I got an opportunity to do a summer research internship at TU Delft. It’s situated in Netherlands and is ranked among the top universities for Mechanical Engineering. I had some interest in learning more about DEM (Discrete element methods) and its practical uses, so I bagged the chance as soon as I got it.
Upon arriving I was first given an orientation of the equipment, machinery and software that I would be using. This lasted for a week and included various tutorials and practice tasks. Then I was explained my main internship goal and the related details. I had to work on a research paper along with 2 students who had just begun their PhDs. My research was on Efficient Mechanism for Transportation of Biomass (such as coal, wood pellets etc.) and the existing European Union Standards to test the durability of biomass. This was mainly to be done by experiments and simulations.
My supervising Professor helped me a lot in my approach towards my work and her guidance helped me a lot. I first carried out a literature survey to find out more about the existing research on the related topic. After I got a fair idea of the task I created a layout of my future approach and planned my work accordingly. I had weekly meetings with my team and the Professor where I had to give a presentation about my work updates and what I plan to do ahead. This also helped me in a way as by knowing their opinions after the presentations I got to learn new aspects of thinking and ways of enhancing the quality and strength of my work. I was given full liberty to model the path in my own way and was given full and quick support whenever I needed some project related stuff. It was a good test of my management skills as well.
I completed bulk of my designing and modelling work 2 weeks before my internship was supposed to end and after that I only had to do iterations on enhancing the quality of data generated and fairing out my work. In the end we received a strong research paper that would hopefully be presented in a conference early next year.
It was a wonderful experience to meet new people and witness a totally different culture and working environment. Surprisingly I didn’t find much problem in blending with the people out there as they were mostly friendly and often helping too. I had many fun moments with my team in the evenings, in the labs and at the lunch table (a place where one laughed more than what one ate J ). I also got a chance to visit numerous places in Europe along with my friends (Guess those were the most memorable moments). My last week was really nice, where my Professor and the team gave me a grand farewell party.
Start applying early and don’t apply just for the sake of going abroad. Apply only in the things you are interested. Have good communication with your team and you will definitely be able to smoothly work out your way and even give out better results.