Max Planck Institute – Nihar Modi, EE1
I got the intern through TnP, luckily. TnP had newly introduced the internship applications for 2nd-year students, and like everyone else, I made a CV on the website and applied for Max Planck. The first round was CV shortlisting which was mostly done using a CGPA cut-off around 8. The next round was telephonic interviews, where we majorly discussed a project that I started with 2 of my batchmates in our second semester, which had used technologies like Raspberry Pi (which were the basic needs of the internship). The good thing for me was that I already had some knowledge with regards to the pre-requisite skills required for the internship, which helped me during the telephonic interview.
I joined the Sunrise team there. Sunrise is a 1-metre optical solar observatory on a stratospheric balloon. So far, the team has carried out two successful science flights in 2009 and 2013. They are currently preparing for the 3rd flight in June 2021. I was part of Sunrise UV Spectropolarimeter and Imager (SUSI) controller team.
I worked on the SUSI Temperature Controller using Raspberry Pi and Python, which are responsible for measuring temperature readings.
The working environment was very flexible with no fixed timings; you could work as per your choice. The work allotted to me required a sense of responsibility as the algorithm I devise will be used in the Sunrise 3 flight, so there was no scope for mistakes. I thus used to discuss each part of the algorithm with the senior engineer there.
I was based in Gottingen, a small but well-developed city in Germany with a peaceful environment. I lived in the institute guest house and used to cook my own food since being a vegetarian it was very difficult to find vegetarian eateries. My interactions were mainly confined to the Indian community comprised mainly of post-doc students whom the professor had introduced me to on the very first day. The professor was very supportive and used to invite us for dinners on various occasions, including his birthday.
Interesting Fact: The Government of Germany supports you more financially if you have a greater number of kids due to its high mortality rate. Also, beer in Germany is cheaper than water at almost half the price, which could be a happy add-on for many.
Language and Food:
Most of the local people speak only German, that meant I couldn’t buy a pizza from the store or ask someone in the supermarket for help as they spoke only German. But in the Institute there is no issue as everyone speaks English there and you can survive with some reasonable difficulties. The food situation was also similar for me; being a vegetarian, I didn’t have a reasonable option to eat outside hence used to cook my own food from day 1 in my guest house. Eating vegetarian outside meant eating only salads or spending over 30 Euros at an Indian restaurant.
Though I couldn’t travel much due to work commitments but tried to explore as much as I could without compromising my work. I visited Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Venice mainly with some other fellow IITians who were based in Europe for the summers. We used to meet at a common location and then go for a 5-6 day round trip sometimes. The city of Gottingen in itself was very small, and I more or less covered the whole city on my very first day with a 10 km walk.
We being in IIT have got an amazing opportunity to work under a very different environment and culture and everyone should definitely try to utilise this opportunity.