Exchange Diaries  

By International Relations Cell

Outbound Diaries 2019

Kunal Kumar | Mechanical Engineering

University of California, USA

Research Area: Energy modeling of Dairy Farms

Duration: 3 Months

1: Which university did you go for your FT?
Ans:- I went to the University of California, Davis for my FT this summers.

2: What was your area of research?
Ans:- My project was a mix of energy modeling and software engineering. It focussed on Energy modeling of Dairy Farms. In a dairy farm, if you install a biogas reactor or an anaerobic digester, from that we can generate energy benefits. Biofuel can be created from these which would cut down the entire greenhouse gas emission of the farm. I had to make an energy model out of it, do the calculations as to how much amount of energy is consumed in all the activities across the farm and then figure out what will be the reductions if we put an anaerobic digestor which will further produce the biogas.

3:- How did you manage your funds?
Ans:- I was funded by the University. I was given a stipend of 1600$ per month which covered everything.

4:- How was your experience?
Ans:- The overall experience was pretty good. Actually, I wanted to do research in a field that was not too much in the core depth of my Mechanical Engineering branch but would rather just touch the surface of it. I even went to a couple of farms so that was like a site visit, which was pretty interesting as well. The hours spent at the lab varied. I had to attend a conference after my first month of stay in Davis, so for that, I had to put in about 12-13 hours a day to prepare the poster for the presentation. After that, it was just to work on the software so it was not that demanding. It was about 6-7 hours a day. The weekends were generally off except for some weekends when I had to work.

5:- Why do you think FT is important?
Ans:- There are two sides to it. Number one being, If you want to pursue a career in research after graduation, then FT will definitely add a lot of weight to your CV. Number two being, Many people don’t really know what research actually means. In KGP, we don’t really get the feel of doing research because the scope is really limited. So on an FT, you can explore many things. Another important point is that you get a good experience out of it. International experience is very necessary if you want to develop as a person both professionally and socially. It is a key thing to have even if you don’t intend to go for research. It improves your communication skills and you meet different kinds of people, as in foreign countries, it is mostly multi-disciplinary research.

6:- What do you think is the role of a CG in FT?
Ans:- CG is very important but I have seen people getting an FT with bad CG as well. It generally happens when the professor is in need of a student or if you have a good research profile.

7:- What would you suggest to your fellow KGPians who aspire to go for an FT?
Ans:- People who want to go for an FT should figure out exactly on which area do they wish to do research and then go ahead with it. It should not be that you are randomly mailing every professor of every department. Decide on what kinds of projects do you wish to work on. Pick a couple of fields and then mail the professor in that domain only because if you are interested in that and you have a profile in that, then you would definitely get an FT, otherwise, if you mail to random projects then the chances are really slim. You should majorly focus on your cover letter and your CV. It should look very professional and it should show that you are genuinely very interested in working in that field. You should be smart while mailing. If you apply to Europe and China, you would get a lot of replies as compared to the USA, but the funding is very limited. It was then that I realized there was no point in applying there. So you should do basic research as which universities have previously funded the KGP students and then apply to those universities.