The Mechanical Maestro: Mitesh Mishra

The Mechanical Maestro: Mitesh Mishra

A final year Undergraduate of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Mitesh Mishra’s story has been the dubbed the stuff legends are made of in college. In the 4 years of his presence at this institute, he has donned several responsibilities and ensured that garb did not fall off at any second. Having made sure that he gives as much back to the institute as he has taken, he sat down on a Saturday afternoon surrounded by people who made his stay at NITR worth it and recounted tales of his life. Monday Morning has taken the onus of bringing to you the story that needed to be told.

MEET MITESH MISHRA: THE PERSON

Mitesh Mishra’s outward façade, confident gait, and professionalism often deceive people into thinking that, it's all that is to this legend at NITR. However, the ones who manage to break through his tough exterior, get to meet a beautifully intricate man made of several mixed emotions. He is famed for maintaining an extremely fine balance between his personal and professional life. His love and dedication for his family are unmatched and even unheard of. Having been raised by his courageous mother and 2 sisters after his father’s demise, the garb of responsibility that he donned to ensure that his family faces no hardship due to him hasn’t left him ever since. For a generation which is disproportionately concerned about snatching the best for itself and suffers from the syndrome of the ‘fear of missing out’, Mitesh Mishra, as you will find out in the subsequent paragraphs, has happily decided to align his professional goals in line with his family’s welfare.

A glimpse of him hanging out with his closest pals will convince you that he knows the value of people in his life, in turn making sure that they feel valued by him always. Preetam Khuntia, Hardik Bohra, Rohit Suri, Abhishek Panda, Yusuf Farooque and Jitesh Kumar happen to be his closest confidantes, along with whom he has shared his biggest failures, insecurities and the best of times cycling around the campus, bunking classes or borrowing things from pens to clothes before placements. Yasmin Kukul and Aratrika Ghose have been two of his staunchest supporters and thickest friends through his ups and downs.

He has a habit of waking up at 5 A.M and making sure he reads a good book or a piece of text for a minimum of 1 hour before class. Another cheat sheet to a good and organized day was revealed by him as follows:

The moment I wake up, I open my pocket notebook and note down all my tasks for the day. It helps me to gain perspective about how I would go about the day in the most optimized manner possible. I always ensure that I tick off most of the tasks by the time the day ends.

Upon being questioned about his alleged habit of making tiny notes in all the books that he reads, he quips and says,

Well, I do that because I don’t understand everything at the first go. I would read a book twice, and it is only during the second time that I understand its meaning. In addition, if I find any portion or sentence in the book that is worth quoting, I note it in a small notepad or in a word document.

His diligence for the smallest of things has never gone unnoticed. It was only natural to assume that he had worked immensely hard for the final year dance in Jashn for his branch. As audience, we can definitely vouch for the fact that Mitesh Mishra, the perfectionist showed through in the dance. Clean moves and intensely engaging expressions of his made him stand out again. Upon being asked whether he was satisfied with the result; he blurts with glee:

Was it not evident? I was definitely exhilarated by the performance and enjoyed during and after, to the core.

 

His parents have been a huge influence on him. He can even pinpoint the qualities that he has imbibed from each of his parents. He attributes his micromanagement skills, time management skills and the courageous attitude to his beloved mother, who despite having no formal education went on to raise them with unmatched grace.

He believes that the biggest lesson that his father taught him through example was after he passed away. Mitesh Mishra recounts the tale with utter poignancy.

I was proceeding towards the cremation ground of my father with my relatives and had been oblivious of all that my parents had done for us as well as for others. As an 8-year old kid, I was amazed at the huge crowd that had gathered to pay their last respects to my father. I later got to know that these were the people who my father had helped at some point or the other of his life. In one instance, there was this huge group of people from a village, who had been treated free of cost by my father over the years. On that day, I learnt the lesson that no matter how hard it gets, if you are in a position to help others, you should help them.

THE CHILDHOOD THAT WAS AND WASN’T

Team Monday Morning (Team MM): How would you describe your childhood, school, friends, and family? As a student, were you a studious one?

