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InternFeel ID: IF15026
Meet Arnav Gupta, a final year student at VIT University, Vellore, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. He credits a high CGPA of 9.31 but yup, it doesn’t means he loses out on the fun partJ. His primary areas of interest include the Automotive field, Product design, development and manufacturing and Rapid Prototyping technologies. He is also involved in a team called Team Kshatriya International, which builds an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and takes part in the SAE Baja International event held in the USA every year. He has served as the co-captain of the team and was the driver at the Wisconsin 2012 event in his second year. In his free time, he likes to watch movies [a big movie buff], play badminton or go for a run. He is also an ardent gamer.
Internship in his own words: I was selected for the prestigious DAAD-WISE 2013 program. The Working Internships in Science and Engineering (WISE) program is specifically tailored for Indian students pursuing a bachelor’s/integrated/dual degree which gives them an opportunity to carry out a research internship at institutions of higher education and research institutes in Germany. The internship is fully funded by DAAD which includes a monthly stipend of €650 [calculated on a daily basis] along with a travel subsidy of €550. The duration can be anywhere between 60-90 days.
InternFeel: How you came to know about the internship? Generally what was your way of being in touch with the media to get the information about the various internships?
Arnav: I was made aware of this internship by my cousin and also a few seniors in my university. One of my seniors, Keval Kamani, who is now successfully working at Ashok Leyland, was really helpful in the entire process. Some of the websites which flourish all the necessary information are:
IF: How much competitive is the selection process? What things you feel are looked for in the applicant by the selectors?
Arnav: The selection process is highly competitive in nature as it invites a wide number of applications from all over the country. Although, students with higher CGPA do have an edge, it does not serve to be the deciding factor for the selection of the student. DAAD also expects a letter of recommendation and a letter of motivation, which according to me are of utmost importance along with the CV. While working on the motivation letter, the student should be able to conveniently express his/ her research interests, capabilities and why he/ she wants to go to Germany.
IF: What qualities of yours – educational / otherwise, you feel helped you in having an edge over the selection process?
Arnav: At the time of application, I was ranked 3rd in my department which must have served to strengthen my application academically. I think my extensive involvement and work in my university team, a design project I did as a part of my curriculum and participation in a few extra-curricular activities were other significant contributing factors to my selection.
IF: Approximately when you got the news for the selection? How was the celebration?
Arnav: I got the news of selection somewhere in the first two weeks of February. I was ecstatic to know that I had been selected, although, it did not involve any major celebrations other than calling up my parents and letting them know about it as well. J
IF: What all preparations you did (academic/otherwise) before joining and after the results?
Arnav: After my selection, I was in contact with my mentor, Prof. Dr.-ing Habil. Thomas Herlitzius, at the TechnicalUniversity of Dresden, who provided me with some literature to go through prior to my arrival at the University which helped me in gaining a better insight into the research project I was expected to work on. I would strongly suggest that students try to maintain a good contact with their mentors/ professors throughout the time before they reach their respective university in Germany. This way they can have a better understanding of what they are going to get involved with. As for the trip, I got a Forex Card made to ease the process of payment internationally. One big problem associated with travelling to Germany is finding an accommodation. Although, I started off early in search of a roof over my head in Dresden, it was still quite difficult to secure an apartment or a room. I was able to get a confirmation for my apartment only when I reached Dresden! So students need to be very careful about this aspect and start early. In general, the preparations for your journey are made easy by DAAD as they organize webinars to impart important information concerning the life in Germany, food, housing, opening a bank account to receive the scholarship money, etc.
IF: Any common mistakes which you feel students should avoid while searching and applying for internships?
Arnav: Rather than pointing out the mistakes, I would like to focus on a few suggestions here. In case of DAAD-WISE, students should start contacting the professors [individually, no bulk mails] to get an invite to their university [needed for your application], as soon as possible. It is expected that a lot of professors will never reply or give a negative reply. But the student should not stop trying as Germany has a wide range of opportunities in any field. The CV to be attached with the mail should be concise yet give ample information to the one reading it. An important aspect of the mail sent to the professors is the cover letter since it makes the first impression. The student should do his/ her homework in finding out the professor’s areas of research and interest which helps in building a better cover letter. It should be to the point and give a brief introduction about the student as well.
IF: With this internship being foreign internship, we would like to know what problems came in getting the visa, travel tickets, and any journey related problems which your juniors may avoid?
Arnav: The entire process of acquiring the VISA was very smooth. Most of the formalities are completed by DAAD as they provide us with the letter of award [required to show that you are sponsored, an important aspect looked at for the Schengen Visa], work permit (ZAV form) and the mandatory health insurance, all of which are needed for the VISA application. If one works well before the time he/she needs to leave for the internship, no problems are encountered.
IF: So Arnav, could you please highlight us with what work/research project you carried out during the internship period? It’s application in near future and your work in it?
