3IT Institute for Robotics, Sherbrooke | Intern Experience
7 months ago
An internship is important for any engineer. We get to know what lies ahead and whether or not we want to go full throttle into it. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to intern at the 3IT Institute for Robotics, Sherbrooke, Canada through the Mitacs Globalink Program.
The experience was one that I have never had in my life. A world 180 degrees apart with unknown people, it was scary at first. The first week was just spent in adjusting to the lifestyle and getting to know the city. After that, until my flight back home, we just didn’t stop having fun. I learnt so much, met people from different cultures, learnt new languages (yes, plural), and explored a different country altogether. It was extraordinary. People from all around the world come together through this program, so the network that you get to build with such brilliant minds, including the professors and students of your home university, is priceless.
Apart from the usual technical stuff, I got to learn a lot more. When you live abroad for 3 months, it is imperative that you start to take your own decisions, manage your funds, do all your chores (especially cooking) but most importantly have fun. For me, this experience has been life changing and I would wish the very best to the future aspirants.
Quebec Day Festival
The general perception that research is a long and trying road and does not offer a quick payoff checks out for most of the opportunities that the field has to offer. In my opinion, it is also important to know what drives you in particular. I have friends who are working in research and desk jobs, and sooner or later you realise that passion is more important than the pay.
For me, this passion has always been robotics, since it is a field with never ending innovations. Every day, people discover new features or different robots, and there is still more to do. I realised that through research I could experiment with all kinds of things, and if at any point of time, I feel that this is not something I would like to pursue, the corporate options are always open. It's not true the other way around. Frankly, I haven’t quite thought about the end of the journey. I guess I will find out with the rest of you.
When the University itself hosts parties like this every Thursday, you sometimes forget the research part altogether:
How did I figure it out?
Since high school, I was always fascinated with robotics, computer science, aerospace and a lot of other things. I didn’t know much, just that I wanted to do something related to these fields. In 1st year, I started to explore a lot, experiment, asking seniors, professors and even my peers. Come 2nd year, I was quite clear that robotics was the field I wanted to pursue. I believe that when you identify your interest, you should only let go when you have had a taste of what it has to offer.
For research in particular, I would say that the tech team UAS DTU helped me a lot. I learnt so much from them, and I would like to urge every student interested in inventing different things or working on actual projects to enroll themselves in one of the many tech teams in our University.
I feel that the first step is to identify your area of interest.
As a fresher, you are often quite confused and that is natural. Don’t take undue pressure, just work towards your interest from the beginning. Usually, a slothful attitude won’t get you far in the race.
I don’t want to be a buzzkill here, but yes, GPA matters.
Building a rich research profile in your specific interest is also advantageous. DTU has a plethora of opportunities for a young researcher in the form of tech teams, and students should make the best use of these.
It happens quite often that students don’t know about the scholarships, and that automatically dents their chances of getting it. Ask your professors and seniors continuously about scholarships and events, and keep a constant vigil in your field of interest for other opportunities.
Once you get there, communication is important. You should know how to interact with strangers and keep up a good conversation.
Your main resources are the internet, coupled with your persistence to succeed.
DTU is one of the premier institutes in India. I feel that a technical wing of the USIP program would be a good start to give new students an insight into the field of research. Mentor groups is a concept quite popular in other institutes. More efforts are needed to bring such concepts into our routine as they will be instrumental in inculcating the spirit of research.