。 红雨导师:我补充一点,大家在测试的时候先可以看一下摄像头。如果你的脸都是黑的话,对方肯定在看的时候,可能多多少少you know。最好找比较暖一点的,光线好一点的地方,至少让别人看得清你。不要一直都是脸处在阴影状态下。反正要 测试之前,先看一下自己在镜头里面长啥样 。

cmu video essay

Tony导师:面试CMU其他专业方向,我去年都帮他们把关包括你在镜头里面的是仰视还是俯视。头部在你的电脑里面是大概一个拳头的位置,比方说你面试的时候,在你的笔记本的屏幕里面的高度头发大概是一个拳头的位置,比较舒服,不要仰视,也不要俯视。 另外光线包括背景避免一些倾斜的背景,比方说你 背景 是一个斜的地方,看起来会影响注意力,背景也不要太复杂。 光线 稍微暖色调一点的话更舒服一些, 着装 可以不要太正式,可以稍微正式和放松的状态,大概就是在现场面试的时候的着装和条件要求。红雨导师:VE一般都发你邮件一个link,所以大家在收到的时候要接收一下就OK了,具体操作直接follow link里的要求做前期准备。因为每年都不一样,一般是不需要你去预约,但是大家也最好邮件点接收,然后看一看,如果只是直接开始面试的按钮,大家可以先就不用管,到最后挑一个时间点去”开始面试“就OK了。 如果有其他信息需要你填写的话,可以先填好,然后等到一个合适的时间段再去开始录制。大家可以先去拿题库练一练,我觉得大家不单单是竞争对手也是一个互助形式。所以大家有什么信息都互相去分享。说不定之后都成了同学。 Tony导师:我指导你们每个同学面试的时候,不是说每个人都回答一样, 一定是针对自己的个人特点 ,所以基本上来说都是全部录取,未来的话你们一起去美帝,一起去国外顶级院校,你们可以一起去认识,有的学校选课还是有互通的。所以大家可以放开心思,不要有一定是竞争关系的顾虑。

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  • Q:之前康奈尔information science面试也有VE,当时我看到面经,你点进去之后题目在你提交之前,你点stopped或者录音倒计时之前是可以刷新的。CMU会有这样子的?其实相当于就是有个bug,假设你表现不好也可以及时刷掉,但是CMU我就不知道,虽然这比较投机取巧,但是我觉得想了解一下有没有这种情况?

红雨导师:目前来说,我没有听过,不管是几年前,还是去年好像没有这个bug,所以我觉得尽量别以身试法,万一刷新后没有bug反而就直接结束了,这个风险还是挺大的。所以比方别人发的那些消息说有这个bug,大家千万不要自己去试。你准备好了就可以开始。

cmu video essay

  • Q:申请程序里有一个VE,邮箱里面又发了一封要聊五分钟的邮件,这两个都是需要及时回复的吗?

红雨导师:如果发给你邮件的话,尽量要 及时回复 。因为毕竟是在申请的时候,就是任意的一些邮件,你都其实在这个时期都要多多注意一下。不管什么,你都可以去点进去先看一看。有时候可能需要你去book时间或者填写一些信息,让你补交,都是有可能的。所以你在这个时间段的话,其实要多多关注于他们发给你的每一份邮件。 Tony导师: 经常查看邮箱,包括垃圾邮箱 ,有很多消息及时回复,遇到任何问题随时沟通。如果遇到一些特殊情况,比方说网断了,地震了,网崩了(苦笑)。遇到了极端情况,不要慌,到时候再发一封邮件再解释一下,所以当时的状态。不要太担心。今天,特别谢谢红雨老师给我们信心,其实就是 信息的知道和不知道之间的状态会影响我们极大的坚定度,肯定度和自信心 。

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所以今天我们给各位带来一种托底的方案,所以无论你们在准备之前,包括其他学校的任何的面试,发来的信息,都随时告知班主任,告知Tony,告知我们所有的大牛导师,咱们有100多位顶尖的导师团。你们有什么问题,我就会及时反馈给他们,我知道的我就是第一时间告诉你们,不知道的我就会请教一些了解这方面的专家老师,还有咱们过往的学员,让他们帮助我们去获取信息。预祝大家今年offer满满,Offer手软。 音频 | 陈红雨/Tony 整理 | Joy图片 | 一只梨/网络 作品及图片版权归设计师本人和所服务企业所有, 未经允许转载挪用,将追究法律责任。

cmu video essay

【定位】只针对全球Top院校和企业,致力于UX、交互、服务、产品创新、人工智能等前瞻领域。 【高度】庞大的资深导师团,拥有全球顶尖院校背景,及多年工作经验。 【收费】教育是最有价值的也是最保值的投资,但大多数人都是工薪阶层,我们杜绝乱收费,甚至发起过众筹资助学员。 【理念】我们是设计师蜕变平台,秉持亦师亦友的培养理念,认真对待每一个梦想。除了面试指导、作品集规划,还提供后续的职业规划,这也是为何梨学员都把一只梨当成家,愿意常来常往。

cmu video essay

Video Interview

Follow the detailed instructions below for successfully completing your video interview and submitting it to Heinz College as part of your application for admission.

You have the option of completing a one-question video interview in support of your application for admission. The video interview will be available after you submit your application and your official undergraduate transcript(s).

The video interview is optional, but is strongly recommended for non-native speakers of English. We encourage all applicants to co nsider completing the video interview.

preparing for your video interview

As in a real, professional job interview, we do not share interview questions with you before the actual interview . If you would like to prepare for your interview, you may wish to search the internet for advice on preparing for a job interview and/or professional graduate school interview in the United States. 

Note: After you begin the video interview, you will not be able to pause, cancel, or re-record any of your answers. Please keep this in mind as you decide when and where to complete your video interview to minimize the chance that you are interrupted by a roommate, family member, pet or anyone else while recording your video response.

WHO CAN APPEAR IN THE VIDEO?

