Research Internship experience at IIT Madras ( Stipend of Rs 20,000 ) -Rajiv

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InternFeel ID: IF15029


InternFeel: Hello Rajiv, please tell us about yourself. What makes you different?

Rajiv: Hi! My name is Rajiv Lochan Baruah, born and brought up in Guwahati, Assam, currently I am a senior year undergraduate student at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at NIT Silchar. I am a socially gregarious, innately curious, academically passionate and an explorer by choice. My interest includes travelling and collecting inspiring quotes. I usually I like to cook to keep pressure off. I believe in hardwork, sincerity and persistency.


RajivIF: Which internship you got the chance to take? What is it all about? Stipend, duration, place?

Rajiv: I did my third year internship as a part of INAE Mentoring scheme under Prof. K. Ramesh (INAE Fellow), Dept. of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras. As a part of my internship, I worked in the area of Experimental Stress Analysis in general and Photoelasticity in particular. At the end of 2 months stay, I came up with a project titled ‘Ductile Fracture of Polycarbonate’. An INAE Summer Engineering Mentee gets a handsome stipend of Rs. 20000/- for 2 months. Moreover I was also selected for Indian Academy of Sciences Summer Fellowship program 2014, which I declined to join.


IF: How you came to know about the internship? To what all sources you kept yourself connected?

Rajiv: Starting November 2013, I started emailing faculties of prominent IITs in my area of interest (i.e. Solid Mechanics). Prof. K. Ramesh was of one of them. Unlike many others, he replied to me with a positive note. Since he was an INAE fellow, he encouraged me to apply to Indian National Academy of Engineering to seek summer internship position under him. Actually Fellows of INAE get some honorarium to mentor Engineering students from 3rd/4th year. These fellowships are limited to maximum of 40 nos each year. The applications for this fellowship are not publicly advertised. An INAE fellow under whom you want to pursue your training must recommend you for the same.


IF: Let’s talk about how competitive is the selection process.

What qualities of yours, you believe helped you in having an edge over the selection process? What key things you feel were looked for by the selectors?

Rajiv: I think getting an INAE summer fellowship is not that competitive. If you have an INAE Fellow who is ready to mentor you, you are 70% done. Rest 30% is made up by a decent CGPA, a proposed project statement and reputation of your parent institute. Having a prior research experience is always an edge although it is not asked in the application form.


IF: About when you got the news for the selection? How was the celebration?

Rajiv: I got the news of my selection around mid-March. Celebration was there but not of the kind I remember. The news was definitely an icing on the cake since I already had internship confirmation from IITB, IITM and IITG.


IF: What all preparations you did (academic/otherwise) after the results in view of the internship?

Rajiv: After the results, my guide gave me the topic which I would be working on during my stay there and told me to prepare accordingly. I downloaded some journal papers in line with my topic. Moreover I went through over 80 hours of lecture in Engineering Fracture Mechanics and Experimental Stress Analysis from NPTEL.


IF: So Rajiv, 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?

Rajiv: As I mentioned earlier my guide Prof. K. Ramesh is known worldwide for his contribution to advancement of Digital Photoelasticity. After the spending almost a decade or two in the field of photoelasticity, his team at IIT Madras is now moving forward to more sophisticated technique of Photoplasticity through which you can use a photoelastic setup to measure stress in a plastically deformed region. This graduation from photoelasticity to photoplasticity is not straight forward as the framework under which photoelasticity is developed is now no longer valid for photoplasticity. A significant difference between the two techniques is the choice of model material. Although epoxy is all time favourite material for photoelasticity, it has failed to attract scientist for its use in photoplasticity. Many model materials are suggested in literature for use in photoplasticity, out of which Polycarbonate (PC) gave a promising hope. My work at IIT M was to validate the same. This was done by carrying out experimental investigation to verify whether the well known ductile polymer PC would exhibit fracture behaviour similar to suggested by Dugdale in 1960. Dugdale Model is widely accepted to estimate plastic zone shape and size in ductile material. We were successful in showing the same. This showed that plastic deformation similar to that observed in ductile metals can be model by using PC. Hence results of this work showed that PC offers a great potential for catapulting research in the field of photoplasticity by using it as a model material.


IF: What was the best thing about the work culture and the internship? What all things you liked there?

Rajiv: The work culture in Digital Photomechanics Lab at IIT M, the place where I worked, is simply awesome. The lab basically is comprised of 4 PhD, 2 MS and 1 MTech students and I must say all of them are very hard-working. They have provided a very conducive environment for me to carry out my research. The day begins at 9 am and ends at 6 pm. Sat and Sun were off. Every Thursday I have to give a PPT to my guide outlining my progress each week. This pattern of work is followed for each student of the Lab. Best thing at IIT M is that people don’t give excuses for not being able to do the job. They do it anyhow.


IF: Were there any special events during the internships?