Mitesh Mishra(MM): My dad was a medical practitioner but I was very notorious during my childhood. I was in a Catholic school until sixth grade and by my first standard, I had already been suspended thrice and had been slapped a fine of INR 300-400 due to the various mischievous things that I had done. When I was eight and a half years old (in third grade), my dad passed away. He was in a very good position and we were well off but things changed drastically after that. My mom is basically illiterate and we come from a very orthodox family where it's frowned upon for women to take up jobs. But my mom had the courage to take up a job and she made sure that all three of us (my two sisters and I) received a good education. I am indebted to my family friends, neighbors and relatives who pooled in money for our education. When so many people had faith in me, the urge to study and perform well automatically came to me.

I also had a large group of friends comprising of boys (who still are my closest friends to date) and was not very comfortable talking to girls. I spent a major part of my childhood playing various sports like football, cricket, volleyball, kabaddi, and basketball. Since we used to live near hills and dams, we also and still prefer going on long rides, visiting places and climbing hills primarily because of the natural beauty we get to witness once we reach the top. In school, I tried my hand at everything, including debating, dancing, singing, acting and writing and even won numerous awards for them.

Team MM: Did you always aspire to become a Mechanical Engineer?

MM: Both my sisters were commerce students and so, I had plans to become a Chartered Accountant. But my mom did not approve of it as she wanted me to make a career in science. I next wanted to pursue Medical Sciences but lost interest in that career, as surgeries would involve blood and it was not my forte. Even then, biology has been one of my favourite subject. Next, I had plans to do either an Integrated MSc or Engineering. During December 2013, I came to NIT Rourkela for INSPIRE science camp. In those five days, the campus and the facility mesmerized me so much I wanted to join this place. In the fifteen days between boards and JEE Mains, I sacrificed everything and studied.

I got 168 in JEE Mains 2014 and had 96.6% in the CBSE boards and was considering taking up BM or BT initially. I wished to get a biology-related subject as it appealed to me. When the results came out, I got an All India Rank of 7159. However since, supporting my family financially after graduation was also one of my prime objectives while choosing a career option, with that rank, Mechanical Engineering was the best option.

Team MM: How would you describe your freshman year at NIT-R, any fond memories that you recollect from your hostel mates or classmates?

MM: I didn’t make many friends initially as, being a localite, I used to go back home every weekend. Eventually however I caught on, and ended up attending almost all the orientations in my first semester. I also enrolled as a three year NCC cadet and would spend three-six hours on weekends and sometimes on weekdays practicing for parades. When midsems happened and I got a very low score in Basic Electrical Engineering, I realised that I had to focus on my studies too. I worked hard and finally managed to get an SGPA of 8.6. In the second semester, I planned to get a 9 pointer and meticulously managed my club activities and academics to end up with 9.27.

EYING THAT ALL ROUNDER TROPHY

Inspired by Prof.Sunil Sarangi’s Orientation speech in his first year, Mitesh ardently wished to bag the prestigious Bhubaneswar Behera Award for all round excellence.

I went through the institute rulebooks to know the procedure to bag it and that meant being an active member of clubs of different societies along with having a decent GPA.

He went to become a part of the Basketball club, the student chapter of American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Cognizen as well. The following are some excerpts of our candid chat with him about his club activities.

Team MM: How many clubs have you been a part of since your freshman year?

 MM: The first orientation of a club that I ever attended in the Institute was of Clarion and having taken up debating during my school days, I was convinced that Clarion was for me. The interview did not turn out to be that impressive. This was my first rejection from Clarion, but perseverant that I was, I appeared for the Inductions again in the 2nd Semester and once again, I was rejected.

I also joined Cognizen but it did not cater well to my interests. The next club that I was inducted into was the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and I was elated because it was related to my branch. I also enrolled as a three year NCC cadet and successfully managed to clear the ‘C’ certificate examination with an ‘A’ grade in 2017.

Team MM: You have been an active member of ASME, right from your first year. Tell us about your journey.

