How has the student experience at UMich-Ann Arbor been?
In this interview, we talk to our alumnus, Ripudaman Singh, who gives us an insider perspective into life at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Can you tell us about the campus life at the University?
UMich is a wonderful place to study. It has a huge campus and the infrastructure is remarkable with mainly 2 campuses where the engineering lectures are held. The North campus is the main engineering campus. Most masters students stay in the north campus. The campus grounds are in full bloom, with an abundance of greenery and are very picturesque during summer and spring. This pleasant and tranquil environment is very conducive for conducting Research. The winters are very severe with temperatures falling to -20 Celsius. To endure this frigid weather, we must buy a warm overcoat, gloves and a face mask. Keep yourself totally covered when in the cold. Alerts will let you know when not to leave the campus and be safe from blizzards.
Round the clock patrols keep the Campus safe and secure. Plenteous Bus services make traveling all over Ann Arbor very convenient. Late night taxi services are also available from the campus. Supermarkets and Indian stores are at close proximity to the north campus.
Can you elaborate on the coursework?
It is mandatory to take a few courses. After completing that requirement, you can take any course from any department and school. A career fair is held in Sept. Annually, there are approximately 4-5 career fairs. Some tele fairs include Skype interviews. There are seminars held by top companies that also provide recruitment. All the top MNCs like Google, apple, Microsoft, Cisco, LinkedIn come for the campus placements. Software jobs are available in abundance which gives us wonderful internship opportunities. Having any prior work experience is an added bonus and is helpful to get an internship.
Please tell us about the Internship opportunities and also how easy is it get a TA/RA? How does it help you financially?
If students do not get an internship with the professor then they can take up a project over the summer, trying to gain maximum programming experience in their field of software and thus strengthen their resume. Most of the courses at Ann Arbor are research oriented. There is less of lab work but more of theoretical work as they believe in fortifying concepts and gaining clarity. You will be spending most of the time in the library reading up on a variety of topics. An insider tip-The Masters library is called the Dude. Refrain from using its full name otherwise people will know that you are a fresher. For EE students, most of the programming is done in Mat lab so it is imperative to be fluent in it.
Financial support is a concern for students studying abroad hence UMich promises a guaranteed support to PhD students. All the RA TA positions are given to them. First year PhD students do not have a professor as they are given the freedom to choose one. So after the positions are filled, the remaining positions are given to the MS students. In short it is very difficult to get RA TA positions but, grader positions are also available. You can earn a decent pay with a graders job too. RA TA will ensure that your fee is waived and you also receive a stipend, so it is advisable to try for RA TA, if you don’t get it, take a graders position. If these options do not work out then go for on-campus jobs like working part time at diners and cafes.
These are some of the significant things that aspiring students need to know. If there are any more questions, please feel free to ask me. After all I got by with a little help from my friends and I would love to pass it on to anyone who shall need mine.
What is a typical day at college like?
Well, it totally depends on what courses you pick and if you have other commitments or not. Everyone’s got a different day basically. Usually it is pretty chilled out, with about 3 days/week of college. Most of the time is spent on assignments and projects. I have been a TA in my last 2 quarters, so it has been really hectic.