Research In The Land Of Ideas: Prateek Priyaranjan
Prateek Priyaranjan, a final year student from the Department of Electrical Engineering recently completed an internship at the University of Applied Sciences, Bochum, Germany. Team MM caught up with him on a tranquil Friday evening to know more about his journey and to gain an insight into this experience of his.
Monday Morning: Tell us about your childhood and your life before joining NITR.
Prateek Priyaranjan (PP): I come from a middle-class family hailing from Angul, Odisha. I have a sister who is seven years elder to me. She has been a real-life inspiration for me. I was always taunted as I was an average student and my sister was the topper of her University. My mother, who also happened to be my first teacher, guided both of us which helped me to go through the high school without any tuition. I was always given enough freedom to pursue the things I liked. My father, on the other hand, is a very disciplined person, he encouraged me to get involved in sports and other extra-curricular activities.
MM: How did NITR and your branch, Electrical Engineering happen to you?
PP: My educational background before NITR happened, was entirely in Odia medium schools. After completion of my Secondary School Certificate Examinations, I passed my Intermediate from Saraswati Vidya Mandir, Berhampur, which followed CHSE curriculum. Then I got myself admitted in College of Engineering and Technology(CET), Bhubaneswar through JEE(Mains). But I couldn’t find myself in a better place at CET, and was trapped in a monotonous daily routine. So I reappeared JEE and fortunately, I got a rank good enough to land me Electrical Engineering at NIT Rourkela.
MM: Tell us about your hobbies and passion.
PP: I do love cooking and travelling(bike riding). Acting is basically my passion, for which I joined Pantomime. Whenever I get frustrated, I indulge myself in things like acting, mimicry etc. which in return reinvigorates and exhilarates me
MM: Tell us about the previous internships that you have done.
PP: Prior to this, I had only done one internship, that was at Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) at the end of my second year. Since I am also a part of team Road Runner which deals in the development and specialisation of racing cars, most of the time during holidays was spent in the workshop getting into the details of cars.
MM: Coming to your internship chapter at Germany, what is the procedure for applying for such an internship and its eligibility criteria?
PP: I got information about the internship from DAAD- the one which also provides scholarships and lists the names of the universities and hosts the contacts of the professors. Firstly, the specialisation/field of interest has to be chosen. I had to shortlist the Universities, Professors’ profiles and their fields of research. Then I started e-mailing the professors. I contacted nearly 100 professors so that I might not lose any chance. After receiving two/three positive replies, I went for the option which suited me most.
Then comes the scholarship part. As most of the students cannot afford the abroad expenses, so a scholarship is very much needed in this respect. The application for a scholarship is made through DAAD only; whose portal gets active by the month of September. The process demands the applicant to be in the pre-final year and should have a minimum GPA of 8.0 or more. Finally, the presentation of a good profile is what yields a good result.
MM: Tell us what was the internship all about? What field(s) did you work upon as a research intern?
PP: My internship was an 80-day program. As I was very much interested in Vehicle Dynamics and Control systems; for which Germany was best suited, I did my research internship at University of Applied Sciences, Bochum. It was all about mechatronics devices, and Control stabilisation and Modelling of the inverted pendulum.
MM: Was the internship a paid one? Did you get financial aid of any sort from any sources?
PP: My work at the university was research oriented and the internship was officially not a paid one. Of course, sometimes the interns are awarded money if the product they create greatly impress the professor they are working under, or if the project requires it, but it is only in certain cases. I was working independently on a small-scale project. I didn’t receive any assistance from NIT for my foreign internship. The whole procedure of applying and working was carried out by me. The expenditure incurred during this internship was entirely covered on my own.
MM: Contrast the research facilities and techniques you observed in Germany to that in India. Where do we lag and what can we do to be at par with them?
PP: I found that most of the universities in Germany are in collaboration with the industrial companies. The professor I was under, Markus Lennen, was working for the company Ford. The affiliation simultaneously provides you with an academic background for research and an industrial atmosphere to carry out your work. In the educational process as well, you will be doing a project that is in collaboration with some company while pursuing your bachelor’s or master’s degree. Whatever you learn, or research has a specific practical approach related to the company.
That impressed me immensely because here at NIT Rourkela, you are only involved in the research and lack the industrial or practical ideas. The students need more exposure and opportunities to get acquainted with the industrial process.
The educational ambience is undoubtedly different as well. Everyone is extremely frank with each other. Whether it’s a good or bad thing, depends on one’s perspective. The communication gap is very less and enables easy interchange of ideas.
MM: Elucidate your overall experience at Germany.
PP: It has been an amazing experience! The work environment was never demanding. During summers, the sun used to rise at around five and would set at nearly eleven in the night. The day hours being this long, I never felt mentally exhausted.
The people there are really helpful. Although they are not immediately forthcoming. If you are struggling with something, they will let you be until you ask for help; once you do, then they will wholeheartedly come to your aid. There was no language issue as such in the university as everyone communicated in English, but outside on the streets, Google Translate came to my rescue on multiple occasions.
MM: Now that you are in the final year of B. Tech, what are your plans post-graduation?
PP: I’m planning for my master’s and intend to appear for GRE and TOEFL. Higher education in foreign countries like Germany or the United States will require me to bag a good scholarship or apply for a loan to be able to afford it. I do not have any plans for a job after graduation, but I would be willing to work for a company which provides me with a similar work profile considering my field of interest to be Control System Robotics.
MM: On a concluding note, what will be your message to our readers?
My message to the readers would be, to not lose hope at any point in their life. If something bad is happening to you, it will seem unfavourable at that time but five years down the road, when you sit down to connect the dots, you will realize you wouldn’t be at the point you are now without those incidents.