I was very keen on getting international exposure, which is why I was was targeting top Scandinavian universities with esteemed mechanical departments for bagging a research internship. I started emailing professors by early September, and after sending around 300 emails, I finally got selected by a professor at Chalmers University (Sweden) in December.
After my initial email correspondence with the professor, I gave an online interview on 19th December, a week after which I got my acceptance letter. I had prior research experience through my DISA project, which was based on Augmented Reality and involved aspects of mechanics and computer science both. Moreover, I was well versed with C++. I believe having these two things helped me clinch the internship. Additionally, my resume had a management course from London School of Economics. But since professors value research-based work and projects, I doubt if this had any role to play in my selection.
After I received my acceptance letter, my professor finalised my stipend, and everything was on track. While I was eagerly waiting for my two months abroad, the pandemic set in and everything started to fall apart.
As the virus hit Europe and cases began to increase exponentially, a complete lockdown was instated, and international travel was suspended. I started emailing to universities again as a backup in case my offer from Chalmers got rescinded.
The first lockdown month was very frustrating and everything seemed to be in the dumps - academics, internships and even PORs. There was nothing to look forward amid the uncertainty and chaos.
One ray of hope for me was when my professor from Chalmers allowed me to continue the internship online. My stipend was scraped off due to new government policies that were introduced to tackle the pandemic. After the initial homebound months, I finally started accepting the COVID situation and this is when I started feeling motivated towards my work.
I was working on the “Surrogate Modelling in Human Body Injury Analysis”.The project focused on predicting the more vulnerable body parts during an automobile accident.
I started with extracting data on various car crash parameters. From compilation to simulation, everything was done at my desk, in my home. There were weekly meetings on Mondays and Fridays with my supervisor to keep me on track and plan ahead.
The internship revolved around core-mechanics, biomechanics and data science. I came across new coding languages like Python and concepts like uncertainty quantification. I had some exhausting days, and every day, both work and learning went hand in hand, but that’s what kept me going.
This research internship exposed me to the new horizons of mechanics infused with Data Science. Not only did it help me to make the most out of the quarantine but it made me realise that despite the unfavourable situations, one must always keep striving. Quitting should never be an option.
Article by: Victor Banerjee