The video and audio must be of you, the applicant (not a proxy).

When will you complete your video interview? what can you expect?

You must first submit your online application and official undergraduate transcript(s).

You will receive an email invitation from Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College asking you to visit the status page of your application to open your personalized video interview within 24 hours AFTER your required, official undergraduate transcript(s) have been received and processed. 

There is no formal "deadline" for completing your video interview after you receive the invitation. However, if you want to ensure that your video interview is available when your application is reviewed, please try to complete your interview within 5 days of the date you receive the invitation to the video interview (within 5 days of when your official undergraduate transcript has been received).  Applicants for our full-time Master's programs who receive the video interview invitation before the January 10 priority deadline may have more time to complete the video interview. Full-time Master's applications will not be not reviewed before our application deadline.

Here is what you can expect if you choose to complete the video interview:

  • You will receive an email from the us AFTER your official undergraduate transcript has been received and processed. This status will be posted on the "status" page of your application.
  • The email will invite you to visit the status page of your application to see the video interview link to complete your video interview.
  • You will be able to record a test video to confirm that your settings are correct and to become comfortable with the system.
  • Immediately after recording your test video, you will have an opportunity to watch the recording.
  • You will be able to record a test response several times if you need to make adjustments to your settings - and to practice using the system. (Your test videos will not be saved, nor will they be sent to Carnegie Mellon University.)
  • When you begin the actual interview, you will be asked one (1) randomly-selected question.
  • You will have 90 seconds to read the question on the screen and decide how to answer.
  • After the 90 seconds of reading/preparation time ends, your computer will automatically begin to record your answer.
  • You will have 90 seconds to provide your answer. You will have only one chance to answer the question.
  • You will not be able to pause the interview after it starts.
  • You may stop recording if you finish answering the question in less than 90 seconds. (It is fine to provide a shorter answer!)
  • You will not be able to re-record any answer after the interview begins.
  • You  will be able to watch your response.
  • You will only be able to complete the interview one time . 
  • As with a live interview, you will not be able to re-record your answer. Please approach the video interview like a "real", live online video or in-person interview.

After you complete your video interview, it will automatically be added to your application for review by the admissions committee.

What are your chances of acceptance?

Calculate for all schools, your chance of acceptance.

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Extracurriculars.

cmu video essay

How to Write the Carnegie Mellon University Essays 2023-2024

cmu video essay

Tucked away in Steelers country, otherwise known as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, lies the 153 acre campus of Carnegie Mellon University. CMU is home to just under 7,000 undergraduate students enrolled across its seven schools and colleges.

Priding itself on copious opportunities as a research university, as well as the achievements of its student body and alumni, Carnegie Mellon offers students the opportunity to pursue real-world solutions alongside award-winning faculty across all disciplines. In fact, CMU is consistently ranked in the top 30 universities and is considered one of the very best for computer science. 

As part of the application process, prospective students are required to respond to three 300-word prompts, and one optional 150-word prompt. However, students shouldn’t look at the supplements as a chore. As the admission process for CMU becomes more selective, its supplemental essays provide an increasingly vital opportunity for you to differentiate yourself from the pack. Keep reading for our suggestions on how to tackle this year’s supplemental responses.

Read these Carnegie Mellon essay examples to inspire your own writing.

Carnegie Mellon University Supplemental Essay Prompts

Prompt 2 (required): Many students pursue college for a specific degree, career opportunity or personal goal. Whichever it may be, learning will be critical to achieve your ultimate goal. As you think ahead to the process of learning during your college years, how will you define a successful college experience? (300 words)

Prompt 3 (required): Consider your application as a whole. What do you personally want to emphasize about your application for the admission committee’s consideration? Highlight something that’s important to you or something you haven’t had a chance to share. Tell us, don’t show us (no websites please). (300 words)

Prompt 4 (optional): When it comes to deciding whether to submit standardized test scores, occasionally applicants want us to better understand the individual context of their decision. If you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity, please share any information about your decision here. This is an optional question for those who may want to provide additional context for consideration. (150 words)

Prompt 1 (Required)

Most students choose their intended major or area of study based on a passion or inspiration that’s developed over time – what passion or inspiration led you to choose this area of study (300 words).

Many schools require a “ Why This Major? ” prompt to assess your interest in your chosen area of study. This prompt asks this standard question, but with a particular emphasis on how past experiences have influenced your desire to study your prospective major, rather than what you hope to achieve by studying it.

A successful execution of this prompt will:

  • Elaborate on the path that led you to choose your major
  • Show the admissions committee why you deserve to pursue this major at their school.

The latter doesn’t necessarily need to be explicit. Instead, reflect on your path in a way that demonstrates intellectual curiosity, creativity, and passion for what it is you hope to pursue at the college level. 

You can take a few different approaches when answering this prompt. The first is a narrative arc or anecdote. Think back to a salient moment in which you realized the importance of your prospective major to you. Perhaps you were in a robotics competition and after weeks of laboring, your robot finally moved. Maybe that was the moment when you knew for sure that this was the path you needed to pursue. This response could start something like this: 

“I couldn’t believe my ears the first time Sparky whirred to life. After weeks of toiling, I watched him wheel across the classroom floor, rhythmically belting out the tell-tale beeps I had coded him to make with each turn.”

Here’s what telling that story does. First, it shows tenacity—even after weeks of failure, you didn’t give up. Second, it shows innovation. And third, CMU just happens to be known for offering a robotics major, so even without being explicit, you just told the admissions committee exactly why you belong at CMU!

Stories are a great method for drawing in your reader and creating pathos. The trick, however, is to not get so caught up in the narration that you fill your 300 words without actually saying anything. If you’re going the anecdote route, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did I answer the prompt?
  • Does the story I just told show why I’m passionate about the major I’ve chosen?
  • Have I demonstrated that CMU is the right place for me?

Don’t say you want to pursue a major in underwater basket-weaving if CMU doesn’t offer that (just an example, but you get the idea).

