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Masters & PhD Success Story - Electrical Engineering


Usama Awais

It was during my senior year at NUST Islamabad that one of my professors and mentors (who did his MS and PhD from the United States) inculcated the need for Graduate school that could quench further the horizons of knowledge I had aimed for beyond what I learned in My Undergrad as a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering (EE)

Upon Graduation within a 2-3 months time frame I was able to lock a job at an Embedded systems company (Power Soft 19) but got cold feet from the very start of a successful interview and further preliminary stages. My mind did wander on the prospects of a good job and a nice future but my heart yearned for some Research in the area of my expertise in EE. Despite an average GPA, I wanted to learn more regarding some courses that I was taught in my Senior Year and wondered how I could create opportunities for that.

I successfully got employed at LUMS as a Research and Teaching Assistant under the auspices of a professor in EE who saw my potential and later I spent my time Researching and publishing in areas that I had yearned to explore further. This helped me prepare my profile for Grad school. I worked hard on my goals and applications (along with a good enough GRE-313) and applied to schools which had the best course curriculum to offer in my research field. Admission decisions for PhD applications slid by with some rejections but I didn’t give up hope as I knew what I wanted to achieve and I was able to secure MS admission in 4 universities that were not top tier in my domain but nonetheless a good shot to pursue higher education (UIC, UConn, UT Arlington and UT Dallas). I ended up at The University of Texas at Dallas as a self-financed student and Allah had more in store for me as I progressed though my first semester with a few financial hurdles. I worked hard on my goals and maintained my best performance.

One thing was clear that I was in a place of opportunities and knew I must strive to my level best to grab any that could further my profile and education. My Performance and research interests earned me full tuition waiver from the very second semester along with a decent stipend (extremely rare for MS Students). I was awarded an IAB Graduate Fellowship as well in my second Year of MS and was also given the opportunity to join the PhD program. I was taught by the best of the professors in my domain and had the privilege to join the renowned TXACE – Texas Analog Center of Excellence at UT Dallas with a stellar profile professor (Taylor Wallis Barton) who turned out to be my MS Thesis Advisor.

My luck along with prayers and successes had no end as later after completing my MS in EE with 75 % funding and tuition waiver, I was able to apply at some better ranked universities and finally took the offer of my current advising professor at Arizona state University which are also one of the leading schools in Circuits Domain in EE. I can’t thank enough my family and the wishes and prayers of my late parents and Allah for getting me where I am.

Lesson Learned: Hard Work can take you places you can never imagine. Striving to grab opportunities can ultimately lead you to fulfill your dreams:

“All roads that lead to success have to pass through hard work boulevard at some point.” – Eric Thomas