09/19 | Working at Team Sonnenwagen

I find myself lucky as I could be part of the development of a new car right from its conception to its actual manufacturing. From my experience, I found that the team members are very friendly and help you in any task, may it be teaching you software or translating something to English if you don’t understand (Actually, the Structural department did not have any Germans!). I also learnt that they are strict about safety which I saw during manufacturing and cleanliness since we had to follow a ‘Putzplan’ (cleaning plan) where we had to clean our office depending on the schedule. The industries and institutes also encourage and help in some way or the other, which motivates students like us to do better. Therefore, I would recommend students to participate in such extracurricular activities as you can implement what you have studied and also imbibe many decision making, problem solving or leadership skills that are not taught in lectures. One can widen his professional network and simultaneously get an insight into the actual working environment. Even though it seems to overburden your studies, it is worth the time invested. Being part of this project in its ups and downs is an experience that I will always hold on to and remember in my memories about my study time.

As the race takes place from 13-20 October, we will be cruising from Darwin to Adelaide and taking on some of the best teams in the “solar world”. With the hot weather and tough terrain posing barriers, it will be an exhilarating experience for the team as well as for me to cross the line within five days and transform ourselves from the ‘Best Newcomer’ to ‘Best Finisher’ by taking a victory bath at the Adelaide’s big fountain---maybe that’s why it is called ‘World Solar Challenge’ and not ‘World Solar Race’.

09/19 | Getting involved in designing a solar car from scratch

Getting involved in Team Sonnenwagen

During my Welcome meet, I came to know about different automotive teams like Ecurie Aix and Sonnenwagen. They shared their wonderful experiences and how one could benefit from such extracurricular activities. This triggered my interest to be part of one such team so that I could contribute and also learn new things. But after that I got deeply involved into my studies and forgot about it. But then, while attending the ‘Automotive Day’, I was informed by some of my friends who already are part of Sonnenwagen that they were searching for some team members in different departments. Therefore, I applied through their website and after a short interview, was selected as a member of the Structural department. I opted to join Sonnenwagen, since they were working towards the future electromobility and realise the feasibility to change from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

This was also the time when the team was going to participate in the ‘European Solar Challenge’ in Belgium. We used the same solar car from 2017 with certain modifications to it for the race. The main race was a 24-hour endurance race and is based on the Le Mans. During the race, there were many challenges posed due to bad weather and skiddy roads. Adding to our misery, our car also met with a fatal accident and we lost some vital driving hours. But through team work, determination and hard work, we were able to recover from it and were able to achieve the Third place on the podium overall. I am glad that I could be part of this race to experience the under-pressure situations and learn how I can overcome it. This was a great learning curve for me as I could see the healthy competitiveness among the teams and how each second in the pit stop and on the race track counts in the final declaration of the winner. I also came to know that there are also similar events to WSC which takes place in other countries like the Sasol Solar Challenge and American Solar Challenge.

After this event we refocused on our main goal. We had learnt from the last two events that we needed to improve our previous car on many aspects by working on its drawbacks. At the same time we were also thinking of developing a new car. Hence, we decided to bring most of the team members to meet at the office for a discussion. After a long discussion and weighing the advantages and disadvantages of a new car considering various factors and taking input from various departments, we settled on the idea of building a whole new car for WSC 2019. The three main areas to focus were aerodynamics, lightweight construction and efficiency of battery and solar array. Therefore, in order to increase the efficiency, we incorporated two basic principles, one is the reduction of the frontal area to reduce drag and the second is sailing. Thus, we ended up with a very narrow design which will convert the side winds to drag reduction and increase the energy savings when cruising towards Adelaide.


Designing a new Solar Car from scratch

During our design phase, the aerodynamic team ran various simulation tests and conducted day long wind tunnel tests on the 3D printed prototype so as to design the car as streamlined as possible and reduce the drag coefficient to a minimum. This is very important as even small surface irregularities can contribute to a considerable amount of drag and reduce the efficiency. The sailing effects were pronounced by use of a four-wheel steering system where the rear wheels can turn in the same or the opposite direction as the front wheels. Thus, the whole structure can be tilted sideward to increase the sailing effects.

