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Jewels of KGP : Mr. Lakshya Jain

Posted on October 6th, 2017
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Many of us have a dream of studying at the “Massachusetts Institute of Technology”. Out of thousands who dream, only a handful are able to succeed! In our series of articles named “JEWELS OF KGP”, we bring to you the next jewel- Mr. Lakshya Jain.

He completed his B.tech in 2014 in a grand fashion by bagging the prestigious “President of India Gold Medal” for the highest CGPA among the graduating batch of B.Tech degree holders and “Dr. B.C. Roy Memorial Gold Medal” for the best all-rounder in the graduating batch. He further went on to do his Masters’ at the MIT and is currently working in the Low Voltage Electronics Integration team of Tesla.

Let us have an insight into his inspirational life through some of the questions answered by the genius himself :-

Lakshya Jain

Awaaz: How was your school life and except studies what other activities were you involved in during those days ?

Mr. Lakshya: Throughout school, I was an avid quizzer and represented my school always. I also tried to play football with friends often. During classes XI and XII, time spent on extracurricular activities did diminish due to IITJEE preparations, like many students at IIT would have experienced.

Awaaz: When did you think of pursuing engineering and what were the reasons for choosing mechanical department ?

Mr. Lakshya: It was always apparent to me that I would take Science during my high school. Various factors shaped my interest for aerospace and automotive engineering: like reading books on cars and aeroplanes, participating in competitions like Aerospace Olympiad, and even watching Formula 1. I used to search the internet to learn about the working of different parts of cars and aeroplanes and was fascinated by the technology. Coming to the end of class X, when we had to make an initial choice for career direction, I decided to study for engineering; and when I got a rank in the JEE results, I opted for Mechanical Engineering as it would help me pursue my interest in both aerospace and automotive engineering.

Awaaz: How did your interests develop in the field of automobiles ? In KGP, what works you did in this field ?

Mr. Lakshya: Coming to KGP, I already had a lot of theoretical knowledge on automobiles from reading about their technology on the internet, especially Wikipedia and Howstuffworks. At the Mechanical department introductory session, we were told about TeamKART, the recently formed team that made racecars for student engineering competitions. “This is the stuff dreams are made of,” is what I thought! I joined the team and worked on the car’s engine. Over the years, this gave me hands-on experience and some insight into the nuances of engine and racecar technology. A lot of the fundamentals, though, were learnt in the classroom spread across various course subjects!

Awaaz:What internship opportunities did you get during your stay at KGP and how was the experience ?

Mr. Lakshya: For my first and second year winter and summer vacations, I stayed at KGP and worked with TeamKART on building the car. Working in the oppressive summer heat would be difficult, but also enjoyable with good friends and we tried our best. For my third year internship, I went to RWTH Aachen University in Germany with a DAAD WISE scholarship. There, I worked on a model for predicting noise emission from flexible aircraft wings. It was a great experience, as I got to use my theoretical knowledge to solve a relevant problem. My advisors there were impressed by my work, and their appreciation gave me the impetus to go for further studies and research later on. Obviously, the experience of visiting many places in Europe, and living independently for a couple of months was also quite wonderful and transformative.

One special weekend there, I visited the museums of several German automobile manufacturers, where they have displayed and explained their contributions to the development of automotive technology in a very engaging manner, using interactive exhibits. This was a very inspiring experience.

Awaaz:“President’s Gold Medal”, you had your eyes set on it from the very beginning or things kept going well and it happened ?

Mr. Lakshya: On the morning of Orientation Day, while travelling to Netaji Auditorium from MMM on a rickshaw, a friend and I were discussing how we got here, what we hope to do here etc. When I said I plan to pay primary attention to academics but also try out and learn other activities, he joked I would be the institute topper. Little did I know how prophetic it would be, and thought nothing of it. Later on, I was quite pleasantly surprised when the first semester results showed I had a very high GPA. But even after that, the PGM was never the direct aim; I kept a balance between academics and extra-academics, not compromising on either, and it happened. I was the first Mechanical Engineering student in many years to receive the PGM, and received the Dr. BC Roy Memorial Gold Medal for the Best All-Rounder in my batch as well, which is very special to me

Awaaz: Apart from the brilliant track record in academics, what other activities were you involved in IIT KGP ? What role did KGP play in your transformation ?

Mr. Lakshya: As already said, I was highly involved in the TeamKART project. Apart from that, I was active in the Tech GC competitions like Hardware Modeling for Azad Hall, quizzing and What’s the Good Word. I also kept myself busy with swimming and tennis. Practising, participating and doing well in these activities helped me to become a more rounded person and improved my confidence!

Lakshya Jain at IIT Kgp

Awaaz: Was studying in MIT a childhood dream or it came across while your stay at KGP ?

Mr. Lakshya: Going for higher studies at a good university at the international level was a dream since high school. I feel it was achieved at both IIT and MIT. But at any stage, there was no definite plan of targeting only MIT. There was a lot of thinking, advice seeking, and deciding at every stage: what UG institute to join, whether to do a job/Master’s after that, what PG institute to join, even up to the end of the final semester. When I got MIT’s offer of a Research Assistantship on increasing the efficiency of automobile engines, I decided to go there. Presented with the prospect of working on my preferred topic at such a premier institute, I didn’t have to think twice.

