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Summer 2019

Summer Diaries: Sorbonne University- Paris

August 3, 2019
- Tryaksh Gupta

First of all, don’t worry if you don’t get an intern from the campus. Yes! I am among those who got rejected from every company for which I applied in Campus. This article summaries my stay for 10 weeks at Sorbonne University-Paris during my Summer Research Internship. Ofcourse! I had a great time and will try to share my experience in the best way I can and I hope that you take something away from this.

Before August 2018

I had no as such research experience before this internship. Before the internship season started, I had been working for 1 year in Team KNOx, IIT Roorkee where I had gained knowledge in Computational Solid Mechanics( specifically Finite Element Modelling). I had a complete report prepared for all the stuff that I did during my 2nd Year( I seriously urge you to do so!). By the end of my 2nd year, I was sure of one thing in my mind- No coding! Hence, I was looking for an intern in the core of mechanical engineering.

Making it There

With no research papers and previous research experience, I opted to sit for the campus internship session 2018. So here’s my journey!

I applied for almost all the core companies for my branch (Mechanical) that visited our campus - ITC, Robert Bosch, Tata Steel,Jindal Steel and JSW. To be frank, I was able to make through the resume shortlist and online test of the most of the companies, but I faced difficulty in getting through GD(Group Discussion) and interview round because of my inability to speak fluently and confidently in English.

Also, there are few companies that visit the campus for the core subject. Hence, the opportunities were limited. I didn’t lose my hopes and kept searching for options in my field of interest. I searched for the options in Research Field. I didn’t try for DAAD (because it demands high CGPA). I applied for MITACS(Canada) and NTHU-Taiwan. In mitacs,I got my application under consideration which gave me some positive hopes of being selected. But I didn’t have any luck here either. I was left only with the option of Charpak Scholarship(France). With the series of hard luck, I tried my final call here. I talked to my senior who had an internship in France in the same field(Computational Solid Mechanics) that I was interested in. I emailed 4 professors working in this field and got a positive reply from 2 of them(Trust me, I didn’t expect that luck). One of them was not ready to fund me but he provided me with the acceptance letter that I needed for my application in Charpak Lab Scholarship. Unfortunately, I was not able to get through it( Not only a high CGPA but also serious research background matters for Charpak!). The other professor (from Sorbonne University) was ready to fund me after the Skype interview. I had an interview with the latter for almost 1 hour ending with the happiest lines by him I could ever listen to “ It would be pride for us if you join our research group” . The funding from the university was sufficient to cover my all expenses during my stay and travel in Paris,France. I pursued my interests and didn’t lose my hopes even though there were few opportunities. I shall expect the same from everyone who reads this.

Adding to this, If you are aiming for DAAD, you will have to start pretty soon - I think around August-September should be good. For Charpak, you can start mailing professors by November-December. There is no limit to the number of emails you can send. I have known friends who have sent more than a hundred before getting a positive response. Care must be taken to not spam each and every professor you find out about with the same mail. Take some time to select a professor and write him a personalised mail in coherence with your interests. The generally accepted format for your mail is something like this - your cover letter (the mail you write), and with it attached your resume (with a detailed description of your projects), a report on the project(s) you have done (Trust me,this really increases your chances), and a letter of recommendation (optional). No need to use your IITR resume. You can easily create a personalised Resume on LaTeX.

Project and Lab

My internship lasted for about 10 weeks in CNRS lab-Institut Jean Le Rond D’Alembert at Sorbonne University-Paris. I was offered a project in the field of Finite Element Method in Computational Fracture Mechanics(Very coherent to my interest and previous work). My professor had a very good experience in the past with the Indian Students(particularly from IITs). So he had great expectations from me. He provided me the project of his most important client from Nuclear Industry (Framatome) to analyse the sample from a nuclear reactor that was failing during its usage in the Nuclear Plant(Quite Critical though!). Well! It’s the nuclear industry and they demanded rigorous analysis report on the cause of the failure. I was not alone in this project. I had a guide( very kind hearted personality!) who took care of all the experimental data and letting me to focus on the computational Finite Element Analysis. I was asked to predict the fracture resistance( Measure for the toughness of Metallic Alloy) using Cohesive Zone Modelling from the data I had from Experiments. The people at the lab are very helping and kind hearted. Timings are flexible and were usually from 10am to 7pm(depending on the work!) .Thanks to my professor who helped me a lot to go through the Visa process after one rejection from the French Embassy and also being very receptive during my entire internship.



Major Learnings

The most important thing I learnt in my internship is the importance of pursuing your passion without fearing the scope in general. This helped me to sit all day long in the lab seriously focused into my work. The project demanded the input of almost all of my previous knowledge in Finite Element Analysis and a lot of calculations. Also, I learnt the importance of having the knowledge of at least one Coding language( preferably Matlab or Python) to avoid tedious Excel calculations. Besides these, I was given my personal Cluster with a RAM of 256 GB( Yes! You read it Correct- 256Gb) with which I was able to carry out my calculations precisely on the scale of microns without wastage of time. I also learnt various fancy machines used in the research of Fracture Mechanics, namely- Profilometer and UTM. This research experience also helped me to strengthen my intentions to pursue higher studies abroad in the same field.

The City and Culture

‘The City of Lights’, ‘The City of Romance’, ‘The Culinary capital of the world’, ‘The fashion City’, all these are just names Paris, France is known by. Paris is one of the most amazing places you will ever visit. There are so many phenomenal things to see and do you’ll never get bored. Eiffel Tower- The most important Landmark has always amazed me and the night view is even stunning. I was lucky enough to be present at the Eiffel Tower on the French National Day( Bastille Day). It was probably the best night of my life as the entire sky around the Eiffel tower was filled with fireworks and heavenly joy.

The Arc De Triomphe and Versailles are some of Paris’ other famous landmarks. The Arc De Triomphe is a 164 ft. arch. It honors all the soldiers who have fought for France, particularly during Napoleon Bonaparte’s reign. There are tons of museums in Paris, Louvre being the best. Outside this museum is a substantial glass pyramid. Inside there are heaps exhibits including artifacts from Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci is also displayed there. Remember! Weekends at Paris are Lit and every weekend night is like a festival for Parisians because they are partying and lazy in work(True Observation!)

Being a Photographer, Europe is ideal for the shutterbug in me. France gives amazing benefits to students - reduced fares for every attraction, free entry at museums, a part of your travel expenses are covered, and much more. It is very easy to visit nearby countries (one Visa works for almost all countries in the EU) and there are plenty of deals you get for Bus/Train journeys. I chose Flixbus for my travel within Europe. Since I lost my passport 20 days after my arrival into France, I was able to make through only 3 countries apart from France- namely Netherlands(Amsterdam), Belgium( Brussels, Bruges) and Monaco( Tiny but Amazing!). Besides these, there are a lot of cities within France that I visited and were worth the money- namely Nice, Lyon, Marseille.




Apart from all the massive technical knowledge I imbibed, I learned how to survive through the toughest times and be careful with my things while traveling because I was robbed of my bag(with Passport, Camera gear and Mobile Phone). Now I feel more bold and confident in my decisions with enhanced communication skills. I guarantee that you will definitely learn a lot and also get good recommendations if you wish to apply for Masters. Keeping aside the immense amount of knowledge you will gain from the experience, how often does one get to live for 2 months in Europe, that too off of someone else’s money? For any queries or additional information regarding how to apply, feel free to contact me! All the Best!!!

P.S. (Important) : CGPA does matters even if you have a good research background, so please take care of it!