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Summer 2018

Summer Diaries: NTHU, Taiwan

July 19, 2018
- Abhishek Gupta

Making it there

One of the most hospitable countries in the world, Taiwan is a place everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. Being determined to get a PhD and pursue a career in research, I didn’t apply for internships on-campus. With a CGPA of 9.01, I was quite confident of being able to bag internship offers from some good universities as long as I kept faith in my abilities and kept applying. I applied extensively for various programs in different universities across the globe and sent nearly 400 emails to various professors of reputed universities and research scientists of different research labs and organisations.

I had prepared my CV in a google doc format in my second year and I used to update it regularly. You should not use IITR format resume for research Internship application purposes. Instead, you can take a look at the resume of the professors in your department (available on their corresponding webpages) and prepare yours in a similar way. As for emails, write a personalized email to every professor you contact and make sure that you’ve been through his most cited papers as well as his recent papers to understand about his research before you send an email and then write your email accordingly. Do not restrict yourself to only one research field instead consider applying in other fields as well. Your interest will be generated as you proceed to work in that field. Do not use email IDs like smartyabhishek@, luckygupta@ etc to send emails. Instead, use IITR webmail to send emails. I used to attach the reports of my previously done work with the emails, which is helpful or you can hyperlink the documents within your CV as well. Do not attach any recommendation letter with your email as recommendation letters are confidential and should be sent directly from your professor to the professor with whom you are applying for an internship.

There are various other research internship programs in India as well like (IAS) Indian academy of science, TIFR, IISER, BARC, AIR-India etc which allow you to do high quality research work while keeping you within the geographical boundaries of India. However, I recommend going to a foreign country. You will learn that small countries like Taiwan have people with big hearts.

I got rejected from various programs like DAAD-WISE, Mitacs globalink, SN bose scholars program, LIGO, CERN etc. I really faced a very tough time when I had to deal with so many rejections and funding related issues. Rejections are inevitable hurdles in your path of getting an internship. These rejections test your determination. Every rejection indicates that some big opportunity is waiting for you. I too kept applying and finally hard work paid off. I got an offer from university of Paris in the laboratory of processes and materials science (LSPM) and an offer for summer Internship in microtechnology laboratory in National Tsing hua university Taiwan through their COEIA summer Internship program. Apart from this I also got an offer to work in ISRO and an internship offer from IIT Kanpur through their SURGE program. Considering the future opportunities for masters and PhD and reputation of laboratory, I chose NTHU taiwan for my summers. Having high CGPA is not a mandatory criteria for getting summer internship in NTHU but you must have a decent CGPA and some previous research work experience.

Work

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Doing summer Internship in NTHU has been a memorable experience for me. While working on a research project I have learned a lot which, I’m sure, will definitely help me in my future endeavours. With great research facilities and highly advanced lab equipped with a lot of scientific instruments, working in the micro-technology laboratory was a really enjoyable experience. While working day and night on my project, I also learnt a lot of things from my Lab co-members. With the great support of my guide, I was able to successfully complete an appreciable and unique work which got publishable as well. The campus life was also truly amazing, with the presence of 7-11 (24 hours convenience store) nearby you don’t need to roam outside the campus in search of food when hunger pangs strike you while working late into the night . The weather at Taiwan used to be moderate generally, the place where I interned is quite a windy place with mild showers occasionally . I also visited some nearby places and tasted different taiwanese delicacies.

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While working in the microtechnology laboratory, I learned using thermal electrical module of Ansys workbench and fortran programming. I also got used to various laboratory instruments including various multimeters, lasers and other optical devices. I used to work on weekends as well to deliver as much as output as I could within these two months. There were no restrictions on the timings, so I used to wake up a little late and then spend the whole night working in the lab. Since I had the key to access the lab anytime so I used to spent most of time in the laboratory. My guide was very generous and helpful in nature but was also very strict with deadlines. However, I never gave him a chance to complain, he was so impressed with my work that he invited me to pursue my masters under his guidance.

अतिथिदेवो भव: (Atithi devo bhava)” is a famous verse in Sanskrit, which means that a guest is equivalent to god. While living in Taiwan I felt that Taiwanese people also have similar values. Taiwanese people are very kind, generous and helpful with a very sweet nature. They are also very sensible people and a combination of these qualities truly makes them great.

Now talking about my research project, Terahertz radiations has been used in various applications including communications, space applications, Infrared imaging etc. due to its non ionizing properties and the fact that it cannot penetrate the human skin. Uncooled microbolometers have been a topic of immense research to develop lightweight and portable imaging devices for various purposes. My work was related to the development of infrared thermal imaging focal plane array employing various metamaterial structures to enhance the responsivity of thermoresistive sensor. I performed thermal electric simulations of various geometries to find out the best responsivity in terms of geometrical shape and created a mathematical model to find out the optimum dimensions of sensing element geometry with respect to applied constraints of fabrication capabilities and thermal boundary conditions. I also designed a read out multiplexing circuit based on monolithic structures to create the thermal image and to detect the direction of motion of the heat source.

Summing up

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Unlike corporate internship, a research internship offers more flexibility because you are not confined to a schedule. The only thing is that you have to work with passion and good results are obvious. You are also allowed to think openly without any domination of what others think. The level of knowledge along with new life experiences that you will gain from a research internship is undoubtedly incomparable.