As structure team, our main aim was to make the vehicle as lightweight as possible. For this we decided to make the car completely out of carbon fibre i.e. monocoque, outer body, roll bar etc. Therefore, we ran different analysis based on the varied materials and geometry, the optimum number of carbon layers needed to withstand the stresses considering the factor of safety and at the same time the orientation of carbon layer to get the required strength and stiffness. We also did some experimental tests for validation with FEM results.

In addition to all this the quality of the solar array and the battery is also is important as well. This was taken care by the electrical team. They used 890 efficient solar cells for extracting the solar energy which produces up to 1kW power and self-developed an axial flux motor for conversion of this electrical energy in order to power the solar car. The excess solar energy is stored using a 5-kWh battery. The driving strategy is another important part of the race which assesses the weather forecast of each location during the course of the race. It transmits the vehicle data and keeps communicating with the driver, so as to strategically use the solar energy to its maximum potential.

Once the design phase was completed, it was time for actually building the car from scratch. This was the most exciting and stressful part of the project. We planned our manufacturing over a course of 4 months with some buffer time. We divided the day into three shifts and carried on the tasks from where the previous shift left. I was involved in the manufacturing of the monocoque in which we had to make carbon fibre plates of certain dimensions and then cut it according to the required geometry. We used water jet cutting process provided by the IPT institute in order to minimise the delamination. Some activities like cutting the carbon fibre, mixing the resin etc. were new to me but also exciting to do as I was getting hands-on experience. Simultaneously, some of us were preparing moulds for the outer body. But the most difficult part for me was sanding the moulds and then later sanding the carbon fibre parts to get the required surface finish. This was a very monotonous and tiring process since I had to sometimes do this for 8 hours or more for weeks, until all the parts were produced. But this was also an important step in the manufacturing process to get the best surface quality.

On the contrary, sometimes I had to go through physical and mental fatigue coping up with exams and other commitments in life. Hence, we always kept ourselves entertained by playing music in the background during the shifts or conducted barbeques or even went on excursions to take some time off. Also, we motivated each other to keep going by bearing the final result in mind. After all the parts were produced, it was time for the assembly of the vehicle. Each department installed its components inside the car like the suspensions, steering, brakes, wheel covers, solar array etc. In the end we were able to finish constructing the ‘Covestro Sonnenwagen’ and all our time and efforts had paid off.

We organised our rollout at the Main Building of the RWTH Aachen. Here, we unveiled our new car to the public. It was a great and overwhelming event which was attended by various dignitaries including the Minister President of NRW Armin Laschet and the Rector of RWTH Prof. Dr. Rüdiger and the CEO of our main sponsor COVESTRO. After the event, we also drank a round of Beer and enjoyed the moment to appreciate ourselves as we had come half way through our project successfully.  

Currently, we have finished our testing in Germany and also shipped the car by air to Australia. Our Team will also be travelling to Australia in the month of October and further testing will be done over there


09/19 | Introduction: Jerryn Joy

Name: Jerryn Joy
Country: India
Age: 25
Study program/semester: M. Sc. CAME (Conception)/ 4th semester

What inspired you to take part in this project?

As an automobile-enthusiast, I was always passionate about racing cars and was curious about the engineering and craftsmanship that goes into building each vehicle. Therefore, during my Bachelors I was involved in many automotive competitions like Baja SAE and Go-Kart. But there was something different about ‘Sonnenwagen’— racing the outback only using solar energy. With sustainable mobility being the future, it escalates the demand for greener solutions today.  Sonnenwagen is just a start to this goal by the students of FH & RWTH Aachen. This idea inspired me to be part of this diverse team and contribute towards a collective aim of winning the World Solar Challenge.


How does it relate to your studies?

My course offers subjects like Practical Introduction to FEM I & II, Fundamentals of lightweight design etc. which provides a basic introduction to the linear and non-linear simulations and the lightweight construction involved in the design of monocoque, roll bar and other mechanical components. Being a member of the structural department, I was able to extend this knowledge to the design of various components and at the same time learn new software and interpersonal skills that are relevant in the industries, which are always a positive factor that one could benefit from. During this time, I was involved in the modelling of drivers, design of the moulds, manufacturing and assembly of the car.


