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Daksh Arora, Summer Internship, Johns Hopkins University, USA

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“Dreams do come true”  

Hi, I am Daksh Arora a third-year undergraduate pursuing Production and Industrial Engineering. Well, I am in those "lucky" few who got a chance to do a summer internship abroad after completing their second year. Last summers, I interned at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore USA.  

Let me tell you in brief about my internship experience. "Arey tu IP ka hai and November mein apply kar raha hai intern, abb toh nahi lagegi" this was the very first motivating fundae I received from some of my seniors. Indeed motivating. But this was just a misconception. Luck plays a lot of role in grabbing one of these opportunities. Yes CGPA, department and when are you apply does play a role but to an extent. I was invited by one of the professors from the Mechanical Department in January to join his research group for the summers. The monotonous routine of sending emails daily finally paid off with this one reply. 

I was somehow able to convince him for funding, and yes that feeling "USA I am coming" was of the best I ever had. This internship meant a lot to me because it had a very big role in deciding my future career choices. Then came the never ending list of formalities you have to do to go to the US and it took me more than 2 months to get over with it.  

I arrived at Baltimore, USA on May 15th. Baltimore is a beautiful city situated on the east coast. People were friendly and the weather was perfect (not so cool and not so hot). The hospitality I received at Hopkins from my professor never made me feel that I am in a different country. He was so humble, treated my opinions as equal and made me feel comfortable from the very first day. To talk briefly about my research and the daily routine that I had there, I was continuing the research work of a Masters student there. My research project "Harvesting Energy through self-powered sensors" was focused on fabricating nano composites using PDMS, CNT and BTO particles. I tested these composites for electrical outputs using an energy harvester and mechanical strength using DMA. I also observed the composites at nano scales using a SEM. Finally I was able to achieve the right composition for the best electrical output without sacrificing the bending stiffness. These composites can be used as a bio-sensor too if we use Collagen as the matrix. We used to have weekly brainstorming sessions for this and then have a monthly group presentation for the same. The best part of working there was that I independently handled many of the aspects of the project. Which lab to use? Which machine to train on? How to proceed with the project? I was given such a freedom and my opinions and ideas did matter a lot. I felt it as my own project and my supervisor guided me whenever I needed him. 

Weekends were usually free, I always used, this time, to explore America, meet new people and visit new places which were on my bucket list. Some of them were New York City, Washington DC (Imagine Dragon’s Concert :D), Atlantic City, Niagara Falls and Philadelphia. Some of these weekends I spent exploring the city life of Baltimore which was famous for its coast! I also visited Florida in July to meet my family who were living in Tampa and also visited Universal Studio at Orlando. I never confined myself to the people who I came along with from India. I made new friends, and I vividly remember how I sucked at playing Beer Pong when I was invited by a friend to a party at his house. I also celebrated 4th of July at Washington DC with some of my good friends. 

Every Wednesday I used to go to this Church nearby my apartment for Bible Study Sessions. I met many new people there, not just from my age group but young and old too. In these sessions, we used to have some interactive activities, remembered and thanked Jesus and read some verses from Bible. I once cooked “Kheer” for one of the sessions and luckily people liked it. It was the first time I cooked Kheer. Friends from the church threw me an unexpected farewell party and they also made a cake on which was written: "We will miss you Daksh". That moment I felt that I am going to miss this place a lot. In a span of only two months I had made some very good friends and had had the experience of my life. I gave my final presentation and on the last day of my internship, my professor organized a hiking trip for the whole research group. 

“Time just flew away and I did not even realize that two months were over. I knew I was not sad because I was coming back home with memories that I am gonna cherish forever!”