Updated: Dec 29, 2022
I've always been interested in the electronic vehicles industry. Initially, when electronic vehicles came out, there was a huge hype around it, and many people predicted that they would overtake the automobile industry. My interest was piqued when Tesla announced that they were going to release a chassis purely made of batteries. I then started reading about batteries and improved my knowledge.
When I came to college, I was only interested in music. In my first year, I was really engrossed in music and joined the club as an instrumentalist. But I soon realised that I wanted to explore more things. My branch is mechanical, and I went out looking for any prospects in and around mechanical engineering. My dad mentioned once that there would soon be a boom in the EV industry, inspiring me to get an internship in the same. I figured this would help me go towards what I wanted to do in the future.
I already had an interest in this field, and I used to read about it for quite some time. I had looked through many research papers, and that's how I gained knowledge about the EV field in general. I read about different types of batteries, powertrain optimisation, how you can convert a diesel or a petrol engine into an electronic vehicle etc. I was intrigued by these ideas, so I kept reading more. It was more of a side hobby than a long-term interest. I didn't do any courses pertaining to the EV field from IITD or any online platform.
I applied through LinkedIn, and interned at Okinawa Scooters during the winter break(the process for a summer intern would probably be the same) in the month of December. So, when you apply for an internship, you have to research the industry and the company beforehand. I wrote a long letter elaborating on my exposure and knowledge of the EV field and explaining why I'm eligible for the role. Generally, you draft emails and start approaching companies when you're not overburdened with quizzes and assignments. Personally, I applied a month before the winter started.
I was their first intern, and they had never had interns before me. So when I applied and sent my CV, they started considering recruiting interns. There weren’t any qualifying criteria as such, but they were mostly interested in my experience in Matlab and FreeCAD. MCP100, which was one of my first-year courses, helped me a lot, along with MCL111 in our second year.
To be totally frank, I had a lot of fun during this opportunity. I interacted with many seniors, and they had a lot to tell me about life in general. I went with the seniors to meet suppliers and got a chance to see how various components were manufactured. I also applied my theoretical knowledge of MATLAB and FreeCAD during my internship. I had to display the graphs I got from the output of certain analyses for which I used these tools. It was an offline internship in Cyber-City, Gurgaon. I was always skeptical about going into core Mechanical, but this hands-on experience gave me more clarity on whether I want to pursue Mechanical in the future. All in all, it was a great experience and a wonderful learning opportunity.
I learnt a lot outside of my courses, as I had mentioned earlier, and that helped me more than my academics. My project entailed finding the causes of certain problems (or "challenges", as the corporate world calls it) regarding the batteries. I had to list possible reasons and figure out ways to solve the issue. To do this, I read about 7-8 case studies and a few research papers. I had to match the solutions for the possible causes with the modified outputs and chart a few graphs.
The best part was that I was given a lot of freedom to work on the projects that interested me. When I arrived on the first day, they didn't direct me to do a particular work or give me a specific project to work on. They gave me two days to talk to whoever I wanted from the company and asked me to choose a project title for myself. In that span of time, I asked around the whole office and finally chose a tech problem to work on. They allowed me to explore and research whatever I wanted, and this felt like a very warm welcome into the company.
As a final message, I’d urge students to explore different fields and figure out their interests. When I entered college, I didn't know what to do in the future. My parents used to tell me what every Indian parent says, "IIT join karo, life set ho jaaegi". But, on entering IIT, I didn't know what to do after that. If you want to figure out your future, the only option is to explore as much as you can. During your second and third years, you have both the summers and the winters to explore different fields and try out various internships. Cross off the fields you can't imagine yourself working in for over 10 years in a row. After this process of elimination, you would have a few fields left, which you can then begin to explore. It might seem daunting initially, but this is how you decide what you're most interested in and what you want to go ahead with.
The corporate world is a great place to start exploring because no other field offers this kind of exposure. Corporates have all the contacts and details ready in their hands. They know their suppliers, dealerships, manufacturing set-ups etc. Even if you get into a start-up and they still need to build their contacts and finalise details; they have vague ideas, and you might get a chance to work on finalising them. For example, rather than making every charger unique like Apple does, Okinawa chose to make it global, which means every battery has a similar type of charger. Getting this clarity on why small details and intricate matters are the way they are gives you a lot more learning and exposure. Corporates also have a lot of experience you can learn from; Okinawa, in particular, had people with 30 years of experience in the automobile industry.
Interviewed by - Maathangi Anirudh