The Road to obtaining a Dual Engineering Degree from MIT on the MIT Tata Fellowship- Olamide Oladeji
Scholar: Olamide Oladeji
Undergraduate Course and Grade: BSc Electrical Electronics Engineering, First Class.
Undergraduate University: University of Ibadan
Graduate Course and University: Dual Degree- MS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and MS in Technology and Policy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
I finished from UI with a First Class degree*. At UI, I decided I would go on to grad school quite early (around 100 level) and it became a matter of deciding exactly what area. I later settled on the applications of computational intelligence methods to energy systems which interested me. From then on, I tried to gain more out-of-classroom experiences in either computational intelligence or energy systems through reading papers, online courses, and carefully choosing my internships.
Professional organizations such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering and Engineering Without Borders which I joined as a student member, also gave me good platforms for learning and development. I ultimately chose my final year thesis to be in this domain and through it explored some of the state of the art techniques at that time. I had read that demonstrable research experiences were very helpful in getting admitted to graduate research programs so I also wrote some papers on my thesis and worked with other lecturers in UI on projects in this domain around graduation/NYSC.
My long term goals were to do a PhD in EE so I decided to apply to 10 programs in the US (8 PhD programs and 2 MS). When I began actively looking at grad programs around 300 level, I had found out most PhD programs in the US were funded by the schools, and many schools encouraged undergrad students to apply directly to them if a PhD was their ultimate goal so I did just that. I applied to masters at MIT and came here, because unlike the others, it indicated a tradition of funding research-based masters students. Its masters also was going to allow me to do research and be sure if a PhD was something I wanted to do before transitioning to that.
Why a dual masters? Well, it was two degrees for the price of none so that was one factor lol. Primarily, i had developed interest in both the technical and policy aspects of tech infrastructure but didn’t really know I could study both and for free too until I checked MIT. I tried my luck, et voila!
On the tests, I’d say ~100 hours went into the GRE and very little for the TOEFL/IELTS. My approach was to first do a diagnostic test to see if/how I was far from my target and to identify any weaknesses before focusing on them appropriately.
Challenges: Applying to that many schools was expensive and it was hard to coordinate materials. I'd also add the difficulties in self-motivating to do the beyond-classroom things like personal research or MOOCs in Nigeria, considering no immediate reward and limited internet resources. I did have good mentorship so that helped.
My fellowship at MIT is the MIT Tata Fellowship, i didn’t have to apply for that as it’s an internal fellowship your advisor nominates you for. They also fund via graduate research and teaching assistantships and most of my colleagues are on these.
*I should add that I have friends from undergrad in Nigeria who got funded PhD admission offers to programs here in the US without having first class grades nor masters degrees.