Interview: Manas Nigam (Chem-2016)

Please state your current major and explain the area of research you are currently involved in. Do state your past research if any.

My major is in Chemical Engineering and I research on Biobased polymers. In past, I have worked in the field of energy and environment which helped me choose my current research area.

What should students know before taking up research? How should they pursue their career in research?

It is very important to realize the acumen in yourself for pursuing research. A lot of times students follow a trend (eg. The rising popularity of Masters in Engineering management) and later fail to dedicate and thrive abroad. A thorough self-assessment should be the first step in making the choice.

Why are research internships important? How do students hone their skills through these internships?

Research internship is, in fact, the most important activity in decision making for higher studies. One should treat it as a simulation before entering the real world.

What other skills do you think students need to learn before/while pursuing higher studies in engineering and sciences?

In my experience, any research project may be a standalone, one scholar project or a team based. Irrespective of the project allotted, one should be a self-starter and a team player. Working on a research project is not a whole lot different from working in an organization and should be treated the same way.

Where do you think, the research scenario in NIT Trichy needs improvement, and how can it be improved?

NITT faculty as well the students are a potential center for major research ideas and innovations. Although, lack of funding is always an issue in the Indian research scenario and our college has been affected no less. It’s immensely important for our researchers to attract industry contributions and engagement.

What must one do after getting admitted into college? I.e How do you feel time must be utilised post-admission?

While one is definitely guided properly post joining the college, the time between graduating from NITT and joining the one for highers should be actively used to gain any basic knowledge needed in the field one is going to join, but more importantly enjoy and soak in experiences which may help them settle down better in a foreign country.

What are some things about your career path you wish you knew in college, in retrospect?

My path to research was a bit wavy with my inclination always towards getting a job and building a career directly in the field of chemical engineering, but over time I realized that I needed more preparation in the field before I could make any significant impact. We at NITT produce great managers, one of the best in the country, but sometimes lack in a knowledge base. To stay in the same field of engineering, it is important to be able to deliver as a techno-managerial personal and not just focus on management. Importance of coursework, therefore, needs much more of a learning curve than grades.

What exams do you think are most important to write before applying for highers?

While it depends on a lot of factors such as country you are applying to and the field you are interested in, GRE and an English testing for foreign language exams are the most basic ones necessary.

How useful is having work experience before applying for highers? Is one year time for work experience ample enough?

I am personally biased towards joining a higher education directly than taking a gap with work experience and doing so. Once you join a job, your ability to learn and grasp might decline and lower your performance. I am sure a lot of my colleagues will not agree with me on this though.

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