When the desire to follow your dreams is greater than the fear of being unemployed, then half the battle is already won because you have removed fear out of the equation !
Vimarsh Srivastava, our next pathbreaker, R&D Engineer, works for an Aerospace giant, dealing with simulated models of navigation systems in commercial aircrafts to uncover subtle or major flaws in real systems.
Vimarsh talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about developing an intense liking for flying machines after getting introduced to drones and working on Quadcopters, RC planes and making up his mind to continue working on them.
For students, its not easy to reject an IT job offer from an MNC company without having any other job offer in hand. Read on to know what conviction and self-belief is all about !
Vimarsh, tell us about your background?
I grew up in the holy city of Allahabad (now Prayagraj) which is a tier 2 city mainly famous for religious fairs. My father is working in Railways and my mother is a homemaker. Since childhood I had an inclination towards science and used to perform a lot of science experiments based on the theoretical concepts taught in my school. Though I was not the topper of my class but an average student, I had a firm grip on the concepts because of these experiments. Those experiments really helped me in acquiring a practical bent of mind. When I was in 7th standard, my father brought me a PC and that was the beginning of my adventure in the cyber world. I started participating in National Cyber Olympiads and was the 2nd rank holder in the city in the year of 2007. Inspired by “Ankit Fadia”, I decided to become an Ethical Hacker. When I was in class 11, I started feeling the pressure of getting into a top engineering college of the country to study Computer Science. I almost stopped giving attention to learning hacking skills and started preparing for competitive exams just like my fellow classmates.
What did you do for graduation/post graduation?
I did not get into the top engineering colleges in the country and joined a private college for pursuing B.Tech in Electronics & Telecommunication Engineering. But I have always believed that it’s not about the situation you are in but what you make of it that matters and that is what I strived for in my 4 years of engineering; colleges do matter but not more than one’s ability to make best use of whatever resources are being given to him/her.
What made you choose such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?
Though I stepped into the engineering field as an aspiring Electronics & Telecommunication engineer, I didn’t like much of what was being taught as a part of the academic curriculum. Those electronic circuits diagrams and mathematical equations seemed meaningless to me without knowing their practical use.
The turning point came when I participated in a workshop on “Robotics and Image Processing “ organized in my college. This workshop ignited my interest in the electronic systems used in robots.
I started creating opportunities for myself by taking part in various robotics competitions held in NITs and IITs by building my own miniature bots.
After some time I got introduced to drones and started working on Quadcopters, RC planes etc. Gradually, I developed an intense liking for flying machines and made up my mind to continue working on them as part of my career in future.
How did you plan the steps to get into the career you wanted? Tell us about your career path
At the end of college, I got an offer from a multinational IT company, but i was not interested in working in the IT industry. I wanted to work in the Aerospace field which would allow me to follow my passion for flying machines.
I rejected the company offer for the reasons stated above. It was a risky decision as I was not having any other job offer in hand, but I was able to take that decision because my desire to follow my passion was greater than my fear of being unemployed .
I joined a startup which was working on flight simulators and drones as an embedded software intern. My job was to program microcontrollers which are used on flight simulators to train pilots as well as in drones. The nature of the job was such that it not only honed my programming skills but also enriched my knowledge of the aeronautical domain. This decision, though risky, helped open the doors for several opportunities in the aerospace domain.
How did you get your first break?
The experience gained in the internship provided a steep learning curve for me. Practical hands-on experience gained on aircraft systems helped me crack my first job as an Associate Engineer in L & T Technology Services after undergoing multiple rounds of interview. I was fortunate enough that, in my first job itself I got the opportunity to work on safety critical software for on-board flight control systems of a military aircraft. These particular systems are responsible for maintaining the stability of the fighter aircrafts in air (or in simple words prevent them from falling down) as the structures of these aircrafts are made unstable intentionally to increase their manoeuvrability. Apart from this I have also worked on two crucial components of mission critical systems : Autopilot & BIT (Built In Test mechanism). The autopilot system helps the pilot to concentrate better on mission activities (for e.g. target locking for Air to Air missiles ) while the system maintains the desired height, speed and direction of the aircraft without any pilot supervision.
Coming to Built in Test mechanisms, it is one of the most important activity performed pre-flight and during the flight. In this mechanism the Aircraft systems test themselves to detect any subtle failure present in them. This ensures that the catastrophic failure probability of the systems remains around 1 in a million (approximately), as total loss of flight control system leads to only one thing : Airplane crash!
What were the challenges you faced? How did you address them?
Main challenge was to gain knowledge of the domain. This particular job requires the combined knowledge of electrical engineering, computer science, aerospace engineering and electronics. To solve this issue, I started attending open online courses from popular sites like http://www.edx.com, http://www.coursera.com, http://www.udemy.com etc.
I went through each and every lecture thoroughly and solved assignments with dedication. I left no stone unturned to make the most of any learning opportunity and also started approaching various scientists and experts of this field to enrich my knowledge about the domain.
What do you do currently?
I work for an aerospace giant, as an R & D Engineer. I deal with simulated models of navigation systems in commercial aircrafts. My job demands a good mathematical background with a firm grasp on Aircraft physics as well as on programming languages.
I have acquired most of these skills either by on job training or from my previous work experiences.Also,I did various courses online to enrich my job related skills.
What I love about the job is that it gives me an opportunity to be a part of a crucial activity which is directly impacting lives.
How does your work benefit society?
My work is crucial in a way that I model and simulate real world safety critical system before it gets deployed in the aircraft. This helps to remove any major flaw present in the real system which is so subtle that it could escape the eyes of technicians and pilots leading to a catastrophic failure (Aircraft crash). The simulation models on which I work can detect those bugs and hence can help avoid loss of lives.
Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!
I worked on a critical software which is now a part of the latest flying version of a fighter aircraft (details are confidential). It gives me immense pleasure, whenever I see this particular fighter roaring high in the skies.
Your advice to students based on your experience?
My most important advice would be : Always remember hard work beats talent. No matter how bad the condition is, there is surely a way out. Try to do best in the current condition with whatever resources you have and soon you will achieve your desired goals. Some other things I have learnt in my journey are – Always try to create a good network, through sites like LinkedIn or Meetups, that will help you immensely in your career. Another tip which I would like to share is that while deciding to work/study in a particular company/institution, more than the brand name, make your decisions on the basis of the people you will be working under/along with that would determine your learning curve and growth.
I would like to further expand my knowledge in space technologies and would like to work as a Rocket engineer.