Racing Towards His Dreams: Abhishek Pramanik

Racing Towards His Dreams: Abhishek Pramanik

For the record, a mechanical engineer is responsible for how just about anything is built. We make sure any type of structure or vehicle or roadway is strong, safe and will stay together.

- Kristin Huggins.

Fascinated by the concept of bicycle construction and keen observation into the mechanism through which nature operates, Abhishek Pramanik, a final year student from the Department of Mechanical engineering, has lived up to his childhood dream of working with vehicles. With the perfect combination of perfection and versatility, Abhishek Pramanik has aced in several domains such as excelling in Academics, captain of Team Roadrunner, and bagging a Pre-placement Offer at his dream company 'Bajaj Automobiles Ltd'. His hard work and consistency have brought highly commendable achievements and prestigious moments for the institute.

Team Monday Morning did get in gear with a mechanical engineer, Abhishek Pramanik over a video call, and discussed his journey, achievements, strategies and vision he has set up to turn his dream into reality in future days.

You can listen to the excerpts from this interview on our podcast 'Candidly NITR' on the streaming platforms of Spotify, Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts.

A SNEAK-PEEK INTO THE LIFE BEFORE NITR

Monday Morning(MM): Walk with us through your childhood memories and schooling days.

Abhishek Pramanik(AP): I belong to a suburban area named Gamharia. Right from LKG to 10th standard, my schooling was in Kerala Public School, an ICSE affiliated school at Gamharia. However, as it wasn't affiliated to ICSE at that time, I had to give exams from Kerala Public School, Kadma, a subsidiary of that school. I did my Std XI & XII from DAV Bistupur, CBSE affiliated. Since my childhood, I was very profound in Academics, maintaining the top position in my class. I express gratitude to my parents and teachers for their constant support. Having a keen interest in painting, I spent most of my leisure time painting.

School photo of Abhishek Pramanik

I was also partaking in several drama competitions, elocutions, and essay writing competitions during school days. Though I'm not adept, I have a taste of all these extracurricular activities. I mostly went for the drawing and painting competition. I believe that hobbies shouldn't be just for spending leisure time. If I'm investing my time in something, I need to grow in that particular field. I went to the competitions to taste what all painters do, what perspective sets up an artist's mind. In 2011, I bagged the second prize in painting at the state level. I also have done a Bachelor's in Fine Arts. However, right from the childhood days, I have had the least interest in sports. I used to play just for my entertainment. During my JEE preparation days, I isolated myself from these and focused only on one goal: getting to the right college.

Around 1960-70s, it was king's rule in Chaibasa and there was just a single bicycle in entire Jamshedpur. My great-grandfather was an excellent craft person and had built a bicycle as a whole from wood. Starting from the chain to the wheels, the body, the frame, a complete bicycle was made of woodcraft. This is the story I have heard from my father and it leads to my interest in crafting. Besides that, my father is also an all-rounder. He is one in all, starting from repairing his bicycle, his bike to sewing clothes, understanding medicines and engineering concepts to being a teacher in maths and science. So, it might be genetic in my case (chuckles)!

Family photo of Abhishek Pramanik

MM: How did NIT Rourkela happen to you? Was it your choice?

AP: Since my childhood, I was fond of cars. I would sleep with 10-20 small toy cars just beside my pillow or beneath them. I don't remember how, but I wanted to become a scientist. I was curious about things and asked my father how this happens, who made them and such fancies. My father would respond that scientists invent things. Sunita Williams also went to space at that time. I might have asked those questions, and his reply must have been on the lines- yes, these are the scientists who do inventions. Curiosities made me realise that things all around are because science and scientists are building these things and I wanted to be a scientist and inventor at first. Then, I realised that before that, I have to pass through the engineering phase. Since cars attracted me and Mechanical engineering was associated with motors, I decided to pursue Mechanical engineering.

