For the past three years, we have given students an opportunity to showcase their engineering-inspired creations and projects by submitting a Maker’s Portfolio. This optional (not secretly required) portion of the application helps admissions officers get some insight into how you might fit in to our community of hands-on engineering students.
So who are Tufts Engineers anyway? They are builders and tinkerers. They like to get their hands dirty, break things, and figure out how to put them back together again. They also think across disciplines and on a global scale in order to give context to the work they carry out during their time at Tufts.
Before you rush off to the store to buy parts to build a drone or start growing algae to produce biofuel, I do want to emphasize that these portfolios are completely optional. We will never penalize students for not having a Maker’s Portfolio.
Last year, we received some incredible submissions from aquaponics to super practical apps to human-carrying drones. After reflecting on the submissions and consulting with our evaluators, I want to share some advice on how to put together a great Maker’s Portfolio!
Do: Ask yourself why this project is meaningful to you and if it makes an impact on society.
Did you come up with a solution to a problem you encountered? Were you enthralled by an engineering elective at school? Does working with your hands genuinely just make you happy? Personal projects sometimes make more compelling Maker’s Portfolios because we get to know you better both as an engineer and a person! How your project helps others can also be important. Tufts Engineers are civic-minded; they create for a purpose.
Don’t: Choose not to submit a Maker’s Portfolio just because it may not be the most groundbreaking or innovative project ever to be made.
We don’t expect our engineering students to be experts when they arrive on campus, but we do like to see your tenacity, grit, and creativity in addition to a collaborative spirit, intellectual curiosity, and more. Your project doesn't have to be the invention that saves the world, but if you are excited about it, then tell us!
Do: Take some time to craft your responses!
I know... Applying to college is TIME CONSUMING. There are so many supplements to write and forms to fill out. We try not to ask you too many questions for the portfolio, but we do still want to get a good idea of your project, how you did it and why you did it.
Don’t: Devote all of your time and energy to this portion of your application
Remember what I said at the beginning of this blog? The Maker’s Portfolio is optional. And, like other optional parts of your application, your portfolio will not make or break your application. If you find that you are devoting many hours of your time polishing and perfecting your answers, understand that we aren’t expecting you to sound like a fully formed professional engineer when you’re applying to college. Use technical language if the moment calls for it (portfolios are evaluated by current engineering students), but also keep in mind that we as admissions officers want to be able to understand your project and why it’s exciting to you!
Do: Prioritize a single project
The most exciting portfolios we see are typically those that focus on a single project rather than a hodgepodge of smaller projects. If you have a number of projects that you would like to share, pick the one that’s the most exciting to you. Maybe it’s that robot or piece of software that you keep tweaking until it’s just right, or maybe you’ve been spending your weekends at a local college’s research lab. Whatever the case may be, tell us about that one project that excites you, the one that challenges you, or the one that you can’t wait to share with your friends.
Don’t: Just send a research paper
If you’ve done research in high school, co-authored a research paper, or made a research poster, that’s awesome! If you plan on submitting this research as your Maker’s Portfolio, we ask that you show instead of tell. Show us what you did research on. If you built a prototype, show us that prototype and talk about how you contributed to it. For us, seeing what you’ve worked on and hearing you talk about it is much more compelling than reading the research paper. At the end of the day, we are trying to get to know you in this process.
As admissions officers, we are always looking for a fit for Tufts Engineering—in the essays, in the extra-curricular activities, and in the Maker’s Portfolio. Engineering at Tufts takes grit, collaboration, stick-to-itiveness, creativity, playfulness, humility, intellectual curiosity, kindness, and more. You do not need to check all these qualities but as we review your portfolio, we'll look for some of these soft skills that tell us about who you might be in a lab, on a team, or in the classroom. For example, we understand that some projects can be done solo and some projects require group work or advice from teachers. Engineering is all about collaboration. If you were the leader of the group, you should showcase your leadership and your involvement in the work but don't forget about your teachers and your teammates!
Hopefully with these tips, you are ready to take on our Maker's Portfolio. We can't wait to see what you have created!