MM: Right from the initial days , I became pretty serious as a member of ASME under the influence of Ipsit Pradhan who presided over ASME in my Sophomore year. I became a part of the organising team of Student Led Design Conference (SLDC) in the same year, and remember it as one my fondest achievements in NITR. Following this, I caught upon several opportunities that ASME brought my way and became a part of the team Bluestreak which manufactured Human Powered Vehicles for HPVC in E-Fest of ASME.

My work for ASME ignited in me the desire to become the President of ASME in the footsteps of Ipsit Pradhan. Soon enough though, the Zonal Representative Elections of Zone 4 of ASME came in and that’s what I set my heart to. In my second year, we won the bid to host the maiden Student Led Design Conference for ASME India Zone-4. The entire zone consisted of 12 states (Odisha, West Bengal, Sikkim, Bihar, Jhakhand and the seven north eastern states) and it was a huge responsibility. Despite various hiccups, we managed to pull it off successfully. Next came ASME Human Powered Vehicle Challenge 2017 (HPVC). After spending sleepless nights for a couple of months, we finally managed to fabricate our vehicle and even managed to bag second prize in design and fared ninth out of the 60 competing teams. It was our best performance in the three-year history.

The ZR elections happened the very next day and I remember being very tensed the night before. K. Nishanth, the then captain of HPVC, came to me and said, “Nothing worth achievable in life comes easy.”

That made me feel better and I managed to give a presentation and successfully answered all the questions in the interview taken by ASME India President and other former ZRs. I got elected as a ZR and during my tenure, we successfully inaugurated, two new chapters of ASME, one each in VSSUT, Burla and ITER Bhubaneswar. After the completion of my tenure as a CC of Monday Morning, I decided to take up the post of the treasurer and am currently serving the chapter.

THE MM CC MM CHRONICLES

Team MM: You’ve been a member of MM throughout the three years. How did you come to know about MM?

MM: During my first year, I used to play Basketball in the evenings and I noticed that every time Nishanth Ballal, a senior in the team, entered the field, everyone used to shout cheers of ‘Monday Morning’. Curious, I enquired about it and came to know about MM and it fascinated me a lot. I regularly followed up on almost all the articles on the website, during my Machine Drawing lab. Having been rejected by Clarion twice, it became important for me to join MM. I somehow cleared the first round, the three-hour long written test.

At this point I would like to mention that writing had never been my strong point. I had bagged several prizes in debating, during my school days, but never once for essay writing.

I cleared the subsequent rounds and my PI panel consisted of Prem Depon Nayak, Anubhav Moharana and Anshuman Pattnaik, who regretfully informed me that they had lost my paper from the first round. I was rejoicing from within because now I could modify things my way and won’t have to explain any foolish things that I was sure I had written in my paper. They enquired whether I had any previous experience in the field, to which I replied that I was the editor-in-chief for one of my school magazines, only that I did not mention that it was for the Hindi section. In my defense, I didn’t lie, I just told a partial truth (laughs).

Team MM: How would you describe your experience as a reporter of Monday Morning?

MM: When I was inducted as a reporter, I had to quit playing Basketball as it wasn’t easy to juggle between both, as I had thought it to be. I however, still worked on projects for ASME. It’s probably in my nature that I want to lead the organisations that I am a part of because of which I sometimes start aiming too soon. So, in the second week of my tenure itself, I wanted to become a CC.

My inspiration would have to be Gaurav Naha, who was one of my CCs and used to live beside my room. He made a great companion, mentor and eventually a great friend. On the other hand, I used to be in constant fear of another one of my CCs, Siddharth Ghosh Roy. This notion however changed when I had been allotted a fest review article for Multi-Ethnic.

There was a long Dussehra vacation after the fest during which everyone was at home. Since I needed information, I randomly mailed people and somehow wrote the article. I was then welcomed by a lecture (which was over 45 minutes long) over the phone by Sidharth Bhai, who contrary to my expectations, very subtly and calmly explained to me that I needed to focus on my writing and that I couldn’t just write anything. This was an eye-opener and after that whenever I would write a paragraph I would read it, proof-read it by a second person and then proceed to the next paragraph.