How has this project affected your professional network?

As part of this project, I had to attend various events and fairs to reach out to a number of sponsors for providing us with the necessary financial help or raw materials needed for the manufacturing of the car. Also, the marketing and sponsoring team even conducted many events so as to make us known to various companies and institutes. All this not only helped me to get to know the Tier 1 companies but also mid-scale companies and Start-ups which will help me while applying for Internships or even in the future for Jobs.

Apart from this, I was able to make a lot of friends coming from different countries and backgrounds and share our views and experiences. I could exchange and expand my technical and practical knowledge which not only helped me to improve my German language skills but also gave an insight into the German work culture.

As Enzo Ferrari has quoted: “Racing is a great mania to which one must sacrifice everything, without reticence, without hesitation.” I hope our endless efforts and sleepless nights over the past two years provide us a First-place finish on the Podium at the World Solar Challenge 2019.

08/19 | The way of life when building your own company

When I started Student-advise-me, it was just an idea to which I was totally convinced. To realize this project, it took a lot of sleepless nights. Initially, one of the biggest challenges was to find the right people to work with. Finding the ones who are committed and believe in my idea as I did was tough. Even so, building a startup without a dedicated team is impossible. So the first step was to build a team that can handle the daily challenges effectively.

Dealing with problems is the way of life in a startup, since there is always something that does not work out as you might expect it. During the journey of building a startup problems are a main part and parcel of the process. The most crucial task is to just focus on solutions and not on the problems themselves. So we did that and, while we had a lot of roadblocks when we started building Student-advise-me, we kept our cool, solved one problem at a time and kept progressing. This entire journey has enhanced my problem-solving ability and acted as a catalyst to my innovative and strategic competencies.

My journey of a startup is all about learning, because everyday you really learn something new. You make mistakes and you increase your knowledge, which is the way to go when building a company. I have learned more about what I can and should not do through my experiences and that’s a treasure in itself. So the only way to go about building your own company is by making mistakes and learning from them. Also, you have to add more and more skills into your bag on a daily basis. The more you learn and develop, the more it helps you in dealing with the upcoming challenges effectively.

One thing I have learned from my startup experience is that you are never perfect. When you think you did your best, there still is scope for improvement. So I’ll say from my experience don’t be perfectionistic, because the results you consider as perfect might be not in reality. Take feedback regularly from your customers, try to understand what they want and build based on that. Craving for being flawless right from the beginning in a startup can be dangerous as in the quest of achieving it, you will lose a lot of time and money. And, in the end, you will realize it was in vain because your customer wants something completely else.

08/19 | How my project S.A.M. was born

There is no dearth of students who wish to pursue higher education from a foreign University. But one of the major hurdles that international students face when trying to achieve their dream is the lack of proper guidance, which often leads to disappointment and an unfulfilled dream. There are many education consultant companies that can guide them through the application process, but majority of them have no idea about it themselves and are misleading.

Like many young international students, I had this dream of going abroad to study. And while I realized that dream when he got admitted to the RWTH Aachen University, Germany, my journey from New Delhi to Germany was an arduous one.

As a young student from India, I decided to follow my dream of studying abroad in 2015. During my application process, from selecting the right university or course to searching apartments, I went through an insane amount of trouble to get the right advice for making the right decisions. Education consultants had no clue about modern study programs and marketed universities below my potential. While students on LinkedIn or Facebook were not interested in investing their time in a stranger like me. My journey from New Delhi into the reputed RWTH Aachen University in Germany determined me to make it easier for other students to reach their dream.

My journey for releasing the dream of studying abroad and the challenges I faced made me determined to help others like me. This set the wheels in motion for the creation of a peer-to-peer online network of students. And thus, in 2018 I founded an online platform “Student-advise-me” as an ed-tech startup. It aims to connect prospective students who are planning to study abroad with a knowledgeable and experienced existing student in that country. The platform provides international students with an opportunity to connect with students who are currently studying or alumni of that university that you are interested in.

If you want to best understand a university’s culture, its faculty, its course and its curriculum, who better than the current students to consult and receive advice from, as they know the reality So on Student Advise me you can choose an appropriate advisor and book an appointment for a one-on-one video or audio call with the advisor.