Rajiv: This is where the department of Applied Mechanics, IIT M, lacks behind than the other departments that organises summer internship programs. I regret to mention here that no academically related activities liked field trip or Lecture series is organised by the above said department. For the 2 whole months you will be only interacting with your guide and your lab-mate. But believe me these people are of great source of knowledge and you can extract information comparable to that gained from field trips and lecture series.


IF: What was the guidance provided by your guide? What all support you received from IIT M administration.

Rajiv: This is very important to note for future aspirants that professors in IITs are very busy may it be because of academic work or administrative responsibilities. They don’t have time to provide direct supervision. So in many cases he will appoint one of his PhD students to supervise you on a daily basis although you will be meeting your guide twice or thrice a week but majority of your work is to be done in consultation with your PhD guide. Similar was the case with me. My guide used to come to the Lab about 2-3 times a week and see what I was doing. Moreover in weekly PPTs he would give constructive ideas to move forward in my work.

The Administration of IIT M handles things quite swiftly. Their decisions are students centric. They were quick in giving me the hostel accommodation on the very day I arrived. Fooding and Boarding charges are nominal and can be covered fully within the fellowship amount that you receive


IF: Let’s now talk about some negatives.

What problems you or your friends faced, regards to the internship, which your juniors may be able to avoid?

Rajiv: Future Aspirants please make sure that your guide is available for full duration of the internship period. Internship period falls during the summer vacation times so your guide may have some untold vacation plans or some international conferences to attend aboard. My guide was off to London for almost 12 days during the last few days of my internship. I thought that I have to leave without taking the certificate but all ended well and he arrived on the penultimate day of my departure.


IF: Was this your first internship?

Rajiv: No.  I did my 2nd year internship at the Ergonomics Lab, Department of Design, IIT Guwahati under the supervision of Dr. Sougata Karmakar. During my stay there I undertook a project titled “Virtual Ergonomic Evaluation of Grinding Workstation in a Plastic Waste Management Factory Using Digital Human Model.”


IF: It would help the readers if you could bring a comparison among your two different experiences.

Rajiv: In terms of project work, my work at IIT G was about workstation ergonomics whereas in IIT M, I worked on Fracture Mechanics. These sub-topics are part of the board domain of Design and Manufacturing. My work at IIT G required the knowledge of Ergonomic workbench in CATIA whereas in IIT M, my work was purely an experimental one.

The research environment as well as the work culture of IIT G is not at par with that of IIT M. IIT M being one of the old IITs have seriously equipped itself with the best resources for research which IIT G will require some more time to acquire.


IF: To which all people you would, like to thank in context of this internship?

Rajiv: First and foremost, I thank my advisor, Prof. K. Ramesh, for his sage advice and unwavering enthusiasm and encouragement. Secondly, I want to thank Subramanyam Reddy M with whom I have worked in close relation throughout the project. I would like to thank my lab mates: Suddha, Abhinav, Vivek and Hari. Suddha and Abhinav even helped me during my application procedure. Also my fellow intern Sri Kumar for making my stay at the lab interesting. Last but not least, I want to thank the Governing Council of INAE for nominating me as a summer engineering mentee.


IF: How much difference this period of 2 months made in your intellectual capabilities and mindset. In broad terms what are your gains from this?

Rajiv: I main aim to do this internship was to use it as a reality check for whether I am fit to pursue research as profession. These 2 months have shown me the real picture and small glimpse of the life of a research student. I have learnt a lot about my weakness and strengths which I have work upon before I go further in this line. Nevertheless Research is fun if carried out in right spirit.


IF: Advice for juniors? Which can help them in getting internships in their future college life and also advice for making the best out of it.

Rajiv: Don’t run away from programming. Learn atleast one language thoroughly. I would recommend python or C. Learn the skills of MS-PowerPoint and MS-Excel. Become an expert in MATLAB computation. If you are from Mechanical learn Ansys in first three years of college. Also don’t ignore maths especially the chapters on numerical methods.

It is always advisable to do an internship in 2nd year. The very experience will do wonders for you in your application process in third year for IAS summer fellowship or INAE summer fellowship.


IF: What are your future plans after this internship and how much impact this internship will have on it?

Rajiv: My guide has called me do a direct PhD in his lab after I complete my B.Tech but currently I am looking for a research assistantship position in India and Aboard.


IF: Any views about this initiative of InternFeel, and how beneficial it would be? Any suggestions for improvement?

Rajiv: This initiative of InternFeel is really great. During my applying days I used to read the research experiences of previous interns and get motivated. InternFeel has done a great job in networking the aspirants with dream destinations for internship.


IF: So Rajiv, we are at the end of the interview. From the entire team of InternFeel, we thank you for sharing your experiences with us, for everyone and we wish you best of luck for all your future endeavors.

Rajiv: You are most welcome!

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