/ #Master #Choice 

Choice Overload - Master Speed Dates

Another round of master speed dates are just around the corner. The 22nd of March you can talk to current master students to help make your choice of what to do after your bachelors! At the Vonk we want to take you back to the previous session and share with you the experience of choosing a master.

We might have all felt overloaded with choices of what we can do in our future. The Electrical Engineering master has 13 specializations, more than any other master at the UT. Next to that you can also choose a Systems and Control master, or an Embedded Systems master.. Or why not do something else, like Sustainable Energy Technology or Business and IT? For me, choosing a master was certainly one of the times I experienced choice overload (you might be familiar with the word ‘keuzestress’ in Dutch). And I was wondering, how do I choose which master is right for me?

On the 20th of April 2021, Scintilla organized master speed date sessions to help students choose which master specialization they would like to do. During these sessions bachelor students with ‘keuzestress’ could talk to master students who already made their choice. This way, we hope, choosing becomes a little bit easier. We talked to several master students about how they managed to choose their masters.

Wouter - ICD

Wouter Overeem was present at the speed date sessions for Integrated Circuit Design (ICD): “The speed date allowed a high level of personal interaction in a short time span. I am sure that sharing some of my personal experiences helped at least someone.”

“From the very start of the Bachelor I had the master in the back of my head. I saw the different modules that explore different parts of Electrical Engineering as opportunities to find out what suits me the best. In the third year it became more concrete, when I started visiting different research groups and when I was searching for a Bachelor assignment. During the summer break, I decided which specialization I was going to do and the list of courses I finalized during the first module of the master.”

His bachelor assignment helped him make the final choice: “The research topic stretched the two specializations that I was most interested in. This allowed me to experience what doing research in both specializations is actually like. In ICD, I like the wide practical applicability, the industry-oriented professors, the career prospects and of course my amazing fellow students.”

Wouter is still not sure what he will do after completing his master: “I still haven’t decided if I like academics or industry more. Next year I will do an internship and my Master thesis, which hopefully will help with making a choice.”

Sebastian - CVB

It can be very hard to make the right choice, and some people need some more time to find the master that is right for them. This was also the case for Sebastian Bunda, who started his master ICD after doing a very busy gap year combining Green Team and being board at Scintilla. “During that year I combined these jobs and can easily say that my workload was significantly higher than a normal workweek. Nevertheless, I enjoyed every bit of it. Mainly because I created a good balance of tasks that cost energy but had to be done, and tasks that refueled my energy."

“Considering I worked at Green Team on several printed circuit boards, I decided to go for the specialization of Integrated Circuit Design or ICD for short. The reason being that I liked working on the PCBs and seeing my own design being realized.” But after a short time he realized he was not as passionate as his friends about the courses and had less intuition concerning the topics than his classmates. In the end, he did not sufficiently gain energy with following these courses like he did with the work during his gap year.

“Already before I decided to completely switch specializations, I started to follow some courses with some friends from the specialization of CVB (Computer Vision and Biometrics), as I started to get interested in their stories and their experiences with the courses. By the end of the year, I decided to quit the ICD track and joined the CVB track, even though I already completed all the courses I needed to start with the internship for ICD.”

“I liked being on the application side of the design process. With computer vision, you can directly see whether it works and debug where necessary. With ICD I found that it became too theoretical to my liking and too much model-based. In the end, I felt like I would be doing a lot of simulations in the future, and would be too distant from the actual implementation. Additionally, I found that I liked working with machine learning and programming in Python and Matlab more than I initially realized. Furthermore, with the current advances in Machine Learning, I feel like I can be part of this technological revolution.”

Sebastian wants to work at a company after his master: “I finished my internship a couple of weeks ago and will soon start with my master’s thesis. In the meantime, I have been reflecting and thought about what I want to do after my master’s. I realized that I would like to work at a company that invests in a better future and with my skills and knowledge I can make the world a better place. At the moment I am not yet sure whether this will already be my first company, but we all can have our goals right? For now, I will just go with the flow and see where it brings me.”

For now, I will just go with the flow and see where it brings me.

—Sebastian Bunda

“One thing that I do know is that most of the knowledge you need for your future job you will learn on the job itself. You can see the masters (and the university itself) as a very large playground to find your own interests and a safe place to make mistakes. It doesn’t matter if your study takes a bit longer if it means that you find your passion. In my opinion, you should do what makes you happy, you are the only one that is in control of your own future.”

Marissa - S&C and CVB

Marissa decided to combine the two masters Systems & Control and Computer Vision and Biometrics. “I started thinking about my master during the last part of my bachelor. At some point there was a presentation from the different specializations and that’s when I realized I should start thinking about it. The bachelor thesis helped a lot in making the decision, as I really liked the subject (image processing) and decided I wanted to work more on it. Around that time they had the different specializations give a presentation on their department, and they did some tours for the interested students. By then I had narrowed my choices down to RaM (Robotics and Mechatronics) and CVB. I did my thesis at RaM, but decided to do my EE master in CVB instead, as my main interest was image processing/computer vision and I thought it had a better fit.”

“After a few months though, I realized I wanted to do more RaM related courses. The amount of courses that interested me amounted to a lot more EC than necessary, so I started looking at a double degree. In the end I decided to also do the master Systems & Control. I really like the freedom you get with your courses. In the bachelor you always have to do 15EC to stay on track and the courses may not always be to your liking. In your master you get to choose which courses you want to follow (next to the mandatory courses), and how many courses you want to follow. I chose to do 10EC a few times and it really helps reducing the work load. Especially when working at home I think it’s great that we can do this. There will be some delay in your program though, but I think that’s worth it. And the courses you choose to do will (almost) always be to your liking.”

Marissa does not know yet what she will do after her master: “A PhD is not out of the question, but I might decide to work at a company immediately after my master. My graduation is still 1.5 years away so I have some time to think about it…”

Joshua - NE

Joshua, who was also present at the master speed dates, chose to specialize in Nano-Electronics and he just recently defended his thesis. “I started thinking about my master as soon as I began my bachelors. My interest in nanotechnology and the physics of semiconductors emerged when I was doing the “Device Physics” module. Then I took a Solid State Physics elective in my final year of bachelors to see whether I have the aptitude to be in such a field. Shortly after I finished my bachelors, I had a discussion with Floris Zwanenburg, who’s the program mentor of NE, about the projects done in the NE group and what are the prerequisite knowledge. Finally, I chose to specialize in NE.”

“I like my master because I find the courses to be challenging, and there are more teachers capable of teaching the master courses than the bachelor ones. The thought of doing a PhD has crossed my mind, however finding a position is harder than anticipated and having serious dedication and well-developed skill sets are required to tackle a PhD. Therefore, for now, I want to work in the semiconductor industry for a while and then decide which of the environments (work or academia) is suitable for me.”

Jasper - Participant

Jasper was one of the students visiting the speed dates: “Open days usually have a focus on marketing, but with this approach the conversations you have are much more casual. This takes away a bit of the pressure you might feel at the open days. It was easy to ask in-depth questions because the person on the other side of the conversation is actually doing the things you want to know more about."

“Personally, I don’t really have a clue which master I want to do yet, so it was really nice talking to people with similar interests. I now have a better understanding of what masters actually align with my interests.”

Closing note

In my experience, if you are still not sure which master to choose, talking to people about it, for example like we did in the master speed dates helps a lot. You can also make a list of all subjects you find interesting and see which specializations match. If you really are not sure yet, making an appointment with the student advisor can also help.

In the meantime I made my final decision to start a double specialization in Robotics and Mechatronics and Computer Vison and Biometrics next year and I’m curious to see what it will bring me!