Exchange Diaries  

By International Relations Cell

Outbound Diaries 2020

Arusarka Bose | Electronics and Electrical Communication Engg.

University of Technology, Australia

Research Area: Natural Language Processing

What was your research topic? What was your project about and who was the Prof. you worked under?

The research was focused around creating a Search Engine which specialises in COVID related information. It could extract relevant information from the search corpus and also rank the papers in it according to the relevance of user search query input. The project was NLP based. It’s architecture mainly focused on BERT model. We created our dataset of COVID-19. A lot of preprocessing steps were added. In short, we built a general pipeline at the centre of which was the BERT model.
I worked under Prof. Guandong Xu.

How did you apply for FT?

I applied through FTP. The process was quite smooth. The only thing one needs to do is to write a cover letter and submit the resume. Three weeks later I got a call from IR Cell about being shortlisted for FT.

Why do you think FT is important?

Firstly, the culture outside India is very different. To gain experience, one needs a platform at international level to see where you stand right now. Some excelling research works are going on in universities abroad. Through FT you get exposure to that. The best part is that you have a high chance of creating a research paper or an academic journal, which is a high value-addition to your CV.

From where did you get the motivation? How did it all start?

It happened so that I had no other engagements this summer. There were a lot of opportunities in the FTP. Since the internship was remote, the selection criteria were easier as compared to the offline one. I got selected for two FTs but I preferred this one.

What was the role of CG?

A CG greater than 8.5 looks good on the resume but a remarkably high CG wouldn’t create a difference. A comparatively lower CG creates a sort of negative bias against the student’s diligence.

How did your university manage everything in this confusion of Covid-19?

The project required a high-performance GPU and my laptop wasn’t efficient enough, so they provided me with AWS clusters. They were very cooperative. Additional PhD students of Prof. Guandong helped me in writing an academic paper. They constantly reviewed it and added necessary elements to it.

What were the difficulties you faced during the entire process?

The Professor, one of his ex-PhD student from the University of Manchester and I, comprised the team working on it. Communication was a major problem since the other team members were mostly comfortable in Chinese. Three of us were in three different timezones, one 4:30 hours ahead of me and the other 5:00 hours behind. We had a tough time coordinating the meeting due to timezone constraints. We could come up with only one common time in a week so the meetings were not flexible. Undoubtedly, an offline experience would have been much more efficient.

How would you describe your overall experience?

This internship became a significant part of my resume. Firstly, I got to publish a research paper. Secondly, I gained contacts and LoRs. If I ever need a referral in future, any of these people would help me. They are spread out in different universities across the globe which helped me develop a lot of contacts. In case, we want to pursue something off-campus, these are of great help.

What advice would you like to give to our fellow KGPians who aspire for FT?

The only advice I would like to give is to prepare the best cover letter. It shouldn’t be focused on your skills or achievements which are already present in your CV. Rather you should write why you think that particular university is suitable for you and why you are interested in that project.