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Updated: November 29, 2011 16:32 IST

Studying in the Badger land

Ashwini Simha
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Ashwini Simha with an ice sculpture of the university's sports mascot, Bucky Badger
Ashwini Simha with an ice sculpture of the university's sports mascot, Bucky Badger

"Fall season, my most favourite, bejewelled the entire town with gorgeous golden yellow maple leaves."

The two things I knew about Wisconsin when I applied there for a master's: University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) was a world class institution and it was going to be freezing six months of the year. Believe it or not, the latter was just as important in my decision to choose Wisconsin for graduate studies as was the former.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison, founded in 1848, is located in the capital city of Madison in the State of Wisconsin. Commonly considered a “public ivy” school, a public university that offers education comparable to that of the Ivy League, the university has been most well-known for its renowned research in various fields and has 20 schools offering over hundred graduate degree programmes (MS, Ph.D).

I was in the Master's programme in Computer Engineering. I chose to specialise in Computer Architecture, a field in which much of the fundamental research was accomplished by UW faculty. This elite faculty gave us a broad insight into research and industrial aspects of Computer Engineering. The departments of ECE and CS have several cross-listed courses and some courses offered are power systems, electromagnetics in core EE and databases and computer graphics in CS. The ECE department also collaborates with the Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering departments to offer various interdisciplinary courses.

The courses in the university were very well-structured for deep understanding of the subject. Weekly assignments and projects prepared us strongly for the industry. Each semester had two career fairs organised by the Engineering Career Services (ECS), which conducted numerous interview-training and resume-writing workshops.

With a population of over 40,000 students, the university offers immense diversity. The International Students Services (ISS) organised various orientation programmes that played a major role in integrating all the cultures into school life; these also helped us interact with students of different countries and backgrounds.

Living on campus was one of my most favourite aspects about Madison. Just about a mile from the State Capitol building, sandwiched between Lakes Mendota and Monona, the main campus extends over 900 acres. Bascom Hall, the heart of the campus, is a breathtakingly beautiful landmark. The Camp Randall stadium is home to the famous Wisconsin Badgers football team. The epicenter of campus life, Memorial Union, located on the shore of Lake Mendota, has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful unions on a university campus. It is a great place to meet and socialise.

Graduate studies in Wisconsin gave me a well-rounded college experience. Madison, a university town, is always bustling with youthful energy — it has the advantages of a big city without all the hassles of one. Located in the heart of the Midwest USA, Madison has four beautiful seasons, something I had never seen in India.

Spring had lovely blooming flowers and provided fresh enthusiasm of looking forward to the rest of the year. Summer painted picture-postcards of serene sailboats on Lake Mendota. Fall season, my most favourite, bejewelled the entire town with gorgeous golden yellow maple leaves and winter engulfed the whole everything in white snow. The pristine lake that I sailed on during the summer months was the same lake frozen that I walked on during winter.

Recreation was plenty all year long — ice skating, skiing, snow-kiting, sailing, windsurfing, biking, roller-blading! I feel lucky to have studied in such a great institution. Wisconsin is just the whole package!

Graduated in May 2011 from UW-Madison. Currently employed as graphics hardware engineer, Intel Corporation, California

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