Redefining the new facets of creativity: Research Scholar Week 2k18
Deviating slightly from the general practice, there are a few people who seek to plunge deeper into the aspects of their disciplines. They wish to quench their ever-growing curiosity and thus take up research as their next step after graduation. NITR, being pledged as one of the best institutions for research, provides ample opportunities to its PhD students, in the form of a Research Scholar’s Week (RSW) every year. This year the RSW was conducted in the last week of April. A total of 185 students were eligible to participate in this week-long interactive session, out of which only 175 attended it. The event witnessed a wide spectrum of poster presentations hailing from diverse branches of Engineering and Natural Sciences. Cultural extravaganza also found its way into the event which finally culminated the weeklong event.
Research Scholars’ Week is all about summing up a year’s work of your PhD research and presenting it in the form of a poster followed by an oral presentation. Interaction, being of paramount importance for any healthy communication, RSW provides a conducive atmosphere and a common platform for all the researchers to discuss and exchange their ideas. Since most of the research in today’s world is interdisciplinary, the involvement of people from various branches enables us to browse for more lucrative ideas for our projects. It also enabled us to co-operate among ourselves and render mutual help to one another. Students from their third year onwards can participate in RSW. The institute declares a list of people who are eligible to participate in RSW. The main objective of RSW is to determine and identify the best and most worthy research work of all. This also makes the departments interact with each other to gain more knowledge.
The participants were required to submit an abstract within a week, as per the deadline. Plagiarism was strictly frowned upon; one expects an original at RSW. After the abstract submission, the participants called for two or three sessions of the poster presentation. It was divided according to the departments and the initial competition lasted within the department only. Twenty-five students were shortlisted from this, which was followed by yet another poster presentation session. This session was judged by professors and faculty from other departments; and not the department to which the project belongs, to ensure fairness. From this twenty-five, the top six participants were shortlisted. A final presentation round was organized, with a varying panel. At last, the top three projects were selected after much consideration. Due to some controversy, the top twenty-five students were called up yet again. They again gave their presentation, and the top three projects were selected from there.
In the end, 3 PhD Scholars made it to the top 3 positions. They are:
Pushpdant Jain (514ID1004)
Ram Prasad Padhy (514CS6018)
Kulmani Mehar (514ME1011)
Team MM caught up with the three of them and here’s what they have to say about the RSW and their experience.
Monday Morning: Congratulations on making it to the top 3. Who would you like to thank for your success and who all would you say helped you reach this milestone?
Pushpdant Jain: My supervisor Dr. Mohammed Rajik Khan, is the one who asked that I work on this. This field is untapped in India and has a lot of scope for development and improvement. This is because Indians do not get the proper facilities to perform such experiments and work. We needed a bone model, which isn’t easily available. While simulating, one has to keep in mind that one is competing with the entire world. So we did face problems, but our situation improved day-by-day. I would also like to thank my friends and family.
Ram Prasad Padhy: I would like to thank my guide Prof. Pankaj Sa, Associate Professor, Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering. He is a very innovative professor and the discourse of his thoughts and ideas are quite creative. This creative personality of his is very well reflected in his research works. Secondly, I would like to extend my gratitude to Prof. A.K Turuk, HOD, Dept.of Computer Science and Engineering. I would also like to thank my lab mates for helping me out in preparing the posters and presentation.
Kulmani Mehar: I would like to thank my guide Dr Subrat Kumar Panda, Associate Professor, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering. He was the driving force behind this. Without his support, this achievement would have been far less than even a dream.
MM: What was your project about? How do you think your research will help the community, and what are its applications?
PJ: We have designed a stabilization implant to be used in the spinal section, primarily in the lumbar area. A person who gets injured in an accident or a person afflicted with trauma gets a bone replacement. The bone is replaced with a fused implant. This affects the flexibility of the person. So, we tried to generate a flexible implant. In India, only a few scholars have been working on this area. The final output is a very complex structure, for which less number of people seem interested to work on this.
This research deals with society’s problems only. Right now we are working in the lumbar region, but we can advance it further to use it in the thoracic region or the cervical region. We can also play with and change the design as required. After completing this stage, we will also file a patent for this implant.
RPP: My work was an interdisciplinary work of Computer Science, Mechanical and Electronics. It was an autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The specific term which I use for drones is UAV. My project was Monocular vision based Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) navigation for indoor environments; since the precision of GPS in an indoor environment is quite poor. We had to go for vision sensors, digital proximity sensors to control the UAV. It is very much reliable in earthquake-affected areas where human intervention is highly difficult. A drone can thus act as a substitute in order to find any humans who might have been stuck up under the debris. It is a very interesting topic and was also appreciated by the panel. I chose NITR to carry out my research only because of this project. I did not appear for any interview but was chosen, owing to the heavy practical applications of this project.
