Original Source – The Interview Portal

Its amazing what passion can do. Today we meet a mechanical engineer who didn’t just stop at loving automobiles. He built bikes for himself!

Shyam Krishnamurthy from the Interview Portal talks to Ameya Bhusari, a bike fanatic!

Please tell us about your background

I am basically born and brought up in Pune. I was a student of Symbiosis School. I am an avid basketball player and I love to go riding on my motorcycle over the weekend. My father was in the Air Force, and my mother is a housewife. I graduated in Mechanical Engineering from M.I.T Pune and secured campus placement at Tata Technologies, Pune. I have been working at Tata Technologies Ltd. since July 2016 as a Design Engineer in Costing and Sourcing team. Currently I am in process of applying for post-graduation in Automobile Engineering at universities in USA and Germany.

Oh, and yes, I build custom bikes as a part-time endeavor.

 How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?

I have always fancied automobiles, especially motorcycles. Since 6th or 7th standard, I used to forcibly take my mom to the raddivala shops and make her buy old automobile magazines like top gear/autocar etc. But at that time, it was just an area of interest. I had not thought of making a career out of it yet. As a child, I always wanted to join NASA! That was my dream.

We had a bit of C-programming during my 11th and 12th. It was during that time that I understood that coding was not for me. I just couldn’t (and still can’t) make sense of how to code. And as I had quite a bit of interest in automobiles, I took up mechanical engineering for my graduation.

When I was in 11th standard, a family friend of mine showed me a custom-built motorcycle. It was named 8-ball and was built by Rajputana Custom Motorcycles. I was completely floored. They had completely modified a RE Classic 500. So much that if it weren’t for the engine, you would not recognize it to be a Bullet. I had made up my mind on that day, that someday I am going to buy a custom motorcycle.

How was your experience at MIT Pune?

While in engineering, I was selected for MIT Pune BAJA team- Team Piranha Racing. Baja is an event where a team is supposed to design, manufacture and race an off-road vehicle. Here, I had the privilege of having extremely intelligent seniors, and immensely dedicated teammates without whom Baja would have been simply unimaginable. During my entire engineering program, we participated in a total of 5 Baja Events, of which 2 were international, namely, BAJA South Korea 2014 at Yeungnam University, Daegu and SAE BAJA USA at Rochester, NY. I got a lot of exposure during these events about how to go about designing a vehicle, how to validate the design, what are good engineering practices, event management etc.! I was even selected as the driver for three of those events!! Being an actual race driver was a dream come true!! Together along with a fellow teammate, I also secured third place in the four-hour long endurance race for my team.

My mother has always been the biggest driving force in my life. The amount of sacrifices she has made to this day, and still makes for me astounds and humbles me. It drives me to work harder, work for longer hours to achieve everything she dreams for me. Right from my school exams to nowadays when the extreme exhaustion from my daily routine just demotivates and tires me beyond imagination, she was and is always there with a comforting smile. All that I am today, and all that I will be, I owe it to her.

While pursuing engineering, especially while working for Baja, I understood that working with vehicles, Design, and analysis of components is what I like to do, and that I am a fair bit good at it too. That realization helped me to concretize my plan of pursuing masters in the field. Also, like the clear majority, I wasn’t too well off in academics. Like I had the basic qualifications (first class with distinction, etc.) but I wasn’t a topper by any standards. On top of that I wanted to apply to Germany. Automobile masters in Germany is extremely competitive. And they prefer toppers. So, if you are not a topper, you should have a very strong profile to sway them into gracing you with an admit.

Tell us how you ended up building a bike?

As I said earlier, I always wanted to buy a custom bike. My time at Baja got me thinking that if it is possible for college students to build an offroad ATV (All Terrain Vehicle), building a bike might just also be possible. I used to frequently discuss with a childhood friend of mine (he is a mechanical engineer too with SAE Supra and Efficycle experience) about building a bike together. After we graduated last year and both were engaged in our own jobs, we decided to do it as a part time project. We got my brother’s 2003 model Bajaj Pulsar 150 and took it completely apart. We have now converted it into a dirt tracker. We kept the engine and the frame and tried to manufacture other required components like the rear suspension, fuel tank, seat, exhaust etc. We converted an originally dual spring bike to a monoshock setup. It took a lot of time, (as we were doing this activity after office hours and on the weekends, and we were only two people) and a lot of money too, but in the end, we achieved what we set out to do – build our own custom motorcycle. This particular project has taught us a lot, which is, mainly improvising and rising above our failures. We encountered many failures on the way to the final result. We had to build many parts over and over again to achieve the final desired results.

 Please tell us about your current work

I work by day as a Design and Cost engineer at Tata Technologies. Basically, an understanding of various manufacturing processes and their control parameters is required for my job. Other responsibilities include sourcing and vendor development activities.

By night, I work on building custom bikes along with my friend. We try our hand at designing and manufacturing different components and retrofitting them on the motorcycle. We spend money on the bike from our own salaries. A typical day starts with having German classes in the morning. (fluency in German is very important for a masters in Germany). After German, its on to office where I am from 9 to 6. Once office is over I immediately head home to freshen up and then go ahead to work on the motorcycle. I come home around 10:30-11 and have dinner! Weekends are also mostly spent working on the motorcycle and catching up with much needed sleep, and a game of basketball on either Saturday or Sunday.

What do you love about your work

The thing I love about this is that its like living two lives at once. At office, you’ve to be at the beck and call of your manager, work diligently and get your paycheck at the end of the month. But while working on the motorcycle, its like being your own boss, taking important decisions on your own (actually it’s the two of us, so not exactly on my own but yeah), and most importantly doing something which is new and out of the box. Whenever my modified motorcycle turns heads on the road, I feel proud to have played a crucial part in the creation of something so unique and exciting. That feeling is more valuable than anything else.

Your advice to students?

My profile was initially strengthened due to exposure to actual vehicle design and manufacturing during my Baja days. I also have a work experience of 1.5 years (while applying) at Tata Technologies. If you are going to apply for masters, I would personally say that it’s better to apply with work experience than going without. Most universities give preference to experience. Also, working for a year or two contributes a big deal to our personality and professional attitude etc. which is kinda important.

As for advice, one thing I’d really like to say is that there are always going to be people who are more talented than you, smarter than you. But one thing you can always hold over everyone else is the dedication and the will to work harder, work for more time than everyone else. That will go a long way in deciding where and how you eventually turn out.

Also, it helps to have extracurricular activities and projects and research publications which are relevant to your field of masters. These go a long way in convincing the university to grant you an admit