I am Rahul Narayan Mehra from Production and Industrial Engineering. Over the summer period, I followed through a research internship at the University of Kitakyushu, Japan. My project was titled Maximum hands-off control via Greedy ADMM Algorithms. Sounds intense right? Let me get into a bit of detail; I think it’ll make things easier.
The project domain was optimal control theory and convex optimisation. The project idea was to use L1 relaxation, as in compressed sensing, to solve the problem of maximum hands-off control or L0 optimal control. Then using the time discretisation to reduce the optimal control problem to a finite-dimensional L1 optimization problem (like LASSO), and hence the (approximated) solution is easily obtained. The project involved both theoretical analysis & numerical computations. We used MATLAB for the numerical analysis & simulation part while theoretical analysis involved going through many research papers and textbooks. The funniest thing about this, I had no prior experience with MATLAB. This internship surely helped me learn important tools of MATLAB and its functioning. However, this is not all that I learnt. It really helped me understand my inclination towards research and whether or not it captures my interest. Let me save you the suspense; it does not.
Well, this was my experience with working on the intern, what about the long arduous process of mailing and scoring one in the first place? Well, that was indeed a long and arduous process. I spent close to 2 months with very few replies from the universities I had mailed to, at a time I was sending 10-15 mails every single day. I talked to a few seniors and tried to figure out what I was doing wrong and surprisingly got quite a few pointers on how to go about it. For one, they told me to mail keeping in mind the time zones of the countries in which these universities are. If you mail at their 2 AM just because it is your 8 AM, your mail will get buried underneath all those other students mailing the professor for the exact same thing. Secondly, have a good cover letter and resume, your cover letter should elaborate upon any two relevant past experiences. Last but not the least, don’t lose heart, response rates are very low, just keep mailing. A few tips from my side, pick universities which have a better QS ranking than IITD and pick professors who work a lot in the research domain, and have a good research turnover in the past few years.
Overall, a research internship is a good learning experience and definitely one to go for. Good luck to everyone who’s aiming for one!
Interviewed by Aashita Gupta