Explore VIPER

Posted on by Dean Furda

Today, Jane Dmochowski, Ph.D., Managing Director of the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER), discusses the VIPER essay. Continue reading for insight and information.

2013-14 essay: “Describe your interests in energy science and technology and your previous experiences (academic, research, and extracurricular activities) that have helped you to appreciate the scientific or engineering challenges related to energy and sustainability. If you have previous experience with research, consider describing your research project at a level appropriate for an educated non-expert, outlining the goals, hypotheses, approach, results, and conclusions. Describe how your experiences have shaped your research and interests, and how the VIPER program will help you achieve your goals.”

“The intention of the VIPER program is to educate undergraduate students on the science and technology of alternative and efficient methods of production, conversion and use of energy through a program that takes advantage of existing expertise and resources within SAS and SEAS, combining coursework, research, and group activities to create an ideal environment for learning. (If you are curious about the types of energy science and technology research conducted at Penn, you should check out The Penn Center for Energy Innovation: Pennergy.)

Most importantly in VIPER, we’re looking for the right fit. Your essay should demonstrate not only why you are ready for such a program, but also what you want to learn and why you think VIPER is the program for you. The essay should detail why you want to research energy science and technology and in which ways you are prepared to do so. Make sure to tell us why you want to do a dual degree between the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Science and why the focus on energy science and technology appeals to you. What do you love about science and engineering? What is your experience with research? Research experiences described in the essay do not need to be energy-specific, nor do they need to detail an extraordinary scientific finding, but if you have previous experience with research, your description should include how this experience was meaningful and what you learned from it. Tell us how your experiences, in research and otherwise, have shaped your plans for future research, career goals, and interests, and how these experiences make you a good fit for the VIPER program.”

Take time to review Page 217’s series on Penn’s interdisciplinary programs as you move forward in the application process. Note essay tips from the the Rajendra and Neera Singh Program in Networked & Social Systems Engineering (NETS), the Huntsman Program in International Studies & Business, the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology (M&T), the Nursing and Health Care Management Coordinated Dual-Degree program (NHCM), and the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences & Management (LSM).


*PAGE 217
refers to the always legendary and occasionally dreaded essay which was once a mainstay of the University of Pennsylvania application. The question read as follows: “You have just finished your three hundred page autobiography. Please submit page 217.”

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