Becoming Prepared for Life After MSR 

Four recent MSR graduates reflect on their time in the program and offer advice to future MSR students. 

The newest class of graduates from Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Robotics (MSR) program earned their degrees in December. After a year learning the specifics of robotics through an array of courses and hands-on projects, each graduate was ready to begin their new journey as MSR alumni.  

Before the graduates walked across the stage, four of them took time to reflect on their MSR journey and offer advice to future MSR students. 


  • Andru Liu (MSR '22), who will be working as a software engineer at Atom Limbs in San Francisco 
  • Cody Nichoson (MSR '22), who will be a software engineer working on autonomous underwater vehicles at the Applied Research Lab at the University of Texas at Austin 
  • Eric Codrea (MSR '22), who will start working as a software engineer and drone consultant at Ascend Engineering in Chicago  
  • Yuxuan Liang (MSR '22), who will be a R&D engineer at Trifo in Santa Clara, California 

What was it about MSR that initially appealed to you? 

AL: The close relationship with the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and the project-based curriculum. 

CN: The cohort model, project-based curriculum, condensed timeline, and prestige of the university all greatly appealed to me. 

EC: A one-year robotics program that allowed freedom to focus on whatever you wanted. 

YL: Fast-paced courses and a well-established lab equipment/procurement process. 

How valuable was the project-based focus of the curriculum for you? 

CN: Incredibly important. I consider myself an industry-focused engineer, so the countless opportunities to apply technical skills to real-world projects was highly desirable for me. Taking concepts beyond the classroom aligns really well with my personal learning process and allows me to grow as an individual much quicker. 

AL: It was extremely valuable to get the experience of working on complex software projects both individually and in a team. It gave me multiple talking points for job interviews and the ability to hit the ground running when brought into new teams. 

What are the most important lessons you learned in the program? 

CN: Being adaptable and unafraid to take on challenges. Sometimes you just have to say yes to something hard and trust that you will figure it out as you go. You're always capable of more than you think. 

AL: The value of teamwork and relying on others to support you in areas you may be weak in. When working in a team, every individual has their own strengths and weaknesses, which help to form a strong foundation. 

EC: Always make sure you've got a good video of your project 

How do you think the program prepared you for life after MSR? 

AL: I feel strongly prepared. In the technical aspects, the program provided ample preparation for what is required in the industry, both in standards and in skills. For job preparation, it provided practice in juggling multiple projects and working with diverse teams. 

CN: I feel very prepared for transitioning into an industry position after this program. That was one of my main goals coming to Northwestern (I even mentioned it in my application essay), and based on my interviews and conversations with various robotics companies, I'd say the program succeeded in doing so. 

What advice would you give to future MSR students? 

CN: Get comfortable being confused, but confident you will figure it out. This program and cohort model is the perfect environment to do hard things with the comfort of an incredible support system behind you. You'll come out of the program with both honed technical skills and incredibly valuable friendships. Also, don't forget to take a break and do something fun every now and then! 

EC: Do everything, because [your time in the] program will end before you know it. 

AL: Work together with your cohort and build a good working environment with the people who will be your closest connections, especially if you are entering a new field. 

Is there anything else you'd like to add? 

CN: I've always been one to make safe choices throughout my personal and academic life, and choosing to attend this program was a gigantic leap of faith. Now that I'm about to graduate, I could not be happier with my decision to join this program and would do it again 1,000 times over.  

McCormick News Article