Arnav: I worked at the Institute of Processing and Mobile Machines, TU Dresden under the guidance of Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Thomas Herlitzius, Chair of Agricultural Systems and Technology and Director of the Institute. This internship was a great opportunity for me to get acquainted with agricultural systems and technologies and further explore the opportunities of research in mechanical engineering. My main objective was to develop the solid model of a new cultivator tine used for ploughing the field. Initially, I did some literature survey regarding the basic concepts of tine-soil interaction and analyzed videos from early field tests which served to provide me with approximate values for deflection in the soil and also predict the trajectory of the tine. The next phase involved graphical correlation of extracted deflections with the horizontal forces recorded on the transducers. Using inputs from various field tests carried out earlier and also from a new test apparatus I setup, used to find the real time x-y deflection of the tine under increasing load and overload conditions, I designed the new tine model in Solidworks, a Computer Aided Drawing (CAD) software with various geometric variations following which I conducted the displacement and stress analysis using Solidworks simulation. The institute works in close collaboration with an industry for the manufacturing of this tool and hence, the new solutions developed could be used for the same.
IF: What was the best thing about the work culture and the internship? What all things you liked there? The difference you found in comparison with the work culture of our country?
Arnav: The German work culture is quite different to what we are accustomed to and it is a true saying there that ‘Business is business and beer is beer.’ All the members at the institute were highly dedicated to their research work, punctual and always treated me with a warm hospitality. The labs were very well equipped and it was evident that the funding was always put to use in the right way. My lunches at the University Mensa [Cafeteria] were an absolute treat which allowed me to get familiar with and explore the German cuisine since new dishes were served every day :). In the weekends, I was off to explore Germany. I visited the historic cities of Berlin and Hamburg, the birthplace of various automotive giants like Daimler AG, Porsche and BMW in Stuttgart and Munich. When I was not working, my fun was never limited; I drove a race car around the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife, jumped off a plane at 6000m above ground in Klatovy, Czech Republic and visited amusement parks as well. As I travelled across Germany, I got familiar with the rich history and architectural styles as well. The historic city of Dresden, where I carried out my internship was itself beautiful and breathtaking. From the Rügen Island in the north to the fairy tale castle, Neuschwanstein in the south, Germany had a lot to offer to fulfil my wanderlust. Thus, work and leisure are never limited in Germany!
IF: What project specific problems you or your friends faced, during the internship, which became a bit hard to crack?
Arnav: I did not face any problems at all during my internship since people there are always eager to go out of their way and help you. As for the safety issues, there is nothing to be worried about since the entire transportation system and the streets are generally safe. For accommodation, the student should definitely start out early. Both DAAD and the professor will be willing to help in this regard. Although, they can only provide the students with the necessary information, they are the ones who need to take immediate action. For the non-vegetarians, Germany is an amazing place, as it is one of the largest meat consuming countries. For the vegetarians, it is quite hard to find dishes at restaurants and other food outlets. However, every city usually does have an Asian/ Indian shop where you can get all the required ingredients and items for food. The students are encouraged to try to search these shops out after their arrival. Also, they could carry a few food items with them when they leave, this could serve them as they settle and get to know the city [the supermarket and other necessary stores]. Although, German language is not a must, it definitely helps to know the basic words and is again highly encouraged. Overall, I would like to suggest that the student should not be afraid to delve into the new culture and certainly make the most of everything 🙂
IF: As with almost everything, what were the cons of the internship? The elements which you felt, if wasn’t there could have made this internship super awesome?
Arnav: At no point of time did I ever feel that there were any cons associated with this internship. I was always excited to explore Germany and finally through DAAD-WISE I was able to carry out a research internship there. I was highly impressed by every aspect of Germany and I returned to India with fond memories of my internship.
IF: Was this your first internship?
Arnav: No, I had undergone a four week industrial internship earlier at Yamaha Motors Pvt. Ltd., Noida as a part of my curriculum in my second year. However, this was slightly different as it was a research internship at an international university.
IF: It would help the readers and other aspirants if you could bring a comparison among your two different experiences.
Arnav: The industrial internship at Yamaha Motors gave me the opportunity to get introduced to an industrial environment. I performed inspection and quality checks on assembled motorcycles with the aim of increasing the Straight Pass Ratio (SPR). I studied certain principles like ‘Kaizen’ and ‘Poka-yoke’ and was able to formulate and implement measures to improve quality levels, reduce irregular costs and improve shop floor management. A specific difference between the two was the work ethics although the work involved in the two was significantly different. I would like to say here that one should make the best of all the opportunities he/ she gets, be it any internship in any field at any place.
IF: Were there any special events during the internships which you would like to share?
