April 6, 2024

How my passion for aerospace engineering led me to Princeton university with a full-ride


Jakub from Poland 🇵🇱

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How my passion for aerospace engineering led me to Princeton university with a full-ride

Hi, my name is Kuba Respekta, I’m from Poland and since August 2023 I have been studying at Princeton University.

My background

I attended an average high school in a small city in Poland - Nowy Sącz. I was very glad of my choice since the school provided me with a lot of freedom and flexibility. It was not a big problem if I skipped for example 3 weeks of school to carry on an internship. Of course, some miscommunication with the teachers occurred and the path was not always splendid, yet with my determination I managed to get over the given obstacles.

My major

I came here to pursue a Mechanical and Eerospace engineering major, but most probably I will switch to Operations Research and Financial Engineering (ORFE). I consider myself an aerospace guy, but the thing that deters me a bit from this path is the fact that I need a clearance form to work in the aerospace branch in the US. To obtain that I would need to get US citizenship or residence. Nonetheless, since I came to Princeton, I have taken advantage of how interdisciplinary Princeton is and how big of an opportunity it is for me. That is why I decided that I want to develop in as many branches as possible. ORFE is flexible in terms of course requirements.

Why Princeton

Princeton was the best university from the once I got accepted. It has also offered me a very generous financial aid package. The full ride given from Princeton was however just the addition to my choice. I was guided by the interdisciplinary aspect of the university because I appreciate immensely the amount of different courses I can deepen my knowledge. I am very much interested in engineering, but I also took international relations of China and a course about IGOs. Additionally, everyone during their first year has to take a writing seminar. It is a course that essentially teaches you all about academic writing. I’m also planning to take Ethics in Engineering and “how to succeed without selling your soul”. Thanks to all the countless possibilities after graduating from Princeton I will not just be an engineer, I am equipped with knowledge about world problems that I will be trying to solve using engineering I specialize in.

Studying abroad

I decided to go abroad mainly because in Poland there are no good aerospace engineering courses at universities. The moment I decided I wanted to pursue a career in aerospace engineering I knew I would do everything to get to the US since it is an entry for me to my dream career. And I got in there and I value the interdisciplinary aspect a lot. My advice for the applicants is to focus on your passion and focus on the opportunities the university will give you and how are you planning to use them.

Financial aid

I am on a full ride, so I am not paying for tuition, accommodation, and meal plan. Additionally, Princeton pays for some indirect costs like flights, coursebooks, and allowance. This makes studying here in the US much cheaper for me than if I had stayed in Poland. Moreover, any additional costs I can cover myself since I have a student job on campus (as an international student I can only work on campus). Usually, these student jobs are very chill, you can easily combine them with doing your homework and studying. Also, it gives you the sense of contributing to the campus community by helping other people. Adding on to the meal plan the university gives us 150$ to spend on food in the restaurants nearby campus and we are also given 20$ a day to buy snacks in a snack buffet on campus.

My application

I applied test-optional with the GPA from my Polish high school from the last 3 years of studying. I maintained a perfect GPA (6.0/6.0) throughout my high school and after I got accepted they also asked me to send the results of the Polish baccalaureate examination, so that they have the proof of maintaining the high academic standard.

My extracurriculars

My activity in the aero club, where I first started as a glider pilot, and then I worked there and participated in the distribution of medication for wild animals in Poland. From the gliders, there was medication thrown for wild forest animals. I started as a person responsible for throwing them and then successively advanced. I also tried adding some innovations to the company - for example, if there was a person responsible for throwing the medication it was often imprecise and I wanted to make it as precise as possible, so I constructed a machine that was responsible for carrying the operation more precisely. Additionally to this part, I also did some office work. Thanks to all that, I did a course for the glider pilot that normally is very expensive, but I didn’t have to pay for it, since I did it all while working for the aero club. This is very close to my heart - gliders don’t have engines so flying them is like survival. With every move of the steer, you decide about your life. This is such a nice escape from everyday problems for me.

Another of my extracurricular activities was research in the Space Technology Center of the AGH University in Cracow. In the astrobiology department, I researched how body and mind work in the conditions of space isolation that exist in space stations. The most fascinating part for me was the perception of time in space - I was closed for two weeks in the simulation of the space station, where I lived like an astronaut, with the same conditions as real astronauts. The stratospheric part was about sending the stratospheric balloons to make maps of the health of crops in certain places (the concentration of chlorophyll in plants). Then this data was shared with farmers who could then take action and eg. fertilize some areas more. I also helped with constructing the satellites that are now in space during my internship at SatRevolution in Wroclaw.

The next extracurricular activity was social engagement in the Youth Council of my city. During the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we made a big charity organization. We started with humanitarian aid on a big scale. There were over 1000 volunteers that I coordinated and we sent a lot of trucks to Ukraine with the first-need products. A lot of necessities were also distributed among the refugees in my region. We were sewing masking equipment and we organized Polish language lessons for Ukrainian refugee kids. Additionally in the Youth City Council, we conducted a couple of projects focusing on promoting sustainability and city clean-ups, that all the high schools in the city participated in.

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from Poland 🇵🇱

Duration of Study

Sep 2023 — May 2027


Operations Research and Financial Engineering

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Princeton University

Princeton University

Princeton, US🇺🇸


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Patryk from Poland 🇵🇱

UWC Dilijan student & politics passionate

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