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Chirag Kansal - Carnegie Mellon University

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

Interned at Orangewood Labs

The Area of Research

Having participated in Robotics Club, Accelerator, and Hyperloop, I knew that I wanted to explore robotics. Since there is no clear demarcation between research and corporate aspects in rpbotics, I was fine with either. Although the robotics sector is not well known in India, it is in a blooming stage with a lot of scope. Despite being in the Mechanical Engineering department, I was interested in courses offered by the electrical department, since I was really determined to pursue my interest in Robotics.

The Selection Process

Not a lot of people focus on skill development in the second year, and companies accepting intern recruitments from the second year are usually aware of this. Most people don’t make a CV on the OCS portal and miss out on opportunities. It’s very important to reach out to seniors, sit with them and make a CV. It’s a myth that most companies only hire from the third year, so keep asking seniors and checking out the OCS portal for the companies of your interest. Make sure to switch on the OCS App Notifications.

After you make the CV, it will be verified by OCS. Don’t fake any information, as all data and documents are thoroughly checked, and questionable CVs are flagged. You can then apply to companies. It is important to not panic and to take your time to give the tests. The tests are relatively easy, requiring only some basic knowledge apart from COL106, which I did in the fourth semester.

One mistake that I made was that I didn’t apply in the Phase 1 of interns due to lack of guidance and exposure to the right people. My mentor suggested that I make an OCS CV somewhere during the middle of the third semester. As mentioned, I sat with seniors and highly tweaked my CV until I had confidence in my CV. I’d highly suggest you start the procedure as soon as possible.

The Experience and Interactions

I interned as an Embedded Engineer at Orangewood Labs, a robotics startup. My work was mostly related to helping out other people, and assisting in small projects. I got this internship through the Office of Carrier Services (OCS). I had developed an Embedded Engineer profile, which basically includes software and electronics, and I wanted to explore robotics further.

Specifically, my work revolved around making robotic arms, which are later used in industries for applications like spray painting, and hand-picking. Initially, I contributed to projects like building a braking system, and writing a Python script to collect data to remove backlash. Learning through these small projects, I was finally allotted the main project of my internship. We used an Esteem Microcontroller to check if the bot worked and moved properly. The work in this case is not very demanding in nature, but it does require a bit of interest.

Key Takeaways and Suggestions

The key purpose of the intern season is skill development. Companies also mostly focus on teaching us concepts since very few people in tech clubs actually have significant knowledge.

Before the internship, I wasn’t able to explore coding and electronics properly. Doing the internship, I developed an interest in robotics. It is hard to explore mechanical engineering through any other avenues in India, so a startup in related sectors is a good way to proceed. I realized that startups have one of the best possible environments for growth - they listen to inputs, we can start our own little projects, and we have room for exploration. This is not the case in well-established companies, where changes take place in a structured hierarchical manner. I saw people interning with me, who immensely contributed to the startup, well beyond the scope of an intern.

I realized that motivation is very important, without which we get frustrated very early in core. Take guidance and move on. If you try, you can do it. Proper and sustained research is also needed. We should keep reading articles and papers associated with our area of interest. Different phases bring out different complexities. The design phase is tiring and reading-heavy, needing thorough investigation. Manufacturing, meanwhile, is interesting whereas testing is difficult, and we don’t often know what went wrong. In robotics, most results take a lot of time due to which startups are on the lower side. But for very similar reasons, a triumph gives us immense satisfaction.

I learned skills like time management, teamwork, leadership, strength in thoughts and communication. I got the much-needed clarity that I enjoyed physical applications much more than theoretical studies. Having explored startups, I want to explore other fields in the third year, so that I can develop a proper understanding during placement.

I’d like to suggest three things in particular. One, don’t miss out on communicating with seniors. They’ll help, even if you don’t know them. Two, be aware of things. It is often the defining factor between two deserving candidates. Three, don’t follow herd mentality. Choose a field of your interest, not just one your friends are going for.


Interviewed by - Gauri Agarwal

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