Coming to why mechanical engineering particularly- My uncles are all workers at various companies. Once during a Viswakarma puja, when the companies allowed visitors, I happened to see press machines, hydraulics, how they are built and people working on them. The machines have had immense importance in my life. Further, I used to relate these with nature like how it works with the mechanism dealing with biology, chemistry and physics. All these curiosities and the movie 'Tarzan the wonder car' released in 2004 (Raj dealing with Autocad to design his car) lead me to choose Mechanical engineering. (On a lighter note) Tony Stark had also been my inspiration in pursuing Mechanical engineering.

During the JoSAA counselling, I had no idea about the existence of NIT Rourkela. I knew about NIT Trichy, NIT Surathkal and NIT Warangal. I lacked an engineering head in my family; so, one of my relatives had done his engineering from BIT Mesra. He advised that with my AIR 3409, Mechanical engineering of NIT Rourkela might be a possibility. I wanted to join IIT Kharagpur as it's best known for mechanical engineering, but I wasn't interested in any branch other than mechanical. I waited till the 7th round and finally landed up at NIT Rourkela. I don't regret my choice anyway because I love NIT Rourkela now for all that it has given me!

ACING ACADEMICS

Monday Morning(MM): Being so versatile in extra-curricular activities, you were quite good at Academics as well. What was your mantra to handle both of these simultaneously?

AP: My father is a teacher and has taught me to be consistent in learning. That essence of consistency is my father’s legacy, he is also my role model. I can say that time management has been a great asset to me in that regard. I was able to handle both academics and extracurriculars because I could prioritize well.

Mahesh Gupta (his roommate), quips in-.

As Abhishek’s roomate for years, I have found that he is very focussed. For example- if you have your mid-semester exams coming and called for a club meeting, most of the students will think about the meeting’s ill timing. But, Abhishek will go to the club meeting and will not think about studies at all. Similarly, during studying, he never thinks about the club work. As you see here, prioritisation and consistency is the key.

Photo of Abhishek with TRR

MM: In these recent times, when the coding culture prevails, what attracted you to the core sector?

AP: According to me, all the engineering branches are interconnected to each other. Without this intersectionality, a product cannot be built. My dream is to make an affordable renewable product like a car/vehicle/locomotive, that are eco-friendly. Any scientific product that has been harming nature has the least relevance in my life.

Since my first year, I have been part of Cyborg and Aakriti. I have experienced web development and app development sectors as well. During my time at Cyborg, I learned about electronics and joined the minor course in electronics. TRR taught me mechanical and metallurgical concepts. While designing the hyperloop, I learnt about ceramic engineering as well. I have been quite interdisciplinary in my learning and I don’t differentiate between core and non-core.

MM: How will you describe your academic experience at NIT Rourkela?

AP: In my first year, I studied hard, following the professors and never bunking classes. After my induction in various clubs and working for them, I realised that engineering is not only about theoretical knowledge. We also need practical exposure. Practical experiences make you real engineers. You can learn many formulae and equations, but you have to learn how to apply them in real-world scenarios. 

Academics are important. Without it, you will not know how to pursue practical coursework. Academics are 1% of your engineering life, but without it, you cannot pursue the rest 99%.

Mahesh had an interesting account in this regard-

Abhishek is such a person who watches movies and plays games the day before his mid-semester and end semester exams. According to him, this is his favourite time as he is freer on the exam days rather than the normal days as those are occupied with club activities.

When asked about this to Abhishek, he said-

I am used to preparing for the exams in the reverse order, which means that I prepare for the exam that is on the last date first and so on. I start my preparation one week before the exams. In this way, I get time before the exams, which has been my philosophy since my childhood. In my opinion, before going to any exam, you should have ample rest and stress less. This way, you are bound to improve your exam temperament.

INTERNSHIPS AND PLACEMENT

MM: Share with us your first internship experience as an EV powertrain engineer at Autobot India.

