Home » Cambridge University, ETH Zurich, Featured, University Cafe

Piran – Life at ETH Zurich & Cambridge UK

20 December 2014 One Comment

Hi All, Today we have Piran from 2006 Batch, NIT Trichy, talking about his experiences with ETH Zurich and Cambridge. Thanks Piran for your inputs.



* Brief Intro about yourself – 2006 passout with a B.Tech Chem. Engg. NITT, 2006-2008 were 2 fantastic years at ITC Limited before heading for a masters at ETH Zurich 2009 followed by a Ph.D. in Engineering at Cambridge 2013.

* Entry Criteria: Choose the right university for you. Depends on what you want to study and why. Tailor you application to this process.

– Approx CGPA range – I had a GCPA ~ 8-8.5
– Gre & Toefl scores range – 1380 and 117
– Research Experience at undergraduate level: Spent most summers in labs around the country. Here, none of this matters unless you can nail a paper in a peer reviewed international journal.
– Does the graduate program favor PhD applications more? Not really. Each case is considered on its own merit. Money is never an issue. If a professor wants you then he/she will find the resources for you. Please be aware you compete with the entire world so try to distinguish yourself.
– What are the general strengths of the departments? Most departments are world class at top institutions. However choose individual groups carefully depending on what your interests are. There are exceptional people at not so big named universities and mediocre people at big named universities. Look at the papers the group publishes. Look at the group size and decide for yourself. If possible visit and meet the group before accepting a place.
– Any advice for writing statement of purpose ? Be honest. Focus on positives. Put yourself in the Prof. position and think what would l look for if I was to hire someone for this job.
– Any trend in the amount of Indians in the graduate program in the department ? – Not a lot of Indians compared to the US for example.
– Is it advisable to email professors prior/during applying ? – NO. Please DONOT do this. Its a waste of your time. Besides Indian students are infamous for spamming Profs with emails. If possible please avoid doing this as much as possible. This also applies for internships. Better to look at fellowships for internships and apply through a formal process rather than emailing randomly. If you do still want to email, then make sure you have done your homework.

* After you get in:

– Aid scenario – Most accepted students will find some source of aid. Teaching pays well but would not suggest relying on this. Apply for fellowships/trusts fundings. It looks great on your CV too if you win fellowships/grants/awards!
– How much money should one shell out for the entire course if it completely unfunded – Total education so far ~ £75,000
– What are the living expenses? – In most cases ~ £1000 /month in the UK and ~ 1500 CHF in Switzerland
– How easy it is to switch departments? – VERY easy. Research is strongly multi-disciplinary. For e.g. I ended up doing device materials in the electrical engineering division inspite of having a chemical engineering undergrad.
– Switch from Phd to MS or vice versa? – In most cases you need to apply for a Ph.D. separately. However, you can quit a Ph.D. mid way with a masters.
– Availability of public transport ? – Fantastic in Switzerland. Use a bicycle in Cambridge.
– Any big concerns for weather ? – You will adapt. There is not such thing as bad weather just bad clothing. So fix the clothing and you can make it work in any weather.
– Any Indian activities or Indian associations? – Yes. There is a huge Indian community everywhere in the world! We are after all 1/7 th of the planet 🙂

* After the course:
– Career opportunities after the course? – Opportunities are great but one needs to seek them. No such thing as placements.
– Typical Money made during internships? – anything from £500-5000/month depends on where you go.

* Personal:
– What is your area of specialization? – Nanotechnology – more specifically synthesis of atomically thin 2D materials for electronic applications by chemical vapor deposition.
– why did you choose to pursue the course abroad? – wanted to do good research.
– What is your driving force to earn the degree? Is it joy of learning or monetary options or both? – Ph.D. is not a degree you would do to get money. Forget money if you intend to stay in research. What you get is being on the cutting edge, making history and the freedom to pursue what you like. Its competitive beyond any profession on the planet but is terribly paid. So make sure you go into it for the love of Science and not just randomly.
– Can students contact you direct, if so, can you provide your email id for public? – Yes. But will not have time to review applications/SOPs/etc.etc. Would appreciate if they respect this.

* Misc:
– Any other issues/ inputs which will be helpful – You cannot plan life, jump on enjoy the ride and make the most of it.



One Comment »

  • bjp purvanchal said:

    Thanks a lot for sharing this nice post!You’ve done really excellent job!