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I am applying to school and, after 3-4 weeks of thinking and writing essay iterations, I ended up with the essay below.


What are your professional objectives? (300 words)

I have one professional objective: Push forward the personal robotics market.

Over the last few decades, robotics research has made considerable strides towards solving hard robotics problems such as navigating unknown environments, recognizing and manipulating objects, and using natural language to interact. These advances have resulted in some interesting robotic applications, ranging from autonomous vacuum cleaners and self-parking cars to personal software assistants. Yet, I believe these applications are just the tip of the iceberg in a whole new wave of personal robotics applications to hit the marketplace.

My belief is that this new wave of applications promises to transform society in extreme new ways. Among this new wave, self-driving cars promise to permit a much faster, cheaper and safer transportation infrastructure, robotic nursing assistants promise to bring quality of life to a raising number of elder people, and user-friendly flexible robots promise to liberate us from the chores in the house. In a nutshell, personal robotics promise to automize slavish and repetitive tasks and usher in a new age in our society, an age with less dependency on manual tasks and more on creative and stimulating ones.

This vision is what really excites me about personal robotics. It is the opportunity to combine my fascination for robotics with real impact in people’s lives, it is the opportunity to push forward such a transformative change.


I would greatly appreciate if you could help me put the final approval seal by helping me with the points below.

1) Flow - I tried to divided my essay in four sections. First line, clearly frame the essay. Second paragraph, give some background and set some direction. Third, the vision I see. And forth, why is this important to me. If you feel that in some point the essay is not flowing naturally or is jumping too much, please let me know why you feel that way, and what would you change.

2) Clarity - It is kind of a vision of the future, so some things are left in the air. Are you actually picturing things or are just void sentences? This is important because the board that is going to evaluate the essay is not a science or engineering board, it is just a general admission board. So, I really need to make sure that they are following up with my ideas.

3) Passion - This one is simple. Do you actually feel that I love the topic I am talking about? Did you feel excited in any point?

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LATEST ITERATION

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I realized that due to the nature of the question and the length of the essay it will be hard to have one single answer that comprises all the changes. Also, I thought it would be helpful for the forum to see how was the final state of the essay.

I am including my latest iteration. I am planning to update it as more feedback is given, and check the answer that contributes the most.

I have one professional objective: To bring personal robotics to every household.

Robotics research has made considerable strides toward solving hard robotics problems such as navigating unknown environments, recognizing and manipulating objects, and using natural language to interact. These advances have resulted in some interesting innovations, ranging from autonomous vacuum cleaners and self-parking cars to personal software assistants. Yet, these innovations are just the leading edge in a whole new wave of personal robotics applications to hit the marketplace.

This new wave of applications will reinvent society in extreme new ways. In my vision, self-driving cars will enable a faster, cheaper and safer transportation infrastructure; robotic nursing assistants will bring better health care to a rising number of elder people; and user-friendly flexible robots will liberate us from household chores. In principle, personal robotics will automate slavish and repetitive tasks and usher in a new age in our society, an age with less dependency on menial tasks and more on creative and stimulating ones.

Nevertheless, this vision of a world free of menial tasks has always created a personal conflict. Born and raised in Mexico, I have realized the importance that menial jobs play in low-income families. Yet, menial jobs such as taxi drivers, nurses and housemaids will be the first to be substituted by automated systems, which will leave a sizable void in the economy and in people’s welfare.

This personal conflict has drawn me to reconsider if personal robotics is the right professional objective. In the process, I have learned that unemployment is not an isolated consequence to personal robotics, but a common one to every technological revolution. Through history, people who lose their jobs due to a technological revolution have a hard time recovering from the change, being the following generation the one that adapts to the new economic dynamics and benefits from the technological advances.

Although personal robotic will improve people’s quality of life, my professional objective is deeply intertwined with my concern for low-income families, and pursuing the former without considering the later would be deceiving to myself. Consequently, no matter the role I play in the robotics industry, my professional objective will be strengthened if I complement it with a personal objective, the objective of retraining people to adjust and join into a new economic reality.

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I've edited this question to better align with our critique guidelines. –  justkt Nov 25 '11 at 15:38
    
@justkt. Thanks for the edition. It fits better the guidelines of the forum. –  Peretz Nov 25 '11 at 15:42
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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Evidently you have clear ideas about what you want the essay to accomplish, and a reasonably good understanding of what you are writing about. Your revised essay probably reaches most of the goals you set. However, it seems rather wordy to me. If you trim away empty phrases, you will improve the essay's readability and at the same time make room for more examples or deeper thoughts.

I have one professional objective: Push forward the personal robotics market.

Your objective should be prefaced by "To", I think. Also, "push forward" is awkward. Consider alternatives like: "To advance the frontiers of the personal robotics market", "To help mold the future of the personal robotics market", "To bring the promises of personal robotics to useful fruition". (Of course some of these also are awkward, hackneyed, or perhaps not what you want to say.)

Over the last few decades, robotics research has made considerable strides towards solving hard robotics problems such as navigating unknown environments, recognizing and manipulating objects, and using natural language to interact. These advances have resulted in some interesting robotic applications, ranging from autonomous vacuum cleaners and self-parking cars to personal software assistants. Yet, I believe these applications are the leading edge in a whole new wave of personal robotics applications to hit the marketplace.