08/19 | Introduction: Ayush Khandelwal

Name: Ayush Khandelwal
Country: India
Age: 27
Study programm: MME-PS



What inspired you to develop a start up?

When I first began this journey for releasing the dream of studying abroad I faced some challenges in proper guidance. The counsellors I approached had no clue regarding the programs I was interested in and moreover, they marketed the universities below my potential. The difficulties that I encountered and overcame made me determined to help others to realize their dreams. And thus, was born an online platform, ‘Student Advise Me’ that aims to connect potential students with experienced student advisors. It provides prospective students who are planning to study in Germany with an opportunity to connect with real students, students who are currently studying or are the alumnus of the university or college that you are interested in and communicate with them in order to resolve your queries and ask them anything and everything about studying in Germany. SAM aims to cut through all the middlemen and provide you access to students who are currently a part of your dream college or university.

How does it relate to your studies?

My education at RWTH Aachen University and a semester abroad at Maastricht School of Management had been a judicial mix of technical and managerial skills which have enhanced my holistic business administration skills. This has advanced my problem-solving abilities, and have acted as a catalyst to my innovative and strategic competencies. For start-ups, challenges and problems are a way of life and my education has sharpened my skills to deal with those challenges effectively.

07/19 PERSPECTIVES: Choosing a path that allows to live out a passionate career

As I am a mechanical engineering student with an extraordinary inclination towards art and creativity, I have already chosen my career path that justifies my profession as well as my passion. I am quite fortunate to have continued my studies in Germany as it has tremendous opportunities for designers. As I am on the verge of completing my master studies, I am currently preparing for automotive as well as industrial design courses, which need the expertise of engineering and the creativity of an artist to create car body designs and product designs respectively.

Every exhibition has opened up doors to new opportunities, new places and new experiences. It makes me really proud to share my experiences with the viewers and express my sincere message to everyone to follow their passion and take the courage to give a meaning to your dreams. That is the one thing that makes your life fulfilling and gives the motivation to tackle all the challenges of life. Allowing me every chance to share my views and experiences as an artist leaves me grateful towards the International Academy and I shall do my best to make the most out of so that people might learn something.

I truly believe that one must never settle for something non-deserving. It takes some time to find the right goal and once it’s set, we should give everything we have to achieve it and that will definitely lead to true happiness and satisfaction throughout our lives. It's really hard to choose between passion and profession if they lay too far apart from each other, but it is much more regretful to abandon one completely for the sake of the other. In my case, I am quite fortunate that I’ve got a golden chance to combine art and engineering by becoming an industrial designer, which will never ever allow me to overlook any of my skills and talent.

In the years to come, I want to exhibit in many more places. The very next one will probably take place in Dubai in the beginning of next year. And, by God’s grace, I shall contribute more in charity donations and make my exhibitions worthy.

Ali Vora and Miriam Daxberger (Quellpunkt) showing the gesture “Klenkes” (Greeting gesture from Aachen)


07/19 | Summer Fine Art Exhibition in London

It was back then in Art Expo New York in 2018 when I met an artist who was representing for International Art Events from London and had years of experience in curating as well as participating. I had a great discussion with her and she was really impressed by my works and invited me to exhibit in one of her exhibitions which was supposed to take place in August-September.

I was so elated by her proposal and that made me feel so special as an artist. Exhibiting in London, UK was also a dream that I wanted to fulfill and that really happened. Being represented among the various experienced solo artists all around the world is such a great feeling.

The exhibition ran from 22 August – 03 September 2018. I was there was 2 days and I was really happy meeting the artist again this time in London. She explained about all the artists and the artworks that were exhibited. But when she told me that many people during the inauguration evening praised my works and also bought the most discussed piece, it took my heart away. It was such a great feeling! The work that got sold was also in talks in NYC and people actually told me back then that this `masterpiece´ will be sold soon and London was the place where it happened.