Do mention, either briefly or implicitly, how CMU would allow you to continue pursuing and developing your passion.

Let’s move on to the second method of answering this prompt, we’ll refer to it as the chronological method.

You may not be able to fully answer the prompt with just one moment or story. That’s okay! An alternative is to briefly list key moments, progressions, or accomplishments leading up to your decision. Here’s an example:

“From writing short stories as a seven year old to winning my first prose contest in high school, creative writing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.”

Unlike the narrative arc method, this example is neither a story nor a specific event. Instead, it shows how creative writing has been pivotal to your life for years. Though arguably less compelling than a story, this method has the bonus of demonstrating growth, long-term commitment, and development. Being that CMU is one of the only universities to offer a BA in creative writing, it also shows why you’d be applying.

This same method will work if you choose to talk about who or what inspired you. However, this comes with a warning. If you choose to talk about a person or work that inspired you, ensure that you don’t only write about said person or work. If the admissions committee learns more about the Pulitzer prize winner whose work inspired you than they do about you and your work, reassess whether this is a beneficial inclusion.

Prompt 2 (Required)

Many students pursue college for a specific degree, career opportunity or personal goal. whichever it may be, learning will be critical to achieve your ultimate goal. as you think ahead to the process of learning during your college years, how will you define a successful college experience (300 words).

This essay provides you with the perfect opportunity to demonstrate your passion for CMU and your understanding of its available opportunities. While the prompt doesn’t explicitly ask you “ Why This School? ,” it does asks you to discuss two things:

  • The explicit question: what do you hope to accomplish in your undergraduate degree program? 
  • The implicit question: how is CMU uniquely equipped to help you realize those goals?

While the explicit question is definitely important to address, tackling the implicit question through the use of specific examples and thoughtful reflection will allow your essay to stand out among other applicants. 

Think about your expectations for your college experience. Perhaps it’s really important to you to have substantive research experiences under your belt as an undergraduate student, since you want to pursue an MD-PhD. 

What specific projects and topics might you be looking to pursue? How will studying at Carnegie Mellon enable you to pursue these projects and ideas? Briefly reflecting on Carnegie Mellon’s financial investment in undergraduate research as you answer this prompt, for example, can help demonstrate both your familiarity with the university and its resources as well as your alignment with its culture and values. 

Perhaps you are hoping to apply your textbook knowledge within a broader context through community engagement. CMU empowers its students to tackle problems and issues that matter in hopes that its students will be leaders in improving the world around them. Consequently, discussing your interest in taking your learning outside of the classroom with the support of the Office of Student Leadership, Involvement, and Civic Engagement would not only speak to your metrics regarding a successful college experience, but also show how you might add to the CMU community as an undergraduate and beyond.

Whatever your goals may be, ensure that your essay has a clear “why.” Rather than simply stating that you want to join the college orchestra, explain that you want to do so because playing the cello in high school has allowed you to form meaningful relationships with other musicians and life mentors. Playing music has taught you the importance of teamwork and dedication, and you want to continue cultivating these relationships and skills in college. 

The point here isn’t to draft a college bucket list, but instead to reflect on what elements of the college experience, outside of the day-to-day coursework, you’re looking forward to as a prospective student. Be true to yourself and your goals, and speak honestly about what it is you hope to accomplish as an undergraduate student at CMU.

Prompt 3 (Required)

Consider your application as a whole. what do you personally want to emphasize about your application for the admission committee’s consideration highlight something that’s important to you or something you haven’t had a chance to share. tell us, don’t show us (no websites please). (300 words).

This is your chance to show the admissions committee exactly what makes you special. Within the confines of the word limit, the options are endless. But don’t get bogged down by the possibilities! 

So, how do you know what’s worth writing about?

Is there something you mentioned on your Common App that you feel the need to elaborate? The topic of this essay should not be even remotely similar to the subject of your personal statement. Think of your essays as a portfolio; they should be complementary without being redundant. For example, if your passions are science and wildlife, and your personal statement is about wildlife, make this prompt about science.

Is there something you haven’t been able to mention anywhere else that you’re dying to talk about? Let your personality shine through. Whether your passion of choice is volunteering with animals, taking apart computers, or almost anything else, it can have a place in this prompt. However, it shouldn’t be so random that it doesn’t say anything about you as an applicant.

Here’s a good example: “I buy postcards but never send them. My collection is from all over the world, ranging from Tanzania to New Caledonia. Each postcard tied to a travel story. The postcard of the Dolomites? That’s where I went on a 3-day backpacking trip with my family. The postcard with a sketch of takoyaki? I bought it because I wanted to remember the delicious meals my Japanese host family made me.”

See how this paints a picture of a student eager to learn and expand their horizons?

Now here’s a bad example: “I like watching Netflix in my free time.”

Does that tell the admissions officers something that helps them envision a contributing member of the CMU community? Not particularly.

Basically, use this as an opportunity to show your personality and your passion. Narrow in on something pivotal to your identity, and make sure it still shows CMU why you’re a great fit. If you have a story, accomplishment, or passion that shows you possess drive, an entrepreneurial spirit, or a similar embodiment of the values of CMU, here’s the place to show it. However, if you’ve already said it in another CMU essay or in your personal statement, don’t say it again!

So, there you have it for the required prompts! At the end of the day, you want all three essays to answer the prompts in a way that screams ‘you.’ The more of your personality in the essays, the better. Whether you’re reflecting on how your first broken bone led you to pursue medicine or discussing how synchronized swimming deepened your capacity for empathy and collaboration, remember to always be open and honest as you tell your story.  

Prompt 4 (optional)

When it comes to deciding whether to submit standardized test scores, occasionally applicants want us to better understand the individual context of their decision. if you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity, please share any information about your decision here. this is an optional question for those who may want to provide additional context for consideration. (150 words).

This prompt applies to those who have either opted out of taking standardized tests, have chosen not to submit their scores, or have other circumstances surrounding their scores. Here, Carnegie Mellon gives applicants a chance to explain the reasons behind these circumstances. 

