Divyang Arora | Dream Internship | Noisy Star Images(!) | Netherlands

InternFeel: Please tell us something about yourself. Where and what are you studying currently?

Divyang Arora: I am Divyang Arora, a B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering (with specialization in Avionics) 2019 passout from Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, ISRO’s space institute in Thiruvananthapuram. I am from New Delhi. I am now placed in Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and am currently waiting for offer letter.

IF: Give us details about your internship – process of application, stipend, duration and place?

DA: The final semester in B.Tech is usually a project semester and we had 12 credits reserved for the final year project. I was hunting for some internships and then I got to know about this through one of my friend who told me that there are some international satellite companies offering internships.   I had interned in ISRO in the field of digital signal processing as a part of 3rd year compulsory internship and was happy to see intern positions available in this field.  I googled about those companies, went to their websites and started mailing one by one to each of them with my resume attached.  A week later, I got a reply from one of them, Innovative Solutions in Space, a Dutch based small satellite company (located in Delft, Netherlands) showing interest in reviewing my application. A Skype interview was scheduled almost a month after their reply. The task that was required to be performed during internship was already briefed on their website. It was supposed to be a 4-5 month long internship but since my final semester was ending in first week of May 2019, I had to cut short the duration of internship to 3 months.   On the day of interview, I read about the task and did little bit of research on methods to achieve that task.  The interview went great.  My going to be supervisor exactly asked the same questions which I had expected and prepared for.  I received the mail of my selection two days after the semester got over and I had reached home by then. I was paid a monthly stipend of around 800 Euros (taxes included). 

IF: How competitive was the selection process? According to you, which qualities have helped you have an edge in the selection process? Also, what were the key things that selectors were looking for?

DA: I was told during my internship that there were quite a lot of people who had applied for this position although they didn’t tell me the number of candidates. The task given was to improve Signal to Noise ratio of noisy star images captured by a satellite’s star tracker using image processing techniques in order to improve the accuracy of attitude determination. The reason, I think I was selected was that I was able to convince my going-to-be supervisor of the methods that could be used in achieving the task. Moreover, I had undertaken the image processing course during that semester and because of quite a lot of coding assignments completed during the course, I had the decent practical experience too. I was also the part of the Nanosatellite club in our institute and had experience in working with satellites.

 

IF: Could you please highlight the work/research you carried out during your internship period?

DA:

Work:  Image Processing task of improving SNR of noisy star images in order to improve star tracker’s accuracy in Attitude Determination. Key aspects:

– Researched and Developed filtering algorithms for the image processing techniques. 

– Tested over the Star Tracker Images. 

– Optimization of SNR with respect to parameters. 

– Exporting the algorithms to the On Board Computer.

– Optimized the algorithms under the constraint of strict execution time limitations.  

IF: Can you give us interesting details about your experience – good and bad? (It could be something like the amazing location of your internship, the friends you made for life, a bad senior, accommodation given in case of an outstation internship and something along those line.)

DA: The experience was simply amazing and something to cherish for life. I found the work environment quite friendly and disciplined at the same time. I had project meetings with my supervisors every week and was also a part of weekly team meetings to discuss the other projects happening in the company. The office being located quite near to my living place in Delft, Netherlands, I used to bicycle up and down. I made a lot of new friends coming from very diverse cultures and feel lucky to have worked in a multi-cultural environment. The company being a spin-off from Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), I used to visit the campus often and found a lot of Indians pursuing their post graduate studies as well. The work life balance was amazing in Netherlands. Most of the employees would push back to home around 5 in evening. Fridays in the company would usually be a Friday Afternoon Talk with someone giving a presentation on their recent projects/internships/some exciting topic. Since I had just three months, I used to travel during weekends and was lucky to visit Paris and Belgium too.

IF: How do you think this internship has helped you grow? In other words, what are your key takeaways from the internship?

DA: The internship experience is indeed a blessing especially in terms of work experience because I got to work with real time satellite images and satellite hardware at the same time. My coding skills improved too especially after working for Satellite’s On Board Computer. Moreover an additional advantage of working in multicultural environment has improved my interpersonal communication skills to a good extent. 

IF: Has this internship had a decision altering impact on your career? Do you now think of a different future path as compared to before doing the internship?

DA: Since my institute is under ISRO, we are bound to work to ISRO for minimum 3 years. This internship would definitely help me in my future journey in ISRO. It might not create a different career path as of now but has definitely sparked a desire to pursue post graduate studies from abroad. 

IF: Lastly, do you have any words of advice or caution for students aspiring for this internship and reading this piece?

DA: I had applied for some foreign research programs earlier too but was not selected then. I would advise in that case to not lose hope and just keep trying. Keep improving skills and one day you will become the ‘deserving’ one to get selected. The experience of foreign internship is tough to get but worth chasing for.

IF: Please rate this internship from the scale of 0 to 10, 0 being really bad to 10 being awesome!

DA: I can not stop myself from giving this internship a 10/10.

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