Of Art, Literature And Chemicals: Sambit Kumar Maharana

Of Art, Literature And Chemicals: Sambit Kumar Maharana

Harsh Mohan Rudransh Sharma | Feb 04, 2019

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A thousand miles away from you

To the tomorrow, comes an ardent blood with new face

Where heart aches for lovers and for friends,

And woeful grace

Of lustful astrayed heads.

The above verses are from the poem "Tomorrow" by Sambit Kumar Maharana, a final year undergraduate student from the Department of Chemical Engineering at NIT Rourkela. He might be anomalous multitude for many but for the people who know him, he is a person driven by passion. Monday Morning brings to you the story of a zealous poet, ardent writer, toastmaster, a creative graphic designer and is now a to-be graduate Chemical Engineer. 

His "Carefree" days

Born in Cuttack and brought up in Paradip Phosphate Limited Township, Paradip he did his preliminary schooling from DAV Public School, PPL Township. A carefree and mischievous kid, Sambit, never took anything seriously, be it to studying or playing cricket in the afternoon, unless forced upon by his mother. Last minute preparations are his thing and he is pretty good with that. Unlike his mid-terms or pre-boards, his final-term exam report card is reflective of this. As said, he doesn't take things seriously unless it's the final call.

Matriculations were done and this easy-going child moved to DAV Public School, Unit-8, Bhubaneswar for his intermediates. It was difficult for him to cope up with both his coaching and intermediates. A bad percentage coupled with poor attendance loomed before him, two months prior to his board examinations. He had to attend classes on weekends to clear the required attendance bar.

My computer science teacher who also happened to be my class teacher was fed up of me as I used to score decent marks in Physics, Chemistry and Maths but I always used to flunk her subject She thought I had some venegence against her (Laughs). She used to give me examples of students who scored 8 in preboards and 58 in finals though she didn’t even consider me that compatible. When I passed with a score higher than 90 percentage, all my teachers were surprised and believed it to be some sort of a miracle. 

Towards NIT and Into It

It was Sambit's time to move from Bhubhaneshwar to the coaching hub of India, Kota. A one year of discoveries ended with a decent score in the entrance examinations and it was his time to choose. Always fascinated and inclined towards moving mechanical objects he wanted to be a part of some industry doing "big and cool things", so he never wished for any circuital branch. During the initial rounds of counselling, he got Mining Engineering in NIT Rourkela. Though he was happy with it, his mother, worried about the future prospects of the department, proposed him to take the special round which resulted in him eventually getting Chemical Engineering at National Institute of Technology, Rourkela.

His first year at NIT Rourkela was all about laptop, games, browsing, sleeping only after "Night Canteen ka Samosa Chat". His exam preparations were synonymous to going through the slides. It was his roommate, Suraj Kumar Behera, who introduced him to design. Photoshop was the first software which he learned from his closed-room-sessions with his then roommate. Learning and exchange of ideas was the story of his room. Into sophomore year, not being particularly good at academics motivated him towards extra-curricular and he thought about joining clubs. Hourglass was the first club he joined where he was pulled into the inductions by one of his friends. Induction into hourglass made him realise that good things are happening in this place, other than academics. A task to design a poster for hourglass produced his first poster which, according to him, went well. He found himself learning and started having fun while designing.

His Designing Saga

DesignTab was his second club where he wasn't formally inducted. According to him, Design Tab presents an immense opportunity to learn for budding designers simply because it brings together a lot of like-minded people intent on helping each other garner skills. Many of his friends were already in the club. He approached the seniors of the club with his zeal to join and upon seeing some of his works, he was inducted into it. Design Tab is like a family to him, where everyone is equal with their responsibility and their dignity.

Sambit, was the runners up in "The Minimalist" design competition organised by Artifelx '17 in association with Vassaunt 2017 where he made a poster of Rocket Singh (Movie). Always anticipating to learn something or the other be it through experience or through discussion he never says no to any work. It was this attitude which made him the vice-president of DesignTab in 2018. They organised Iridscence, the flagship event of Innovision, speaking of which he says,

Iridscence is something which comes out of the contribution of every member. The theme or genre of the exhibition is taken into action when everyone converges to a similarity. So, this year the theme was nothing specific, we just wanted to put some more technicality to the exhibition and make it more interactive. We always try to go beyond people's expectation and get better from the past. Every single member was given an opportunity to showcase his/her work, we never compromised with any member's work, however good or bad it may be, we try our best to pin it on the board. I personally feel that this would definitely push them to  level up.

His designs became popular to an extent that it earned him a wildcard entry to be the District 41 Toastmasters International Public Relations Committee. District 41 Toastmasters covers over 150 clubs from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. His work there involved maintaining a healthy relationship with all other Toastmaster Clubs in the District and making people aware of Toastmasters. As part of this  responsibility and for the matter of pride he designed the District 41’s "Livewire" newsletter for 2017 which was subsequently released in Vancouver International Summit.

He took the responsibility of the design head of Innovision 2017 when not many were ready to shoulder the responsibility because of the overhead pressure and lack of time (Preparations for Innovision 2017 were delayed due to a delay in elections). He worked for over 40 posters and 20 flexes with varying dimensions, excluding other graphic designs. His knack of getting things done with utter satisfaction is what drives him and he has never gotten a complaint about any design he created. Later, he shouldered the responsibility of NITRUtsav 2018 Design head and also served as the mentor in Innovision 2018 and NITRUtsav 2019.

During his chat with MM, he sighted a funny incident which happened during Innovision 2017.

