Taking The Steel Industry By Storm: Women of Mettle
The Women Of Mettle (WOM) Scholarship Programme is a pioneering programme in the Indian manufacturing sector organized by TATA Steel. Seeking dynamic female students from select engineering colleges, WOM gives students the opportunity to experience real life technical challenges in the steel industry and gain access to Tata Steel's senior management who act as tutors and mentors. The shortlisted students get to work on a live technical challenge and present the solution live to the jury at Jamshedpur. In the first season of WOM in 2017, two students from NIT Rourkela were shortlisted for the programme – P.N.Shivangi from the Department of Metallurgy and Material Science Engineering and Namita Panda from the Department of Electrical Engineering. Read on to know more about their journey from bagging the internship in the summer of 2018 at TATA Steel to receiving a Pre-Placement Offer from the same in their final year.
MM: Give us a small insight into your background, childhood, and hobbies.
P.N.Shivangi: I was born and brought up in Cuttack, Odisha. I did my schooling at DAV Public School. Later on, I moved to Bhubaneswar and completed my schooling in ODM Public School. While growing up, I was into sporting activities and I also am trained Odissi dancer.
Namita Panda: I belong to the Baleshwar district of Odisha. I went to Kota in order to prepare for IIT JEE at the intermediate level. My hobbies include cycling and I also like playing sports.
MM: What extracurricular activities did you indulge in at NIT Rourkela?
PNS: Since I know Odissi, I participated in the Multi-Ethnic fest in my first and second year. Apart from that, I took part as a representative and delegate in the NIT conclave event.
NP: I was in the institute athletic team and I participated in IIT- BHU Spardha. I also participated in the Multi-Ethnic fest during my freshmen and sophomore year.
MM: How did you learn about the ‘Women of Mettle Scholarship’ Programme?
PNS: I was in my second year when I found out about it. My seniors and my department notice board were from where I got to learn about the competition for the first time. Even many of my department professors were very insistent on ensuring that we participated in the competition. I personally never had any interest in joining any industry so I took the competition very casually. Later on, my parents also asked me to give it a try and so I went ahead.
NP: I learnt about it through the institute webmail, because I have the habit of always checking my webmail every evening. I would say it served me well.
MM: Take us through the application process for the competition.
PNS & NM: In order to qualify for this competition you need to be in the top 25 percentile of your department. The competition applies to female students studying in the 2nd year of B.Tech in the core branches i.e Computer science/ IT / Electrical / Electronics / Mechanical / Metallurgy / Mining / Industrial Engineering / Mining Machinery / Mineral Processing / Chemical / Civil Engineering / Ceramic Engineering / Production Engineering in the Technical School.The registration portal opens in January and you have to give all your academic details. The first round involves a psychometric test, in the first season of the competition in which we participated in, there were no branch related questions. Whereas in the second season there were some branch related questions included as well. The candidates shortlisted in the first round then move on to the second round.
In the second round, we were given a bunch of projects to choose from and we had to select one amongst these, again, this was the case in the first season. In the second season, everyone was given only one project. Once we picked a project we had to prepare an abstract on it. We were given about a month to prepare the abstract and then we had to submit it online.
In the third round, we had to prepare and present a Presentation of the project in a two-day event at Jamshedpur which was held in the second week of May.
The two-day event has a lot of keynote speakers who are already working in the industry and they share their experiences in their fields. If time permits, they sometimes organise a visit to the TATA Steel Plant.
At the end of the two-day event, the top 30 out of a pool of 90 students are announced. The students who are in the top 10 get a cash prize of 2,50,00 INR and a Pre Placement Offer and the remaining 20 students get a chance to intern at TATA in the following year.
MM: What role did your department play during the application process?
PNS: Dr. Archana Mallik really helped me with the entire application process. The project I selected was about dealing with corrosion, and she helped me with preparing the abstract and the PPT for this topic.
NP: The project that I picked was on condition monitoring techniques for cable joints and my recommended technique was using fibre optics. All this was happening during my sophomore year and I didn’t have much of an idea. I discussed the topic with some of my seniors and I met Professor Subrata Karmakar, who taught me the uses of fiber optics and made me conversant with the different aspects of the project. After a lot of consultation, I was able to present the project successfully.
