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Abhiroop Rastogi is a 3rd year Undergraduate pursuing a B.Tech in Aerospace Engineering.
After a semester long wait with the pressure of not getting shortlisted or selected for the interns your friends were getting shortlisted for, you start losing your confidence gradually. I was one of those students who was hoping to get a core intern but was not sure about it because of a low CPI. I was applying for every core intern but at the same time was not bounding myself to it either. DRDO Agra (aka ADRDE) IAF opened in the second semester of my third year and the job description was pretty much similar to the project that I had done in the previous summers which gave me slight hope. Till the result came out I kept filling the other IAFs too. There were no interviews and the selection was purely based on the resume.
GETTING THERE AND SETTING UP
Finally the day had come when I was packing up to leave for Agra. My co intern and I reached a day before the joining day and spent a lot of time looking up every cheaper and convinient place for the 2 month stay but ended up going to the place that we were suggested by friends who interned here the previous year.
Finally we were there, suited up and walking towards the gates of ADRDE under the blazing sun. As soon as we entered the gates, we were interrogated about who we are, whom we came to meet and all similar such questions just to confirm that we were not there for any malicious business. We told them about the internship program (they call it training) and that we had to meet our mentor for that purpose. That lasted for around ten minutes and we got our green ticket to go in. Before they let us in we had to submit our all electronic devices at the gate, as per their rules, to avoid any sort of data outsourcing. That was the moment when I first understood what it felt like to be in a secret defence lab of our country. I felt comforted by the fact that my mentor was a graduate from IITB.
However soon I realized that everyone there is assiduous and guides in any possible way they can. My mentor had a great influence on me and on the very first day while introducing me to the project, that I’ll would be working on, he brimmed me with the enthusiasm to do it too.
I was assigned to work on an airship, which is the first of its kind in India. Apart from that there are a number of other R&D projects going on in various labs in ADRDE which includes fabricating high grade parachutes for soldiers to skydive and for slowing down fighter jets (like Sukhoi Su-30MKI ) while landing, structural analysis using CFD among others. My project majorly focused on designing the control system for the airship and making it autonomous, which was quite fascinating because I could see most of the things that I was taught being applied in real world. The fact that my project is something that is being done for the first time in India motivated me to get down to my job from the very first day, but as a consequence of that there were some problems that no one had encountered before and took quite some time to get resolved. Other scientists, let their rank be B,C or D, were always there to assist and guide us whenever we were stuck or hit a dead end. Overall, the work environment in ADRDE captivates the spirit of doing work. Sometimes the solution of problems we encountered used to take more time than expected because of lack of resources. There is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to resources there. There are only a few computers with internet connection in the labs so we had to wait for our turn to use it which slowed down the work by a significant amount. Since we couldn’t take our mobile phones inside we didn’t have any other source of internet either. Neverthelss we still had other scientists to consult to about our problems so as the end result the problem was usually solved sooner or later.
Whenever you want to take a break you can just stroll in the ambient greenry inside the ADRDE boundaries. If you happen to come out from your workspace in the afternoon, the blazing sun over your head and the calescent heat of Agra is sure to drench you in sweat. It’s quite hard to evade that situtaion as we had to go for lunch in the afternoon. Talking about lunch there, at least for me it didn’t taste horrid. However getting the coupon, bartering it and reaching the counter to get the plate is a big deal. It seems to be a big deal because they give priority to their employees and serve them first, which of course they should do as they are there for a full time job and we are there just as trainees for a couple of months. After the lunch hour we usually used to get some air and look around the campus which was a good source of refreshment.
Starting the work with a refreshed mind always brings greater efficiency and productivity in work. Refreshment, it is not something you need or get only while in the ADRDE campus. There is a very famous market near the place we were staying called Sadar Bazar. You can find almost anything and everything there like eateries, groceries and any other stuff that you might require. That is a very good spot to hangout in the evening after you get bored of sitting in your room and want a change. Trust me you’ll need it. There is just one drawback of all this and it is that you end up splurging sometimes. Well Sadar Bazar is comparatively closer to other places but who cares about the distance when it comes to visiting one of the seven worders of the world, Taj Mahal, and the UNESCO World Heritage site located in Agra, Lal–Qila (aka Agra Fort). After five days of laborious work visiting these places is worth both, the time and money .
If we talk about the experience of the work, type of project, the environment there you can see that there is a lot to learn from it. We just have to seek for it. We can always approach our mentor or any other person for any assistance and expect a positive response. This period of two months will leave you with a lot of experience with things you’ve never encountered and with a lot of good memories to cherish.
If you get into ADRDE as a trainee, I can assure you that you wont return disappointed and it will be worth the experience.