It was October 2017 and I had to make a poster for Innovision 2017 Stand-Up Comedy Pro-Show. I was told the name of the celebrity is Ankita Srivastava. I goggled  for a picture of her, I was scrolling for a decent picture but couldn’t find one to go with the design. So, I took what I thought was the best picture and added photo manipulation to avoid it from getting censored. It took me a long time to turn that picture to be decent enough for a poster. Next thing, I shared it with the Innovision team WhatsApp group. I got good reviews for that poster. But  after a couple of hours, a friend pointed out that the picture of the person, I used for my poster was infact someone else. Then we figured out that there is this more popular model whose name is also Ankita Srivastava. It was kind of funny for me because it took a long time even for Innovision team people to realize that I made a poster featuring the wrong person.

His Awninged Arcade of Verses

Getting his inspiration from nature, music, and art, Sambit wrote his first poem when he was in his 5th grade remembering it to be a silly one.

Writing and sketching are his leisure pursuits. His treasured collections are present in his blog http://vortex-pen.blogspot.com/. Of poetry, he says, is a thing which happened to him as a kid but he explored it after coming over to NIT. Poetry to him is a magical way to express oneself.

One day Prof. Seemita Mohanty, who used to take our Language Lab back in sophomore year, asked us if  someone in the class writes poetry and my friends spoke of me. So, she asked me to recite one of my poems, which thankfully she found really good. She further asked me to share some of my poems. Later, I received a mail from her asking me to visit and read a journal and encouraged me to submit one of poems for the same. Without realising the seriousness of this, I simply sent my poem to the journal. The next day I got a mail stating that one of my poems has been selected and they are going to publish it in ‘The International Journal for English Language and Literature’. It was only after googling about it that I realised how big a thing it was.

He always wished to have a poetry club or an informal group of like-minded people for poetry where people would come and recite their poems or can express their emotions through slam poetry. He was extremely glad that in his pre-final year, a club by the name Penanigans Poetry was formed which did exactly the same. One year after its inception the club seems to be on the decline and Sambit regrets not noting when things went south but he still wishes to do something for that in the remaining three months.

His profile lists him as the design heads of D361 2018 spring edition and Souvenir 2018 team. He is the man behind the Innovation Carnival's logo. He joined D361 as a content writer but was later given the job of handling design. He has evolved from an ill-suited freshman to be the go-to designer of the Institute. Seeing his designing profile and poetry skills one would ask him why didn't he choose passion over profession. But to him, career is a weird word around design and poetry or anything that you are passionate about. To him, they never feel like a career. It's just something that he had always had an impulse to do, whether or not he could make any sort of living from it. He will always want to express himself or showcase his creativity, whether or not anybody's wanting to publish it, so he always thinks of it as more of a vocation than a career.

Defining his Career

Chemical Engineering happened to Sambit as a chance but he firmly believes in doing justice to the stream. He has worked his way through the department, and although his CGPA might not do justice to his dedication for the same, his work speaks a lot. He did two industrial internships and one research internship before landing a top-notch job in Phillips Carbon Black Limited.  

His first internship was in Paradeep Phosphates Limited. His father used to work in the same company,  which resulted in him having a relatively easier path to get the internship.

Since the prospect of working with machines 45 ft high always enticed him, he knew what he was going to do. Upon remembering a particular instance when he used to wish for the plant to shut down, just so he can visit restricted areas, which otherwise would've been too toxic for an intern to visit. His first industrial internship made his resolve. So he opted to go for another industrial internship and Vedanta Aluminium Limited was on the cards. His experience was good and this rekindled his love for the industry.

In his third year, he secured an on-campus internship at Skaipal Consulting but seeing everyone opting for a research internship and the prospects that research internships offered made him also want to try it. He interned at Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun during the summer after his pre-final year. Having done two industrial experiences already he wanted to get into something research-oriented and so he chose CSIR over IITs. At Dehradun, he worked on a project titled "Screening of Catalyst and understanding the reaction system for one-step styrene synthesis". He still holds his guide for this project in the utmost of regards. The fact that ‘Chemical Reaction Engineering’, which was an important subject for this particular project was not taught until the 7th semester, made this internship all the more challenging.

He believes that the knowledge he gained during these three internships helped him eventually secure his placement in Phillips Carbon Black Limited (PCBL). Talking about his journey and the process of him getting selected for this company, he recalls his journey throughout the placement scenario to be fairly simple. Keeping himself positive was his mantra. Remembering the way, he secured his placement, he said

Usually there are 3 rounds in an interview. With this particular company, there were five. After getting over with the Online test I, Psychometric test and Group discussion I was finally selected for the PI. At the very beginning of the PI, the interviewer deemed my CV as unreliable, hence rendering everything written as  false. During the first part of my interview, I had to convince him that my CV is infact genuine. 

He remembers coming out of the interview with a crying face and not expecting to get selected. It came as quite a shock to him when he heard his name being read out in the final list of selected candidates.  Securing an interview is all about the attitude which you have. According to him, one needs to be the boss in the interview to get through because any company would be looking for candidates who stand out.

He has always appreciated the intensity of the curriculum of the Department of Chemical Engineering and thinks that any person with a hold on the subjects over here would for sure be able to get a good placement and would also be able to get into any good college for higher studies. His long-term goal is to do higher studies in Chemical Engineering but for the time being, he would be joining PCBL.

For the readers he says

Flying is not only the art of the birds, but it is also the art of the artists!         So always stay close to things you like and do what you love. For me, it would be music, art, and literature and I don't wish to go a step away from it. Life is bigger than what you think, expect, and imagine. You have got a precious human life, so embrace it with sheer joy.

Monday Morning wishes Sambit all the luck for his life ahead.

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