(The work that got sold)

Another main reason behind my participation and the sale of course was the charity donation for the `Kerala Flood Relief Fund´. 10% of the sale amount was donated to the relief fund. It was from this exhibition my intentions for curating and participating in multiple exhibitions was defined and honestly that really makes me feel good to be amongst the givers and serving humanity in a small but significant way. Because of my talent and the gesture, the curator also offered me a chance to exhibit in Winter Salon Strasburg 2018 in December. Unfortunately, I could not participate in that as I was held up with my studies. But what an experience it was!


Every exhibition has opened doors to new opportunities, new places and new experiences. It makes me really proud to share my experiences with the viewers and my sincere message to everyone to follow your passion and have the courage to give a meaning to your dreams. That is the thing that makes your life fulfilling and gives you the motivation to tackle all the challenges of life. I am so grateful to International Academy for giving me every chance to share my views and experiences as an artist and I shall do my best to make the most of it in such a way that people have something to learn from.



WALL-A - The wall that expressed a thousand emotions
Yes, WALL-A where `A’ refers to anything that connects Art, Ali and Aachen. There could be no better chance in which I can exhibit at a place where my near and dear ones are able to visit and witness the journey together with me. It took nearly 4 months (from January until April) to finally decide on opening the exhibition. The preparatory phase was also a great learning experience as I was a co-curator with QuellPunkt apart from being an artist myself. We decided on multiple themes from Illusion over Figurative and Nature to Abstract as I wanted to try out new media in form of acrylic paintings. Charcoal art is my biggest weapon but this time I wanted to challenge myself with new methods as colored media actually enhanced my thought process and took me deeper into creativity. The results really turned out to be amazing.

The exhibition took place from 29th April 2019 till 10th May 2019. The opening event was one of the best evenings I ever experienced as a solo artist. I was so happy with the visitors and their love and interest they showed towards my exhibition. The responses that I got for my exhibition setup, the artworks and the complete show as whole where overwhelming. On that day I got in touch with various artists in Aachen and obtained the chance to discuss about art in detail and the future scope of it. The day entailed quality conversations with enthusiasts, critique from experts and non-experts and a lot of fun as well.

I believe that talent is nothing until it benefits someone. Exhibiting and letting people know about art is not my only aim. The main reason for this exhibition was supporting a project called ‘Kinderarbeit wirksam bekämpfen’ under Misereor whereby 22% of the sale amount was going to be donated to the project to fight against child labor and poverty in India.


And fortunately on the closing day, I sold one of my finest paintings and managed to fulfil the purpose of the exhibition successfully. Apart from that, we managed to collect a handsome amount through generous donations from the visitors which was not less than the icing on the cake. For that,  QuellPunkt and I will always be grateful to the participants of the event. The show ended on a successful note witnessing again a lot of art lovers. This solo exhibition at QuellPunkt will always be a dear memory in my heart. My confidence really boosted up manifolds not only as an artist, but as a human being too. Also, I feel sincere gratitude towards all the people who visited and made it really special for me.

The painting that got sold at the QuellPunkt exhibition


Overview over the QuellPunkt exhibition

Ensemble of Ali Vora’s charcoal drawings

Invitation to the exhibition

07/19 | Introduction: Ali Vora

Name: Ali Vora
Country: India
Age: 27
Study program/semester: CAME/8th semester


What inspires you to pursue art?

”Follow your passion and it will lead you to the purpose of life”. These were the words said to me by my mother when I left India and started my journey to a new life in Germany. Upon arriving here I started realizing my true potential. Words fall short to express how art has changed my life and me as a person. Witnessing the various opportunities in the artistic world gave me a chance to define my true identity. It makes me really proud to share my experiences with the people that visit the exhibitions and send out my sincere message to follow your passion and take the courage to give a meaning to your dreams.

Did art change your life?

It has been more than a year since I experienced a life changing event in New York followed by an equally amazing experience in the UK in the same year. I was so elated by the proposal to share my art in London and it made me feel special as an artist. Another main reason behind my participation and the sale was the charity donation for the `Kerala Flood Relief Fund´. At my latest exhibition at QuellPunkt, the very neighbour of the International Academy, I was also able to sell one of my finest paintings for which 22% went to a project called “Kinderarbeit wirksam bekämpfen” (Effectively fighting against child labor) under Misereor. Confidence is what I gained the most as a result of these exhibitions along to new offers for presenting my art in different parts of the world.

