The best way to predict the future is to create it. Aishwarya is pursuing Computer Science Engineering and shares her memorable experience of internship days.
Call it serendipity, if you will. I consider myself highly fortunate to have received that offer letter from the Indian Academy of Sciences. The application process was rather spontaneous, as it was one of my first internship applications. A few people did warn me that the screening process for the Summer Research Fellowship Programme by the Indian Academy of Sciences was quite competitive, hence I kept my expectations grounded. Words can’t express my elation when I received an email stating that I was one among the few students out of the nationwide student diaspora to have chanced upon this golden opportunity, and what’s better, I was put up at IIT Madras, a prestigious institute that every engineering student dreams of calling their Alma mater.
I was working under one of the most acclaimed professors of the computer science department, Dr, V. Kamakoti. Just a glance at his credentials inspired me to make the most of this wonderful opportunity that knocked at my door.
My first impression of IITM as we drove through the meandering roads of the Guindy National Park territory was that the coming two months would be an unforgettable experience at this beautiful, student-friendly campus. The verdant ,six hundred acre campus is not only home to abundant spotted deer but also rare species like blackbucks, mongoose and large milkweed bugs. Do not be surprised if you spot a herd of deer by the canteen or a couple of blackbucks at your department block. I was fascinated to see so many blackbucks at stone’s throw, knowing that the species was endangered. The effort of the institute to maintain an environment friendly campus is commendable. Plastic is banned inside the campus and most students use cycles to commute although there is a bus facility to and from the various gates.
My accommodation at the Sabarmati hostel was facilitated by an acquaintance who happened to be a professor at the institute. One of his students graciously consented to sharing her room with me which turned out to be a boon in terms of commuting and boarding. Moreover, staying at the campus for two months gave me a glimpse of the ‘IIT life’. Knowing that I had a lot riding on this internship, I was ever determined to give it my best effort. When I had to report to my guide’s cabin on the first day, my anxiety took over because I didn’t know what to expect. There were many people waiting outside his office so I figured that my guide was one of the most sought after professors. I was made to sit at the lab until it was my turn. The RISE Lab is dedicated to the students research scholars under Dr. V. Kamakoti. There were about 20 interns and research scholars working on various projects.
When I was called to my guide’s cabin, I saw another girl seated before him. She was also one of the IAS summer fellows in my group. Initially there were 6 students selected to work under Sir but 4 of them backed out and only the two of us remained. Sir asked us a few questions about the courses we had completed. Since the other girl had completed her third year and I had just finished my second year, she had completed more courses than I had. Initially, we were given a research topic to work on but later we were reassigned a project topic because a two month research project wasn’t plausible. The first two weeks went on smoothly. We were given tutorials on a hardware language called bluespec that we had to watch, learn and then slowly move on to our project.
After attending lab, I would go cycling around the campus and enjoy the lush green surroundings. Spotting deer was quite fascinating to me because it was unusual to see a herd of deer grazing right beside you. One of the most exciting events at IITM are movie nights at the open air theater. That’s right, they have an OPEN AIR THEATER. The OAT is an amphitheater which airs movies every weekend. They mostly play the new releases and all students and residents gather to watch the movie. All these activities at the campus made me oblivious to the time passing by, and before I knew it, three weeks had gone by.
Three weeks into the internship, and we were still progressing with our project, but only slightly. My lab mate and I had to read so many publications by then to figure out a way out of all the impediments that came our way. The research scholars at the lab were very helpful and approachable but considering that they had huge projects to complete, we tried to solve the problems ourselves. There was a point when I thought we wouldn’t be able to complete a solid project but in a week’s time we were close to finishing it. That feeling you get when you finally get the desired outcome after weeks of hard work is inexplicable. So that’s one essential lesson I took away from this experience, resilience is truly the key to success. The completion of my project, that was “The Design and Implementation of a Wallace Tree Multiplier”, came with a huge sense of achievement and relief.
Considering that I spent two months in a new city for the first time, with bounteous memories to cherish and a fruitful experience, I believe I did complete justice to this golden opportunity that I chanced upon.
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