You have to fight through the bad days in order to earn the best days. Sparsh is pursuing Electrical Engineering and shares his wonderful experience of internship days.
I had been looking for an internship since January 2015. I almost got an internship at CAIR, DRDO, as in a scientist there had agreed to allow me to work with him as an intern, but then this year a new regulation was passed at DRDO that they would provide internship to only third year students.So I couldn’t finally get that internship. I mailed lots of professors of various universities, even applied to many university internship programmes like Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute, etc. ; but couldn’t secure an internship for myself anywhere. Although it’s not compulsory to do an internship in 2nd year, but then I wanted to learn something new this summer, and I am that kind of a guy who can’t learn anything sitting at home or watching video lectures on Coursera. I wanted an internship anyhow.
Then through Internshala, I applied for an intern at a startup named ‘Dreams Infinity’ in Delhi where the task was hardware development of 3D printers. I got selected too, but my parents didn’t approve me of going to Delhi as they were to go on a trip in June and I would have to stay behind at home for fifteen days with my younger sister. But then till I could not find any alternative internship, I decided to keep it as my last option and started to search for more. Then through some contacts, I got an intern opportunity at Plasma Research Institute (PRL) Ahmedabad, where the problem statement was to design a signal feedback system for valve control of fusion reactor. But then it required Digital Signal Processing mainly and I was not very much interested in it. Then finally my father came up with a contact at Transformers and Rectifiers (India) Ltd.
Since it would be an industrial internship, that too in my core area (electrical engineering) which means it would be beneficial for my resume as well, I decided to talk to HR over there. They agreed for an internship of six weeks. So the whole semester I had no internship, and now I had three confirmed internships. I chose T&R over other two. I started my internship on June 1, 2015. I met people from various departments of the company (accounts, purchase, design, R&D, etc.) and I was given an orientation on how the whole process (from obtaining orders to final despatch and testing) is carried out at T&R. Also, I visited all the factories of the company, learning in much detail about various specifications, processes, testing methods that go into manufacturing of transformers of all types (Poer, Distribution, etc.). I was shocked to see that the curriculum of Electrical Engineering at our college just contained 15% of what was actually implemented at industry level regarding transformers. I mean, IITs are supposed to produce the best engineers in the country and even they don’t teach us the limitations, all the tests, procedures of design, analysis and manufacturing of even basic electrical devices. All we are being taught is plain theory and 2-3 tests for the devices. Is this how best engineers are produced! No doubt IITs fail to register amongst top universities of the world, even though they have the toughest screening procedure which implies they have really good brains studying in them. So, going into the details of my internship, my project was to design an automatic welding table for welding of cylindrical objects (turrets, oil pipes, etc.). I was to carry out the project on my own and that was the best part of it as I would have to design the mechanical structure, electronics of the product; I had to deal with the suppliers of required apparatus like VFD (Variable Frequency Drive), relays, and other stuff.
So the first few days I designed the product, many revisions being made to it at initial stages and then its drawings verified and revised depending upon required output capacity and availability of apparatus. Within 2 weeks, the design was ready, but it could not be verified finally because of unavailability of my senior (he was the main Project Manager of the company). So the next week I did not even go to the office much. And since all my school friends were in Ahmedabad that particular week, so it was basically like a tailor-made situation for me. I went out with my friends almost every day that week, and as a matter of fact, got back with my ex-girlfriend too! The next week I got the design verified and sent the materials to the machining shop to get them modified as per the required dimensions. Meanwhile, I ordered relays and Arduino Uno (a microcontroller) on ebay.in and started working on the electronics part. I designed the PCB on Eagle and prepared the flow chart of required algorithm and programmed the same. Then was the task of purchasing electronics stuff (resistors, ICs, solder iron, etc.).
In Roorkee, I was familiar with the shops that sold such items. But I didn’t know any such shop in Ahmedabad. So I searched for dealers online on indiamart.com. Having filtered out some dealers based on their location, I contacted them personally and asked for the quotations. That as such was not much significant procedure as far as the project was concerned, but then it gave me an experience on how to deal with suppliers. It’s not like going to a provision store and purchasing goods obviously. Enquiries, quotations, (and many more professional words) go into making purchase for a project at industry. So I confirmed my materials with a supplier. I went to his shop, some materials were unavailable at that time and he asked me to come the next day. And this happened for four consecutive days! By the end I was totally fed up of going there everyday and getting the same reply. So on the fifth day, I went there and waited at his shop, no matter how much time it may take for the remaining components to arrive. I had to wait for two long hours that day! The same problem came up with the machining shop guy. He said he would deliver our materials within two days and it took him ten days to do so! The shop was near the company office, so I used to go twice a day there (except Sunday obviously) checking his progress on our order. He came up with tons of excuses each day – some day his workers would be on strike, some other day it rained heavily so the shop remained closed, a machine would be out of order yet another day!! It was such a frustrating experience with that guy.
So between that period when I got my electronic components and parts for fabrication were yet to arrive from machining shop, I fabricated the PCB. No here I would like to specially mention a senior there – Mr Bhavin Satwara – who was asked by my senior (project manager) to assist me in all ways. He worked day and night to get the work ready for me. I used to sit at his desk in the office while fabricating the PCB, he would be there each time I was stuck somewhere with some procedure. At the fabrication unit too, all the people in R&D department were there to help me out as and when I needed some – whatever component I wanted, whatever modifications I wanted with the base for main model to be set up, all were there to help me out. A few days later – when the parts finally returned after machining – we started the fabrication. It took one full day to fabricate the structure – setting up the turntable, coupling motor with it, welding screw-nut mechanisms for horizontal and vertical motions. I even set up the PCB and relays on the model. Now only one thing remained – a VFD for varying the speed of motor.