KM: The topic of my project was Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Nonlinear Structural Behaviour of Graded CNT-reinforced Sandwich Structure Embedded with SMA Fibre. My work was extensively on the smart material. My project was based on Shape Memory Alloy (SME). It’s a type of alloy which “remembers” its original shape. It returns to its pre-deformed shape, once heated. Imagine we make a small satellite using the SME. The satellite after reaching its target can regain its original bigger shape when it comes in contact with sunlight. Another part of my project was based on Carbon Nanotube. The advantage of the material is that it is five times stronger than steel. It is extensively used in aerospace structures and satellite.
MM: What problems did you face in this journey?
PJ: We faced a lot of problems while carrying out this task. In the beginning, we took CT scans from hospitals in Bhilai to help us generate the model and work on the simulation. We improved at every step. The project was well-liked by all the faculty members; they found it to be very interesting.
I had started working on generating the bone model at IIT, Delhi. But the model failed while being tested upon here. Then I went to IIEST, Shibpur to generate the surface model again. I had to learn the software required for generating it, all by myself too! The model generation part took nearly a year and a half.
RPP: I faced a lot of problems in this journey. Since my research work is basically interdisciplinary, I did not know about controlling a drone, its algorithms, PID controllers etc. For almost a year and a half, I was perplexed about the kind of work I was doing. Thoughts about changing the field of research also popped up in my mind, but it was my guide whose consistent support kept me going. Gradually as time passed by, we were able to work out on our loopholes and fix them. Now, everything is going smoothly, and hopefully, I might be able to complete my PhD project within 6 months.
KM: Problems were many, but with the continuous and unbound support from my guide, I was successful in battling all odds and emerging victorious in the end. He saw to it that all the problems were fixed and that my project went on smoothly.
MM: What is your take on the ongoing research work in NITR as compared with that of other institutes?
PJ: It all depends on the facilities and faculties. If a guide has a developed lab and sufficient knowledge and if he undertakes projects from the government, then he would work to further develop his labs. This will, in turn, entice students, to work and research. But people like me, who didn’t have the facilities required at first, have to find their own way. If an institute has the required equipment and encouraging faculty, then the research there will flourish. Research scholars face a lot of problems; we also require a platform to air and solve such problems.
RPP: Our NIT is one of the best institutes for research even if we compare with few of the IITs. All of us are aware of our position in MHRD’s NIRF rankings; but when the projects are distributed, they are mainly provided to the IITs. They do not follow the rankings in this case. Some of the newer IITs are not even remotely close to us in research works. But MHRD plans developments for the IITs only. Before coming to NITR, I was settled with a very decent salary. I could have also gone for some IIT. But I selected NIT Rourkela because of the project environment only. The projects here motivated me. I was also in constant touch with some Professors. So, I believe that there should not be any discrimination between IITs and NITs and other institutes in the field of research. The B.Tech students might choose IITs because of its international reputation. But, the IITs, NITs and other institutes might not be segregated when it comes to research work.
KM: NITR is the best among all NITs for carrying out research. NITR renders huge support for conducting research. We had contacted a Professor from Japan named Tee Qyu Whi. A paper was also published with his collaboration. After being in contact with him, we realized that our institute supports a lot when it comes to research.
MM: Is RSW viable enough platform for researchers to be identified and recognized in their fields and to discuss advancements in research?
PJ: In my opinion, RSW should be more interactive. Students usually are not interested in participating; many times, they attend it forcefully. They could call eminent personalities for the lectures and indulge in heavy cross-questioning to make it more interactive. Students should also get an idea about the research work, for them to be motivated. Most students don’t even know about the program or what work the winners have done. If researchers were to get enough recognition and appreciation then the future generation would indeed be interested in research due to its perks and their contribution to society.
RPP: It is a very good platform when it comes to providing an opportunity to researchers. Probably, even IITs don’t have such a thing called Research Scholar week in their institutions. The inception of RSW dates back to a time when Prof.Sunil Sarangi was the Director. He along with Prof.Majhi initiated this venture. RSW is specific only to our institute. Even our sister concerned NITs do not conduct such a session. Moreover in my opinion research should be celebrated. Scholars should not feel that they are competing among themselves. It should be more of an interaction rather than competition.
KM: It indeed provides a viable platform but the issue lies in students’ hesitation. They prefer to confine themselves to the domain of their respective disciplines. They do not wish to learn about the projects being carried out in other departments. Since all research scholars from the institute convene at a common place, they can explore new ways and ideas. It will ultimately help them in the long run.
MM: What is your message for your juniors and fellow research mates?
PJ:Continue with your research knowing and hoping that, ultimately, you will contribute to the society in a useful manner, which is the very basic objective of the research. No matter how many times you fail, do not stop, just move on ahead and try harder. PhD students do get frustrated a lot, especially when they fail. But, we learn the most from these failures. Until we fail and learn something from it, we won’t succeed. Don’t let the frustration overtake you, and never stop trying.
RPP: Work on real projects, something which is viable for the practical, even though it does not invite much accolades or publications in journals. There are people who are spending their time doing research which has no practical implication. In the long run, their efforts will bear fruitful results.
KM: Co-operate among yourselves and work. It will help a lot. As an individual unit we might not soar high, but if we join hands and work together helping each other, probably all uncertainties and ambiguities would vanish.