Please tell us about yourself. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?
Being a resident of Anushakti Nagar, Mumbai (born and raised), which houses the nuclear community of India, I did my schooling from Atomic Energy Central School. After qualifying IIT-JEE painstakingly, I was offered a Dual Degree in Biochemical Engineering at IIT-BHU post-counseling. Thus began my engineering adventure, starting right from the first day of fall 2011.
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It didn’t take me more than a few weeks to realize that Bio-engineering (despite being such a huge success in the West), wasn’t my true calling. This marked the turning point in my freshman year, after which I was solely focused on shifting to Mechanical Engineering, the one true love of my life. Back then, only the student who was ranked first in the department was provided with the option to upgrade to a branch of his/her choice. Alongside being the topper of their respective streams, there was tough competition at the college level too, so one had to be among the top-shots in the overall institute rankings as well.
Thankfully I succeeded in surmounting both the hurdles and saw myself enrolled into Mechanical Engineering by fall 2012. Here, I consolidated the top position (Department Rank 1) and maintained that till the very last day on campus. From then on, it all went by in the wink of the eye- internships, department awards and recognitions, fests and conferences, executing challenging projects, the Gold Medal (Batch of 2016), the dream run indeed!!!!
Tell us about your internships
I pursued my first and foremost internship at the Material Science Division of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai for 2 months spanning the summer of 2012. It was during this particular stint that I was exposed to the amazing world of materials, which steadily transformed into a deep-rooted passion for delving into new methodologies to synthesize, fabricate and characterize the same. My primary job was to study stainless steel alloys with an objective of deciphering the correlation between the micro-structure and corresponding macro-level properties.
This was followed by an industrial training next summer (2013). I opted for Larsen & Toubro (L&T), Mumbai, not only owing to its proximity to home but also because of its impeccable reputation for being one of the most outstanding engineering conglomerates in India. In this new role, the preparation of Materials Specimen and Testing Plans (MSTPs), managing vendors/ suppliers, quality assurance, timely delivery of promised goods and products, regular dealings with stakeholders and clients gave a fair taste of everyday life in the industry.
Moving on, I mustered the courage to venture into modeling and simulations which was accomplished thanks to a six-week winter internship at IIT-Bombay in the middle of my 3rd year. This was exclusively devoted to kinetic simulations for automobile applications. That closed the chapter on domestic internships.
The summer of 2014 saw me depart to the land of dreams for a funded research internship at the University of North Texas (UNT) near Dallas, where the tasks assigned to me essentially entailed laser processing of materials (selective laser melting) and subsequent characterization. The pioneering project that our group carried out back in those days left an indelible mark on my outlook towards research in general and research in the niche laser-material interactions in particular.
Its influence was undisputedly profound; no wonder I decided to undertake another internship the following summer (2015), this time at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT). Here, I was expected to ensure sound material characterization of aerospace alloys post plasma-spraying under the guidance of an ex-NASA scientist with unparalleled research experience and unfathomable academic depth.
The last and final internship of my undergrad life was in the form of a complete semester exchange at UPMC (Université Pierre et Marie CURIE) – UPMC – Paris, France. This was a sponsored program which required me to investigate fracture of 3-D specimens and thereafter recommend what sort of micro-structural modifications can be introduced using additive manufacturing techniques (3-D printing for instance) so as to enhance the overall fracture properties of the bulk material. This was truly an incredible journey encompassing a fabulous internship saga spanning the five glorious years I spent at IIT.
Where do you work now?
I consider myself really fortunate to be bestowed with this wonderful opportunity to discharge my duties as an Engineer at a power-management multinational, as ginormous and reputed as Eaton Corporation. Commencing work from Aug 2016 (hardly a month after graduation) meant undergoing rigorous training sessions under the aegis of the “Campus to Corporate” Program.