AP: This was accidental! I bagged an internship when Bajaj Auto visited our college. Due to covid, the internship got delayed. So I would search in LinkedIn about what all potential internships. Autobot India EV was one of the organisations that I was associated with during TRR electric times. Through LinkedIn, I came to know that its training internship was going on. I enrolled and was selected for it. It was a three-month-long training internship where we had to develop a motor controller for electric bikes with 1KW BLDC motor and 48V. It was a pleasant experience where I could apply my theoretical and practical skills. It was perfect to see our electric system working in simulation mode. I could not see the complete electronic board working due to covid. However, I made many friends. 

MM: You were selected as an octane intern at Bajaj Auto Ltd in 2020. What was your preparation strategy and how did you crack it?

AP: I was sure Bajaj would come to the institute. When the date was announced five days before the online test, I was in Bangalore for the competition of Formula Electric Design Challenge. Only five days were left, I had not worked out any preparation, but I was clear with my second-year concepts and IC engines because, in online tests of internships, the IC engine is significant. I was in the Powertrain team in TRR and had been studying these concepts since the first year owing to my interest. I was lagging in aptitude. So, I worked on the concepts at www.pariksha.com. I was regretful for not going through aptitude after JEE days but it is usually the case after JEE. Mahesh and I had participated in one workshop- confidence factory in the first year where we had gone through sixteen hours of training about how to appear in a personal interview and prepare a CV. This helped me to ace my personal Interview. We had practised questions on stress management during the workshop. For stress management related questions, I had not gone through YouTube videos, as it is different for different people. As Bajaj Auto was one of my dream companies, I didn't want to fail and wanted to be true to myself. 

You may find more details about the internship by clicking on https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/worlds-favourite-indian-summer-internship-abhishek-pramanik.

MM: How was your experience there and were you disappointed when the internship was turned into Work From Home?

AP: I blame it on Covid naturally. I had imagined I would travel for the first time in flight without putting in any cost of my own. The company would pay for the flight, food and lodging. I was fortunate that the internship at last commenced. I met students from IITs, NITs and IISc and some other colleges. We had arranged an unofficial farewell in online mode just to know each other better. About the internship experience, it was challenging. My work was to improve the online service sector of KTM. I had to take inputs from the customers, workshop staff and others. It was difficult to meet them in person due to covid. My work was not technical. It was on the lines of designing, improving the UI/UX of apps and systems, reducing each vehicle's lead time that comes in for servicing and goes out and improving the user experience.

MM: Share with us your feelings getting PPO from Bajaj Auto Ltd?

AP: I was exhilarated. The day was the 3rd of September. The time was 11 pm. While I was going to sleep, I checked the email and found the offer letter. First, I took a screenshot and shared with my family and friends. My hands were shaking. It was one of my dream companies. I have been waiting since my second year to get into Bajaj Auto.

A MAN OF PERFECTION & VERSATILITY IN CLUB CULTURE

It's incredible even to come across a person having a taste of almost every aspect of life. One such personality is Abhishek Pramanik. Starting with robotics and web development to being skilful in art and his dream of building cars, he has set up a benchmark in every single thing he came across. Let's have a sneak-peek into the diverse club culture he was a part of!

MM: You were a part of the web development and design team of Cyborg. How was your experience in dealing with robotics?

AP: Cyborg organises 'Create Classes' every year. It was the first time I got exposed to the technical side of the institute. I came across Tarun bhaiya from Aakriti who had some of his friends involved in the web developing culture. I asked him if he knew someone who might be in the web development arena out of curiosity of knowing what the coding culture is. That's where my journey started in the field of web development and coding. I had been exposed to C++ and Java since class 7 due to my ICSE background. But since then, I hadn't yet implemented any of those into the practical world. I got closer to the technologies and started implementing C/C++ in robotics practically. During December, I got associated with a secret project named 'Converge' which had 5-10 people aiming to bring all the resources at NIT into one application and start building it. There, I started learning web development with NodeJS and HTML, CSS and Javascript for one month. I developed the skills of front-end and back-end. However, the project didn't happen due to priority change and other involvements of the team. But the skill remained with me and I implemented them in designing the website of NSS along with Jagannath Sahoo. It took me one week to learn PHP because the concepts were almost similar. It was followed by me developing the platform for Game Of Epreuve 3.0 in PHP along with Biswajeet Sahoo. We designed it for the online tech-hunt game of Cyborg, Epreuve 3.0. It feels nice to see that my code is working for people around. Hence, my goals of serving humankind were in pace!

