Interview with MEng. student Katie Szeto


MEng. student Katie Szeto

What were your interests as a high school student and how did you come to choose Course 6 when you came to MIT?

I started dancing classical ballet at the age of three, fell in love with the art form, and was dancing about 25 hours per week by senior year of high school.  I almost deferred coming to MIT for a year so that I could dance professionally with a small contemporary dance company in Buffalo, New York.  Once I got to MIT, I actually tried to avoid being course VI (this is because my dad was an electrical engineer and I was determined to do something different).  I considered majoring in Math, Biology, Physics, and Materials Science, but after taking 6.00 and 6.041, I realized course VI was the best fit for me here.  It was a great choice!

Once you decided to major in Course 6, what led you to choose 6-2? 

Once I decided to major in Course 6, I chose 6-2 because I fell in love with the field of Communications (while taking 6.02, no less).  The problems in that area are intriguing, rich, and complex, and I felt 6-2 would give me the greatest exposure to those problems and prepare me best to tackle them by giving me a solid grounding in both EE and CS.  I am the kind of person that likes to learn many different skill sets, then figure out how to blend them together and apply them in new areas and 6-2 gave me such an opportunity.

What are the aspects of 6-2 and the MEng. Program you liked the best and how have you found your interests grow or change as you've gone on?

As a 6-2 undergraduate, and now as an M.Eng. student, I am always awed by the number of opportunities I have had to form strong relationships with course VI faculty and staff.  By attending office hours, doing a UROP, or just making an appointment to meet with a professor, you can lay the foundation for a great mentorship experience.  I also love the students in course VI.  A lot of what I learned at MIT is thanks to my peers.

Where do you envision yourself headed next and how do you think 6-2 and the MEng Program has prepared you?

I am not sure where I am headed next.  I have come to love academia, but also think I have reached a point where my impact in industry will be higher than my impact were I to stay in academia.  I was accepted into Harvard Business School's 2+2 program, which means upon completion of my M.Eng., I will work in industry for two years, then go to HBS and get my MBA for two years.  I can see myself doing product management in the tech space, or something completely different.  I think education is a fascinating and challenging problem, so I hope that one day my work will be centered around that area.  My time at MIT in course VI has given me great confidence that I will be able to handle whatever problems my future career throws at me.  This is because course VI taught me how to think - how to model things, how to approach problems, how to be critical and open minded at the same time, how to prioritize various competing entities, how to work with people, and the value of hard work.