Action is the foundational key to all success. Shrinivas (guy in blue shirt in the centre of the first row) is pursuing integrated masters in Metallurgical & Material Science and shares his wonderful experience of internship days.
It was 11th May, my 22nd birthday and I was at the SNTI auditorium, Jamshedpur.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you’ll go! “. In a delighted mood I was reading this message on the welcome card at the orientation of the Inspire Summer internship program of Tata Steel Limited (TSL). I was selected as a part of the two member team for the 2 month long Mind Over Matter program at the R&D department.
I am Shrinivas Vithal Kulkarni, currently in 4th year, School of Material Science and Technology, IIT (BHU), Varanasi. The two months at R&D, Tata steel gave me one of the most incredible experience I have had during my college days as it taught me to work with utmost dedication (the last time I worked hard was for JEE- 2012!) and a good deal of skills which will be helpful for the rest of my life.
Mind Over Matter is TSL’s annual innovation challenge for students. It is a perfect blend of learning through exposure to industrial problems and conventional research methods. Launched in 2014, the program challenges students to conceptualize solutions for real product and manufacturing challenges. The best ideas are invited to Tata Steel to create prototypes of their ideas.
We had to form a two member team and give a research proposal on one of the 10 topics posted by Tata steel. Getting selected for the internship was not an easy task as none of the topics were a part of our engineering curriculum. I teamed up with my roommate (a damn diligent guy), but unfortunately he was down with typhoid. So after going through a gob of research papers I somehow managed to write and submit an abstract on “Design and development of Inorganic Passivation to avoid early rusting of rebar”
That time of my life must have been fortuitous as I got selected for the Mind Over Matter intern! And I realized that I had accomplished my aim of having a good internship (read PAID internship!) at the end of the 3rd year.
A pre-placement offer and cash prizes worth Rs.2 lacs were at stake for the winners of the contest so the only thing we decided was to put in our 200 % efforts so that later we don’t have to regret. Keeping this in mind we headed for Jamshedpur, which was sweltering in one of the deadliest summers of India.
We were given accommodation at Tata steel’s GT-4 hostel. Leaving aside the summer weather and mess food, rest everything was perfect. After not sleeping for 2-3 nights, sprinkling water on the bed for cooling, sleeping on the floor of hostel’s AC computer room, I finally bought a cooler! The HR team of TSL must have taken a lot of efforts for us. The whole intern was perfectly planned. Welcome gifts, arranging bus facilities, organizing sports events and the cultural night, getting our stipend cheques on time, and yes the most memorable were the gifts we got on the last day. Everything was meticulously planned and carried out.
Our guide Mr. Manindra Manna was one of the most patient persons I have ever met in my life. He listened patiently to each and every query of ours and cleared our doubts with utmost care and attention. Every employee of the lab was cooperative and helped us in every possible manner. Our project was titled “Design and development of Inorganic Passivation to avoid early rusting of rebar” (for those who didn’t get it, it simply means developing some inorganic layer to avoid corrosion of steel rebars). During the abstract submission I had gone through a plethora of research papers, this helped us to have a head start for our project, as other teams were still in their literature survey stage for almost two weeks, we directly started with our practical work.
We weren’t allowed to use labs after 5pm. So Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm we toiled in the labs. (After repeating the experiments for so many times I became so adept that after 3 weeks into the internship I didn’t require a weighing balance to measure 2 grams of zinc oxide). After 5 pm the time was for exploring restaurants in Jamshedpur and preparing presentations/planning for the next day.
After two weeks we were given the task to use waste solution ( called as WPL- Waste Pickling Liquor) generated from the TUBE DIVISION to extract zinc and use it to form an anti-corrosive zinc phosphate layer layer on the steel rebar. Two days before the review presentation we had no results to show but miraculously I got a thought in my mind, tested it and it changed the game! We were able to extract zinc ions from the solution successfully.
Following were the achieved targets during the intern:
- Earlier cost of the process: Rs.400 per metric ton of rebar.
- Current cost: Rs.100 per metric ton of rebar.
- Our process will use the zinc ions obtained from a waste solution hence the cost of treatment of the waste solution before disposal will be saved.
- 10,000 liters of WPL per month is obtained the TUBE DIVISION so approx. 24 metric tons of zinc phosphate can be extracted per year.
- Positive impact on the environment as the highly acidic waste is being reused and zinc, iron ions are not discarded into the soil.
- Studied the effect of nano silica and oxide layer of rebar on the zinc phosphate layer formation.
Meanwhile during the internship:
- My teammate ( who happens to be my roommate since 3 years ) is from Jamshedpur. So I had a nice time eating his mom’s delicious food and exploring Jamshedpur on his bike (There are really quite a few good restaurants there)
- Many of our seniors from IIT (BHU) are placed at TSL so we were on partying spree!
- Went for a trek to Dalma hills.
- Met a girl (who was also an intern) and had a nice time with her. (Rest is left to the reader’s imagination!).
Thus, in these two months I got a classic taste of good conversations, cuisine and cavort!
Results of the Mind over Matter contest were to be announced after the final presentations to be given in front of a team of judges from TSL’s different departments.
Two days before the finals: We presented the work before our research group and we were appreciated like never before. With full confidence we were prepared for the final presentation.
We were given 10 minutes to give our final presentation. Top three winning teams were to be awarded with a PPO and cash prizes worth Rs. 225000!! But the immense amount work we had put in (not only us rather almost every team had worked equally hard) didn’t make us nervous at all.
After the presentation: We finished the presentation well in time and answered every question. Everyone liked it! (One of the employees there came to me and said: “first prize toh tumko hi milna hai! Stop worrying”)
And soon the results were announced. Unfortunately our name was nowhere in the top 3. We had lost the contest. Dejected, I couldn’t think of anything else for the next few days. Only one thought was there in my mind – why didn’t we win? Why did this happen? But later on I stopped feeling sad for myself and the only reason was the efforts I had put in. I knew I had given my best.
There was only one answer to my questions: Whatever happens is for the best.
Failure is a comma, not a full stop. Insulating yourself against failure doesn’t ensure success, it only makes success more elusive. Plan for future. Embrace failure. Tomorrow will still be there, no matter how dire today feels.
I would like to conclude by quoting a few lines by Baruch Spinoza, a Dutch philosopher. He says,” Reality is perfection. If circumstances are seen as unfortunate, it is only because of our inadequate conception of reality.”
If Shrinivas’s experience motivates you, you can apply to similar meaningful internships here and give a boost to your career.
Editor’s note- Have you got an internship story to share? A chance to win cool Internshala T and other cash prizes by participating in Your Internship Story contest.