Technical Solutions to engineering problems require critical thinking skills coupled with creativity, irrespective of the industry!

Aravind Memana, our next pathbreaker, works as Customer solutions Engineer with Fischer connectors, a renowned connectivity provider that deals with electrical, electronics, fiber optic and hybrid solutions for almost all industries.

Aravind talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about his master’s thesis at TUM Asia, which was part of an industrial project with the intention of developing an Autopilot system for helicopters.

For students, stay hungry for knowledge, develop practical skills and understand your worth. You can only acquire these skills with practice and facing fear in the war-zone.

Aravind, Your background?

I grew up in a hospital Colony in an Urban area. Curiosity led me to tinker with toys. I had my first computer when I was 5, followed by a Mechanix set as a gift from Uncle’s friend. The blend of both these hobbies led to more creativity and a dream of building my own car in the future. My parents are  both surgeons, successful in their respective professions.

What did you do for graduation/ post graduation?

I did my B Tech in Mechanical Engineering from Amrita Vishwavidhyapeetham (Kollam) and MSc in Aerospace Engineering from TUM Asia.

What made you choose such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?

Toys and creativity led me to choose Mechanical Engineering as a career. The toy industry still fascinates me. I used to tinker with my Mechanix set and motorize these creations. Later on, when I had challenges, my great Uncle Prof. Induchoodan and my maternal Uncle Krishnakumar helped me with my projects. My parents were conducive to my decision and didn’t force me to opt for medicine.

The fascination grew wilder and led me to choose Mechanical engineering for my Bachelor’s degree. This time there were multiple events: From building an all terrain vehicle for the BAJA SAE event (realizing my childhood dream of building a real car), to scoring a 7.57 aggregate for a semester and thereby no more BAJA approval from family. This led me to work with helicopter stability under Former Director of NAL, Dr BR Pai and senior scientist Mr. CV Seshakumar. The project gave me international exposure to the domain through the AHS international conference where the work was presented. The project introduced me to the field of control and stability, which led me to choose my master’s degree to focus on the domain of control and stability of aircraft.

How did you plan the steps to get into the career you wanted? Tell us about your career path

My first full time job was with Tata consultancy services as an Assistant system Engineer Trainee. The initial months were tough and intensive with training in new Product development.

I am a person who strives to work for R&D. The initial months were of no value, leading me to take a serious action for my future. This action plan led me to work on a high priority development project for a Robotics challenge with Amazon. The project was a success and the team finished top three globally. The previous experiences with helicopters and later with an Industrial robot arm, paved the way- to my master’s in Germany, wherein I worked to develop a control software for a robotic arm as an intern. There were some challenges owing to being in a startup atmosphere, leading me to finish my master’s thesis in Helicopters. Persistence, curiosity and adaptability are key success factors that helped me achieve success in these endeavours.

My master’s thesis project was part of an industrial project with the intention of developing an Autopilot system for helicopters. My tasks were to design the placement of subsystems namely the Board Computers, Pitot Tubes, Measurement Sensors, Cameras etc. Ensuring the entire stability of the aircraft and minimising aerodynamic drag was of utmost importance, leading us to do multiple computer aided analysis to assess the safety parameters.The complete structure was later constructed. The entire helicopter was a compilation of 9 Master thesis projects and turned out to be success.

I had the privilege to be taught by industry renowned professors and explored many industrial projects within the campus. My master’s thesis was on an industrial project from a German helicopter firm EDM. The course work comprised of the fundamental aerodynamics, structures and flight control. I opted for a major in control systems. Although the major was tough, it later helped me to teach many students and help them prepare for their control theory exam.

How did you get your first break?

My first break was the internship with National Aerospace Laboratories. I could utilize a MoU between Amrita university and NAL to get a project.

Language is a critical factor in Germany and if you can give an interview in German language, stay humble and show willingness to learn, you get a job.

That’s how I received my first full time job with Fischer Connectors after my masters degree. The entire industry was totally new to me , but the willingness to relearn and adapt, helped me achieve the opportunity.

What were some of the challenges you faced? How did you address them?

Challenge 1: 

Adapting to new project environments, new skills. Tackled this with logical thinking and also requested help through GIT ,Stack-overflow and Linked in.

Challenge 2: 

Last moment revision and a totally new result. The results from the previous experiment runs were not accurate, leading me to redo the entire project in three days. This involved extreme focus on the tasks.

Challenge 3

Adapting to different work cultures. I have worked in Singapore, India and Germany. The demands are industry dependent wherein quality is of utmost importance in Germany, quick output is important in Singapore and economic viability in India. This transition definitely required timely adoption.

Where do you work now?

I work as a Customer solutions Engineer with Fischer connectors. 

The company is a renowned Connectivity provider. They deal with electrical, electronics, fiber optic and hybrid solutions for almost all industries.

More details please refer the company website.

What problems do you solve?

All connectivity problems for special customer use cases in multiple industries.

My day to day tasks involves understanding customer specific requirements for multiple cable assembly solutions. The leads are acquired by the Regional Sales Manager, and are later assessed for technical feasibility by me and my team lead. If feasible, we will assemble the components in our costing tool , calculate the cost estimate and prepare a quote for the customer with the relevant drawing.

All technical clarification is also my responsibility.

What skills are needed in your role? How did you acquire the skills?

My role requires critical thinking, costing, signal identification, basic electronics, manufacturing integrity, negotiation, customer advisory. You can only acquire these skills with practice and facing fear in the war-zone.

What’s a typical day like?

Meetings, verification of orders, brainstorming, answering customer queries, occasional calls, vendor management, creating drawings, cost estimation, RFQ fulfillment. Occasional visits on the site.

What is it you love about this job? 

Everyday is exciting and unpredictable.

How does your work benefit society?

The society stays connected irrespective of the environment conditions.

Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!

Hybrid Gripper, Tata consultancy services.

BAJA ATV, Team Agraganya Baja.

Your advice to students based on your experience?

Stay hungry for knowledge, know how to sell your skills and understand your worth. Money is important but mental satisfaction outweighs everything.

Future Plans?

I would like to stay in the present, which I am sure about. Do my duties and wait for the next  break. Ought to see where life takes me.