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I'm new to these forums, but I thought I'd take a stab at asking about my situation. I have two BS degrees, one in electrical engineering and the other in physics. I'm wanting to go to grad school in either physics, engineering, or something in between. My problem is that I have a 2.3 cumulative gpa, however I do have a slew of other things going for me that I was wanting to get opinions on how much they would help with admissions.
I've done research in plasma physics for over 2 years. It was due to that project that I was place into the McNair Scholars program and was given the opportunity to travel overseas to perform research at a European fusion energy lab last year. I've graduated, but was hired by the same research group to perform data analysis work for the project. I learned alot about experimental physics: solid state particle detectors, vacuum chambers, spectrum analysis, linux operation systems, and so on.
In my engineering major I become involved with a team that built, tested, programmed and will be launching an amateur radio satellite. I worked on the power systems of the craft, and learned alot about surface mount soldering, solar cells and battery charging power circuits, etc. I'm also planning the building and programming of a rotating machinery for our ground antennas. Out of this might come the chance to work with a mechanical engineering group launching their own satellite.
I also work in the power industry, currently as an intern, where I've done a few projects related to internet monitoring of devices attached to power lines, learned pcb design skills here. My job also had me write a paper (so I'd be first author there) related to cyber security that will be going to a conference later this year. Not sure if this will help specifically since that work isn't necessarily what I want to do graduate research in.
I'm currently taking a year off to work, pay off debts, and study for good scores on the general and subject GRE's. I was also plannig on taking 1 or 2 grad courses and planning to ace them. My bad grades came from my first year courses, not from my junior and senior in-major courses. Come application time I can get plenty of good recommendation letters from various sources (not just in my university). I know my gpa is going to hurt me, but I was wondering if anyone has any experience about how much things I've done outside the classroom would offset that. Thanks for any opinions that might be helpful. Sorry for the wall of text.