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Manish Kumar Nayak is an alumnus from the 2018 batch. He graduated with a Dual Degree from the Department of Aerospace Engineering and is currently working in the RnD department of Mercedes Benz India as a Powertrain Engineer.
Here he answers a set of questions that range from his experiences in the core sector to the ways through which he dealt with stress in his placement days.
What were the various options available to you while choosing a career path?
I was quite adamant about staying in the Core field since I am genuinely interested in working within the technical domain. I shaped up my resume in this direction throughout my stay at IIT and naturally wanted to continue further the same, after IIT. As a Dual Degree student, my plausible options included – Ph.D. abroad or a job. I didn’t want to delve into Ph.D. as of now, even though I had good credentials, so getting a core job was my top priority.
Having said that, it’s well known that the opportunities in this domain are significantly less as compared to its shiny non-core counterpart. The chances sharply decline further, when you add the filter of being an Aerospace engineer. This leads us to a small intersection of sets, as described in the Venn diagram below, which was my main target. A good CPI certainly helped.
What were the placement process involved in your company during your placements and necessary preparations required to crack it?
The placement process for Mercedes Benz Research and Development, India (MBRDI) was a typical one. An elementary shortlist based on a technical test, followed by 2 technical interviews and an HR round. There were no special preparations required, apart from having a clear understanding of the Control Systems (the profile they came for) and a really deep understanding of everything you have mentioned in your resume. Even though it’s an Automobile company, I was mainly eligible for it due to my Controls background and that was their main requirement.
What is the profile and company that you work for?
I work in the Hardware in Loop (HiL) validation team at MBRDI that tests the Control Software that is deployed in the Mercedes Benz Gasoline Car Engines. I work for the Modelling team where we develop mathematical models for various engine subsystems on Simulink.
The primary aim of my team is to reduce the dependency on actual vehicles for the verification of software, which is very expensive and time-consuming. We do it by simulating the vehicle model in Real-time, for the controller.
What are the current responsibilities that you hold and how it changes with growth?
Currently, I am completely responsible for overlooking the model of one of the Mercedes Engines. I need to constantly adapt my model as per the varying test requirements for the software from the customers. I have started working with a relatively stable engine. As time progresses, I would be expected to deliver results for the latest engines and be able to flawlessly integrate it with other major controllers (ECUs) in the vehicle.
What has been your overall experience with the work in the core sector and are you satisfied with the job?
My experience so far in the core sector has given me a good amount of exposure to the industry, how it works and why it has to be different than academia. The work is not purely focused on research or on developing new control algorithms, as I would have preferred. It’s rather more about designing models and delivering concrete results before deadlines. It’s frankly reasonable since the industry functions on different dynamics as compared to the relaxing atmosphere of research.
What were your expectations from the job before joining a core company? Were they fulfilled afterward? How has it turned out for you?
I had expected to continue the way I was researching during my thesis and keep publishing papers. That expectation definitely falls short, because it is not my only responsibility here. On contrary, it’s great that I have plenty of opportunities within my team to innovate which is evident from the several patents my colleagues have filed during their careers at MBRDI but time management is the real key to success.
In my short time here, juggling between research work and development work, I have learned a great deal about the current technologies in Automobile engineering. I am greatly satisfied with the team I have been working with. They are truly passionate people who teach me a lot every day. I can confidently say that we have read a lot of theory during our college days, but when it comes to actual implementation, not everything is that important. But for those few topics which actually matter, no course (3xx,4xx,6xx, etc.) makes us good enough as opposed to actual experience on hardware. Being surrounded by several knowledgeable people is a boon.
How good are the growth opportunities available in your company?
Being an IITian, things are definitely smoother. But in the end, it’s a meritocratic system and the path to becoming a technical expert is determined only by your capabilities and there is no fixed time frame. There are plenty of training opportunities within the company which is what I like the most about the company. And not to mention frequent on-site travels to get a bigger picture of the scope of our work.
What are your future plans? A startup, higher studies or you want to stay with the company?
I plan to amass information through my work as quickly as possible to become an expert. I would definitely like to get back to the Aerospace domain. However, I am still at crossroads as to whether to go for a Ph.D. or not. I will continue at the company, while I am still trying to figure out, what’s next?
Could you tell us your experience of dealing with stress during your placement days ?
I would simply sleep, watch anime or barge myself into any of my friends’ rooms when I felt like taking a break. The Placements are a long, arduous and continuous process that includes giving several Aptitude and Technical tests throughout the Sem. I believe everybody, irrespective of whether they are serious about placements or not, should go through the Placement experience. Those nerve-wracking interviews round after round, where you compete to sell yourself in front of companies to achieve that prestigious Day 1, Day 2 companies, are something which no candidate easily forgets. Even long after they are placed!
There is a sufficient number of companies that come to our Insti, which include a major section of analytics and coding profile. With adequate preparation and a clear view of what is a realistic goal for an individual, getting placed is almost guaranteed. The important requirement is perseverance. In case you are not selected within the first 3-4 days, it can be really tough when several of your friends have already been placed, but that doesn’t mean that there are no further openings left for you. I had prepared for this scenario too, as we all know, placements can be really random at times. And I couldn’t rest assured that I would be able to get into a core company for sure. You never know what’s in it for you. Luckily, I didn’t have to use my backup plan and started planning for the upcoming trip, beginning 3 days later 😀