Awaaz: Kindly give us an insight into your education at MIT ? How did you make into world’s best technical institute ?

Mr. Lakshya: I made it to MIT with the help of a very strong academic track record, great letters of recommendation and advice from my Professors, and a record of good performance in my internship and extracurricular scientific activities like TeamKART. The education at MIT is structured such that there are many more courses offered than the credit requirement, and students get much more choice in subject election. Many courses have a term project with a real-life, open-ended problem to be solved individually or in teams. This is usually more hands-on and has more weightage as it really tests your understanding and application of the theory learnt.

Awaaz: Tell us about your works at the Hyperloop Team. What were the struggles you faced in the road to success with your team ?

Mr. Lakshya: MIT Hyperloop Team was formed to take part in a student engineering competition organized by SpaceX to develop prototypes for the Hyperloop concept. Over two years, we designed and built a prototype pod (approximately 1/3 scale), which used permanent magnets to levitate at high-speed in an evacuated tube. My role was on the electrical system of the pod, developing and integrating the sensor system, batteries and interconnect in the pod. We won the Design Competition, came 3rd in the final Construction Competition, and also won the Safety and Reliability Award.

As a team, the main struggle was that the concept was very open, and, as a first iteration, there was no previous design to base specifications off of. So, locking down basic and interdependent parameters like scaling ratio to actual size, the levitation and braking systems, total mass, and the resulting power requirement and battery selection, was challenging. This was evident in the competition as different teams reached different conclusions: the weights of the lightest and heaviest pods differed by a factor of 100! Individually, working on the electrical system design was challenging for me. Coming from a Mechanical Engineering background, I had to come up to speed on many things, but the knowledge gained helped me to widen my horizons. Another challenge was efficiently and quickly making the things we designed, like some of my teammates. I felt that these teammates had had greater exposure to building things quickly in their UG courses and projects, which were more hands-on. I hope that the courses at IIT can gradually incorporate this into the syllabus.

Awaaz:Your Masters’ thesis topic sounds to be a very interesting one. How can it contribute to better functioning of automobiles ?

Mr. Lakshya: My thesis research at the Sloan Automotive Laboratory was to study the condensed droplets formed from exhaust gases in an engine of gasoline exhaust system; specifically in the intercooler where a fraction of the exhaust gases are cooled before being inserted back to the engine intake. This recirculation of exhaust is already being used in engines to reduce emissions and increase efficiency. My research was a study to further improve the efficiency of this exhaust recirculation system. Currently, the exhaust gases are taken after passing through the catalytic converter so the condensed droplets formed are not corrosive. I studied the possibility of taking exhaust gases before the catalytic converter instead, and its effect on the condensate, and found this can be done for some engine applications.

Awaaz: Presently, what works are you involved in ?

Mr. Lakshya: Presently, I am in the Low Voltage Electronics Integration team of Tesla. My work is similar to my role on the Hyperloop team. It involves developing the electrical connections architecture between all electronic devices like the cameras, radars, other sensors, seat/window motors, display panels, and controllers in the new electric vehicles. It is a first-principles approach to make a system that is easier to assemble into vehicles, so that production of cars can be faster and more reliable.

Lakshya Jain at MIT

Awaaz: All these years, how did you manage to get through the tough times ? How did you manage to keep yourself motivated ?

Mr. Lakshya: In times of difficulty, I didn’t quit. Motivation ebbs and flows, the key for me was to make use of the latter instances. Concentrating and working hard when possible helped me to get my work done. Support and encouragement from family definitely helped. I also feel better working in small teams, as everyone’s work is interdependent and we can push each other. And whenever I have approaching deadlines for work, the motivation automatically kicks in!

Awaaz: What are your hobbies and do you get time for them ?

Mr. Lakshya: I like to go on long bicycle rides through the countryside and hiking. There is a lot of emphasis on similar outdoors activities in the US. Currently, I am starting life in a new city, and setting up various things! The work at Tesla is also quite intense, and both of these take up a lot of time. Still, I try to take out some time for my hobbies occasionally.

Awaaz: What are your future plans regarding a visit to your alma mater?

Mr. Lakshya: I would be happy to visit KGP when I have a long trip to India! When I was there from 2010 to 2014, the campus underwent a lot of change in the way it looked, and I’ve heard that these changes have continued in the past three years. It would be great to see these changes.

Awaaz: Finally, any message or a few lines of motivation for Awaaz and students of IIT Kharagpur ?

Mr. Lakshya: I would advise the students of KGP to find their own balance between academics and other activities. It is definitely possible to do well in both. If one of your extra-academic activities is potentially helpful in your future career, that is great! But you shouldn’t go out of your way to do something uninteresting, purely for the sake of a CV. IIT KGP is a great institute with many opportunities to find your interests, and it is rich with technical and social activities. And finally, don’t skip classes, even the 7:30am ones!

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