MM: You served as coordinator as well as website designer and developer of NSS NITR. How was the journey? Shed light on it

AP: I was first the coordinator and later got into the website development of NSS. Mahesh and I applied very late and were also asked why we were in the dilemma of being a coordinator or not. That's how we got into being the coordinator and experienced playing the leadership role, the first one in managing people. It struck me that if everything is being done manually, why not automate the things and do a little publicity in the online platform about NSS works that NIT Rourkela already has. As the online servers are already present, we can build a website and then do all the work through its website. That's how the website came into existence in 2018 and it's still being developed for the real work to get on.

MM: You are quite fond of art, oil painting, landscape painting and many more. So, how did you feel when you became the coordinator of Aakriti?

AP: I felt excellent after joining Aakriti. Since my JEE preparation from the last 2-3 years, I couldn't pursue my hobbies in my leisure time. After joining NIT, the first club I joined was Aakriti and it gave me a relief that I could pursue my hobbies in a better way! It was founded just two years back by Sushant Neer Prajapati. He is a very cool and jolly person who shares his experience every time. It was not like being the coordinator of Aakriti meant a lot to me, but it was the people around who used to be together every time. We used to go out, followed by sketching, sharing the concepts of art. The calmness which one gets after pursuing the hobby cannot be explained! The persons involved in those at those times are indeed the best ones and I still miss them! Preparing for Innovision 2017 had been my best memories with the club, Aakriti, and I was happy that people started recognising me because of my paintings.

MM: You have also been involved with NITRAA. What exactly is your role there and how’s the experience been?

AP: Building of my connection started when we were contacted by Anand Amrit sir, an alumnus of TRR, regarding Hyperloop project, and my connection grew overseas while in search of knowledge regarding it from foreign teams who had previous experience. NITRAA happened to me by chance, I will say. I had contacted Ashutosh Nayak Sir for gaining experience regarding team management for the hyperloop project. After that, we got ourselves connected and in this way, my association with NITRAA started. I am having a great experience acting as the Lead Student Coordinator of the Mentorship Program. I have the chance to interact with so many previous alumni batches I feel very fortunate.

ASME

MM: You have always been interested in car racing. How motivated did you feel when you made it to ASME?

AP: ASME was the first technical club that I got inducted into. I was interested to see the human pod vehicle on the induction poster and I was intrigued to join the club as it also aligned with my interests. The seniors are very friendly and competent and they guided us very effectively. I got to know about manufacturing for the first time. ASME is a club where you can implement your theoretical concepts. The club played a great role in improving my technical knowledge and developed my personality. I am very thankful to my seniors for the chance and guidance.

TEAM ROADRUNNER AND IT'S PROUD CAPTAIN

MM: Share your journey from starting as a powertrain engineer to being the captain in Team Roadrunner?

AP: I knew about Team Roadrunner (TRR) and Black Mamba Racing (BMR) before joining NIT Rourkela. During my school days, I read in the newspaper that NIT Jamshedpur had bagged some position in the BAJA Racing competition. At that time, I realised that students of engineering colleges build cars from scratch and participate in racing competitions. One of my relatives who was studying in BIT Mesra knew about Srijan Racing and further showed me Youtube videos of TRR and BMR.

When I first came to NIT Rourkela, I was inquisitive to see the workshop’s car. I was lucky to see it running during the Car Show of Innovision 2017. On that very day, I decided to join this club and I knew this is the club where I can fulfil my dreams and aspirations.

