Brandon's Bytes

Visiting the University of Michigan

10 Apr 2018

This post is a copy from my old website and blog. I have kept its original post date.

Around the time I posted Technical Interview with Nvidia, I had actually gone to a site visit for the CSE (Computer Science and Engineering) department at UMich, which I was invited to as an accepted Ph.D student.

I just realized that I had not actually posted anything about my plans after graduation: with convincing by Dr. Evans at UT, I decided on taking on a Ph.D after undergrad. After I had submitted a bunch of applications, I got an email from Dr. Scott Mahlke, reaching out to me and we set up a Google Hangout/phone call to discuss graduate school.

I had a pretty good time. I had to fly out on a Thursday, so I had to miss my classes that day (and ended up taking an exam early, on Wednesday). Thursday was more of a “flying-in” day, so there weren’t many things going on. Dr. Mahlke had a tight schedule would not be able to make it to the actual time for prospective student-professor meetings on Friday, so he asked me and some other UT Austin students to come swing by his office, and so we did. At night, after dinner, all of the CSE prospective students went to Zingerman’s Grayline for a reception where we got to interact with faculty and graduate students in an informal setting (really fun: Dr. Karem Sakallah and us UT Austin ECE students exchanged stories about Dr. Yale Patt’s antics).

Friday was a really fun day. We started off by going to the CSE building, listening to an introductory spiel by the head people, and then getting to see the posters of current Ph.D students. After that and lunch we had our scheduled meetings with various faculty members.

It was this series of meetings that really changed my opinion on UMich. Initially I had been ambivalent: I had been accepted to both UMich and UW-Madison CS/CSE programs with funding and it was a tossup for me. Both had their site visits at the same time and I went with UMich’s since they organized all my travel/lodging. After meeting with the professors and learning a bit more about the research they all do, I realized that my intended area of learning (computer architecture, systems software, and the stuff in between) is perfectly with what goes on a UMich.

One little thing that does irk me a bit about UMich is that there’s no campus carry in Michigan, whilst Wisconsin is more permissive, and Texas even more so (as long as it’s a public university). But hey, you win some you lose some.