ICAM – Abhishek Ekka

232 Views, Posted on: July 13, 2017

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I am Abhishek Ekka, fourth year Undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering. As I write this blog about my internship experience at ICAM (Institut Catholique d’Arts et Métiers) Vendeé in France, I can’t stop myself from talking about the summer heat. My colleagues and other staff members are freaking out with the record high temperature of 36°C (well I don’t know whether that’s hot). It’s mid June, and as of now I am manufacturing the robotic equipments for my project and I guess I have found enough time to write this blog.

                                              

The campus

Pre-Intern  

It all started in month of August with our resume verified and lots of companies giving their presentations. I wasn’t sure which internship to opt for – core or non-core. It’s a little depressing if you aren’t selected in the high paying companies in the first week but it gets even worse if it continues for one whole semester. Nonetheless it was a great experience to give tests and be interviewed.  

In the month of January I came across ICAM University of France which came through the placement cell in which one of the professor was providing internships in the field of robotics. Although I wasn’t applying for Universities, I signed in this particular JAF as I found the research topics interesting and because it was France. Out of nowhere in the beginning of March I was called for an interview. I managed to make it through the process and finally got selected for this intern. I had some mixed feelings about it in the beginning but as of now I am glad that I chose to pursue this internship.

Getting there

The first thing I had done was to contact seniors who went to Europe before as I had no experience of travel abroad. I had lots of questions related to Visa, flight booking, cash currency, sim card etc. Getting a Schengen Visa is simple enough but takes a lot of time. As for a sim card I took it from the same place where I got my Visa. I took care of the rest of the stuff after my End Semester examinations. On 1st May, I had my first international flight to Paris (CDG airport). The weather in Paris was pretty cold and it filled me with joy that I escaped the scorching summer (relative to France); from there I travelled to Orly airport where I had to take another flight to Nantes. The journey was pretty long but I finally arrived at the campus in La Roche Sur Yon with the help of two students (Nicolas and Kevin, the first two French persons I was properly introduced with and I got to know them much better) who were also doing a project till July in the college.

Internship Experience

Work Experience

I am working in the field of Under-actuated Robotics to build a bio-inspired robotic grasper. Lots of concepts from Kinematics and Dynamics of machines are useful. It took me some time to grasp the state of the art in this field but after that I became comfortable with it.  Most of theoretical work has been done and currently I am manufacturing the parts to make the assembly and realize the first prototype.

The work culture is mostly similar like you find in most companies (except for the dressing code). The working hours are from 8:00 AM till 5:30 PM from Monday to Friday. I can access my office and lab during this time only, after which it’s locked.

The professor I am interning under is one of the coolest professors I ever met. I was introduced to the staff (around 25) who working there. He and my colleagues helped me a lot to get comfortable throughout the stay. I have learnt a lot from him in the ongoing research areas of robotics (mostly concept of under-actuation).

It was not only work during these working hours; I got socially comfortable with most of my colleagues in various ways. I remember playing Boum-Boum (bomber man, a good French multiplayer game which is quite popular) and it was quite addictive.

Accommodation and Food

The room within the campus was better than expected with facilities for cooking, attached bathroom, Internet access. I didn’t have to worry about my accommodation as it was provided to me free of charge by the university.

I have tried lots of French food, not to mention the long breads are really chewy. The day after I arrived in the campus, I went to a restaurant with my colleagues to have lunch. I ordered a chicken burger with fries, to my surprise the burger was pretty big and I was not sure how to eat it; I guess this was my first experience to eat a burger with a knife and fork which is a pretty difficult thing to do. French breakfast is really good; I love to eat croissants with a cup of coffee. In the beginning, I had to survive mostly on Salads and noodles.But after that I started cooking my own food which was mostly microwavable items. I cooked a lot of pasta and chicken during my stay. Eating food outside was pretty costly, which I believe to be true anywhere outside India.

You need to learn French if you plan to visit France, as most people in stores etc. don’t speak English. In my case it was a bit late but Google translate came to my rescue. I remember one incident when I was purchasing some clothes and me and the shopkeeper were literally chatting in the phone to have conversation.

Travel Experience

Besides my work, I found significant amount of time to tour the western part of France. I had a three day tour of Paris, most of the time well spent around the beautiful Eiffel tower. Paris has a lot of beautiful places like Notre dame cathedral, the Louvre museum housing the Mona Lisa painting and lots more.  

In front of Eiffel Tower

La Roche Sur Yon where I am currently has a beautiful beach with many water sport activities. I tried surfing ( I totally sucked), boueé and lots of other stuff.

                                                                   

Nice cold beach

 

The best part was camping; I had a lot of fun partying with people many times and I was lucky enough to land during this time of year. I learnt a lot about French culture (mostly western part) and it was a wonderful experience.

In La Roche Sur Yon, I spent most of my weekends in the Napoleon circle. It takes 5 minutes to reach there from my room. There are lots of cool robotic animals near the statue of Napoleon.

Place de napoleon

                                                                    

Usually on Mondays after work, me and my colleagues go to VnB after which we have dinner together.

                                                                

Outside VnB

Ending Note

Opting for a university internship turned out to be much better platform for learning and travel compared to my earlier internships. My stay in France has been delightful, while I have made lot of new friends and got to know about the country’s culture. I grasped every good thing I could learn and experience during my stay here. Thanks to my friends here who have made my stay endearing and without them most part of this blog would be empty.

If you have read this far then cheers!!!

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