Madhura Sridhar remembers the exact moment she knew she wanted to attend Rice.
"I first came to Houston for my brother's graduation from UH," she said. "While I was here, I went out jogging and stumbled upon this really beautiful campus, and that's when I knew. I saw it that day and made up my mind that Rice was where I would apply to grad school."
Sridhar, an industrial engineering professional master's student, calls Rice her "dream school".
"Rice feels like a second home to me," she said. Coming from India, Sridhar said she didn't find the transition too difficult; even the Houston dining scene exceeded her expectations. "I love the food here. I can get any type of Indian food I want in Houston. It's something you miss the most in a new place, and I get the food I want, so I don't miss that part."
When she first learned about industrial engineering, Sridhar was a chemical engineer completing a certification program at KPMG and decided to make the leap to a new field. "I thought industrial engineering was really cool and could make a difference in any company in the world," she said. "It's all about efficiency and making change, and that spoke to me. It's a really fun job that uses a lot of statistical tools, and has a lot of career options."
Rice's program in industrial engineering explores modern industrial systems. Analyzing and optimizing system performance is very challenging; for example, the number of ways that Federal Express can route its vehicles vastly exceeds the number of atoms in the universe. The program provides hands-on and networking experience for students, in addition to coursework.
"One awesome thing about Houston and Rice is that there are a lot of companies here, and Rice grads are in all of them," she said. "I got to speak to a lot of these alumni, and they told me how they got into that company, and what it's like working there. There is a lot of interaction and exposure to Rice alumni. They are so nice, and it's a big and supportive network."
The program also allows students to complete a capstone project in industry. "You get real experience and exposure to how real life works," Sridhar said.
Her advice to prospective students is to apply early, network as much as possible, and focus on goal setting. "Look at the course work, see if you fit in there, and speak to professors or alumni," she advises. "Try to figure it out and see how the school is. If you rush into things, you won't be prepared."