How does art combine with your studies?

As I am a mechanical engineering student with an extraordinary inclination towards art and creativity, I have already chosen my career path that justifies my profession as well as my passion. I am quite fortunate to have continued my studies in a Germany as it has tremendous opportunities for designers.

06/19 Challenges and future perspectives

I have to say that developing a platform from scratch is not the easiest or quickest thing. I initially proposed that we would have a prototype release after 3 months. However, once I got more into the programing and software development, I was sure that this project was going to take more than 3 months, especially when the team members are not working full-time. From that, I found out that you ­cannot do proper project planning when you don’t know enough about how long it takes for each activity or task to be completed. So, I just needed to be open and ready to keep changing and adapting the project timeline. Let’s just think for a moment about how much it took Airbnb or Amazon to initially develop their platforms. There are many unknowns on a startup project, but I am convinced that the most difficult part is to start the project since it includes getting out of your comfort zone and encountering a lot of risk and uncertainty. However, once you start the project and have motivation, you just need to find the resources to keep it going.

In terms of software development, so far, we have the platform architecture, our data base, our first domain, an initial web page and we are currently developing the supplier’s registration views (web pages) as well as back-end programming. In terms of marketing we have a Facebook page, a name, logo design and we carried out activities like visiting Wedding Expos, surveying and designing of the content for the views. Within this project, I have learned a lot about programming of web pages, agile project management, problem solving and various other processes that are key when forming a new business. Even though I am a very outgoing person, I struggle when trying to sell an idea or product. Feval has helped me in improving my selling skills, but I still have a long way to go. I think that doing this project will do anything but hurt since most of the possible outputs are good, and that makes me happy and proud.

Having this experience will definitely improve my career chances. I feel comfortable in my position as a student and as an entrepreneur right now. On one hand, I am confident that I can get a good job, since companies seek for people with some experience or advanced soft skills. And, on the other hand, I could also have my own business in the future.

To finalize, I would like to acknowledge my team for all the hard work, good ideas and their conviction in Feval, as well as the International academy at the RWTH Aachen University for their support and funding of initial activities for this journey by the Student Project Grant 2018.

06/19 FEVAL wants to transform Event Planning!

I have had the opportunity to put hands on a project that is just very exciting to me. I find the idea very promising and I am convinced that it can turn into a successful business. But so far, my favorite parts are imagining the final product, learning during the process, facing all the challenges along the way and working with my team.

Feval will be a platform that will allow people to announce and provide their products and/or services for any type of event. It is designed to cover a wide range of events from a simple house party to a wedding or a corporate event; from buying a cake to reserving the catering or music. The idea was born from a necessity. Usually I struggle to find what is and what isn’t available for specific dates when planning a party, or even just to find all available options that I have within my surroundings and end up having less variety for my events. Based on my suppositions, I made a market study at the beginning in order to prove them. I found that 100% of the people I asked would definitely use a platform that broadens their options and makes it is easier to buy and reserve products and services.

Therefore, I gave a full-go to the project. At the beginning, the first thing was to find people for my team. Currently, Feval’s team is made up of 4 people. Pavel R., who is a database expert and programmer, Yannick B., who is a student programmer, Miroslava M., a marketing professional and me. Once I acquired a team that could make the project possible, we started all the activities, which included initial design, contents and finding the right name and logo. That is when Feval was born. We also visited a wedding exposition, talked to some suppliers, gave them flyers and started our networking with possible future associates, who can post their products and services on our platform.

06/19 Introduction: Natalia Reynoso


Name: Natalia Reynoso
Country: Mexico
Age: 27
Study program/semester: MME-CAME 4th semester


What inspired you to start this project?
Software development plays a critical and main role in all business areas nowadays. I wanted to give this project a try in order to get more knowledgeable on the topic. As well as hoping that this idea will someday turn into a very successful business.

How does it relate to your studies?
Starting a new project from scratch based on an idea relates to my subject “Entrepreneurial strategy” and the topic of software development relates to “Advanced Software Engineering”. Moreover, the subjects that I took in Maastricht at MSM will also be very helpful to successfully achieve the goals of the project Feval.

