I am Shwetha Krishnamurthy and am a 3rd-year undergraduate student of the Mechanical Engineering Department. I did my 2nd-year Summer Internship at CDesign Lab, Purdue University, USA. In order to land a foreign internship, it is beneficial to be in touch with seniors who did one earlier and being updated with sites like Internshala & Internlelo. A foreign research internship is not only an addition to your resume but also a great opportunity to learn things that you can’t gather from books and other resources.
Since a lot of programmes such as SURF, UARE, MITACS, etc. are not open for sophomores, I had to go through the standard mailing procedure in order to land this internship. It is usually recommended that you start emailing the professors by the end of August itself.
Since a lot of programmes such as SURF, UARE, MITACS, etc. are not open for sophomores, I had to go through the standard mailing procedure in order to land this internship. It is usually recommended that you start emailing the professors by the end of August itself. But, in my case, I didn’t have interest in any particular field or the skills required for that in my 3rd semester. During the course of my 1st and 2nd years, I tried a lot of different stuff to know where my interests lay. It was only by the end of 3rd-year and after a reasonable amount of background research that I realized I had a considerable amount of interest in the field of Robotics. I spent the whole of Winter vacation and more than half of my 4th semester developing the basic skills required to research in this field. In mid-March, I started highly targetted and channelized emailing. After I got a positive reply from a Professor from CDesign Lab, School of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University, I went through a brief telephonic interview. The interview was just to ensure that I had the ability to communicate and express my ideas well and to gauge my motivation to do the project.
As far as my experience is concerned, foreign professors tend to accept the requests of enthusiastic candidates and those who show a genuine inclination towards research. The professors measure a person’s interest from the Cover Letter itself. So it is better to express that you are highly intrigued by the field you are applying to do a project in and have got the mettle to accomplish it in your Cover Letter and your Resume. If you are adding a skill to your Resume then it is also advised that an application of that skill is also included. It makes the Resume more compelling.
Once I joined the lab there, I was allotted a Ph.D. mentor by my professor. So my project was to accomplish a part of his Ph.D. thesis. Though it was the School of Mechanical Engineering, my work there was mostly aligned with Computer Science. It was enabling Fabrication in Augmented Reality. Along the way, I had to familiarize myself with Point Cloud Library and a variety of algorithms used in Point Cloud Processing. My job included segmentation, feature detection, and edge-cluster association in the point clouds obtained from Google’s Project Tango.
Purdue University is located in the suburban twin-town of Lafayette and West Lafayette. So, the nearest place for urban entertainment was Chicago(2 hours away) or Indianapolis(1.5 hours away). I got to know about an Indian Graduate Students Association at Purdue through Facebook and was able to get myself an apartment for rent, shared with another Indian Ph.D. student for my stay. Since I am a vegetarian, I didn’t have many options when it came to dining or lunching outside. Therefore, I had to resort to cooking at home along with my roommate. We had an Xbox 360 with Netflix, Hulu and HBO One subscriptions at our flat. So, most of my weekdays’ free time went away in trying out new TV-series. Apart from this, I took 2 weekends off and visited my cousins in Chicago.
The work atmosphere at my lab was innovation-friendly. It was full of versatile people with a variety of interests from different international backgrounds. Working with my labmates soon turned out to be fun. It was a Tuesday ritual in our lab to attend Summer Salsa Classes.
Long Term Career Goals
This internship has helped me shape my future goals. I am inclined towards entering research as soon as I graduate. The freedom and creativity offered by it are the most attractive factors that made me interested in it. All those who are interested in expanding their creative horizons should give research a try. Also, people who enjoy going into the depths of the subject rather than the breadth, like me, usually find themselves gravitating towards Academia. It is a great opening for innovation.