Standardized testing disadvantages many groups of people, especially low-income students. With the pandemic, it’s also likely that students won’t have had as many opportunities to take tests, if at all. Students may also have other extenuating life experiences or circumstances that affected their ability to take or do well on the test. 

Whatever your circumstances, Carnegie Mellon gives you 150 words, so avoid including long anecdotes or excess background information. State your reason(s) clearly and concisely, in a matter-of-fact way. This section might be optional, but you should treat it with the same care as your answers to the other prompts. Your writing should carry the same level of poise as your other responses. 

There are some cases, however, where you might choose to forego this prompt. If you chose not to submit a score because you underperformed, and there wasn’t necessarily an extenuating circumstance, then you could leave your response blank. If you performed poorly and didn’t submit your score because you were recovering from a concussion, then you might respond to this essay. Otherwise, telling the admissions office that you got a low score defeats the purpose of not submitting your score.

Where to Get Your Carnegie Mellon Essays Edited

Do you want feedback on your CMU essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools.  Find the right advisor for you  to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

cmu video essay

cmu video essay

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Carnegie mellon university | cmu.

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Want to see your chances of admission at Carnegie Mellon University | CMU?

We take every aspect of your personal profile into consideration when calculating your admissions chances.

Carnegie Mellon University | CMU’s 2023-24 Essay Prompts

Why this major short response.

Most students choose their intended major or area of study based on a passion or inspiration that’s developed over time – what passion or inspiration led you to choose this area of study?

Process of Learning Short Response

Many students pursue college for a specific degree, career opportunity or personal goal. Whichever it may be, learning will be critical to achieve your ultimate goal. As you think ahead to the process of learning during your college years, how will you define a successful college experience?

Additional Info Short Response

Consider your application as a whole. What do you personally want to emphasize about your application for the admission committee’s consideration? Highlight something that’s important to you or something you haven’t had a chance to share. Tell us, don’t show us (no websites please).

Standardized Test Scores Short Response

When it comes to deciding whether to submit standardized test scores, occasionally applicants want us to better understand the individual context of their decision. If you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity, please share any information about your decision here. This is an optional question for those who may want to provide additional context for consideration.

Common App Personal Essay

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don‘t feel obligated to do so.

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you‘ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

What will first-time readers think of your college essay?

Carnegie Mellon Supplemental Essays 2023-24 – Prompts & Advice

September 8, 2023

carnegie mellon supplemental essays cmu

When applying to a school like Carnegie Mellon that only accepts 11% of applicants, it’s important to keep in mind that the other 89% of applicants will ultimately be denied admission. Many of these rejected individuals will have straight A’s in high school and/or SATs in the 1500s. Those applying to certain programs—computer science, for example—will face even more harrowing odds. We don’t bring up this harsh reality in an attempt to crush your dreams or deter you from applying. Rather, we want to impart to prospective CMU applicants the need to maximize every component of your application. The aim is to ultimately shine just a touch brighter than your well-qualified competition. This includes the Carnegie Mellon supplemental essays.

(Want to learn more about How to Get Into Carnegie Mellon University? Visit our blog entitled:  How to Get Into Carnegie Mellon: Admissions Data and Strategies  for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

The three 300-word essays required by Carnegie Mellon give applicants the chance they need to separate themselves from the throngs of other extremely talented and deserving CMU hopefuls. Below are CMU’s supplemental prompts for the 2023-24 admissions cycle along with tips about how to address each one.

Carnegie Mellon Supplemental Essays – #1

Required – (300 word limit)

Most students choose their intended major or area of study based on a passion or inspiration that’s developed over time – what passion or inspiration led you to choose this area of study?

Here, CMU is asking you to share your story of how you became interested in your selected discipline. You can structure the narrative of this essay as a soup to nuts chronicling of your entire journey toward your discipline of interest. Contrarily, you could share one or two vignettes that illustrate your burgeoning passion for engineering, history, French, computer science, business, psychology, etc. As you begin the prewriting phase, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is your first strong memory relating to your future area of study?
  • What fills you with wonder?
  • What books have you read on the subject?
  • Do you consume podcasts or documentaries related to your passions?
  • Have certain online or print publications helped to fuel your interests?
  • What subtopics of your prospective discipline most intrigue you?
  • Did a teacher excite you about this topic or was it a parent/relative or outside mentor?
  • How did you seek our subject-relevant opportunities outside of the high school classroom?

CMU Supplemental Essays – #2

Many students pursue college for a specific degree, career opportunity or personal goal. whichever it may be, learning will be critical to achieve your ultimate goal. as you think ahead to the process of learning during your college years, how will you define a successful college experience.

There’s a lot to unpack in this prompt before you even enter the brainstorming phase of the essay-writing process. First they want to know a bit about your goals in earning a CMU degree. These goals could be:

  • Degree-oriented
  • Career-focused
  • A combination of two or all three of the previous options.

Given that CMU requires you to apply to a particular college within the larger university, you likely already have a reasonably strong notion of what discipline you hope to study. You’ll definitely want to share everything you already know about the degree you aim to earn. Additionally, you’ll want to discuss how that fits into your larger life plans.

Next, you’ll want to take note of the fact that “learning” is mentioned twice in this prompt, a solid indicator that CMU is sincerely interested in how you will take advantage of the unique learning opportunities available to you at their instruction. While not required, you should consider discussing items such as:

  • CMU-specific academic programs , professors, or course offerings.
  • Undergraduate research opportunities .
  • Study abroad programs .
  • The classroom environment at Carnegie Mellon— class size , laboratory settings, etc.
  • Campus organizations that will help you continue your learning outside of the classroom.

In short, generic thoughts about how you envision engaging in the learning process throughout your collegiate experience are perfectly fine, but school-specific detail can take an essay from good to great.