Arnav: DAAD had organized a three day meeting for all the 162 WISE scholars, which also gave us an opportunity to get acquainted with the DAAD South Asia team. All the scholars were put up in the luxurious Hotel One right opposite to the Berlin Hauptbahnhof [Main Railway Station]. It was a wonderful to meet up with old friends and to make new ones from around the country. The South Asia section had the entire meeting already planned out wherein we attended a session on intercultural communication by Ms. Tina Patel followed by a scrumptious dinner at an Indian restaurant, Amrit. The next day, we explored the intricate network of waterways in Berlin as we were taken on a boat ride through the city. Subsequently we were transferred to the Freie Universitat, Berlin where we enjoyed yet another delicious meal followed by two guest lectures by renowned professor, Prof. Raul Rojas and Dr. Mehul Bhatt. The meeting concluded with a dinner evening hosted by the Indian Embassy for the scholars.
IF: What was the guidance provided by your guide? What all support you received from your intern institute administration.
Arnav: On the first day of my internship when I met with my guide, Prof. Thomas Herlitzius, I was struck by his poise and open mindedness. The first question he asked me was if I had settled in properly and everything was to my liking. He was interested in my welfare as well as my learning curve associated with this research internship. He had already been helpful in providing me with the literature to get acquainted with the field as it was new to me and further set up my access to the institute library and also provided me a furnished room with another member where I could work. Even though he was super busy with a lot of tasks, he held meetings to get updates on my work and asked me to present myself to the entire department at one of their institute meetings. Prior to my arrival, I was helped immensely in finding an accommodation by Dipl.-Ing. Pavel Osinenko, one of the doctoral students at the same department. Throughout my internship, I was aided in every aspect by various members of the department, Dipl.-Ing. Bruno Edler von der Planitz, Tim Bögel and Mario Henke. Whether it was a technical difficulty or a general doubt regarding the culture or language, they were always eager to help me and made my entire stay extremely comfortable.
IF: With DAAD Scholarship, there is a prevailing talk that there is a CGPA cut-off going till 9.2, 9.3. Is this true or a rumour? Do all the students who get selected are above this range? Even if the German professor approves you and say your CGPA is in 8.5-9.0, will you be simply rejected just because of the cut-off?
Arnav: As I said earlier, a higher CGPA does give a certain edge to the applicant; however, it is not the only factor which leads to the selection of the candidate. I think the selection committee looks for a candidate who is research oriented and highly capable to carry out an internship in Germany. Dedication to your coursework and projects prior to your DAAD-WISE application is the key to a strong application.
IF: Any special experience which you had during this period, which you would like to share with us.
Arnav: This internship provided me with the golden opportunity to gain hands-on experience of working under the guidance of an eminent professor in excellent research facilities, network with professionals and thoroughly enjoy the warm hospitality I was treated with. It provided me with a better understanding of the German culture, their technologies ranging from high speed ICE trains to cars, their work ethic, and why the ‘Land of Ideas’ has such a dominant position on the research front in the world. It was a truly memorable experience, both academically and culturally enriching. One should certainly not miss out on this opportunity if they are inclined towards research work.
IF: To whom all people you would, like to thank in context of this internship?
Arnav: I would like to thank my cousins, Akanksha Gupta and Viraj Gupta, and my senior, Keval Kamani, for the immense help that they provided at every step. I would also like to thank my parents, who supported my decisions and arranged everything for this journey, and all the members at the Institute of Processing and Mobile Machines, TU Dresden, for this great and fun learning experience.
IF: How much difference this period of 8 weeks made in your intellectual capabilities and mindset. In broad terms what are your gains from this?
Arnav: This internship certainly helped me inculcate a better work discipline which lags in the most of us since we have the tendency to slack and work right before the deadline! It helped me gain considerable expertise in the usage of CAD software for designing as well as analysis and I am sure everyone has a lot to gain in whatever field they work in during this internship. I got acquainted with a new culture, so rich and diverse, associated with so much history yet so modern. I was able to pick up some German too which certainly helps you out in asking directions andin the supermarket. A major point that was well understood by me is that we lack implementation. Most of our thoughts, ideas and plans remain abstract, however, if we implement them, I am sure, we all could be on a better level than where we are now.
IF: What advice you would like to give to your juniors, which can help them in getting internships in their future college life.
Arnav: I have pointed out a lot of suggestions throughout this interview. If the students work on them and are pro-active, I am sure they can land a great internship and strengthen their career goals.
IF: What are your future plans after this internship and how much impact this internship will have on it?
Arnav: Currently I am planning to apply for my master’s degree in mechanical engineering. I am sure this internship will be a significant contributing factor in my record and strengthen my application for the universities.
IF: Any views about this initiative of InternFeel, and how beneficial it would be?
Arnav: I expect that InternFeel will come up to be a great platform for students to express themselves providing vital information to all those trying for internships which are usually not available anywhere on the internet. This knowledge database will certainly be of use to one and all.
IF: So Arnav, we are at the end of the interview. From the entire team of InternFeel, we thank you for taking out your time and sharing your experiences for everyone and we wish you best of luck for all your future endeavors.
Arnav: Thank you so much, InternFeel, for providing me with this amazing opportunity. I hope this information will be useful to the future candidates.
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