Internship at Airbus Innovation Cell, Bangalore – Shantanu Thakar

By Shantanu Thakar

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It was a pleasant surprise to know that I had been selected for the internship at the Airbus Innovation cell in Bangalore, especially because I thought that I had screwed up the interview pretty badly! Initially, There were just 2 of us from IITB here but we were joined by a number of other ppl from the other IITs about a week later. Although they were not in the same department as mine, they were in the engineering department of Airbus while I was in innovation, it felt good to be part of such a big group of interns and have so many new people to hang out with.

For the first 2 weeks, we were given accommodation in their guest house. The place was amazing, with free and lavish meals provided by them as well as a cab service to the office. I remember feeling extremely pampered during this time, and the experience did stay a little bittersweet, because we all knew the weeks after would be disappointing in comparison as we had to find our own place for the remaining 2 months. Still, the experience was thoroughly enjoyable. Thankfully, Bangalore is a city where you can easily get cheap paying guest accommodation. It was tough to adjust to such a mediocre place after the first two weeks in relative bliss, but in comparison to the norm, which for me are the rooms in IITB, this was way better! Frequent feuds with the landlord over petty issues and the typical smelling south Indian food everyday, made it a little challenging! However, We were given Sodexo coupons by the company for lunch and it did help us in cases of financial emergencies!

At Airbus, I was lucky to have really mature teammates with a lot of experience in their fields.

People with PhDs and around 10-15 years of experience were not uncommon. I suppose that since Airbus had taken these people into its new innovation division, a lot of hands-on experience must have been a pre-requisite of the job.

The Innovation cell @ Airbus is a very new department due to which it had no facilities or labs of its own. This was actually kind of a blessing in disguise because we now had the responsibility and freedom to buy whatever equipment we required for the labs being built. Also, the fact that the head of the innovation cell was from Pune, my home town, was like a cherry on the cake!

About my project: My work for the duration of the internship was to build a robotic snake/arm for holding an ipad and controlling it using that ipad. This assembly would eventually go into the cockpit of the plane. It needed to functionalize it so that it could perform various tasks. The project required me to fully utilize my knowledge of microcontroller programming, which at the beginning of the intern could be summarized by a big NIL. I had to learn everything right from the basics. The people there bought a robotic kit from which I could learn, and soon I was a kid again, playing away with my new robot set to glory. While the kit itself provided me with many readymade things that I could directly apply to my project, it didn’t take much time to realize that most of it was useless and I would have to build everything. The prospect was mouth-watering, and in hindsight I think this was the best possible project I could have gotten.

One of the best things about the internship was that I could ask my mentor for any kind of help, be it financial or intellectual at any time. In fact, I was encouraged to ask as many questions as possible. The people and the work were both so nice that I actually looked forward to Mondays!

An added advantage of being in the innovation cell was that there were no deadlines and we weren’t pressured in any way. People here were pretty chilled out and every week we all went out for a treat, pizza lunches and sometimes even bowling sessions! However, I was sobered by the knowledge, which they in their wisdom gave me, that while this was good exposure for me this was not how it actually was in industries where there are people standing above you with a whip, expecting timely and good results!

Bangalore has quite a lot of places nearby that one should definitely visit. Mysore was on my list, and eating a Mysore Masala dosa was my top priority there. Coorg was a heavenly place to the west. The 7 kms of White water rafting was undoubtedly the high point of my summer. It is an Awesome place for nature enthusiasts, so much so that it makes lonavala look boring! Pondicherry is another amazing place to visit.

The city of malls didn’t disappoint me. Actually there are way too many malls in Bangalore, to the point that after while it was dizzying. The amazing bus service in the city made travelling anywhere quite easy. Climate-wise this city beats any place in India. It was always just perfect. Not too hot, nor too cold. I sometimes lost track about the fact that this was actually the May-June period! Language was not much of a barrier, although you would get bonus points if you know kannada!

I would say Airbus and Bangalore treated me quite well and I am very happy to have been involved in such an interesting project with mature and extremely chilled out mentors!