I participated in the induction and personal interview process of TRR. I was despondent that I got fewer marks in the Powertrain subsystem, but incidentally, I also got one of the highest marks in the Drivetrain subsystem. But, my interest mainly drove me towards the Powertrain subsystem. I am glad that then Captain Abhinash Behera gave me a chance to work in the team under Aditya Mohanty's guidance in thermals of the powertrain system.

Abhishek Pramanik with TRR

TRR has been a very integral part of my life. This team has developed my all-round perspective towards my career. I wanted to experience the thrill of speed and that is why I joined TRR. This team has lots of energy and people in SAE teams are willing to make sacrifices to any extent. Working with these teams contributes to your halo. When the halo of this team mixes with your personality then everything ignites. We have missed many nights and sleep just for working for our team. You will find me sleeping during the class hours on the first bench itself, as the team used to work throughout the night.

Some people ask me how the members of the team manage academics with such a huge load. I tell them that when passion meets profession, then everything resonates! Everything started resonating for me and I started enjoying my work. Being the captain of the team is a huge responsibility. A lot of managerial acumen also comes to the fore along with the technical areas. I would like to quote one of my senior TRR members, Abhijeet Behera who had beautifully described the learning curve of engineering during workshop times at TRR, "in the first year we learn the stuff, in the second year we implement, in the third year we modify our learnings and make the products better". The same philosophy we implement in TRR as well as in ASME. This is how we learn and do things.

I consider myself very fortunate that I got a chance to work on an electric vehicle close to working towards my goal of a clean and renewable energy locomotive. My teammates still don’t know about this but the EV architecture that we, along with everyone else is following now, is very similar to what I had drawn back in 2012 during my science exhibition at school. This concept of EV had struck into my head when I had made a project on hydroelectric power generation under the guidance of my Physics teacher, Mr. Santosh, that what if we have one generator that draws energy from nature and provides power to the motor to drive the vehicle with a battery as storage system. I am yet to build that generator now.

Collage of Team Roadrunner

MM: Share your experiences at the Formula Bharat and similar competitions.

AP: During Formula Bharat Competition 2019, just before 12 hours of getting the car on the train, we had met with an accident. The car was damaged to a considerable extent. So, that was a nervous time. I surely thought that we could not go to the competition, but such is the team's energy to mend the car in 5 hours.

For the first time in my life, I experienced a racetrack with so many race cars. Never had I dreamt of it but was really thrilled at Kari Motor Speedway. We had the engine breakdown during the competition, but we could mend it again one day before the race. Many other problems too came after with leakage in the fuel tank during the tilt test. We worked till the last but couldn’t participate in the race. But I have learned a vital lesson from the team here-

Hardships can and will come your way. Don’t lose hope and work hard till the last moment. You may not achieve the goal, but you will surely learn something so that you will achieve success the next time.

MM: TRR got a lot of success under your tenure when you were the Captain, such as ranking 5th among 15th in Formula Bharat's EV finals. How did you take all the crucial calls for the team to emerge victorious in the various competitions?

AP: All the credits for the success goes to my team. My team was there for the emergence of TRR Electric. We all are quite enthusiastic to welcome the Electric Automotive Culture. We should be educated enough about what technology is going to come in the next ten years. We had provided the stepping stone and the team is all set to have the EV ready to build and have it on track in the near future to keep the legacy of TRR.

Yes, I can say it very proudly that we got so many accolades under my leadership, but it is the pride of every team member. If we want to achieve success, we have to, first of all, believe in our teammates. In my opinion, failure starts when you say that you have time.

MM: You also served to be the vice-captain of Team blue streak HPV. How did you handle both TRR and Team Blue streak?

AP: I will go with the 80-20 rule here. The technical knowledge to be implemented is quite similar; 80% of work can be done with 20% effort.

On the managerial prospect, I needed to get the approval of the components and various bills from SAC and needed to take care that work is done without overshoot of deadlines. As a technical leader, I was responsible that every part integrated with the vehicle is well tested, simulated and experimented. And as a leader, I needed to take care that my teammates remain motivated.