CMU supplemental Essays – #3

Consider your application as a whole. what do you personally want to emphasize about your application for the admission committee’s consideration highlight something that’s important to you or something you haven’t had a chance to share. tell us, don’t show us (no websites please)..

After completing your main Common App essay and the first two CMU essays, is there anything that you have yet to share that is absolutely elemental to who you are as a person/student? Without the benefit of an in-person interview, it may feel like you never fully had a chance to connect intimately with a Carnegie Mellon admissions officer. You have a burning sense that you have not communicated the full you, your true essence, your je ne sais quoi, your…you get the idea. If you feel something important about yourself has yet to be communicated elsewhere in the application, then CMU Prompt #3 is the answer to your prayers.

Consider that the admissions reader is already familiar with your academic history, activities, and awards. What don’t they know, or, what could they understand on a deeper level? This could be a particular skill or talent, or something about your character or personality. This one is intentionally open-ended, so use this space to share your most cherished accomplishments or most winning attributes. The university itself is inviting you to “brag” here. We recommend obliging, by presenting the equivalent to a “closing argument” at the end of this admissions trial.

One example of what not to do would be to say, “I work as a camp counselor in the summer” if that was already listed in the Activities section. Another no-no is deciding that the admonition regarding linking to websites doesn’t apply to you, because, well…they simply have to see your art exhibit or performance on stage in Oklahoma! last year. We promise that it is better to take CMU at their word that they prefer that you describe it. This remains true no matter what “it” is.

How important are the Carnegie Mellon supplemental essays?

CMU rates the essays as being an “important” factor in their evaluation process. The essays are listed alongside recommendations, talent/ability, character/personal qualities, first-generation status, and race/ethnicity. The only factors ranked above the essays as being “very important” are: GPA, the rigor of high school coursework, class rank, extracurricular activities, work experience, and volunteer work.

Want Personalized Essay Assistance?

Lastly, if you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your Carnegie Mellon supplemental essays, we encourage you to get a quote  today.

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4 Carnegie Mellon Supplemental Essay Examples (2023)

Ryan

If you want to get into Carnegie Mellon in 2023, you'll need to write responses to CMU's writing supplement that help you stand out and get accepted.

In this article, I've gathered 4 of the best CMU essays that worked to hopefully get you inspired to write your own stand-out essays.

I've also included this year's supplemental prompts for CMU and some ideas for getting started.

Let's get started.

What is Carnegie Mellon's Acceptance Rate?

Getting into Carnegie Mellon is more difficult every year. Last year, 42,015 students applied to CMU and only 7,143 students were admitted.

Which means Carnegie Mellon University an overall acceptance rate of 17% , or in other words less than every 1 in 5 students get admitted each year.

And admissions into certain programs like Computer Science or the School of Drama is even more competitive, with acceptances rates of 7% and 4% each.

Carnegie Mellon Acceptance Scattergram

That's a comparable admit rate to the most selective Ivy League schools like Princeton University for example.

To have your best chances of getting into CMU, you'll need to write great essay responses. Below are 4 of the best examples of CMU essays to help improve your essays and get accepted.

What are the Carnegie Mellon Supplemental Prompts for 2022-23?

This year Carnegie Mellon requires students to write three short essays of 300 words each.

Here are the Carnegie Mellon University writing supplement prompts for 2022. The questions on this page are being asked by Carnegie Mellon University:

Most students choose their intended major or area of study based on a passion or inspiration that’s developed over time – what passion or inspiration led you to choose this area of study? (300 word maximum)

Many students pursue college for a specific degree, career opportunity or personal goal. Whichever it may be, learning will be critical to achieve your ultimate goal. As you think ahead to the process of learning during your college years, how will you define a successful college experience? (300 word maximum)

Consider your application as a whole. What do you personally want to emphasize about your application for the admission committee’s consideration? Highlight something that’s important to you or something you haven’t had a chance to share. Tell us, don’t show us (no websites please). (300 word maximum)

Carnegie Mellon has used these prompts in past years.

And below you'll find several examples of essays that responded to these prompts. I've also included some personal statement essays from admitted CMU students.

4 Carnegie Mellon University EssaysThatWorked

It's safe to say students who get into Carnegie Mellon write interesting and creative application essays. Or at least these ones did.

Here are 4 of the best Carnegie Mellon essays that have helped students get admitted.

Carnegie Mellon Essay Example #1

Carnegie mellon essay example #2, carnegie mellon essay example #3, carnegie mellon essay example #4.

Prompt: Most students choose their intended major or area of study based on a passion or inspiration that’s developed over time – what passion or inspiration led you to choose this area of study? (300 words max)

When I was younger, I faced a lot of negative emotions including anxiety and low self-esteem. For a long time, I felt alone and as if no one understood how I felt. My self confidence was at an all-time low when I started taking psychology. All of a sudden the negative emotions I was feeling started making sense. I was suddenly able to understand how people were wired and why others treated me a certain way. I in fact was able to feel empathy for my aggressors after understanding that those who treated me negatively often faced struggles of their own. Most importantly, I felt as though something out there finally understood me. Because psychology offered insight into my own behavior and helped me to understand others, I was eventually able to overcome my insecurities.

In the future, I would like to help others do the same. No matter where I end up, understanding why people behave a certain way and being more considerate and empathetic for others will only help me thrive. Mental health is a growing issue in our society. The world we live in is a confusing place filled with pain, but psychology provides a way to determine the cause of this suffering and how to change it. I never want anyone to feel the isolation and sorrow I felt when I was younger. I want to help others become compassionate and unconditionally loving not just toward others, but to themselves. Even if I only make a small change in the world and affect just one person’s life, I would like to pursue that.

Prompt: Consider your application as a whole. What do you personally want to emphasize about your application for the admission committee’s consideration? Highlight something that’s important to you or something you haven’t had a chance to share. Tell us, don’t show us (no websites please). (300 words max)

I recall entering the intimidating world of high school as an exorbitantly introverted, stereotypical Asian girl. My father urged me to assert myself and attempt new activities I wouldn’t have typically participated in. I didn’t want to be disappointed in twenty years by the things I didn’t attempt in high school, so I decided to pursue my long-time dream of becoming a cheerleader. I had always admired the optimism that cheerleaders had, and I was at a point in my life where I needed more positivity.

