SRIP @ IIT Gandhinagar: Experiencing the IITian Research-Culture

Research is creating new knowledge.” – Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the Moon

The quote defines research in the crispest way possible. In the present times, research is the road to development and has become a necessity across all the sectors of evolution. As an active effort to network bright young minds across India and abroad in the field of research and development, IIT Gandhinagar initiated the Summer Research Internship Programme (SRIP) in the year 2011.

The objective of this flagship programme is to bring together bachelor’s and master’s students from prominent institutes such as IITs, NITs, IIITs, etc. to participate in on-going cutting-edge research projects at IITGN with faculty members and develop collaborations between respective institutes. Students selected to pursue this 8-week annual summer programme during May-July become eligible to avail countless opportunities such as, getting access to well-equipped laboratories, housing, meals, one of the best-managed library services in the country, internet and computer-centre, summer camp with many technical and non-technical fun-filled courses, sports, national and international workshops, interactive-sessions and talks and cultural events and celebrations.

They also receive a weekly stipend to support their stay and a certificate of participation at the end of the programme. In words of Prof. Sudhir Jain (Founding Director of IIT Gandhinagar) during the welcome speech of SRIP 2018, “Working along the lines, education and research are for all, IITGN takes great pride in being inclusive and providing its facilities to bright young minds from various educational institutes of the country and abroad.”

The process starts with students reviewing the list of participating faculty along with the description of projects being offered, based on which they fill out applications depending on their interests. The selected candidates submit a research proposal within the first week, a bi-weekly record online throughout their term and maintain an online diary to keep track of their progress. At the end of the programme, every student submits a report and takes part in the poster competition showcasing their work done during this internship. 30+ publications in national and international conferences and renowned journals clearly indicate the success of SRIP over the years.

The number of students applying for SRIP every year ranges from 8,000-10,000 out of which only about 180-200 students clear the selection process. The programme comprising of a series of lectures, regular lab exposure and interactive discussions between students and professors in interesting ways like Chalk the Talk, extensively promotes the idea of out-of-the-box critical thinking in the form of breakthrough research to generate practical, yet exciting solutions to the current burning problems of the globe. “Research means to think and generate practical and exciting outputs. The more exciting things you do, the more empowered and capable you become!” added Prof. Jain.

The following is a short interview of two students who attended this programme in the years 2018 and 2019, where they talk about their experiences:

Varad: My name is Varad Pimpalkhute and I have completed my 2nd year of BTech degree from IIIT Nagpur. I attended SRIP in the summer of 2019.

Anjali: I am Anjali Kumari. I am a BTech 4th year student in Material Science and Engineering from IIT Gandhinagar. I participated in SRIP in 2018 after completing my 2nd year.

How did you come to know about this programme?

Varad: SRIP is a platform where students of colleges and universities from India and abroad participate in the ongoing research projects under the mentorship of IITGN Faculty. I had previously interned under Prof. Neeldhara Misra (assistant professor, Computer Science and Engineering) in winter and wished to continue my work further. So, it was her who introduced me to this programme.

Anjali: This programme is designed to open our minds to research. I came to know about it through my seniors at the Institute.

What was your SRIP research about?

Varad: There is a field called Algorithmic Game Theory in Computer Science which can be categorized into Mechanism Design and Computational Social Choice. I worked in the voting section of Computational Social Choice (also called COMSOC) and considered the problem of multi-winner voting, in which the task is to identify a winning subset of candidates based on a collection of votes that express preferences over all available alternatives. The project was focused on proposing to extend the existing work on admissible sets in various ways.

Anjali: My project was about the friction stir welding of aluminum plates 2219 in four different configurations with different parameters and characterization and analysis of the same with Prof. Amit Arora (assistant professor, Material Science and Engineering).

How was your research experience during this Programme?

Varad: It was the first time I actually understood what ‘research’ means. The series of diverse activities throughout this programme and distinguished faculty members guided me to brainstorm some of the most feasible solutions. I was doing something which I found interesting and fun-filled. This internship made me familiar with the satisfaction you feel when you accomplish something constructive and unique.

Anjali: I was familiar with the concept of learning-by-doing, but SRIP made me realize the full potential and impact of this phrase. I grasped the true meaning of open lab system and interdisciplinary interaction through this programme.

Apart from research, what are the other facilities of this Institute that you enjoyed the most?

Varad: The very first is the vibrant and diverse yet united culture of IITGN which is clearly in the form of numerous unique curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. The food at the campus is awesome and healthy, the best food I have ever eaten! The cleanliness and greenery of this Institute is another factor that attracted me to it. IITGN is a gender bias free campus. The hostels are one of the best with central air conditioners in the rooms and induction, microwave and refrigerator provided on each floor.

Anjali: Various celebrations, fests and sports meets are the life of IITGN. Well developed gym and sports facilities complete with professional trainers inspires everyone to stay fit and healthy. A large number of active clubs, groups and committees ensure maximum possible intercultural interactions among the family members of this Institute. Delicious and healthy food (awarded the first 5-star eat-right campus in 2019) and well furnished hostels are the main attractions.

How were the library services?

Varad: Really good..! I used to read in the library during the first half of my internship. The IITGN library is one of the most organized library services with a huge collection of books, book chapters, research articles, magazines, newspapers and novels of various domains available online and offline. The means to access various reading materials are easy and user-friendly.

Anjali: The library also helps us with writing our reports by providing useful references, full access to some of the top journals and checking our write-ups for plagiarism free of cost. In case we are not able to find a specific reading material, a simple email to the library services ensures that we get prompt access to it.

How do you think this exposure will impact your future career?

Varad: Before coming to IITGN, I was of the mindset that I will be joining some job after completing my BTech since research seemed boring and time-taking. But now, I want to pursue higher studies, I will probably do MS first and after that probably go for a PhD. I have realized that research can be interestingly captivating and fruitful at the same time.

Anjali: SRIP has helped me gain an in-depth understanding of my research interests and has opened up new opportunities and avenues for my future studies. This programme is all about encouraging students to acquire critical thinking and problem solving skills which serve as the backbone of successful careers in the present times.