Passionate and Prodigious : PMRF Recipient Manas Ranjan Pattnayak
Various government schemes provide good incentives for students passionate about research and promote research in India. It is this passion for research which drives Manas Ranjan Pattnayak. After his internship in National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) in Taiwan last year, he graduated from NIT Rourkela this year. He is currently pursuing his PhD in IIT Delhi under the Prime Minister Research Fellowship (PMRF) programme. Monday Morning got in touch with Manas Ranjan Pattnayak one pleasant evening to know more about him and why he decided to stay in the homeland for his higher studies.
Monday Morning (MM): How did you know about PMRF? And how did you apply for it?
Manas Ranjan Patnaik (MRP): When I returned from Taiwan, I applied for various universities across the globe and it was my seventh or eighth semester during which I came to know about the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMRF). It was a very good scheme as I was able to stay in India and continue with my doctoral program. Also, the stipend was very high to cater to each and every aspect of my research. Moreover, the research in IITs was quite similar to that of NITR. So I thought it to be a great opportunity to apply for the program. Therefore, I contacted my guide, Prof. S.K. Behera who advised me to go for it.
MM: What is the selection procedure for the fellowship program? Was there any specific preparation tactics you could share with us?
MRP: The application process requires submission of the research proposal which should include some projects that one would like to carry out during the PhD program. It requires a GPA of 8.0 or higher. The selection procedure basically consists of two rounds. The first round is a screening process; following which they will assign a nodal centre according to your branch where you need to report for the second round-the interview round. In the present year, the nodal centre for Mechanical Engineering was IIT Madras. The interview was for about 1 hour and was completely based on technical aspects. I was asked about the planning and outcome of my PhD program, and certain research-oriented projects that will suit my doctoral program. The results were out within 20-25 days after the interview. Then the preference of the institutes is to be submitted by the student and based on the availability of candidature, one institute is allotted to him/her.
As I was working on my research from past two years, I was confident in answering about the aspects in my field, which helped me a lot in the interview. Also, I could extend my B. Tech. project to my proposal for a project in PhD, which gave me a much needed added advantage.
MM: What is the subject of your research and why did it interest you?
MRP: I’m currently pursuing my doctoral research in Aerostatic Bearing, Bearing Tribology and Rotor Dynamics. It was my guide, Prof. S.K. Behera who helped me get through this programme.
MM: What was your prime motive behind choosing the path of higher education despite a lucrative job offer from Bajaj being in your bag?
MRP: My passion to go in the field of research was what drove me from the first year itself. Basically, it was the research I was performing under my guide who pushed me to opt for higher education. He inspired me for the placements and also to go for the interviews of other masters programmes and work together to avail greater opportunities.
MM: Despite having an offer and a confirmation to join National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, why did you prefer IIT Delhi through PMRF scheme?
MRP: The main reason behind opting for IIT Delhi through PMRF was the scholarship. The scholarship at NTHU, Taiwan was not up to the mark to carry out my doctoral research program. Although the research was no different, it was a matter of distance that I took into account and being the only child of my parents, I preferred to continue my education in India itself.
MM: PMRF is a highly lucrative scheme to attract scholars to pursue research in India. Why do you think such a step was necessary?
MRP: PMRF gives an incentive for research scholars to pursue research in India itself. As with me, if PMRF wouldn’t have been there, I would have gone to another country, maybe Taiwan or USA, for my doctoral studies. With PMRF we are getting more opportunities do research in India, which is a good thing.
MM: Having been selected for higher education in two different countries, what difference did you mark between the selection procedure in other countries compared to India?
MRP: For research in Taiwan and the USA, you need to appear GRE and TOEFL, as a proof of your English proficiency and qualitative aptitude. Then a strong recommendation is necessary, and your research proposal is important for foreign universities.
The PMRF is a new scheme, so the government is trying to make a program similar to foreign universities. The selection procedure is almost the same, except for the fact that you don’t have to appear for GRE and TOEFL, but have a head-to-head interview round, after which one can the selected for research in India under PMRF.
MM: How do you think research scenario in NIT Rourkela s different from IIT Delhi, and how can NIT Rourkela come at par with IIT Delhi?
MRP: The project I did during my B. Tech. was mostly a simulation project and required a good amount of coding. Since the same project was not available for me this time, so I joined IIT Delhi and continued to research on the same field. Currently, I’m looking for a company which can fund my project. So, in IIT Delhi, it’s easier to get funding for projects compared to NIT Rourkela.
MM: What are your plans after your PhD?
MRP: After my Ph.D., I’m planning to pursue my post-doctoral studies for around 2-3 years, which will definitely be outside India. After I will return to India and join a technical institute as a faculty.
Team MM wishes Manas the best in his career and future and hopes that his words will stick with all aspiring to pursue Research.