Busting Barriers: Sasmita Mishra
Completing a research internship abroad adds a new feather to your hat. Ms. Sasmita Mishra, a Ph.D. scholar at NITR stands in the scanty group of those people who bagged this prestigious opportunity, a DAAD internship at the University of Duisburg-Essen. One fine morning she spared some time from her busy schedule and spoke to MM about her journey through NITR, and her internship abroad.
MM: introduce us to your life before NIT-R and how it happened to you.
SM: I was in Sambalpur before getting into NIT-R. I have completed my M.Sc and M.Phil from Sambalpur University in Jyoti Vihar. After that, I was a part of IMMT( Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology) the erstwhile Regional Research Laboratory. I worked for three years in Apex Institute for B.Tech and management as a faculty then I joined NITR under Prof. Sourav Chatterjee to pursue my Ph.D. degree in Organo-Metallic Chemistry.
MM: How was your life at Apex different than that of NITR?
SM: I have been a part of the faculty members at Apex and even at NIT-R, I had experience of teaching students during my Ph.D. which was not all that challenging. In Apex, however, I had to deal with a heavier workload as both the theory and lab classes were managed by me. The scenario here is different altogether. Since I am working under professors as their assistant now, my workload has eased out to a greater extent. Furthermore, Apex was just the beginning of my teaching career but I got to learn a lot throughout my journey at NIT-R. Working under Prof. Chatterjee was a wonderful learning experience and I do feel that I am a better teacher now than what I was before.
MM: How has your experience at NIT-R been till now?
SM: Before joining NIT-R I studied in universities and other government colleges but it was after I came here that I realised the difference. The professors here are much more helpful and friendly. The teaching methodology followed by the faculty members over here is quite unique. As I mentioned before I got to learn many things from my professors. The courses and the research work is carried out in a very different manner.
The faculties are very supportive here and they invest their best efforts. I feel very good being a part of NIT-R and it has been a memorable and educative journey.
MM: How did you manage to bag an internship through DAAD?
SM: My professor, Prof. Sourav Chatterjee has connections and collaborations with the professors at Duisburg University. He suggested the project which got sanctioned by DST-DAAD. Our names were suggested by him and Stephen Schulz for the project which was then allotted to us after being approved by DAAD. I did not apply separately or anything like that.
MM: How was your experience in Germany?
SM: Well it was not very difficult. To be honest, it was rather easy. There were some issues cropping up but I managed to cope up very soon. At the beginning, I was a little bit nervous and scared at the thought of being alone over there as I had never travelled to such long distances before. Adding to my anxiety was the fact that it was to a completely different place. Nevertheless, I prepared myself mentally to face the circumstances. The journey was an exhaustive one as I had to travel first by flight and then take two different trains to reach my destination Essen. I was not aware of many things but I got the ropes of it eventually. The professors were very supportive and helpful, always ready to extend their hand of support if and when contacted.
MM: Tell us about your research project in Germany?
SM: In Germany, I was working on an Indo- German (DST-DAAD) joint research project that was Design of binary materials using transition metal chalcogenide and pnictide complexes. Under this project, I have worked on the synthesis of nanoparticles. Besides that, I also acquired knowledge about some instruments like Single Crystal X-Ray Diffraction, SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope), TEM (Transmission Electron Microscope) and powder XRD (X-Ray Diffraction) under the supervision of professor Christoph Wolper. Owing to time constraints I could not get familiar with intricate functionalities of the instruments. Yet, I got acquainted with several usage techniques which are quite sufficient at this level.
MM: How did you manage the expenses?
SM: I received 60,000 INR from DST for travel expenses, and visa. 1000 Euros were supplied by DAAD for the month-long stay in Germany which was sufficient and took care of my expenses.
MM: How is the work culture in Germany different from that in India?
SM: Work culture is certainly different at both of the places. They enjoy better facilities as compared to us. They have better infrastructure and their technology is quite advanced and modern. We are equally efficient but we lag in infrastructure and technology. One thing which I like on their part is that they are not overburdened with the workload. They have very limited work hours and working for as low as five hours a day suffices there, as long as work input is not affected. Here, it is an entirely different story. You have longer working durations and a lot of pressure to deal with.
MM: How do you manage your downtime?
SM: I love music so I listen to songs in my free time to relax. Apart from that, I like hanging out with my friends or watch a movie sometimes for recreation.
MM: Have you been a part of any club at NIT-R?
SM: I would love to be a part of any club. Having said that, my schedule does not permit me to do that. We have a lot of work, a hectic schedule and to top it all off, immense pressure to cope up so I haven't been a part of any club at NITR.
MM: Share with us some of your fondest memories which you would cherish for a lifetime?
SM: There have been several such moments which are memorable and quite dear to me but getting into DAAD is of primordial importance to me.
MM: Any message for the young aspirants of NITR?
SM: I would like to tell them that the work we put in should be efficient. We may lag in infrastructure and technology but we still have the required talent and calibre.
If we have a firm determination and strong willpower, nothing is unachievable. My message to students is that they should try to gain as much knowledge as they can from various sources.