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Summer 2022

Summer Diaries: University of Calgary (Mitacs)

October 5, 2022
- Prathamesh Bhaktan

From the start of college, I was interested in working in the core Mechanical Field. I already knew that there were very few prospects of getting an on-campus internship in core engineering. Knowing this, I was fully focused on getting a research internship in the field of Mechanical Engineering. After numerous efforts, I got an internship through Mitacs at the University of Calgary in the field of 3d-printing/Printed Electronics.

It all started in 2nd- year when I opted for a project with one of the Profs of the department related to robotics and 3d-printing. I got more interested in the field of 3d-printing as I was working on the project and had eventually decided to work in a similar field for my Internship. As none of the on-campus companies had work related to that field, I was focused on getting a research internship. During summer vacation, after completing 2nd-year, I made a list of Profs from across different labs across the world who worked in the similar field. I started sending them personalized emails after going through their research work and some of the abstracts of their research papers. I sent emails to Profs from various European labs. It is generally easy to persuade Profs from Germany, for research internships, because of their DAAD program, wherein the DAAD organization funds our internship, and Profs don’t have to give funds. As DAAD requires a very high CGPA, which I didn’t have, I was focused on other programs (like Mitacs) and Labs from other countries as well.

I got a reply for approximately every 7-8 emails that I sent. Most of them were negative due to Covid restrictions at that time. There were a few positive replies as well but, they wanted the internship to be held for a longer duration which was not feasible given the restrictions set by our college for a summer internship.

Soon the application for Mitacs started, and I applied for it with the hope of getting an internship through Mitacs. It was a pretty lengthy application which took me a considerable amount of time to complete. Mitacs requires us to select seven projects from a list of two thousand projects. I patiently went through them to filter out projects which seemed interesting to me and for which I had required prerequisites. I was careful to make sure that I didn’t make any mistakes in the application and I cross-verified my application from a few of my friends and seniors. A few weeks after submitting my application, I got an email for an interview for one of the projects from Mitacs, and it went pretty well. Finally, all my hard work paid off when I got a mail for selection from Mitacs in December.

The mode of internship was most probably going to be offline, but it was finally made clear when we received an offer letter in February. As soon as I received my offer letter, I started my visa and other formalities for immigration. Due to restrictions by the academic section, we had to start our internship as soon as our ETEs ended. I had to pack everything in a very short duration, and four days after ETE I boarded my flight to Canada.

My project was related to 3d-printing of electronic circuits and polycarbonates. My first few weeks were pretty much training, and I was trained on how to use various equipment of labs as well as safety training. Then for most of the internship, I had to work on my own with other interns of the labs. I had a meeting with our supervisor twice a week and had to daily update him with my progress. The work environment in the lab was way different than in our Indian labs. Safety was considered as utmost important and we were not allowed to carry out any experiments without sending a safety log to our supervisor. Further, once we were trained on an equipment, we had to use it ourselves without anyone’s guidance or help. The weekdays were pretty much intense but we were free to roam around on weekends. I had a group of interns with whom I used to go hiking in the mountains, concerts and explore the city on weekends (The city of Calgary was mostly boring except for Mountains nearby or during the Stampede Festival). This pretty much went on for 12 weeks of internship. I got hands-on experience on using new equipment, methods and was pretty much happy with my research work. After the end of the internship, I got an opportunity to visit Niagara Falls and meet other interns from Toronto and a few of my school friends (It was basically on the other end of Canada but I had already pre-planned my visit there). By the time I was coming back I was filled with the memories of this amazing experience as well as I got to learn a lot of new things. Thank you and have a great day!