I talked to three dealers for that, all said they had they had the drive ready with them. So I asked the purchase department to send official inquiries to all of them for quotations. Obviously this could not be done by me alone as the drives are expensive (around INR 15000) and since the company was sponsoring the project, purchases of such amounts had to be done officially. The dealers replied three days after having sent the inquiry! We finalised a dealer, and said that we would make the payment by next day and that he keep aside a drive for us. It was a Friday. I was to be out of town with family that weekend and I had asked Bhavin sir to take care of the purchase and that only few connections needed to be made for finally testing the product. On Saturday evening, Bhavin sir called me and said that the dealer did not have any drive in stock. I was thunderstruck by the news! Because Monday was to be the last day of my internship and Tuesday I was to leave for Roorkee. What could we possibly do without the drive! All these efforts over six weeks – a waste! But then Bhavin sir literally worked day and night to get the drive arranged for the project.
Monday morning, I had to submit the project report in order to get the certificate. But without the test results and a working model, how could I submit the report! So I took snapshots of SolidWorks design of the product, and prepared a report from them. I had lost all hopes that the project would be complete. Upon reaching office, I found Bhavin sir waiting for me. He had finally found out a supplier with drive in stock and as per our requirements. I submitted the report and we immediately went to the supplier. We told him to send the drive at the plant and that we would clear the payment within an hour. I kept the systems ready, and thought to finally test the system i.e. just test timing of relays and triggering of the switch so that as soon as the drive arrived, we could perform the final tests. I powered the PCB, and uploaded the program onto Arduino. But the program did not work. I started debugging the program, but in a few minutes I found out that there was no error in the program itself. I checked and saw that the switching ICs of the PCB had all been damaged. I replaced them with backup ICs but still the system did not work. I had to bypass the protection circuit of relay switching through ICs and directly connected them with Arduino.
I knew there was a big risk in doing so but then I had no other option. It was practically impossible for me to purchase new ICs, the shop being located to the other end of the city! So having made the changes in the circuit, I tested the system once again. The relays did switch this time. I heaved a sigh of relief. But as it turned out, the problem was not over yet! I connected the welding torch to one relay and decided to just take a routine test on it. I switched on the system and as soon as I pressed the trigger switch, I expected the welding machine to start working. But it did not! I was seriously terrified upon seeing that! Both the relays were working correctly just three days before and now they were not! I went to the electrical assembly unit and came back with a multi-meter. That time I had nothing on mind, just one thing that I had to fix those relays somehow. I stood there repeatedly conducting tests for debugging – fully drenched with sweat, my shirt was not tucked, sleeves folded. I could not identify any problem. I immediately contacted the supplier of those relays. He upon listening to and analysing the problem, said that the relays might have got damaged by some other reason and that he personally might have to look into the problem. It was obviously not possible that day itself. Just then Bhavin sir came with the VFD and a guy from the company who had come to install the drive. We told him the problem. He said that there was an in-built relay in the drive itself and we could use it, but there must be a manual trigger for main trigger in order for it to work. Bhavin sir rushed out and came back few minutes later with a switch (a knob basically with three terminals). We connected the welding torch to the in-built relay in the drive, and drive supply through the knob.
Having verified all the connections and placing a sample turret on the turntable, we switched on the supply. We just had to turn on the knob for initiating the system. Having faced these many problems throughout the day, I did not expect the project to work and so I closed my eyes. Bhavin sir turned on the knob. I could hear the welding sound. I opened my eyes to see the turntable rotating, the welding torch switched on and the turret being welded! It was a moment of sheer joy for me! I had never felt so happy before! The system finally working and perfectly tested according to the theoretical calculations for required speed. I almost cried that moment… Bhavin sir asked a worker there to bring soft drinks for everyone. We tested the system on 3-4 sample of different radii and it worked perfectly.
It was a moment of celebration for us! Everyone congratulated me upon the success of the project. I went to the main building of the office, called my senior there and also collected my internship certificate from the HR. I demonstrated the project to my senior. He also congratulated me and then we both went to the canteen. There he asked me about my overall experience. I shared it with him – how awesome it was to do internship there. Not only I got to learn much details about transformers (which otherwise I would never have learnt in college), but I got to do a project of my own – each and every aspect of it. I designed the product (not just bluntly designed it, but designed it in an economical way too), I made the purchases, I fabricated it, tested and debugged it; in short I did the project in-and-out, with help of a lot of people of course. I did raise a point that it would not have been a ‘last-day mess’ had we got the components sooner from machining shop and that electronic component supplier. Sir said that it does happen in industry all the time and that one must always have rooms for such errors and delays. He also said that I worked similar to a project manager on that project – one who knows the project inside out and directs, guides and in my case, takes help in best possible manner from the team mates. It felt good hearing that from him (he being the Project Manager for all the orders of the company).
I thanked him for his guidance, and expressed that it had seriously been a wonderful experience for me working with such skilled and helping people, and getting true taste of working at an industry. And also that I would not have benefited this much had I done internship at Delhi or at PRL. We took the last sip of our tea, shook hands and he walked into the plant for work and I walked out of the company gate, carrying with myself a smile on my face and a really good professional experience, knowledge and good memories of the internship – of all the people I interacted with there and of the failures and the final success of the project.
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