I faced obstacles trying to join the team. An Asian cheerleader? But Asians were supposed to be smart and cheerleaders were dumb! I broke racial stereotypes by becoming the first Asian cheerleader in my high school.

When I made the squad, I was exposed to individuals which whom I did not ordinarily traverse paths. I stepped outside of my bubble and met girls who were extremely extroverted and seemed to be in a constant state of elation. They taught me how to spread positivity throughout my daily interactions and taught me to use optimism as a strength in facing the hurdles of life. These were qualities I would have never learned from a textbook.

My parents had possessed strong reservations about me joining and feared I would meet girls who weren’t motivated in academics. This was false. Many of the girls were brilliant and creative in ways my regular friend group wasn’t. All avenues of life met there on that team.

Cheerleading was the rain and sun that helped a small seed like me bloom into a flower. It delights me knowing that I gained social skills and made friends I never thought I could gain. Cheerleading has changed my perspective on life and joining that family is one of my greatest treasures.

Prompt: “When we‘re connected to others, we become better people,” said Carnegie Mellon University‘s Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture .

At Carnegie Mellon you‘ll have the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse community of scholars, artists and innovators. Given the students, faculty, staff and resources that have been available to you as a student, how have you collaborated with others, in or out of the classroom?

Or, what lessons have you learned from working with others in the past, that might shape your experience in the future? (300 words max)

Because it took some time for me to pass my driving test, I was unable to get a traditional job at the same age as the rest of my peers. I had another friend who was also unable to drive. To fund our shopping addictions, we started our own business, "Velour Slimes," where we sold slimes of a diverse number of scents and textures. The experience gave us a taste of entrepreneurship and the elements of what it takes to run a successful business. One of those elements was collaboration.

Going into business with a friend can get ugly, even with a small scale operation like ours. One of our most grueling conflicts was deciding whether to spend our first profit paying off our debts or buying new materials to make more slime with. Neither of us were transparent with our goals, or on the same page. We let our conflict escalate to the point where we could not look at each other. Eventually we solved our issue by effectively communicating together. By being honest with each other about our ideas and concisely supporting our arguments with evidence, we were able to understand each other and find a balance. In the end, we compromised. We spent half of the money paying off our debts and the other half on more materials to create even more slimes.

This experience brought me closer to my friend. We were able to strengthen our relationship while becoming more understanding and considerate of each others’ feelings. I discovered empathy is deeply necessary in improving the negative aspects of modern day society. If we were all a bit more empathetic, the world would be a more pleasant place. For that reason, I try to continuously improve my own compassion.

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Prompt: Why Carnegie Mellon? (650 words max)

With a strong background in computer science and communications, I hope to incorporate both into a future career of building data systems, conducting research, and consulting for organizations that serve underrepresented citizens.

Why This Essay Works:

Specific details and anecdotes will almost always be more compelling than less specific ones. In this essay, the student does a great job of including specific, "nerdy" details, such as "an association test between melanoma associated variants and survival outcome." These details demonstrate your in-depth knowledge of an area and make your essay more engaging.

This essay does a fantastic job of addressing real-world problems and emphasizing the "bigger picture" impact of their studies. Rather than just explaining what they want to study, this student explains how their education will help them have an impact on the world. Make an argument for what problems you see in the world and how you could potentially help solve them.

For "Why Us?" college essays, one of the most important parts is to reference unique aspects to the school. Almost all colleges have strong academics, great faculty, etc. So instead of referencing those points, reference what makes the school unique and different. In this essay, the student talks about "CMU's Technology Consulting in the Global Community" program, which is both highly specific to CMU and relevant to their own interests.

What They Might Improve:

In general, you should avoid simply listing your achievements. This student has many remarkable activities and experiences, but it comes across less interesting because the first half of the essay is simply describing these accomplishments.

For "Why Us?" essays, it is also a good idea to reference the values the school represents. Each school has a different "culture" and type of student body, and admissions wants to know how you will fit in.

If you're trying to get into Carnegie Mellon, here are 4 of the best essays that worked. Read example answers to Carnegie Mellon's writing supplement for 2022 and see how other students got into CMU.

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Princeton Admitted Essay

People love to ask why. Why do you wear a turban? Why do you have long hair? Why are you playing a guitar with only 3 strings and watching TV at 3 A.M.—where did you get that cat? Why won’t you go back to your country, you terrorist? My answer is... uncomfortable. Many truths of the world are uncomfortable...

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MIT Admitted Essay

Her baking is not confined to an amalgamation of sugar, butter, and flour. It's an outstretched hand, an open invitation, a makeshift bridge thrown across the divides of age and culture. Thanks to Buni, the reason I bake has evolved. What started as stress relief is now a lifeline to my heritage, a language that allows me to communicate with my family in ways my tongue cannot. By rolling dough for saratele and crushing walnuts for cornulete, my baking speaks more fluently to my Romanian heritage than my broken Romanian ever could....

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UPenn Admitted Essay

A cow gave birth and I watched. Staring from the window of our stopped car, I experienced two beginnings that day: the small bovine life and my future. Both emerged when I was only 10 years old and cruising along the twisting roads of rural Maryland...

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It Started as Winter Break. It Ended With a Doomed Moon Mission.

Carnegie Mellon University students built Iris, a tiny lunar rover. When the spacecraft carrying it to the moon malfunctioned, they turned their vacation house into mission control.

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A person wearing clean protective gear and a mask looks at equipment including the lunar rover in a clean room.

By Kenneth Chang

A gaggle of students from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh traveled to Florida last month during their winter break.

The students, many of them studying to be engineers and scientists, went there to watch a rocket launch that would send a small 4.8-pound robotic rover that they had helped build on its journey to the moon. Afterward, they hoped to have time for some sun and fun, renting a large house just three blocks from the beach.

