The Silent Charmer: Protyush Sahu


A guy belonging to the city of temples, Bhubaneswar, touched milestones flying all the way to the University of Berkeley for an internship and also a project in CERN.

This person is none other than Protyush Sahu of the department of ECE, an inspiring figure for all those who dream to go beyond the boundaries of the nation for research. Team MM caught up with this dynamic personality and here’s his experience of meeting the nobel laureates and his take on improving the academic system in NITR.

MM: Tell us something about yourself before joining NITR. You qualified for RMO and INMO as well. Share some of your experiences in the camp that followed.
PS: I was born and brought up in Bhubaneswar. From my childhood, I wanted to take up science. I loved technology and stuff like that. Like everyone, I also tried to get into the best institutes of India like the IITs, but it did not work out for me as I ended with a poor rank in the JEE. So I landed up in NITR with the most talked about stream in modern times that is ECE. Even during my first year I prepared for JEE for the second time. But once again the outcome was same.
And yes in my class 11, I qualified for RMO and INMO as well and after that I went to a camp in Bangalore. That is the only achievement I cherish in my school life. There I met with a lot of scientists and could closely see the creative minds. Even there I got the opportunity to interact with the other qualifiers of INMO as well and saw how various people can come up with some beautiful and innovative ideas. That was a wholesome experience for me.

MM: You are not into any clubs. Why? Do you think that clubs play an integral role in developing the students?
PS: No, I am not into any clubs. But I tried to get into this Mathematics Club in my very first year but never got inducted in it. After that I never tried for any club because I thought there were no clubs for which I had a permanent liking or with whom I could share some of the things which I like. Also I was very busy right from my second year and was always doing some stuff. So, I really did not have time for any other activities.
I am not saying that clubs are bad or something like that. But yes it is true that you can of course excel even without being in any of the clubs. But there is a positive side as well. You get to socialize with a lot of people and learn to manage things as well. In that way it is helpful.

MM: You are very enthusiastic about research. Tell us how you approached various institutes for your research. Elaborate on the topics as well.
PS: I always wanted to get into research. In my second year I started contacting IISC Bangalore and IIT Mumbai and started working with them remotely, that is through emails and all. One of the projects on which I am still working is on cosmology. It started way back in my second year. It is related to radio telescope that also deals with dark matter. It is handed by Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. There I got into touch with many professors and read more about radio communications and cosmology; during y second year winter I got an opportunity to go to Mumbai where I met with many scientists.

MM: How was your internship experience in the University of Berkeley?
PS: Well, it was a little bit of luck. I sent applications to professors like other students but I sent them to foreign universities. One of the professors in the University of Berkeley was previously a professor of TIFR and he asked me to apply there and then it all worked out for me.
In USA it was an entirely a different story. I used to stay in San Francisco; Berkeley was pretty close from there. The people were great. The professors and the laboratories were also great. I got the opportunity to meet with some of the Nobel Laureates namely, Charles Hard Townes, 1964 – Nobel Prize in Physics with N. G. Basov and Aleksandr Prokhorov for contributions to fundamental work in quantum electronics leading to the development of the maser and laser. I also met with Prof. Jenny Harrison, a professor of mathematics at UC Berkeley. She specializes in geometric analysis and areas in the intersection of algebra, geometry, and geometric measure theory.

MM: What are your future plans?
PS: I want to pursue higher studies.I want to do an MS and PhD. It’s a matter of getting into which university. If everything goes well, I should be able to get into some university in USA. And since all my research work is related to Physics, I will do my higher studies in the same as well or may be Applied Physics which is there in every university.

MM: Share some your experience while doing a project in CERN.
PS: I did a project in CERN during the summer break between my second and third year. The topic was about particles colliding. Previously particles were detected by a change in temperature. Our job was to device a new technique for this by the method of image processing that is detecting photons. The main idea was to implement the image processing in circuits so that they can be used for this purpose.

MM: You must be preparing for GRE since you are planning to do MS. How will you suggest the others who are interested in it to go about it?
PS: If you are asking how to prepare for GRE, I would not tell much about it. But if you are asking me how to take up higher studies abroad,

     I would suggest people to take it up quite early because GRE comes very late down the line.

You need a lot of research work to do an MS in any foreign university.

     They see your CV, how much research work you have done and most importantly you require really strong recommendations.

MM: How do you find the research environment in NITR?
PS: The point is, I have not done much of research in NITR. Back in my second year, I started a project but it did not turn out to be something serious. So, most of my serious research work has been done outside NITR.

MM: How do you find the research scenario different in India different from that in other countries like USA?
PS: First of all, there is a complete difference of culture between USA and India. In USA when we talk about colleges, it’s mostly of research. It’s a part of their course and curriculum and research is something that is they have taken up seriously. It’s not that they go to class everyday like we do here. They do research work regularly and that is something they enjoy. Even in India there are a couple of places where research work is done really seriously like IISC Bangalore and IIT Mumbai.
Coming to NITR, I find this entire system of academics and attendance very discouraging if not encouraging. To make good engineers, the syllabus should be more of analytical subjects.

     Having the curriculum copied from IIT Kharagpur is of no help to the students.

In that case, we can follow IIT Mumbai. There, right from their second year, students are given project work and they are marked on that.

     There is no system of examinations.

And that is why many more students from IIT Mumbai go into the field of research than from any other institutes.

MM: You are very much interested in football. During the entire world cup you were there in USA. Share your experiences.
PS: Yes, I am fan of Barcelona and my favourite player is Lionel Messi. During the world cup USA was really a crazy place. There were Germans, Dutch and especially all the Europeans there were most lively. During the matches, I would go to the cafeterias and sit there in the open. That was fun. And the celebrations were amazing. In fact it was very good socialising factor during my stay in USA.

MM: Any message you would like to give to your juniors.
PS: I want to tell them that research is a really thrilling matter. I suggest everyone to take it up and give it a try. I m sure all will like it.