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Could you describe your background, qualification and how you got involved in Formula Student?
I am primarily a defense kid, born and brought up all over the country, but my home is in Delhi. I am a Mechanical and Automation Engineering graduate from IGIT (Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women), Delhi and I was a part of the Aious Formula Student team from 2012-2016, initially as a member of powertrain department, and then as the team captain. Currently, I work in the Powertrain Department of Mahindra Research Valley, Chennai.
I got involved with FS in my first semester itself. Initially, the attraction was, of course, the cool prospect of being a part of a team that builds Formula Student vehicles. But then I got into the engine department, and the day I overhauled my first engine, I was hooked. For life, ever and ever. And ever. And now, every street side workshop that smells like grease and engine oil, feels like home- even in Chennai.
Has Formula Student been helpful with gaining career prospects?
Definitely. Building a vehicle gives you the kind of knowledge, clarity of concepts and the chance to actually apply theory that you can simply not get from your textbooks. So when you sit for the interview, you are confident, because you know what you are talking about, and the interviewer can see it. Also, and I think most alumni would agree to this, there would have been times, while working in the team- impossible, crazy, extremely stressful times – where you would have have felt that it just wont work out. And then you would buck up, try once more because you simply have to do it; there is no other option, and then it would miraculously happen. And that has become a life mantra for me- If I could do that, of course, I can do this.
What would be your advice to female students who are currently involved in Formula Student?
My advice, to female and male students alike, would be – Give your hundred percent to the team. Study, build your concepts, and then apply those concepts. Make it happen, run your car on that track. Because there is no better feeling in the world than to see the car you built out there on track, competing against the best.
And if I have to advice female students separately, I would say that it’s not so different. Yes, we generally grow up with a little less auto quotient than our male peers, but then we can catch up. Also, as far as being a part of a formula team is considered, once you take up a responsibility, you should own it, work hard, (extremely hard if you have to), but do it. If you want to become a good engineer – a good mechanical/ automobile engineer – then you are at the right place.
But more importantly, since I do not hail from an elite tier 1 college with the most experienced team, my advice is for teams like the one I come from. The new ones, the ones who have yet to see the three stickers on their car, the ones with no alumni and doing it for the first time, the ones without any money, or any guidance – teams, trust me, it is all worth it. And it will happen for you. Just stick to the rulebook, work smart, and try building a team first, car later. Instill that passion in each one of your members. Because the time you spend in your workshop, building your car, is going to be the best time of your college life. And it will build you, as an engineer, and more importantly- as a person.
They usually say that once you are in FS, you eat, sleep and breathe it. What was your experience when you graduated and could no longer participate?
What they say is absolutely true. Once you are in FS, you eat, sleep, drink, digest and breathe FS. Your goal in life is to see your vehicle perform, and if you are fortunate enough to see it happen, instead of being satisfied, you will want to go back to the workshop, and do it all over again. Because what is life without power tools and weld burns and the sound of your engine revving.
My experience post graduation has been a mixture of sorts. Even though I like my job and living independently and being a grownup and all of that, when I am talking to the team, I would simply give up everything to go back and help them and work with them. Just one more time, just one more car.
What do you think the main benefits of FS are and how would you recommend that students make the most of it ?
Formula Student is as much a technical event as it is an event of passion. Emotions are involved. And hence, FS not only builds you as an engineer, it builds you as a person. You become a team-player, you understand the true meaning of that haunting disappointment- if only we had started working on schedule, if only we hadn’t lost those points by missing the deadlines, if only we could have done a little more testing. If only. And you understand that pure joy that the success of your hard work brings. And these lessons always stay with you in life, doesn’t matter what you are doing.
So to the students I would recommend- go to the workshop, look at your team, take a deep breath and start working. Utilize time, respect deadlines, and don’t repeat last years’ mistakes. Make new ones. Testing is the key. Test, test and test. Train your drivers. Work smart. Work hard.