Their trip did not go as planned.

“We never saw the beach,” said Nikolai Stefanov, a senior studying physics and computer science.

The rover, named Iris, headed toward the moon on schedule in a perfect inaugural flight of Vulcan, a brand-new rocket . But the spacecraft carrying the rover malfunctioned soon after launch , and the students turned their rental house into a makeshift mission control as they improvised how to get the most out of the rover’s doomed journey .

“We had a mission,” said Connor Colombo, the chief engineer for Iris. “It wasn’t the mission we thought. And in fact, maybe that made it more interesting because we had to do a lot of thinking on our feet, and I’m really grateful to have had that.”

The Vulcan rocket, built by United Launch Alliance, lifted off on Jan 8. Aboard this rocket was Peregrine, a commercial lunar lander built by Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh. It was the first American spacecraft launched in more than 50 years with the aim of gently setting down on the surface of the moon.

And aboard Peregrine was Iris, about the size of a shoe box and designed and built by the Carnegie Mellon students. It was one of the payloads on this robotic mission; Astrobotic’s main customer was NASA, which was sending several experiments as part of the preparations for sending astronauts back to the moon in the coming years.

For the students, the trip to Florida was supposed to be an entertaining lull during winter break to celebrate that Iris, after years of effort and waiting, was finally heading into space.

“We had filled our itinerary for the trip with other fun things,” said Carmyn Talento, a senior who served as the representation team lead for the Iris mission.

Iris started in 2018 as an undergraduate class of Red Whittaker, a professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon. He gave the students an assignment: Put a tiny rover on the moon.

Dr. Whittaker was one of the founders of Astrobotic a decade earlier as a competitor in the Google Lunar X Prize, which offered $20 million for the first privately financed venture to put a spacecraft on the moon. None of the competitors even got to the launchpad before the competition ended in 2018 .

Astrobotic is now one of several companies that believe there will be profits in providing a delivery service to the moon. (Another of those companies, Intuitive Machines of Houston, is aiming to launch its spacecraft to the moon next week.) Dr. Whittaker saw that these commercial ventures offered the possibility of cheap lunar missions like the one he asked his students to come up with.

Although Dr. Whittaker is no longer directly involved with Astrobotic, he talked with company officials about the size, weight and constraints of what could fit on Peregrine. That made the rover a real-life engineering problem for his class.

“I actually knew the height above the ground for the attachment and hence the release and how far it would have to float to the ground,” Dr. Whittaker said. “And so it would be possible to compute the energy of impact and the dynamics that would relate to either landing in a stable position or tipping if it hit the wrong rock.”

Successive classes of students devised and revised the design, then built and tested the rover. Other students also joined in, training to work in mission control or taking on other tasks.

After a succession of delays, the Vulcan rocket finally made it to the launchpad in January.

Some of the Carnegie Mellon students flew to Florida. Others traveled via van, driving nearly 1,000 miles south from Pittsburgh. Some former students who had worked on the rover and since graduated also made the pilgrimage. (Mr. Colombo, the chief engineer, graduated in 2021 and now works at Astrobotic.)

They were set to stay in the vacation house for four days in case the launch was delayed by bad weather or technical glitches.

The difficult, pressure-filled part of their mission — turning the rover on, deploying it onto the surface and driving it around before the battery energy drained dead in two to three days — should have still been in the future, after Peregrine landed on Feb. 23 on the near side of the moon in a spot known as Sinus Viscositatis, or Bay of Stickiness.

By then, winter break would be over, and they would be back at Carnegie Mellon, juggling their spring classes with stints in a mission control facility that the university constructed for this and future space missions.

The Vulcan rocket lifted off without incident. Less than an hour later, Peregrine separated from the rocket’s upper stage, on its way to the moon.

But soon after, Astrobotic announced on X that “an anomaly occurred.” Later in the day, the company said, “We are currently assessing what alternative mission profiles may be feasible at this time.”

Astrobotic’s engineers believe that a faulty valve failed to fully close, leading to the rupture of one of the spacecraft’s tanks. With propellant leaking into space, the possibility that Peregrine could land on the moon was gone.

“Then the question became, ‘OK, what can we do now?’” said Mr. Stefanov, who was leading mission control for the rover. “We weren’t worried at all. I think in some ways we were excited.”

In the rental house, “We split up, kind of sectioned off parts of the house to designate to certain things,” Mx. Talento said. “We had a table in the living room that was kind of our main place of operations where we had several laptops, and we moved a TV from another room to be another monitor. That was kind of the main mission control room.”

Up to 30 people were in the house, Mx. Talento said.

For security reasons, the people in Florida could not directly tap into the spacecraft systems over the internet. Instead, a skeleton crew at Carnegie Mellon served as a go-between, conveying messages between the Peregrine spacecraft managers at Astrobotic’s Pittsburgh headquarters and the beach house.

“Somehow it worked,” Mr. Colombo said.

Several days into the mission, Astrobotic started providing power to the payloads like Iris. Raewyn Duvall, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering who served as the program manager for Iris, remembers watching the video monitor when telemetry started arriving from the rover. “They hadn’t told us they were turning us on at that moment, so it was an unexpected heartbeat,” Ms. Duvall said.

The Iris team then started turning on systems on the rover like the computer and two-way communications that were originally not planned to be turned on until after arrival on the moon.

When the beach house rental ended, the students headed back to Pittsburgh for the remainder of the mission. And then on Jan. 18, it was over.

Peregrine’s trajectory was designed to swing around Earth once before heading back out to rendezvous with the moon. But the propellant leak had nudged the spacecraft onto a collision course with Earth. Because of the damaged condition of the propulsion system, NASA convinced Astrobotic that the best approach was to just let Peregrine re-enter the atmosphere and burn up.

