From tech meek to tech geek: The story of my metamorphosis

I got accepted to the Aerospace Master’s Programme in Ecole Centrale de Lyon in France and went on to become the first recipient of the Shikhar Thales Scholarship 2020. I also got the opportunity to undertake diverse research projects at ISRO and IIT Kanpur to finally march towards my dream of developing novel technologies for lightweight powered commercial aircrafts

I hail from the remote village of Haspura in Aurangabad district, one of the more underdeveloped places in Bihar. Like most students in India, during my high school, I prepared for enrolling in an IIT, but as fate would have it, I joined UPES, Dehradun(class of 2016-2020).

I was aware that UPES is one of the best universities in India, which would lead me to achieve my dream if I leveraged the opportunities offered by the institution. I joined the university as an Aerospace Engineering student with a specialization in Avionics. However, I got an F in one subject in myvery first semester. Till the fourth semester, I was struggling hard to obtain a decent CGPA. Even with an SGPA of 6.25, I remained undeterred and aspired to work at the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS), Dehradun, Department of Space, Government of India,in my second year of undergraduate studies. However, the rules of the university did not allow us to do an internship in the second year itself. Through my dogged determination and after much back and forth, I managed to work at IIRS and got a flavour of what it is like to work in a reputed national laboratory for the first time.

From my third year, I started working hard on my SGPA and I was finally able to improve my CGPA to 7.59 overall, which opened new opportunities for me.

My learning increased manifold when I joined an intensive summer camp at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT-K) on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). During the third and fourth year of my B.Tech., I started focusing on campus placements, competitive examinations and applying for international Master’s programs. With strong support from my department, especially Dr. Sudhir Joshi, Dr. Sudhir Kumar Chaturvedi and Dr. Gurunadh Velidi, I applied for various international Master’s programmes and was fortunate to get selected at Ecole Centrale de Lyon (ECL), France.

ECL is one of the oldest Grandes Ecoles in France – the equivalent of IITs in India – with a rich 150-year long history in aerospace research and many other sectors. It is among the top five engineering institutes in France, having trained leaders of the aerospace industry and tie-ups with giants like Airbus.

After getting selected to the prestigious institute, I was also successful in getting selected for the coveted French National Fellowships, the ‘Shikhar Thales Scholarship,’ which is awarded to only two candidates across India. Shikhar Thales scholarship is a joint scholarship programme of the French higher education ministry through Campus France, and the French multinational, Thales Group, which is an industry leader in developing aerospace, defence systems and manufacturing technologies.

My journey at UPES was an enriching experience filled with ups and downs. I am thankful to the professors of my department and my group members who helped me to publish an article based on the research I had carried out in my semester project in one of the world’s most reputed aerospace journals called the AIAA Aviation Forum. The publication gave me a huge sense of confidence to continue carrying out cutting-edge research on contemporary challenges in the aerospace industry. Moreover, the research experience during my internships gave me the insights and the courage to proceed independently in this field.

I dedicate this success to my family and friends and UPES’ Department of Aerospace Engineering. I would also like to reiterate here that despite the debilitating challenges and obstacles in my path, I was able to achieve success by being perseverant and by never losing sight of my final destination. I hope that my friends who are reading this go on to win laurels in whatever they choose to do in life.

(The writer is a student of the UPES School of Engineering)

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