Essay Clinic: Accepted Essay to University of Birmingham’s Master of Research Program in Chemical Engineering


Indonesia Mengglobal Essay Clinic is our effort to provide tangible help for Indonesian applicants who want to study abroad. This essay clinic is not meant to showcase ‘the perfect essay’, but by analyzing other people’s essays (what works, what does not work, what’s good, what’s bad), we hope you can learn how to write an effective application essay and how to continuously improve your own essay. We also accept essay submissions. Click here to learn on how to participate!!

Note on the Essay

This essay was already submitted as a motivation letter(Statement of Purpose) to University of Birmingham for a Master of Research program in Chemical Engineering. The author has already been accepted to the program and will be starting the school year this coming Fall 2015. The author hopes that this essay can be a contribution for Indonesia Mengglobal’s readers to set an example of a good essay.


The Essay

My education in engineering originated in a desire to develop something that would have a positive impact on the world, especially my country. This revelation honestly did not come out in my younger age. When I attended the freshman engineering orientation at Institut Teknologi Bandung I was unsure of what field I would want to pursue. But a class I took on my third year changed that. I knew what I always wanted to do. When I took the class Coal Processing and Utilization, I received an assignment to write a paper on “Coal Gasification for Solid Oxide Fuel Cell”. That paper opened my eyes about Fuel Cell Technology and promising future held within especially for the important growth of sustainable energy.

Born in a developing country like Indonesia, I have first-hand experiences on how my country struggle to find alternative solutions on sustainable energy that can reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Indonesia spends more than 20% of the state budget for fuel subsidies which only hinders the development of sustainable energy alternatives in long run. Fossil fuels are being depleted at an alarming rate without any clear solution to a potential energy crisis in the coming years. Our dependence on fossil fuel amounts to global pyromania, and the only fire extinguisher we have at our disposal is sustainable energy. What can I do to make a difference in that sensitive area and help my country create a breakthrough in this research?

Hydrogen and electricity together represent one of the most promising ways to realise sustainable energy, whilst fuel cells provide the most efficient conversion device for converting hydrogen, and possibly other fuels, into electricity. Hydrogen and fuel cells open way to integrated “open energy systems” that simultaneously address all major energy and environmental challenges, and have the flexibility to adapt to the diverse and intermittent renewable energy sources. I am fascinated with the wonder of Fuel Cell Technologies as I believe that this is an area that currently lacks depth and that new, viable alternatives need to be found for my country.

I believe that the development of a viable fuel cell would provide an important alternative in the power generation and that this could later be applied to the bigger picture, sustainable energy in Indonesia. We can already see the uses of fuel cells on space missions since the 1960’s and nowadays on vehicle applications on the road. In this industry in particular I believe that fuel cells are outperforming both petrol engines and batteries because of the specific requirements. I believe this shows the potential of fuel cells to revolutionize technology in a broader sense and even revolutionize the industrial landscape.

My interests in Fuel Cell Technologies are deep-seated and the Chemical Process Industries class reaffirmed my interest after my final paper for Coal Processing and Utilization class. My professor even asked my permission to use my paper as his reference for international seminar. Since that time I have developed a passion for fuel cell and furthermore give me encouragement to further my understanding in a number of different subjects including neuroscience and psychology.
Studying bachelor degree in Chemical Engineering has also provided me with a skill palette which I believe will contribute to my application. Numerous team projects, leading 32 laboratory assistants as a lab assistant coordinator have provided me with valuable communication and organisational skills, in addition to the key analysis skills needed when conducting design trade-offs.

My leadership skills have also been tested by being a Head Secretary for international event conducted by ITB Chemical Engineering Student Union. In this role I have been responsible for organizing all head divisions for producing well-organized team, implementing standardized procedures that supported, establishing roles and responsibility that clearly defined tasks for the first international event from our student union. In my 4th year I also undertook two international event conducted by AUN/SEED-Net to fulfil my knowledge about communication and organisational skills internationally.

I believe this MRes would combine both of my passions and not only make me an expert in the Fuel Cell Technology field, but also strengthen my vision to share my knowledge and enthusiasm with the next generation and further. After finishing this program, I want to become a proffesional in fuel cell technology and research, for I want to pursue Professional Doctorate in Engineering (PDEng) and I could also teach along with generating the awareness of renewable energy.

Review from Sandy Suhardja, PhD graduate in Geophysics from Univ of Texas – Austin,

Overall, this essay can be improved a lot through the use of less complex words as well as grammar fixes here and there.

  • 1st paragraph:
    • “originated in a desire” => “has inspired”
    • “An assignment paper on Goal Gasification for … has open my eyes about …” => “I was born in … and I experienced how we struggle to find …”
  • 2nd paragraph:
    • In the beginning of the sentence, you should write, “I began to ask my self..”
  • 3rd paragraph:
    • “as I believe that this is an area that currently lacks depth and that new, viable alternatives need to be found for my country”
      “and I believe this is a field  that can be developed and suitable for Indonesia.”
  • 4rd paragraph:
    • “We can already see” => “We have seen” 
    • “..fuel cells are outperforming both petrol engines and batteries because of the specific requirements”
      “Outperforming” and “the specific requirements” are ambiguous terms, should have a better explanation.
  • 5th paragraph:
    • It is a bit confusing on why the author suddenly mentioned neuroscience and psychology. It doesn’t seem to support fuel cell technology, so these unrelated phrases should be removed.
  • 6th paragraph:
    • Studying bachelor degree in Chemical Engineering…” =>  “ Chemical Engineering degree …”
  • Last paragraph:
    • It is the end of the essay, so it should nicely sum up the main ideas from the prior paragraphs.


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