This project will give me a broader perspective on the technologies that are out there in terms of software development, managing a project and resources, selling techniques, designing etc.

How has this project affected your professional network?
Because of the nature of this project I need to work on getting people on board and convince them that this is an idea that can lead to a very successful business. This also improves my managerial and communication skills. As a result, my career chances improve since many companies are looking for people who have developed soft skills.

Keep reading to know more!

05/19 Being part of a student organization gives you memories to cherish for life!

Getting sponsorships for our project Sonnenwagen is my main task in the team. I have to constantly look for companies, who can invest in our project and get some benefit out of it too. One has to build networking skills for this kind of a job - and so I did! After getting in touch with the management of a sponsor company, presenting our project to them and participating in meetings with them to discuss the way of collaboration and mutual benefit is also a part of my responsibility and that is also something that I enjoy the most. I am always very excited and enthusiastic to present our project to new people and convince them with our ideas.

As mentioned earlier, our team is interdisciplinary and my team mates with a background in digital marketing help me a lot in making presentations for the companies and thus improving my skills. This type of exposure is certainly helpful in developing my professional presentation and discussion skills.

Another advantage of undertaking this type of task is that I can expand my professional network. Having dealt with company representatives including upper management also increased my confidence level to speak well and maintain contacts with them.  It makes me feel happy that the companies, regardless of whether they decide to sponsor us, have a positive impression of us students from the team and appreciate this voluntary project. In fact, during my interview for an internship, the interviewer asked me a lot of questions regarding this project and it was one of the reasons he was impressed enough to offer me the internship.

Being a part of Team Sonnenwagen has been an excellent experience and continues to be one in all aspects, may it be learning or having fun! Having decided to join the team, despite of the academic load was the best decision I made. I would encourage all students to take out some time of the regular schedule and be a part of such activities, in whichever domain one likes , as they enhance one’s knowledge and capabilities and give you memories to cherish for life!

05/19 The special team spirit will bring us success!

The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge was launched in 1982 and has tested the limits of solar cars ever since. Teams from around the world compete in the race across the Australian continent, against each other to show that they have developed the best solar car. The competition is much more than a regular race as not only the vehicle development but the energy management and driving strategy are also key factors. They must be planned and designed in detail to be competitive and hence need a great, functioning team, in terms of organisation, skill and team spirit.

We are 45 students in the team currently, from various nationalities including German, Indian, Turkish, Chinese, Taiwanese and more. It is really interesting to make new friends and work in such a multicultural team. Further, the team Sonnenwagen Aachen is divided into six departments for efficient working, which take care of their own tasks according to the expertise.

The Aerodynamics team develops and optimizes the aerodynamic shell of our solar car as per our goal of developing a low-resistance and stable driving performance design for our vehicle. This team performs the CFD simulations, wind tunnel tests, intelligent system integration and continuous optimization model to produce a first class design.

The Elektrotechnik team is responsible for the electronics within the solar car. The main components on which they focus are - the photovoltaic system, the battery storage system and the electric motor.

Driving strategy team is simulating the race route in advance so that we can complete the race without any strategic failures. They also deal with weather forecasts and communications with the escort vehicles.

The Chassis team and Structure team deal with the development and design of individual components such as chassis and suspension. They are also responsible for manufacturing planning of the car in the workshop.

The Management team creates the conditions for the development of the solar car. It includes the Marketing team which is responsible for publicizing the project and our passion for innovative mobility on various media channels and the sponsorship team which negotiates partnerships with industry and seeks investors. Also, the members of the non-technical teams are constantly working on organizational tasks and the general planning and supporting team activities. With great enthusiasm this team coordinates the different areas of the team, to ensure compliance with the milestones and represent the team at various events outside.

Although we are divided into sub teams, all the members join the manufacturing of the car in the workshop. We work in shifts of morning and evening as per our convenience and availability and contribute to the building of the car.

We have regular meetings with our respective departments and weekly meetings with the whole team where we work together on the different topics around the Sonnenwagen. We think that it is important that the groups are in constant contact with each other as the project is interdisciplinary and needs the alignment of all the internal teams. The team members are very open to each other’s opinions and helpful with solving doubts and problems. This way we can clarify technical issues quickly and work in the definition of interfaces that go hand in hand. We are convinced that with this team spirit and coordination our project, the Sonnenwagen, will be a great success!

