Curtiss Engstrom

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MS '21

My first thoughts when it came to applying to graduate school was: ‘Have I fallen and hit my head on something hard? Why do I want to subject myself to more school?’ The short answers were no (obviously) and why not.

My first experience with MPSDS was actually from being a JPSM junior fellow in the summer of 2018. This experience introduced me to various members of the MPSDS faculty and staff, and, more importantly, introduced me to thought of survey methodology as a subject of focus in graduate school. Along with graduating from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a degree in Sociology (with a Concentration in Analysis and Research (CAR)) and Political Science, my experience in the workforce, whether that was at NORC at the University of Chicago, RTI International, or the University of Wisconsin Survey Center, each one instilled in me the appreciation of those studying survey research.

From all of this, I determined applying, and, subsequently, going to the University of Michigan for a Masters in Survey and Data Science was and is the best option for my graduate school goals and put what I learned in undergrad and in the workforce to best use. What stood out to me was the quality of students and faculty here. Everyone here has one overarching goal, pursue new research in the advancement and preservation of survey research and its integrity. That was what drew me here and why I chose to attend graduate school here. My experience here so far has introduced me to great students in the program as well as faculty and staff that are welcoming and inviting and always willing to have a conversation about nearly everything, not just survey research.

My personal research interests mainly deal with what affects measurement error, such as question characteristics, wording, response options, and question order. My aim is to apply such research to political polls and surveys dealing with and in regard to politics to obtain more accurate results at a state level during election season.