There will not be another Iris, but there will be other lunar missions built with contributions by Carnegie Mellon students. One is MoonRanger, a rover that is a bit bigger, about the size of a suitcase and weighing seven pounds. It will look for signs of water near the moon’s south pole.

And this spring there is another space robotics course at Carnegie Mellon. “So we know there’s a class of people working on the next ones,” Ms. Duvall said.

Kenneth Chang has been at The Times since 2000, writing about physics, geology, chemistry, and the planets. Before becoming a science writer, he was a graduate student whose research involved the control of chaos. More about Kenneth Chang

Carnegie Mellon Institute for Strategy & Technology

CMIST logo

MITS Admission Requirements

Applicants to the MITS program must demonstrate academic excellence and preparedness for the rigors of the program. Qualifications include:

  • Programming skills: an ideal applicant should have experience with programming systems in which issues such as scalability, performance, and security are important concerns.
  • Analytical skills: an ideal applicant should have strong problem-solving skills, particularly in the area of system design. Some knowledge of statistical analysis is also a plus.
  • Team skills: an ideal applicant can work effectively with others in both leadership and subordinate roles.
  • Other skills: an ideal applicant will have taken at least one introductory course in machine learning and analysis of data.

For More Information

Please contact Mark Gardner , CMIST Graduate Program Manager.

MITS Application

Admission requirements.

Minimum qualification for admission to the MITS program includes previous coursework, demonstrated ability or equivalent work experience in the following areas:

  • Algorithms and data structures;
  • Proficiency in programming in at least one of the following languages: Python, C, C++, or Java;
  • Analytical ability, including topics such as probability, statistics, research methods, and economics.

Application Materials

  • Annual Application Deadline:   January 15   (Applications open October 15)
  • Application fee : $75 Please contact   Mark Gardner   if you would like to request a need-based application fee waiver.
  • Statement of Purpose   (500-1000 words): State your purpose in undertaking graduate study in information technology strategy. Include your academic objectives, research interests, and career goals. Also discuss your related qualifications, including collegiate, professional, and community activities, and any other substantial accomplishments not already mentioned on the application, or résumé/curriculum vita.
  • Diversity Essay   (500-1000 words): Carnegie Mellon University values a dynamic and diverse community where all members are responsible for contributing to an intersectional, inclusive environment. Please take this opportunity to discuss how you will contribute to departmental, school, or campus-wide efforts to expand diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Optional Written Essay:   If there are any special circumstances you would like the admissions committee to consider, highlight them in the optional essay. Use this essay to include information that you feel is important, but that you are unable to include elsewhere on the application. This would also be the place to address any gaps, fails, course retakes, etc., indicated on your transcript. There is no penalty for leaving this blank.
  • Optional Video Essay:   You will be given the option in your application to provide a link to a video essay. Video essays are optional but strongly recommended, especially individuals unable to visit campus prior to the application deadline or those who are non-native English speakers. Use the video essay to give us more insight into who you are, your interests, and what you will bring to the program; for example, your interest or experience in a particular concentration, or some courses in the curriculum that you are particularly excited for. Please do not read your statement of purpose. The video and audio must be of you, the applicant (not a proxy).
  • Résumé/Curriculum Vita : Required

Transcripts

  • We require a minimum 3.0 GPA represented in your undergraduate work. Please explain any gaps in your study, course fails, or retakes in the optional essay.
  • Please do not mail your transcript to CMIST.   We will   only   accept transcripts that we receive directly from an academic credential verification service. We will accept evaluations from any   NACES   member. We recommend using   SpanTran   or   WES   as we have previously coordinated with them. Please select to send your evaluations to the Carnegie Mellon Institute for Strategy & Technology or direct electronic delivery to: [email protected] .
  • Please note:   Course-by-course reports must include a US equivalent GPA on a 4.0 scale.
  • Letters of Recommendation:   You are required to have two recommendation forms submitted on your behalf. Recommendations should be provided by employers, supervisors, professors, or others who are able to comment on your professional and educational goals and potential. At least one of your recommenders should be a professor who can attest to your academic abilities. The other should know you in a professional setting (full-time employment, internship, part-time employment, non-academic extracurricular activity, etc.). You may opt to have up to three (3) recommendations submitted in support of your application. Please let your recommenders know in advance that they may upload an electronic document or scanned copy of a paper-based recommendation using the online system  rather than  using the provided text box response fields, but that  they must upload their recommendation via the online system .

Standardized Test Scores (GRE or GMAT) are not permitted.

Your scores must be submitted directly to Carnegie Mellon University – Carnegie Mellon Institute for Strategy & Technology  (TOEFL institution code C583). We verify all exam scores electronically after reported to us by the testing service . Please do not have paper test scores sent to us by mail.   If you completed either the TOEFL or IELTS more than two years ago, you MUST take one of the tests again.  The testing agency will not verify scores that are more than two years old.

Minimum scores are as follows:

  • IELTS of score 7.5
  • TOEFL score of 100 with at least 25 in each subscore. Only iBT TOEFL version is accepted.
  • Duolingo English Test Score of 125

We strongly recommend you include a video essay in your application. An interview may also be requested before final admission decisions can be made.

  • Interview : Virtual interviews may be requested for applicants in the final round of selection.

Veterans:   CMU welcomes applications from veterans and those currently serving in the US Military. The University Registrar's Office provides services to veterans and their dependents who are eligible for   Veterans Education Benefits   under the Montgomery G.I. Bill, Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

In addition, CMU participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program for those who are 100% eligible for benefits under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. In order to use Veterans Education Benefits, you must be an admitted Carnegie Mellon student (graduate or undergraduate). Veterans Affairs determines the amount of benefits a student can receive; therefore, we cannot estimate benefit amounts. Please contact the VA at 1-888-442-4551 to find out the amount you are eligible to receive.

All information reported on your application is subject to verification. CMIST utilizes several methods to identify plagiarized and falsified content in uploaded documents. Submission of false or plagiarized material as part of the application for admission may result in automatic denial of admission to any degree program.  

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