My major strength lied in the extensive background research and groundwork that I was capable of doing for any article. During Innovision ’16, I along with Megha, my co-reporter had to interview Sridhar Das, an XIMB professor who was invited for a guest lecture. We had prepared a questionnaire but the entire interview lasted for only 5 minutes.  Since I was not the kind of guy who could simply write to fill up pages, I had to play my strong point. I kept my cellphone back in my pocket only to show him, but I had switched on my recorder beforehand and then, since I had done all my groundwork, I started talking to him very casually. He was a really amiable person and we talked for an entire hour. I tried to extract information in the most informal way possible. That was also when I actually started feeling for MM. It was then I felt MM to be challenging and recognized my A-game. (Laughs)

I would work on articles which involved a large amount of groundwork. There was this time during my fourth semester, there was an issue at VS Hall of Residence where around 150-200 boarders became sick including me. I remember going up to the Chief Warden’s Office and shouting at him for not taking any action about an issue which demanded their undivided attention.

At the end of the day, however, I would feel that I was a liability to the organization in terms of my writing skills and to turn that into an asset, I started proposing new and different ideas.

I used to press my CCs about a particular interview, or keep asking them about something they already denied. One such instance was when I wanted to do a central mess review article during my time and I pressed my CCs so hard, pestered them so much that they eventually agreed to it. I prepared a questionnaire, got it approved, went up to the Chief-Warden about 3-4 times until finally a webmail was circulated.

I also once worked for an article named Provisions for Specially-Disabled People focusing on making the campus accessible for physically disabled students. There were some of my co-reporters who questioned me about the need for such an article when the target population for it was as low as 3% or even lower. But as an institute of national importance, I felt that we need to take into consideration even that small percentage. Besides these, the interview of N. Mithun Babu and Rahul Singh Chauhan, that I worked one are few of my favorites.

Team MM: Tell us how you were selected to be one of the Chief Coordinators of  Monday Morning.

MM: I always wanted to become a Chief Coordinator, but I also wanted a position of responsibility at ASME, preferably as the President or a ZR (Zonal Representative, ASME India). Initially, I wasn't sure of my chances of becoming a CC, so I filed the nominations for the post of the ZR and got selected. However, my co-reporters would constantly keep telling me that I had a fair chance of becoming a CC. They even started calling me MMCCMM (Mitesh Mishra, Chief Coordinator, Monday Morning). However, I was unsure of the workload of a ZR and a CC and therefore was in an ethical dilemma. So, I sat down one day for 3 hours and after a lot of retrospection, I decided to finally nominate myself for the post. I went to Gaurav Bhai and told him that I wanted to change my nominations and fortunately, I was given a chance. I was later on called for the interview.

I remember the commencement when our CCs made an announcement that they would nominate 2 CCs, and Gaurav Naha, being a Dual Degree would continue to become the CC for another successive year. Our CCs were huge pranksters and they had made us believe by passing on rumours there was no one worthy enough of being a CC. Siddharth Ghosh Roy later announced my name and passed on the title from localite to another and I became a CC along with Aratrika and Abhishek.

Team MM: How was your experience with the executive body team?

MM: Even though I initially thought that the three of us were the best fit for MM, it didn’t take us much time to realise that we had major ideological differences. Aratrika and I were strongly opinionated and Panda had a tough time making sure that work would be carried out smoothly. Over time however, we started finding ways to tackle our problems. I switched from seeing Aratrika as someone who opposed my ideas to someone who provides a different perspective and therefore helps me a make a better decision. I admired her a lot in my sophomore year and that admiration has only increased with time.

Panda on the other hand was a friend of mine, right from first year. Even though I was often concerned about Panda being laidback, he probably has done more ground work than all of us combined. Had it not been for Panda, we would have had a tough time getting the Print Issue 4.0 launched.

I can confidently say that, if I am interviewed today, I would still choose these two as my co-CCs!

Team MM: "Ask A Question" was your brainchild. What was the rationale behind it? Also, mention the various pet projects that you took up as a CC.