MEMORIES DOWN THE LANE

The little moments made in the journey indeed last a lifetime as memories. There exist some memories which never fade! Let's get down the lane and feel nostalgic with none other than Abhishek Pramanik and his friends Mahesh Gupta, Raj Rajeswar Sahu and seniors like Abel Mathew.

MM: Share with us some unforgettable memories with Abhishek Pramanik. (Question asked to Abhishek’s friends)

Gupta Mahesh Subash: We were very interested in cycling. One day we decided to go to the Mandira Dam by bicycles itself. Abhishek searched the location from Google Maps. But, when we reached the destination, we came to know that it was the wrong location. We came to know that the dam is further 24 kilometres away. So, we thought of taking an auto. But, Abhishek insisted on riding with the cycle only. We travelled a total of 11 hours and a distance of 84 kilometres. This is one of my fondest memories with Abhishek.

Abhishek Pramanik cycling with friends

Raj Rajeswar Sahu: I have many great experiences with Abhishek. I feel nostalgic about the cycle trips and the projects we made together in the first year. Our bond started to grow as we partnered to create a line-follower bot and since then it grew stronger. In my opinion, he is an able all-rounder and a great friend.

Abel Mathew: One of the things I am super proud of Abhishek is that he has a significant role in the joint collaborative efforts of ASME and SAE. Earlier, we used to work together in the workshop, but things were not cordial at all. Kudos to Abhishek and the executive body of ASME and SAE for the improvement measures.

Another fondest memory of mine is that we were able to conduct ASME Efx successfully. We faced many troubles while conducting the event. Still, Abhishek and other teammates were able to pull off the event very successfully and were praised by the senior officials of ASME at that time.

MM: Famous as 'Pramanik Bhai' amongst the juniors, you are known to be affable and go-to-Mechanical senior. How do you feel getting acknowledged by your juniors?

AP: Yes, it feels fantastic. I always learn from them and try to mentor them. Helping nature has been with me since my childhood days. During my school days, my classmates also used to come to me for help and I tried my best to help them. Furthermore, I like to give back the knowledge I had received from my parents, seniors and experience of my life. Whenever someone looks at me or approaches me for help, I try my best to meet their expectations if I consider myself appropriate in the area they need me. It's because of this attitude of mine that may have made me an approachable person at NIT Rourkela. I get to know many people in this way and experience different perspectives to a particular problem.

MM: What are your fondest memories and regrets (if any) throughout your journey at NIT Rourkela?

AP: The fondest memories are those I will cherish forever; NIT Rourkela campus is heavenly, but it's so because of the people around. I will miss my friends and my teams the most, especially Mahesh Gupta, Ankit Ghidora, Raj Rajeswar Sahoo, Kamlesh, Abhijeet Mondal, Binayak and also Arun Mohapatra, Risita Jena, Prithvi, Omkar, Prabhu, Abhigyan, Janardan to name a few and my seniors. I will always cherish the company of Sukriti Mishra for she has been a person who held my hand through every thick and thin. Whatever I became, some credit goes to these people. Talking about regrets, I have only a few at NIT Rourkela. It has been an emotional loss for the Batch of 2021 that final year diaries have not yet been opened. Mahesh and I had planned to go to Ladakh during the last Durga puja. I had planned to go to Lonavala during my internship days because it is very close to Pune where Bajaj Auto is located. Covid killed these plans. I don't have any other regrets at NIT Rourkela apart from the final year plans not happening. NIT Rourkela gave me more memories than I had fancied.

MM: What would be your final message of inspiration to the readers?

AP:

Whatever life throws at you, just accept it with a smile. My attitude has been to accept the task and then learn the task. So never miss any opportunity by underestimating yourself. Hard work will always surpass any talent in this world, so be persistent and consistent in your goal and you will achieve it for sure.

Team Monday Morning congratulates Abhishek Pramanik for his success so far and wishes him all the luck for his future endeavours ahead.

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