Strike out "Over the last few decades" as it's wordy and does nothing for your essay. Change "towards" to "toward" and "manipulating" to "handling". (Reduced syllable count seems less verbose.) Also, you could change "using natural language to interact" to "natural language interaction" if you change "navigating" etc. to "navigation" etc.. Strike out "some interesting robotic applications, ranging from" and the coordinating "to". Strike out "Yet, I believe" and/or rewrite that last sentence; e.g., "These inventions are just a hint of the wave of personal robotics applications that will arrive in the decade ahead."

My belief is that this new wave of applications promises to transform society in extreme new ways. Among this new wave, self-driving cars promise to permit a much faster, cheaper and safer transportation infrastructure, robotic nursing assistants promise to bring quality of life to a raising number of elder people, and user-friendly flexible robots promise to liberate us from the chores in the house. In principle, personal robotics promise to automize slavish and repetitive tasks and usher in a new age in our society, an age with less dependency on manual tasks and more on creative and stimulating ones.

Drop "My belief is that", and perhaps change "promises to" to "will". How can something be "among" a wave? "Promise to permit" is clumsy or ungrammatical. "Automize" isn't a word. Change "raising" to "rising", "manual" to "menial", and "the chores in the house" to "household chores".

I assume you have all those "promise" phrases in there on purpose, and that each of them means "showing promise, and likely to develop in a desirable fashion" rather than oath, affirmation, or vow. The latter meaning would demonstrate "passion", the former much less so. Anyway, I'd change each "promise to" to "will", change "Among this new wave" to "In my vision", and use semicolons in place of several commas.

Update 1: Except for its last clause, your concluding paragraph

This vision is what really excites me about personal robotics. It is the opportunity to combine my fascination for robotics with real impact in people’s lives, it is the opportunity to advance such a transformative change.

can be made stronger by replacing several phrases by more-precise or more-pithy terms. Let me first mention what I see as problems: really and real are weak and overworked adjectives; excites and fascination are too-informal in tone; impact in probably is wrong; and the construction "It is the opportunity" (where "It" is "This vision") falls down.

Having pointed out some problems, I now should offer some useful suggestions for improvement. But as an an opinionated non-expert dabbler in writing, I find it much easier to point out problems than to fix them, and will merely say that perhaps you should write something to the effect that this vision has drawn you deeper into personal robotics work, and that in turn has shown you how personal robotics can have a real and positive effect on people’s lives, and you want to be involved in and help shape the field, and want an opportunity to advance such a transformative change.

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Your feedback is great. I was just wondering if you have any comments in the last paragraph in my essay? –  Peretz Nov 29 '11 at 0:11
    
@Peretz Please see update 1. –  jwpat7 Nov 29 '11 at 7:55
    
Thanks for the update 1, and sorry for the late late reply. I have been very busy with other parts of the application process. I reviewed your feedback for the last paragraph and it really made me think a lot to the extent that I added a new conclusion to my essay -- I included the latest iteration in the question. jwpat7, if you have some time available, I would greatly appreciate if you could let me know your opinion about this new conclusion. Thanks ;-) –  Peretz Mar 3 '12 at 2:19
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First impression:

The sentences are too long winded. Comma, comma, comma. The worst one begins with "Among this new wave". You can really use more than three sentences per paragraph. Break the sentences apart. That enhances clarity.

I wouldn't use the iceberg metaphor. First it's overused, second it is normally used to show negative things ("The government is corrupt. But that's only the tip of the iceberg. They arrest innocent people ..." - you know what I mean.)

If you use the expression "in a nutshell", you demonstrate clearly that the stuff you told before is not clear and concise. I'm not sure if you really want to do that here.

I stumbled on the two sentences beginning with "I believe" and "My belief". I was thinking "Haven't I read that a second before?". Maybe you can exchange one of these "beliefs".

Your passion to the topic is obvious. Or that you are exaggerating shamelessly. But I'm not sure you can do anything about that in such a short essay. It depends on the reader. If it is a grouch, he won't believe you. But that's a risk you have to take.

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Thanks for the initial observations. I was just wondering which sentences draw most of your attention about being to long winded. –  Peretz Nov 25 '11 at 16:24
    
I tried to do a parallel structure. do you have anything in mind on how to break it into parts? –  Peretz Nov 25 '11 at 18:45
    
@Peretz: No rocket science. Just put periods where now are commas: Among this new wave, self-driving cars promise to permit a much faster, cheaper and safer transportation infrastructure. Robotic nursing assistants promise to bring quality of life to a raising number of elder people. And user-friendly flexible robots promise to liberate us from the chores in the house. –  John Smithers Nov 25 '11 at 18:48
    
Does not sounds to broken into parts? –  Peretz Nov 25 '11 at 18:51
    
@Peretz: I don't think so. Reading long sentences is exhausting. The reader always tries to keep the beginning in his mind, because he cannot be sure that he needs it to complete the sentence at the end. You are just listing things, so you can give your reader a little rest in between. –  John Smithers Nov 25 '11 at 19:20
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