MM: Being an introvert, I had trouble conversing with people and couldn’t figure out what was happening around me. I, therefore thought of creating a forum where anyone could put up their questions anonymously, address it to any authority of the institute and our reporters would answer them. When I expressed this initiative to my co-CCs, they initially found it infeasible, but after a lot of discussions and debate, we came to a conclusion and introduced the ‘Ask a Question’ section. Astitva helped a lot to transform this thought into reality. I am glad that it is probably one of the most popular sections now.

Introduction of ‘Alumni’ tab on the website was also one of our pet projects. We thought that Monday Morning, apart from being a bridge between the students and the institute, could also play the bridge between the institute and the alumni. So, the idea centered on having a separate section for it. Abhishek was the mastermind behind this, and both of us with the help of Astitva made it happen.

My third idea included a long-term plan for the inductees of the Design, Technical and Photography team. During my tenure, I realized that even though the members were hard-working, they didn’t had the necessary skills, and summer was not the perfect time for teaching them. So, I felt the need of holding open-workshops spanned over the year, where we could train the incoming freshmen and eventually induct them by the end of the process. While the idea was implemented this year, it wasn't done so in a precise manner. We’re looking forward to implementing it in a better way this time.

I would also like to mention SCP, which started off as SMP, as one of my major pet projects because I was convinced that it was an important breakthrough and I wanted to be the one carrying it forward. Prof. K. C. Pati wanted Monday Morning to induct the mentors. But I didn’t feel it was right because we are basically a media body and not some counselor of sorts, but then he was insistent and we agreed to it. An unexpectedly large number of 200-230 students turned up for the inductions and it was a huge success. We had written down rules taking inspiration from Counselling programmes of IIT Bombay and IIT Kanpur. We selected 120 final inductees as mentors and proceeded for selection of coordinators. Since the institute didn’t have a Counsellor back then, we arranged for four faculty members and three final year students with a decent record, on the panel. We were successful in selecting 14 coordinators. This was a project that Monday Morning took up as a whole and being the initiator, I will always be proud of it.

Other than that, the Monday Morning App was one of paramount importance to us. We had begun planning for it since August and had scheduled to release it during Innovision. After a lot of efforts on the part of our Technical Team, we finally had the bug testing in December and January and finally, the Monday Morning app was released during Maktub, in Nitrutsav ’16.

GIVING BACK TO THE ALMA MATER: U.G SENATE REPRESENTATIVE

Mitesh Mishra in 2017 became the honourable Undergraduate Representative to the Senate. On an occasion where Team Monday Morning was with the Director for some work, the Director casually asked them whether they felt the criteria of selection of U.G Senate Representatives was a fair one. They were prompt enough to blurt out a "No."

The Director prudently considered their opinion and instructed Monday Morning come up with another framework. Team MM tried to deliberate with all concerned authorities and students and eventually decided that the framework should have a lower CGPA criterion (8.5) rather than blindly selecting the toppers. The framework also put more emphasis on the extra-curriculars of an applicant. A few tweaks here and there and a new framework was approved.

This is how Mitesh not only helped transform the procedure but also became a worthy Senate Representative following the interviews for the same. Recalling his experiences as the representative, he says:

Being a Senate Representative was an altogether different experience and there were several unprecedented difficulties throughout. Unlike heading a club which has several mentors, I did not have anybody to guide me regarding the work that is to be done. Second, it is very difficult to convince 60 professors about the interests of the students and you being the only one. However, luckily for me the Director used to consider my opinions pretty seriously. Third and the most important thing is, unlike popular belief, the Senate Rep. does not have any absolute power to change rules and regulations. I had to learn to respect all the boundaries and work with every other student representative.

As part of his work, he took up two major projects which included, gauging the effect of curriculum change on the students' academic performance and submitting a report to the SCP and submitting a proposal to make this institute accessible for the specially-abled students who study here.

CAREER GRAPH OF MM

Team MM: Tell us about your internship at L&T, Kansbahal. Also guide us through your IAS story of IIT, Guwahati.

