Team Feeds got in touch with students from batch of 2017 who did their projects through the summer at US, Canada and Germany. Here’s what a few of them have to say:
S.N. Bose scholar
This summer I interned at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University at Pittsburgh, USA. I was fortunate enough to get selected for the Robotics Institute Summer Scholars Program and got my funding through the S.N. Bose Scholarship. The Institute is at the forefront of robotic technologies, constantly pushing the envelope on what machines can achieve. I worked on a vision system for space rovers in the Planetary Robotics Lab, a group in pursuit of the coveted Google Lunar X Prize.
The 11-week program redefined how I look at research and robotics. I was able to work on the cutting-edge and rub shoulders with pioneers in the field. I also got a taste of an intense research culture, right from hourly rendezvous with the coffee machine to weekly team meetings. It was refreshing to move from an environment that pre-emptively shoots down your ideas due to its rigid hierarchy, to a more inclusive, collaborative one. There was a good mix of research presentations, field tests, barbeques and picnics. Pittsburgh, once the Steel City, is now a wonderful confluence of technology and history. Amidst the hectic work hours, the city had much to offer – especially a vibrant jazz scene.
The stereotype of the fundamentally polite Canadian is a bit of a cornball cliché, but it does have some basis in reality. They are spontaneous in helping you and value honesty, sensitivity and humility over anything. My professor insisted that we spend some time off the project every day to know each other better. We used to hang out every day during lunch and discuss on random topics and sometimes even spent time trolling Trump. The research environment is way different from that in India; getting the work done is given more importance than being regular to the lab. With excellent work-life balance, Canada is a highly welcoming place for Indians to pursue their higher studies.
DAAD-WISE programme gave me a two-way ticket to study robotics, travel and learn about the intricacies of life. I interned at the Hybrid Control Systems department of Technical University, Munich, Germany. The internship work involved designing a framework for implementing a closed loop position control on Khepera-4 Robot to make it navigate between the states on an Urban-Like Environment Platform using live camera feedback. The experiments that I conducted made me realise how almost anything can go wrong and one requires gigantic doses of espresso and patience to get by.
Germany made me feel more Indian than usual. From walking on the right side of the road to drinking milk straight from the carton, Germany did affect me in myriad ways and to variable degrees. I learnt how to cycle for more than ten kilometres, be honest while playing extremely intellectual German board games, sometimes eat pretzel for all three meals and mostly be grateful of my life and achievements.