COVID-19 provides international student opportunity to accelerate education

Monday, May 2, 2022
Image of Bhowmick presenting

Bhowmick presenting as a part of the 2022 Three-Minute Thesis Challenge.

The effects of COVID-19 extended far beyond the physical health of the UNH community. Among the many disruptors impacting the nation, college students’ post-graduation career plans were delayed. However, some students found silver linings available through the accelerated master’s program at UNH.

In May of 2020, Debarpan Bhowmick was an undergraduate student finishing his senior year in mechanical engineering when the pandemic first hit. He was excitedly applying to jobs and ready to enter the workforce. Widespread shutdowns left Bhowmick with non-responsive job applications and he struggled to find work in his field. While contemplating next steps, he received an email from the UNH Graduate School with an application deadline extension offer. This piqued his interest and he explored graduate study options available through the mechanical engineering graduate program.

“At the beginning of the pandemic I was feeling frustrated by my job search. The accelerated master’s program provided me with the perfect next step while I waited for the world to settle down post-COVID,” Bhowmick says.

His graduate study experience with the UNH Graduate School has provided him with ample learning opportunities including conducting applied field research under the supervision of his faculty advisor, Professor May-Win Thein, as well as serving as a graduate teaching assistant (TA) within the program. This not only provided Bhowmick with graduate funding opportunities, but also allowed him to continue studying and developing applied skills in his preferred field.

Bhowmick also competed in the university-wide 3 Minute Thesis, a competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ) in which graduate students summarize their academic research into a brief presentation for a non-specialized audience. Competitors are allowed one PowerPoint slide, but no other resources or props. As a participant, Bhowmick was provided with several professional development workshop opportunities which helped him hone his presentation and elevator pitch skills which has helped him prepare for job interviews.

After graduation, Bhowmick hopes to work with robotics or control systems engineers.