MM: I had initially planned that I would go for a research internship in the summer after my sophomore year and an industrial internship after my 3rd year.

So, I applied at a lot of places during my 2nd year but did not get selected for any of them. But since I was determined to take up an internship, I went back to my base and got one in L&T. This was a 1-month internship. I also did a web development course in the same vacation. I took up the course, partly because I wanted to gain an understanding of how much time it takes to execute changes in a website, so to be more efficient in my CC tenure.

With the beginning of my pre-final year, I began my hunt for an industrial internship. I had always been interested in production and Tata Steel being a dream company definitely interested me.

After barely managing to get through the technical questions, the HR round went in a basic tailor-made manner. However there was one question that I answered cheekily and I am still not sure whether that is why I got rejected.

HR: What if we reject you?

MM: Either you deserve better or I deserve better.

And they deserved better. In my subsequent interviews, I made sure that I do not get extra-brave (laughs.)

I was quite depressed after this and I remember Aratrika and Abhishek accompanying me on a walk through the campus and consoling me.

Saint Gobain was the next company to conduct its process but I could not give my 100%  in that primarily due to a few health issues that cropped up at the last moment.

I was clear about the fact that I didn't want a research internship and so I refrained from applying for MITACS, DAAD or any such programmes. I had made a probable list of programmes, to which I would refer other people to, but I myself didn't refer to it. Moreover being a CC, it was too hectic to mail each and every professor enquiring about projects. Although eventually, I did end up doing a research internship at IIT Guwahati, its story wasn't straight either.

I remember the deadline for the IAS programme was 30th November and a friend of mine asked me to help him edit his SOP(Statement of Purpose) for the same. It took me 4 hours to edit his SOP and then I realized that if I could spend 4 hours editing someone else's SOP, I surely could invest the same for me. So, in a fit, I applied for the programme. Luckily I bagged an internship at IIT Guwahati under Prof.Manas Das on the topic of "Rotary Magneto Rheological Abrasive Flow Finishing Processes "(RMRAFF).

Team MM: You are currently placed in Kohler, but you have faced a lot of rejections from companies like Tata Steel, Maruti Suzuki. Could you walk us through the hard work, the lows and the eventual glory?

MM: Tata Steel was crossed off the list as I had failed to bag an internship and their procedure for placement is to offer a PPO to the deserving interns. After Tata Steel, I was rejected by some big names like Saint Gobain, Exxon Mobil (for which I had a really wonderful interview, yet wasn't selected). My rejection in Maruti Suzuki was like a final nail in the coffin, I lost all hopes after that. I had even thought, to take a break and prepare for GATE as all the major core companies had already visited the campus. I had no confidence in clearing a technical interview ever, until last Thursday. BPCL is the first technical interview, that I cracked ever (laughs). It's like, my list of rejections is way too long, starting from the Technical rounds of BAJA, Tiburon, Team Blue Streak - although I was subsequently selected in the management team of Blue Streak.

Kohler & Redemption

I remember Kohler came on the 26th of October for its process and on the 25th  of October, I was busy working on my final year project. By then I had given up all hope of being recruited. So, when we were informed, about Kohler visiting campus on the 26th, I decided to go without any specific preparation. By then it had become so monotonous that I didn't care to shave, borrowed a shirt from Jitesh and went.

At this point, I would like to say that I got placed because of my expansive CV and not my technical skills.

After the interview, I was somewhat confident of being selected. And when I did get selected, the few branch mates and a few of my friends who knew about it, were more ecstatic about the selection than I myself was, and it made me teary-eyed.

MESSAGE TO NITR JUNTA

Mitesh Mishra, being the inspiration he is to so many people in the Institute, has a very accurate message to his readers.

If there is anything that you want to do and you feel you should do, the first step is to have enough faith that you can do it. Whether it is a good GPA that you want to have, a good skill set, to dance or sing well or do absolutely anything, do not let doubt stall you. You may not achieve success in one trial but a couple more will definitely do the trick. Keep trying and persevering, as there is nothing that you cannot do. The word Impossible should not exist in anyone’s dictionary.

 

Interview

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