Aditya Gupta (EE3)
Interned at IISc, Bangalore
Domain: Power Semiconductor Electronics
I am a current 3rd year Electrical Engineering student from Delhi. I interned at IISc (Indian Institute of Science) - one of India's premier, leading research institutes. I worked under a professor at IISc over my summers in the field of Power Semiconductor Electronics - which is also my core.
I was unclear where I wanted to go after the first year. People are usually fascinated by fancy things like quant/coding. Over the 2nd year, I realised that I was not interested in coding, and over the 3rd and 4th semesters, my interest in my core subject increased quite a lot. I knew I wanted to explore my interest, and what better place to do that than IISc! I chose a project and a corresponding professor in Semiconductor Electronics.
Usually, people start mailing early, but I started mailing quite late. This was because the third semester was a harsh transition for me - I was an executive at OCS, and my grades also took a toll. I was busy during this time. It was only during the 4th semester that I got a break and could start mailing professors. I was very clear I wanted to do the internship onsite. I did not apply abroad because I was clear that I didn't want to go to a foreign University - primarily because I knew these internships were expensive. While some stipend is provided to cover basic accommodation, etc., it's usually not enough to cover many costs. Also, I knew that during the summers, I didn't want to spend all my time on the internship, as my tenure as an executive made me realise that a lot of people ended up not having enough time to prepare for their 3rd-year internship due to the same. I wanted to go to IISc due to my aspiration to go there since childhood. Also, the professor I found there worked at the pinpoint intersection of what I wanted to do - Power Semiconductors.
My internship was for two months. During the day, I used to be in my lab, and in the evening, I used to prepare for my corporate internship. The IISc campus was very different. It was like a completely different world. The academic motivation was very high in IISc. You see a lot of highly high-ranking PhDs and professionals and researchers, and they have the curiosity of a 5-year-old. The resources provided by the labs at IISc were terrific - not to say you wouldn't find comparable equipment in IITD labs - but the equipment found in IISc was definitely a notch above. The weather was also great in Bangalore, and the city was a great new experience. Initially, language is a barrier, but you get used to their English within a week or two. The food was also different but quite lovely. In layman's terms, I was assigned the project to design a circuit-based platform for stress testing of semiconductors and devices meant for high-power applications. So my work included designing and testing part of the software and circuits and some lab work where I could test out some of the electronics they had designed indigenously. My guide was a final-year PhD student there, and he also taught me many things that helped me in my fifth semester. My internship was never defined by deadlines - instead, it was based on tasks. For example, here's a circuit - try to tinker with a few values and interpret the empirical relationship between them. Overall, it was a balanced amount of work.
Advice to Juniors:
In research, you must go through a lot of literature. What you study in a course in college is very different from what you study in research. In a course, there may be a lot of research points you skim over to get to quick solutions to problems. It's an entirely different mentality. Professors usually don't have any expectations from you. They treat you as a novice simply trying to get their hands dirty. They initially take note of what you've studied already and what you need to learn. My professor took a small interview to assess the difference between the level he expected and the level I was at. On the topic of India vs. abroad research intern, I personally still believe the Indian internship worked very well, and I think it was a slight advantage that I didn't have to go to an entirely new country and have to get accustomed to an entirely new culture. However, in India, the options are limited, considering we're in IIT Delhi. If you're getting an opportunity that fits your budget and time, go for it.