My job majorly relates to VAVE i.e. ‘Value Addition Value Engineering’ for automobiles, whereby I am expected to deliver on different products viz. transmissions, clutches, automotive differentials and CAD modeling-based services by exploring avenues of reducing their costs while abiding to the highest standards of quality. The reduction in costs can be achieved by myriad paths, some of which include replacement of materials (this is where my prior experience on materials comes in handy), change of supplier (replacing a NAFTA vendor by a Chinese one available at more economical rates), jettisoning redundant components, updating design changes in-keeping with current technological trends and competitive benchmarking.
Eaton as an organization specializes in four distinct verticals- Aerospace, Vehicle, Hydraulics and Electrical products, with a total footprint of 97,000 employees spread across the US, Mexico, Germany, Poland, Oceania, China, India, Brazil and many more developing economies. For further details, please visit our website (www.eaton.com); I am confident that it will furnish a much more detailed view of the organization, its wide-ranging product line and industrial engagements across different continents.
The hiring process for our esteemed organization is year-long, though for IITs, they visit only during the official campus recruitment drives in the month of December. In this regard, it is noteworthy to mention that Eaton being one of the finest engineering firms was allocated the first day slot (1st December 2015) for placements at IIT-BHU and I was among the six people on campus who were finally offered this much-sought after Engineering profile.
Your advice to students for aiming high for internships?
To start with, make up your mind as to what sort of career you wish to pursue i.e. dig out your true passion. I have often seen fellow students squandering their time and resources, attempting to resolve the predicament of whether to intern at a bank, financial organization, industry, start-ups, research centers or universities abroad. Although having one intern in each of these can give you a very broad spectrum cutting across different fields, you will invariably lack the depth vis-a-vis your counterparts.
Internships at reputed organizations or universities not only provides priceless exposure but also weighs heavy on your resume. I don’t intend to sermonize but let me tell you this- the sooner you lock your target and commence marshalling all your efforts in a channelized fashion, the better are the chances of you garnering the best-in-class interns. In this quest of mine, Google Scholar and ResearchGate proved tremendously helpful in ascertaining which professor was working in which domain. Remember to aim high but start slow.
I aspired for the much-desired foreign internships right from my freshman year itself but was smart enough to realize that I had to assiduously build my profile to fulfill such ambitious dreams rather than recklessly draining my energy by kicking off on the wrong foot. The underlying objective of the three domestic internships was essentially to do the same. After working for pretty much the best names of India viz. BARC, L&T and IIT-Bombay, I was catapulted to a position whereby my application for a stint overseas would be taken seriously both by my mentor here (whose priceless contribution in the form of strongly worded Letters of Recommendation, I can never repay) as well as the faculty there (who helped me immensely in realizing my true potential).
As we hardly received much guidance from our senior batch on this issue and consequently had to stumble along a number of times before finally making it, me along with two of my batch-mates decided to start the Interaction Council of the Mechanical Engineering Society which soon turned into a platform for getting interested students from the 1st-3rd year to actively interact with seniors(us) who had undertaken research interns in India and abroad, industrial internships, sharing placement experiences, proper email-drafting exercises, resume-building, mock case studies, group discussions, etc.
Your future career plans?
Frankly speaking, I am very much content with my current position at Eaton Corporation, not only owing to the lucrative remuneration that they offer but also because I finally have the chance to master the ‘tricks of the trade’ and get acclimatized to an industrial milieu. I haven’t been here long but I can say with utmost certitude that with each passing day, my skill-set (both technical and managerial) is getting substantially augmented. These include inculcating attributes such as strong inter-personal bonding, excellent communication skills, team spirit, collective-efforts, accountability, ethics, punctuality and the like.
I intend to actively contribute and be an integral part of the organization’s success story and grow professionally in the process. I may someday think about grad school in the land of dreams but today is not that day, thus we shall cross the bridge when we come to it.
My years at IIT-BHU alongside the six internships I underwent have been instrumental in shaping my career trajectories and goals. Had it not been for our university’s academic platform and the sturdy foundation it provided in the form of institutional collaborations & training programs, I would never have seen light at the end of the tunnel. I truly am and will always be grateful to my beloved institute for everything it has presented me with. Long live IIT-BHU!!!!