A Bond Among Classmates

Students in Northwestern's Master of Science in Robotics (MSR) program talk about the relationships they built and the lessons they learned from one another.

There is a passion that exists among students in Northwestern's Master of Science in Robotics (MSR) program. There also is a sense of admiration and respect.

"I've never seen a group of people spend so much time and effort on their homework and projects as I did here," said Solomon Wiznitzer (MSR '18). "It inspired me to take my work even more seriously."

MSR students enter Northwestern in the fall as a cohort and move through the program together, working side-by-side on projects, assignments, and professional development. In doing so, students not only learn from faculty, but they also gain invaluable knowledge from one another.

Past and present MSR students were recently asked what they learned from their classmates. Here are some of their responses:

  • Working together and asking for help is better than trying to solve everything yourself.
  • Work-life balance is not just possible, it is critical.
  • I learned to be aggressive and self-motivated while studying, and also how to be communicative in team operations.
  • I've picked up a few debugging tricks.
  • I learned perseverance.
  • My classmates taught me it's never too late to learn something new.
  • I was reminded that every roboticist has their own strengths and weaknesses.
  • I realized that your most substantive, defining work will include a team.

MSR students build connections with one another in the classroom, and oftentimes, those bonds evolve into friendships outside of the classroom.

"MSR is like a little family," said Drew Warren (MSR '18). "We did our projects together, we did our homework together, we got pizza on the weekends, we looked out for each other."

When he wasn't working on robotics, Warren said he liked to unwind by reading, playing video games or biking. In fact, in a survey of past and present MSR students and alumni, 75% said they liked doing some sort of physical activity — from working out and soccer to windsurfing and tennis — as a way to take a mental break from their coursework. In several instances, survey respondents said they chose to take up hobbies with their classmates.

In doing so, they learned about each other's backgrounds, their cultures, and their beliefs. In the process, they grew as individuals and as a cohort.

"I've never worked with such a diverse group of people before," Wiznitzer said. "I appreciate the experience."