Vona '99 applies to grad school

by Andrew Allport | 11/25/98 6:00am

One of senior Marty Vona's passions is building things. For his current engineering class, Vona, is in the process of building a bridge, which he and partners hope will withstand tests of its strength and flexibility. They hope to find the ideal combination of materials that will withstand the greatest amount of stress.

The process is a similar one to applying to graduate school -- Vona must put together applications that show the greatest of his own strengths.

As a double major in computer science and engineering and owner of a personal webcam, Vona said he plans on applying to graduate schools in computer science and spend his time doing research. Unlike many of his classmates, Vona said he was not interested in getting a paying job right after graduation, but wants to wait until after he finishes his graduate degree.

Vona is not even sure what kind of job he will want after getting a Ph.D., but instead he hopes graduate school will show him where to go. Right now, he said, his interests lie mostly in his classes, and at work in the robotics laboratory in Cummings Hall.

Vona has worked for over a year in the lab, including two terms full time. He said this experience was akin to actually being a graduate student, since most of his co-workers are enrolled at the Thayer School of Engineering. Going to graduate school there would not be a big change from what he does now.

However, Vona, who is from Clinton, N.Y., said he wants to build his personal bridge to stretch far away from Hanover. "All of my off terms have been here -- I want to get away," he said.

He plans on applying to computer science programs at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he said everyone told him to go, as well as Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University, the California Institute of Technology and the University of California at Berkeley.

The application process is not unlike the undergraduate college forms filled out by high schoolers, but "instead of the SATs, we have the GREs, which are harder," he said.

Also, students must have recommendations from professors, a task made easier "when you know and are friends with your profs," he said. Vona said professors are one of students' best resources when it comes to choosing a graduate school.

"If you can find a professor that went to a school you're applying to, they can tell you a lot," he said.

The bridge to graduate school has taken a long time to build for Vona, who decided to double major just last year. Although he acknowledged that "it probably would have been better to take other stuff" besides computer science and math-related courses, he said Dartmouth's liberal arts atmosphere influences all fields of study.

Also, though the main body of his studies has been in the sciences, Vona said his best experience at the College was his Language Study Abroad in Barcelona.