College Interviews Part 2

College Interviews Part 1 contained interviews with MIT, University of Chicago, Yale, and Harvard. They are described with much more detail than the ones in this post.

This post contains interviews with Carnegie Mellon, University of Texas at Austin (twice, for Dean’s Scholars scholarship interviews), and Princeton.

Carnegie Mellon

Interviewer: Eric Stuckey
Setting: Saturday, 1/16/10, 1 pm – 2:15 pm, Genuine Joe’s (West Anderson Lane)

The interview can be summarized in two words: Computer science.

As of my writing this, a week has passed since this interview. I actually cannot remember some of the specific questions that he asked me; perhaps this is because it was for the most part a fascinating conversation. I got to the coffeehouse about 10 minutes early and bought two coffees; he arrived about 5 minutes late, and declined the coffee because it contained caffeine, and went for hot chocolate instead. So, I had two cups of coffee for myself.

He first asked me why I was interested in CMU. I mentioned how I knew a few Westwood students who went there, and how its high rankings in the computer science departments caught my eye. It seemed like an interview for only five or so minutes. The remaining hour and some was just a nice and mostly intellectual discusison.

We talked a lot about computer science, and CMU’s involvement in it. One point of discussion was the self-driving car, or rather, CMU’s pioneering of it. In the mid-1990s CMU designed, built, and tested such a thing. That’s right, in the 1990s! I guess I didn’t do my research; I thought engineers were just starting to work on that.

In 2005-6, there were two competitions for a self-driving car. CMU won the first, and placed second the next year. However, the first-place team, Stanford, included someone who had just been on the CMU team the year before. In other words, CMU is a leader in the advancement of computer technology.

We went on to other topics in computer science, and he really emphasized CMU’s strengths in the field. I asked about the rankings in particular—why is CMU ranked so high in computer science, i.e. what exactly does it have? The answer was simply two things: good students and good faculty.

For a while we discussed the intellectual realm in general. Computer science itself, even though a relatively new field, has expanded considerably and is now a fairly broad field.


These two are scholarship interviews, not admissions interviews. They are both pretty short, so I will not elaborate further.

Interviewer: Alan Cline
Setting: Friday, 1/22/10, 2 pm – 2:15 pm, On campus

He first mentioned that my school, Westwood HS, had more students in Dean’s Scholars than any other school. We discussed my IB Extended Essay on a modification of the Riemann zeta function.

Interviewer: Jim Vick
Setting: Friday, 1/22/10, 2:15 pm – 2:30 pm, On campus

Similar to the previous one. The main point of discussion was the Riemann zeta function.


Interviewer: Amy Mitchell (’77)
Setting: Saturday, 1/23/10, 3 pm – 4:15 pm, Starbucks (Research and Anderson Mill)

This was a pretty amazing interview. We covered an extensive range of topics with a lot of depth. It was very conversation-like. It felt similar to the Yale interview.