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Summer 2019

Summer Diaries: HONDA Y-E-S

August 6, 2019
- Alok Gupta

At the beginning of internship season, I was very sure that I had to get an internship in core sector. So I started applying to companies like ITC, Bajaj, KPIT but unfortunately couldn’t get through the final interviews. Now when I look back I feel that it happened for my own good, as later, I got to know about the HONDA Y-E-S award through TPO and applied for it. After a 3 month long selection process, I was able to receive this prestigious award which helped me bag an internship at Kyoto University, Japan. With my experience of internship drive, I would say getting a desired internship is a matter of luck, but you can definitely boost up your chances by being organized & consistent in mailing and being aware of what all opportunities that you have. Luck favours the brave!

About Honda Y-E-S award

Honda Young Engineer and Scientist’s a.k.a. Y-E-S award is an initiative of Honda Foundation to give recognition and to encourage Engineers from developing countries to pursue research in the field of eco-technology. Under this program, Honda Cars India Ltd. conducts the selection process in India by visiting 6 major IITs to choose 14 students currently in their third year of B.Tech/IDD. The beginning of application process will be notified by TPO so stay updated with the notifications.

Selection Process

There are three stages apart from initial shortlisting based on eligibility criteria of minimum CGPA. In the FIRST stage, you will be asked to write an essay on a topic which will be disclosed during the test. It’ll be somewhat related to eco-tech so you can brush up a bit by skimming certain current affairs or reading articles related to the same. This stage will test your general awareness about the importance and applications of eco-technology. Try to be creative and factual in your essay rather than focusing on how many words you can put into it. In the SECOND stage, it is highly likely that you will be invited to Honda Cars India Ltd. Head office in Greater Noida for first round of interview. In this round, apart from basic resume based questions, you will be asked to propose innovative solutions to ongoing or upcoming problems related to environment and eco-technology. The candidates who successfully clear this stage will be given a biography of Soichiro Honda San, founder of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. After this, there will be a FINAL round of interview which will be taken by an eminent scientist. In our case it was Mr. Shirish S Garud, Director of TERI. During this interview, you will grilled on the basis of your resume and there will be extended discussions on various applications of technology and how your work relates with eco-tech. He also asked a generic question based on the biography so do give it a read.

After this in January, the results are announced and the winners are felicitated at a grand event along with and were awarded with a lavish monetary prize. You will be motivated to opt for Y-E-S Plus scholarship. Under Y-E-S Plus program, you will be provided substantial financial support if you manage to get an acceptance to an internship in a recognized Japanese University or Industry. You can also avail the Y-E-S Plus scholarship by going for masters instead of internship.


Luckily I was able to get through all these stages and eventually after a month long of mailing and a couple of rejections, I got an acceptance from Matsuno Mechatronics Lab at Kyoto University. I would like to thank our super senior Sonali Srijan, as her insights were really helpful at every stage of the selection process. Regarding mailing, I recommend to make your cover letter as personalized as possible w.r.t. the lab and try to sync timings with the targeted country because senior professors receive 100s of email every day! Make sure that your application must convey that you are interested to learn and that you have properly researched about the lab rather than just glorifying your achievements.

Skype Interview:- Sometimes Sensei might ask you for an interview before offering the internship like my Sensei did, but that is always advantageous for the student as you can become familiar with ongoing research work related to your area of interest. This will help you to bag a suitable project and to even prepare beforehand. in certain cases when the professor does not seem inclined to provide you an internship, you might actually convince him/her by an open personal discussion. So I will suggest, do propose the possibility of a skype interaction in your cover letter.

About the Project

I never had any research experience before, so for me it was like entering into an altogether new arena. Honestly speaking, I was a bit nervous about the work culture in my lab due to the myths regarding Japanese work culture being ridiculously hectic :p. But as soon as I started working, everything turned out to be just fine. The work hours were flexible and all that mattered was my learning and progress.


My project was to design, simulate and manufacture a robot (a quadruped robot leg) to conduct experiments and implement several bounding gait algorithms in order to validate my mentor’s latest research work. I was solely responsible for design and simulations so it was an intense yet exciting experience as I had to present my ideas in front of all lab members during weekly lab seminars. Everyone was very supportive and I received constructive suggestions which eventually helped me to hone my skills. Regular Lab seminars really helped me to capture the diversity in the field of robotics as researchers working in different verticals presented and discussed their work.

About the Place

Japan is an outstandingly organized county. I did a lot of travelling covering the major cities like Tokyo, Nara, Osaka and Kyoto, where I stayed for 10 weeks. Kyoto is extremely beautiful and it beholds the essence of Imperial Japanese culture. There are numerous world heritage sites and at such close proximity that you can easily take a bike and cover most of the attractions. Not just Kyoto, infact every city in Japan boasts a sophisticated and exceptionally punctual transportation system. This made travelling very convenient and of course then you have the mighty Shinkansen!


One of the major best part of my internship was the amount of cultural exposure I got by interacting with people from diverse ethnic backgrounds and nationalities. I was amazed by Japanese etiquette and the way they communicate even with strangers.


Foooood! I absolutely loved it! Can’t really disclose what all I ate but definitely it was a roller coaster ride every time I tried anything new ;p. Which reminds me of Osaka and Tokyo and their gigantic entertainment parks! I also received great amount of help and support by Hardik Parwana, a IITK Alum who is pursuing MS in the same laboratory.

During the internship, Honda Foundation also organizes a Get-Together event where every Y-E-S awardee from all the countries present in Japan are invited. The event is held in Tokyo and numerous networking and fun activities are conducted so as to make you familiar with other members of Y-E-S community.


Advice to people gunning for it

The theme of the selection process revolves around eco-technology, so my advice to the potential candidates will be to be well aware of the pertaining challenges that we are facing/going to face and how we can implement eco-tech to provide a feasible alternative. Also ensure that if you have already been a part of a project/activity that was somewhat related to eco-tech, it must not go unnoticed. You will have to convince the interviewers at both the stages that you are research oriented and try not to boast or be unreal about your previous work. A crisp resume, smart preparation and some luck is all that is required to be a Y-E-S awardee.

Key takeaways

Like any other foreign internship you will get to experience the lifestyle in a developed country but it will be significantly different from any western nation. Though you will definitely make friends with different nationalities and you will gain the vibes of being a cosmopolitan. Apart from that, you become a part of Global Y-E-S committee and you can even participate in various future global seminars that are conducted by Honda Foundation(HOF).


There are certain setbacks one of which is the language barrier because Japanese people are not well equipped with English. But this can be overcome by learning basic communication skills before-hand and of course Google Translate Zindabad! You just have to be curious enough. To sum up, I would say it was an amazing experience and HOF will support you in every stage right from getting an internship to arranging your accommodation. You might even get a recommendation from Sensei for continuing masters under MEXT scholarship if you perform productively.

Best of luck!