By Anjali (M.Sc. Software Systems , 2015-2020)
Science Academies’ Summer Research Fellowship Programme (SRPF) is a prestigious and one of the most competitive research internship programmes for Indian students and teachers. Through this program, the three National Science Academies (Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, and The National Academy of Sciences, Allahabad) offer two month summer fellowships/internships to enable students and teachers to work with scientists, researchers and professors. The prestige of this fellowship comes with its tag and the massive competition that one has to face to be presented with this opportunity. The year 2017 saw a massive 20 to 30 thousand applicants from which 1,436 were awarded fellowships in all fields of science combined.
Being the dream internship for every student of science, SRFP has a well-structured eligibility criterion. The minimum percentage in core subjects from Xth standard should be 65% or above. The broad areas of interests are: Engineering including Computer Science, Chemistry, Life Sciences, Mathematics, Earth and Planetary Sciences and Physics. The application must include:
- The application form in the prescribed format;
- Scanned copies of marks sheets from class X till the last examination;
- A write-up (in about 150-250 words) as to what the applicant wants to learn and achieve
- A letter of recommendation from a faculty or HoD who is familiar with the applicant’s work, is to be presented along with the application.
The write-up or State of Purpose is a crucial part of the application as it is a major part of the deciding factor for choosing an applicant. The applicant should be able to describe his scientific motivation in a way that conveys to the reviewer that he is knowledgeable but has an open mind to learn new things. A good approach for the structure of the SoP would be to start off by talking about what the applicant has accomplished so far in his field of interest and then describe what one hopes to work on during the course of the fellowship. The other things that matter are one’s previous academic projects (or training) and team working skills which one can demonstrate in “Other information” and “Extra curricular activities,” respectively.
The programme also includes a generous stipend. Round trip train fare and a monthly stipend to meet the fellow’s living expenses at the place of work (amounts to over Rs. 20,000) are given. During the course of the internship, the fellow is required to submit a Four-Week report at the end of one month, regarding the progress of the project and a Final Report of a detailed 20-page description of the fellow’s work.
The application form can be accessed here: http://web-japps.ias.ac.in:8080/fellowship2018/index.html
The 2017 edition of SRFP saw many changes from its previous chapters. Until 2016, there was a practice where the applicants have to submit a list of professors whom they are willing to work under, with their application. This is no longer followed. The applicants were only allowed to submit their area of interest for the internship through their write-up from the 2017 edition. Apart from academia based fellowships, the programme was also extended for industry-based internships.
The SRFP is one of the best choices for a student who wishes to go down the research lane in his/her professional career. It provides a very good foundation in terms of knowledge and confidence to make decisions regarding one’s future. With the recognition the internship has, it adds a great value to the resume of anyone who wants to pursue higher studies or research work.
There were 4 students and one teacher from PSG Tech who took up this fellowship in 2017. Accounts of some of their experiences are given below:
Adithan.K (B.E – Mechanical, 2014-2018)
Institute: IIT – Madras
Laboratory: TTK center for Rehabilitation Research and Device Development (R2-D2)
Field of research: Clinical Biomechanics, Applied Physics
With the base in Machine Design Section, the lab stays true to its name after the revered bot from Star Wars, reflecting the product and machine building environment by a very lively group. The products are aimed at providing mechanical assistance or mechanical replacement using Wheelchairs and prosthetics in a pragmatic and affordable manner. My work was concerned with a mathematical analysis to determine the force that need to be applied to the mechanical knee to mimic the ‘normal human walking cycle’ and with the design of a device to measure ‘mass properties’ like moment of inertia for any odd-shaped component. My time at the campus is certainly one to be treasured, without any restrictions in access or timings. I was able to work late in lab, go swim in the morning or go visit the beach at night – A taste of independence the life of researcher ensues with the extremely conducive laboratory environment ripe with people of knowledge and experience. The profound inputs received from my guide and lab members during my internship were very valuable and it continues to have a huge impact on my activities after the fellowship.
Hariharan.V.S (B.E – Metallurgy, 2014-2018)
Institute: IIT – Madras
Laboratory: Advanced Materials Research Group of Prof. B.S.Murty,
Field of research: Advanced Materials, Nanotechnology
My summer fellowship in IITM was about Nano-thermoelectric materials, which produce electricity when there is a difference in temperature between the ends. We would find their applications in mini-refrigerators, electricity generators which convert heat from Automobiles and Industrial exhausts to electricity. The ‘nanotech’ part comes in to increase the efficiency of such energy conversion and my work was part of developing such exotic materials. Luckily, I got into a group of dynamic and ambitious people from various disciplines. Working in such a campus, one forgets the usual notation of ‘timezones’. We used to have “Group talks” from 10 p.m to 12a.m on the research progress of the scholars and relevant topic, which still brings out nostalgia in me. The enriching discussions and the lab timings one would experience in such groups increase your passion for science and research. It was a pleasure to work with people from all age groups and culture, united under a single roof of the laboratory. The 2 month long experience is something which I will cherish for my lifetime. It was not a mere platform that enabled me to learn things ;but it was there I started experimenting, which kindled the scientist in me.
Anjali Muralidhar (M.Sc. – Software Systems, 2015-2020)
Institute: IIT – Hyderabad
Laboratory: Computer Science Lab of Prof. Sathya Peri,
Field of research: Data Structures and Parallel Programming
With the increased need for parallel and distributed systems, my summer project was titled “Efficient Nearest Neighbour Searches using KD Trees with Leaf Node Buckets”. KD Trees are an extremely useful and well-researched data structure to group data hierarchically and perform various searches on it. This data structure was further made efficient by the use of CPU multi-threading. This data structure can be used as a tool for various problems that require quick searches or grouping of spatial data that are multi-dimensional. I worked with one other intern on this project and stayed at the IITH hostel. The atmosphere was very free in the sense that there was a 24-hour uninterrupted WiFi facility and no strict curfews or rules. My interaction with other students and scholars was the best part of the internship as I came to know where I stood and how much more was there to be done. Overall, it was a very enriching experience.
Anjali M. (MSc. Software Systems, 2015-2020) is extremely passionate about coding. Her other interests include reading, writing and binge watching shows.
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