INSA-NAS-IAS | Kirthik Vasan | IISc | Center for Nanoscience and Engineering

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

Kirthik Vasan: Maker tinkerer and hobbyist are the words that I associate myself with. I am a technology-driven person pursuing my final year in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Maharaja Surajmal Institute of Technology, New Delhi. I belong to a district named Dindigul in Tamil Nadu and was brought up in Delhi where I had completed my schooling.

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

KV: Each year the INSA-NAS-IAS invites applications for its well-reputed Summer Research Fellowship Programme (SRFP). The applications are accepted through an online forum in November. The selected candidates are required to work for not less than 56 days under any circumstances.

However, I had applied for this program on the very last day of the deadline and I was lucky not to have this opportunity getting missed.

The application is designed to be a two-tier process where both the student and a point of contact from the place of the institution you are currently studying in need to participate in the successful completion of the application.  

Let us first focus on tier 1.

At the very first the applicant has to choose for any 1 out of the 6 disciplines offered by the academy where you wish to work in. The 6 disciplines are as follow

1. Chemistry

2. Earth & Planetary Sciences

3. Engineering including Computer Sciences

4. Life Sciences

5. Mathematics

6. Physics

Here the student is required to fill in personal information. Well, what makes a difference here is that you also need to upload scanned copies of your academic scorecards from class 10th right up-till your current semester. Following this, the student is required to elaborate upon what he/she intends to work on and how this is going to benefit you if you are provided the fellowship in about 300 words. Then there is a section where you need to discuss the projects you have undertaken, courses, training or papers published by you if any. Lastly, you have to provide the details of a point of contact from your institution. By the point of contact what I mean to say is anyone from the institution like your HOD or any professor who knows you well. 

Let us move on to tier 2

Once you are done with tier 1, submit the application. A secure mail would be sent directly through mail to the point of contact. The POC has to open the link provided through their mail and fill in 5 positive and negative qualities about the applicant, ability to work in a team and caliber of the student to take up and finish a research project. Make sure that your POC submits this within a timeline of 2-3 days upon which your application is said to be submitted successfully.

Finally, when the results had come, I was surprised to find my name in the list of candidates selected and that too I was appointed to work under

Dr. Manoj Varma in the Center for Nanoscience and Engineering at IISc.

Each of the summer research fellows was provided with a fellowship amount of Rs 12,500/- p.m. The SRF’s are required to complete a minimum of 56 days of research work to stand eligible for completion of the awarded fellowship.

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 the selectors were looking for?

KV: Many of the summer research fellows whom I had interacted with at IISc belonged to IIT, IIIT, DTU, and NIT. This indicates the level of competition posed before a student hailing from any non-premiere institutes.

Let me share my very own academic profile and other details as required in the application form.

University/college GGSIPU

Class 10th: 9 CGPA

Class 12th: 79%

Tech (up till 5th semester): 8.2CGPA

Papers Published: NIL

Projects Done: Quite a few related to robotics

Online MOOCs: NPTEL-robotics

Training: PLC and SCADA and Motor Drives

So if it was all about marks and the number of papers published, I would have not been coming here to IISc and writing this blog.

All that matters is how clearly you express your motivation, excitation and the innovation you want to bring through those 150-250 words in your application.

Remember that those 150-250 words should be truly yours and transfer your thoughts clearly to the reader. Never copy someone else’s style as everyone has a unique way of writing.

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

KV: I was assigned to work on a research project called “steering of the swarm of nanorobots using an external magnetic field.”

The idea was to solve for an unattended problem which, if solved can be of great application in minimal invasive drug delivery procedures.

I had learned to work with COMSOL Multiphysics to design the magnetic coil system and simulate the magnetic field along with MATLAB for post-processing techniques.

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 that line.)

KV: This was my first ever longest haul away from my home back in Delhi.

Internship being apart, I had made friends from across every part of India and it is so much fun to learn and connect with their stories, culture, ideas, and languages like Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, Hindi, Maithili and Marathi.

Until 2018 a local field visit was organized for SRF’s posted at Bengaluru to Mysuru. Unfortunately, that has been discontinued from this year onwards, so I embarked upon a journey where I made two solo trips. The first trip was done to Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh to witness my first ever live launch of a vehicle on the occasion of Chandrayan 2.0, lucky I was to get such an opportunity.

On my next journey, I explored the entire city of Mysore.

The accommodation was provided at the Indian Academy of Sciences guest house which was allotted on a first, cum first basis service.

Work in progress!


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

KV: I always had a nag for science and through SRFP I was able to dwell deep into the areas of science which I was unaware of. I also learned the importance of writing an e-mail and the value of time from the professors whom I had interacted with. Overall it is the research culture and the knowledge that you will be taking away from this program.

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?

KV: I was sure about taking research as my career option. However, I was never exposed to the ethics and environment of the research culture. This research internship had opened more career options in the research line for me and now I am ready to take my next step.

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

KV: All that matters is how clearly you express your motivation, excitation and the innovation you want to bring through your words in any application of yours.

Remember that those few words should be truly yours and transfer your thoughts clearly to the reader. Never copy someone else’s style as everyone has their unique way of writing.

Wishing you all the very best!!!

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

KV: I’ll rate this experience of mine a 10 out if 10


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