A Summer in France

A Summer in France

Nargis Jahan | Oct 12, 2015

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Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.– Demosthenes.

Unless you begin, albeit doing something not very significant, you cannot grow to take on responsibilities that matter. “Begin early” says Anurag Mohanty a final year student of Integrated M.Sc. in Chemistry who went to Lyon, France for his summer internship this year.

Anurag spent two months at Institute of Researches on Catalysis and Environment Lyon (IRCELYON) under the Centre National de la Recherché (CNRS) working on a novel project and by the time he was through with it, he had innumerable memories and experiences to treasure forever. When you put your mind to something and invest all your energy in seeing your endeavor succeed, it is the journey rather than the end result that leaves you feeling content.

When asked about how to secure such an internship, he replied that he had directly emailed professors from various reputed institutes which specialized in the field of research he was interested in and managed to receive three French offers, a Canadian and a Taiwanese one too. The institute in Lyon is doing impressive work in catalysis research which prompted Anurag to accept their invitation. The process of application is well-structured and simple. The institute also bears the entire expenditure for the internship period barring the to and fro travel fares. Right from the time one arrives at the airport through the entire period he stays there they take complete care of transport, accommodation and food.

There is no criteria set by the institute as such. The professor makes a selection on the basis of your earlier work and its compatibility with what he is working on. He receives on an average of twenty to thirty applications from students of Indian origin. Along with Anurag there was another Indian in the Department of Mathematics.

Under the able guidance of Professors Stephane Daniele and Francois Gaillard who were involved in study of heterogeneous catalysis & graphene composites, he did extensive research on “Large scale synthesis of graphene via inductive heating process” – a completely new area of research. At NITR he was working under Prof. Priyabrata Das on nano catalysis and formation of graphene oxide. He said that Indians do not generally make enough efforts towards a goal, they take up an existing paper, modify it a little and get a paper published. But there innovation is the thought uppermost on everyone’s mind.

Anurag had interned at IIT Bombay last year and the major difference he pointed out between an Indian internship and a foreign one is that a strict hierarchy exists in the system here. But as for him in France, the professors were very friendly and easily accessible. He was given full freedom to experiment in the laboratory without interruption from assistants or Ph. D. scholars as happens here. The facilities were also quite state-of-the-art.

He mentioned that the people there are extremely dedicated and sincere but after the day is over they party hard to release the stress. During his stay Anurag managed to take out a few days to travel. He visited Paris, Grenoble and Marseille, in the south of France. He went to Amsterdam on one weekend and also had a Switzerland trip touring Geneva, where he visited the United Nations office among other tourist areas and Basel. There also was a five day Italy trip too which covered Rome, Venice, Pisa, Florence and Milan.

Anurag gained a whole lot from this trip and recommends it to everyone. He advises those aspiring to bag such foreign internships to work on their C.V., take a genuine interest in research and “think”.

You have an idea, do not let it be wasted. Talk to your professors. They will always help you.

He also adds that a lack of proper course structure is a reason NITR’s basic sciences departments have not been able to achieve their true potential. Investigation demands experimentation but the curriculum here is restrictive. He would like to see the entire last semester devoted solely to research as is done in other countries and even in IITs and IIT-BHU.

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