MM: Please tell us about your internship experience.
PNS: Since I was selected in the top 20, I got their 8-week long internship for the following year at Jamshedpur. We were allocated projects according to our branch. We started our work with observation at the control room where we got accustomed to the secondary steel making process and how its composition is controlled. After this, we started work on our various projects and discussed with the various personnel over there. My project was on Nitrogen Control in secondary steel making. It included studying various factors which cause nitrogen content in steel and ways to minimise it through data analysis of last year’s output. There was a well-equipped library which we could use for our reference. We had mentors allotted for each project to guide us. Finally, we had to present a report and PPT to a panel showing all the work we have done.
TATA also ensured that our internship wasn't a monotonous one by organising an adventurous rock climbing trip which was a day long. There were many other activities like zip lining, skydiving, etc.
NP: Like Shivangi, I was also selected in the top 20 which gave me an 8-week internship at the West Bokaro Plant. We were a total of 8 interns there. My project was on Operation and Maintenance of HT breakers and the way forward for digitisation in this area. I gathered all the details on HT breakers in the different plants in West Bokaro. During this, I pointed out some of the problems faced in these plants and suggested possible solutions. The next part of the project was automation of the Primary Crushing Plant (PCP 3) of the company. All the smart meters were installed in the HT breakers. With the help of expert programming solution and interfacing service support digitalisation of PCP 3 was done. In addition to that, an Android app was made to store the data collected.
MM: Only a few selected candidates get to work at Tata Steel. Please let us know what one should ensure to qualify.
PNS & NP: Female candidates can definitely apply through Women Of Mettle programme. TATA STeel also has another programme, Mind Over Matter, which is open to all engineering students in the country's top institutes. Other than that, campus selection also provides a chance to apply for Tata Steel. These programmes have the main aim of seeking creative ideas in real life situations. We were mainly evaluated on basis of creativity in bringing small improvements and the presentation skills. During the internship, we were evaluated throughout the period continuously and they kept a close check on the dedication and diligence of each intern.
MM: What are your future plans?
PNS: Considering my experience with the company as Women Of Mettle in Sophomore year, the Internship in the Pre-Final year and now the Pre Placement Offer in my final year, I have developed a keen interest for the organisation along with having immense respect for it. Hence, for now, I would like to focus on my career at TATA.
NP: Despite the Pre Placement Offer, I want to go for higher studies as it was my initial plan. So, I am preparing for GATE and IES (Indian Engineering Services). But these examinations are highly competitive and cracking them in my first trial would be quite tough. If I fail to secure a good rank for higher studies, I will definitely join Tata Steel and work in the industry for a few years. I plan on staying in the core domain of the industry.
MM: Given that the programme is specifically targetted towards empowering women in the stem field and in the company, how was the work environment for a woman in terms of safety and treatment?
PNS & NP: At TATA, safety is given utmost priority. The traffic rules are followed very strictly and failing to any such rule results in penalisation. Also, we didn’t face any discrimination during our tenure as interns. Everyone treated us really well. Our mentors were quite friendly and always came forward to help us. The managers and employees were quite cooperative. It was a really insightful experience.
MM: What would be your message to the readers?
PNS: I would like to clarify that if you are applying through the Women Of Mettle programme, you don’t have to aim for a groundbreaking change. Industries only require small modifications on our part, as we are still undergraduates. But good presentation skills can surely prove as a strong trait for the selection process. And once you secure an internship, make sure to work hard during the period; it would benefit the evaluation results.
NP: In this context, I would like to say that stay alert about any such programmes and regularly check webmails and noticeboards. Work hard on the subject and it would give glorious results to the end product and your career.
With these two young students ready to go ahead with their career, another Pre-Final year student Anwesha Panda from the Department of Metallurgy and Material Science has been shortlisted for the WOM Season 2 programme. She will be going for her internship at Tata this summer of 2019. Team MM wishes luck to these Women of Mettle.