This has been submitted as an entry to the Noticebard Internship Experience Competition.
Name, College, Year, Course
Naman Surendra Gupta, 2nd year, Dual degree, BS-MS, majoring in Mathematics at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Mohali
Duration of Internship
The internship started on the 1st of June and the duration of the internship is 8 weeks.
Application Process, Selection and Motivation for this internship
My current internship spans for 8 weeks at a premier institute, IIIT-Bangalore. Its superintendent is the co-chairman of Infosys. The motivation for this internship stems from my time at Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) Kolkata during December of 2018.
My winter at ISI-Kolkata was for a relatively short period of time, ranging for only a month to be exact. There I got to see the arena of applied mathematics and computer science which charmingly grows out of the pure mathematics which undergrads don’t get to experience in the well-crafted pure science-focused courses at IISERs.
The topic of interest at my time in Kolkata was manifold learning which is an inherent part of the much broader aspect of general machine learning. During the course of this study, I was intrigued by the graph theoretic aspects of manifold learning.
My next semester at IISER started in January right after the period at ISI-Kolkata, and in the gist of such a happening atmosphere at my home-campus, the graph theory related excitement took a secondary place in my mind.
Running parallel with my mandatory course-work at IISER, I started studying basic aspects of graph theory just to enhance my taste and grip over the topic, which I thoroughly enjoyed. By the end of the semester in late April, I cleared the semester with a CPI of 9.16 / 10 and a vacation period of slightly over 3 months commenced thereon.
During my semester I had applied for an internship at IIIT-B through their official website and the acceptance letter came half-way through April; I had figured out pretty long ago, by talking to my peers and professors that having a strong ground knowledge and ethical background is of utmost importance before getting into any “research” work therefore I decided to spend the complete month of May studying pure graph theory and devoting the months of June and July to the project at IIIT-B.
The instructor and I had a skype call just to ensure what am I getting into, as I have a pure mathematics background and the work is slightly inclined towards theoretical computer science.
First day experience
My first day on campus was really exciting as I had never experienced an engineering student’s variant of the working atmosphere; Being at IISER I had gotten used to colossal architecture but the same at IIIT-B had a different flavour. I’ve been to Bangalore and other parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu several times before, hence the weather was conceived as pleasant as always.
Having the opportunity to stay on campus at IIIT-B is a real blessing as one gets to understand the mentality and idiosyncrasies of students pursuing engineering degrees in various fields over something as casual as a dinner table.
One of the earliest discussions I recall was about how engineers in general and pretty eager to get an MBA before getting a job at a firm; In a personal opinion this is particularly disturbing for someone with an inclination towards dedicated research wherein having technical and ethical knowledge is all we care for, and any distractions in the aforementioned are best eliminated.
It’s unfathomable for someone with a researcher’s mentality to get an MBA after having gotten a ton of technical knowledge in more than 4 to 5 years of study. But the students who do so are justified as having both an engineering and an MBA degree accelerates your “growth” in a corporate atmosphere. The other significant detail is that having accommodation and food on campus gives a student the perfect frictionless working atmosphere and one gets to focus with purity.
As it’s the summer vacation period, only a fraction of the students were on campus. Nonetheless, the students were really helpful and trustworthy. At my current internship, I worked as a research intern under the guidance of Dr Pradeesha Ashok who’s an Assistant professor at IIIT-B and a very warm and welcoming person to be with.
As I had little to no engineering subjects background, we spent the first couple of weeks building on the basics of algorithm design, I also attended the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Summer school that was being organized here to strengthen my basics.
There were four students currently working under her, including myself. In particular, my work was primarily focused on a variant of the famous “Art gallery problem” where I was collaborating with one of her permanent research students, Dolly Yadav to tackle the problem.
During my two months of stay here, Pradeesha ma’am has skillfully swayed us towards an adequate way of working through long and really dense discussions about graph-theoretic problems that have immense application in various fields, which is undoubtedly a good point about the internship.
All the summer interns are being provided with a weekly stipend of Rs 1000, all of which will be sent to us in a single transaction, once the internship officially ends.
I was glad that I didn’t experience anything negative about the internship, although a slight inconvenience in accommodation facilities was the fact that there are no washing machines on campus for students’ use. The aforesaid wasn’t exclusive to the summer interns, the resident students don’t have this service either.
During my time at the internship, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about various applied-research subjects which are things I would have otherwise passed on, at IISER. My internship at IIIT-B is quite good in a pleasant atmosphere, the mentor is excellent.