Loughborough: Ankit Jotwani

745 Views, Posted on: July 26, 2015

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I’m now mostly in the last stages of completion of my work here in this university. Not many of you may be aware, but a staggering 15 of us are working in this university as interns (We might as well be the largest group of people in IIT to have the same university intern). The university plans to have more Indian students on-board in future so I couldn’t help writing about my experiences over here.

Selection Procedure
It was for the very first time that university’s research student office agreed to have some Indian UG interns on-board. We all were supposed to write a 100 word SOP as to why we wanted to work on a particular topic, after which the shortlisted students went through a skype/telephonic interview. The questions were the typical type about the sort of projects we have been involved in so far at IITB and what we envisaged to do in the particular project if selected.
Our Welcome and facilities provided
The university left no stone unturned to give us a warm welcome. Beginning with a small get-together of all professors and students with the vice-chancellor and people from Research Student Office, to ensuring we got in touch with the Indian diaspora in the university by inviting us all on a special Indian lunch; the welcome was way beyond our expectations.
Accommodation was arranged inside a hall (for those unfamiliar, hostels are termed as halls in here) in the university. There was both veg. and non veg. food available in the hall mess, so the only trouble we had was related to the bland taste of their food. The hall has a kitchen for every 10 rooms complete with all utilities if one prefers to cook oneself.

Our work
All 15 of us worked on wide range of topics to the extent that none of us even came close to sharing the same building. The projects were as technical as ‘Durability of Recycled Aggregate Concrete’ and as interdisciplinary as ‘Analysis of communication in dance’. My work mostly revolved around designing up a stand-alone (no grid connectivity) Photovoltaic system for a remote village in Kenya. The work was sub-divided into different stages which involved assessment of renewable resources in region, doing the basic load profiling, sizing of components using HOMER and thus suggesting an optimum design.
For those from Dept. of Energy interested in coming over here, the university here has a wonderful centre(the place where I worked) called as ‘The Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology’(CREST) which works on a wide array of energy related issues.
My colleague best describes his work experience and I quote him, ‘The project here taught me professionalism. That you can’t accept anything as assumed or given and you better start questioning it if you want to achieve something tangible.’

Student Life
Though the town is a bit dead, the university is all the more lively. Seeing the amazing infrastructure in sport left me in no doubt as to why this university is touted as the best university for sports in England. But that in any sense doesn’t mean university has been left out on academic front. The wide variety of centres and research areas in here is purely staggering to say the least. To promote research, the university also has wonderful events like Café Academique where in every 2 weeks or so, different PhDs present their work in a layman-friendly way with invitations extended to all students across campus.
Every one of us is all praises for the student’s union over here. One might fight it hard to digest but every Friday a DJ night is organized inside a bar (yup! Inside campus) from 10 pm to 4 am just so that people can come out and relax from what was a week’s hard-work. What is also fascinating is the wide assortment of nationalities you can find over here. My workspace has people from countries as diversified as Kenya, Iran, Japan and Malaysia. The best part in working along such multi-ethnic group is that it for one makes you open-minded about various stuff not just related to education but life in general.

Touring the United Kingdom
There is hardly any part of UK that we didn’t visit. From the wonderful countryside of Scotland, to the splendour & hustle-bustle of London or the scenic views in Brighton, we have it all covered. But what was particularly adventurous and fascinating here in UK was our trek in Snowdonia (Wales). The serenity of the place enriched by forceful gusts of winds (15-20 m/s is NORMAL) made this one of the best expeditions that anyone of us ever had.
Though touring may prove to be a bit expensive on the pocket, every part of UK offers different experiences, and I for wouldn’t suggest anyone to miss it for the world.
What seemed a bit odd to everyone was, as we often say, it is as if there is curfew after 5 pm. The only thing that would remain open after 5 pm here are the bars and clubs. The other weird thing that we took time adjusting was the longer day-length here. Leave aside the 4-5 hours of dead night, and you won’t find no difference in lighting conditions during the whole day. I often ended up waking at 5 am thinking it was time to go to work.
Overall, that pretty much sums up my Loughborough (and UK to say) experience..!