05/19 Introduction: Kshitija Desai


Name: Kshitija Desai
Country: India
Study program/semester:  MME-CAME, 2nd semester


What inspired you to take part in this project?

I have always loved to be a part of co-curricular projects especially in future mobility and hence, I was looking for such opportunities when I joined RWTH Aachen. Shortly after my arrival, my roommate, a member of team Sonnenwagen Aachen arrived from Australia after completing the World Solar challenge 2017 (cf. the very first article in this blog). The team had competed in the race for the very first time.  I was amazed to know about this project, her experiences and her learning by being a part of this project and moreover, the concept of solar energy for sustainable mobility doubled my enthusiasm and I decided to be a part of it. I went through their website and communicated my interests to the team, and after a short interview, I was selected as a part of the current team which would be participating in the World Solar Challenge 2019.

Sonnenwagen Aachen is an association of enthusiastic students from different engineering backgrounds, who believe that solar technology and sustainable mobility concepts are crucial for the future. We work together, driven by the fascination of advances in solar e-mobility, to make our contribution. With the support of RWTH Aachen University, we are designing and manufacturing a solar powered car entirely powered by solar energy to participate in an emission-free race across Australia, a 3022kms race from Darwin to Adelaide, the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

How does it relate to your studies?

I feel, this is a great project which helps me to apply the engineering knowledge to real time application. I like to interact with people and hence I joined this project as a part of the Sponsorship team, where the main task is to connect to different companies, give them presentations and convince them to be a sponsor of our project. This role helped me to develop my management attitude including marketing and presentation skills, making me understand how investors play an important role in development and execution of a new project and how to deal with them.

Recently, we also started with the manufacturing of the car and it was the most interesting part for me. From drilling holes to making carbon fibres bodies, we are doing everything by ourselves, with our own hands. I can co-relate how the manufacturing technology that I have learnt theoretically is applied to build different parts of the car. It is wonderful to see our car being built as it proceeds through each stage.

This project has given me insights of actual project management involving the phase of developing the idea, making a strategy, budgeting, raising funds, and preparation of timelines and execution of the project. All the team members are very collaborative and interacting with such a multidisciplinary and culturally diverse team is a wonderful experience.

How has this project affected your professional network?

Being a sponsorship co-ordinator for Sonnenwagen Aachen, I came in contact with the Managing directors, marketing managers and technical experts from a lot of companies which has helped me expand my professional network. Through experience, I understand the way of approaching and interacting with professionals and still learning to do it more professionally. It requires skills to present your ideas to higher management and convey them the right message in a really short period of time. I found it very valuable that I could develop this skill of pitching and marketing of ideas for attracting investors. I could not only build a great network with professionals from companies but also make great connections with our team members who come from culturally diverse backgrounds and develop a great sense of team spirit.

I am looking forward for the challenge in Australia, where we would be competing against teams, not only from different countries but from different continents and I hope to see our efforts bearing fruit!

Keep reading to know more!

Final words

Finally, like with all things, it is now time to end this series of articles about mental health issues and the need for counseling. It has been an absolute pleasure to share my experiences (cathartic really) and I truly hope those who are in need or those who care about them will share this information with them and force them (firmly but gently) to take the first step to healing.

During my journey, I developed interest in this topic and I usually read a large number of related books and articles. The one set of books that truly resonated with me was “the Black Dog” series recommended to me by my friend and student counselor. This book is written by someone who has gone through this dark period and has climbed out of it. It hits hard and true as this is not a technical work written by a medical or psychological specialist looking from the outside but by a common person who has fallen down and gotten up.

Even the UN World Health Organization agrees with this appraisal and the increasing need for psychological counseling and support among the world population. Thus, they have made this book into two super adorable videos which are around 5 minutes each. I highly recommend everyone to spare that 5 minutes to watch each of these videos. It is truly worth it.

            So once again, I wish everyone the best in life and always remember this: There is always a way out, I mean always! Just look around or ask around and you will find it. We are always here for you. I wish you all a beautiful day!

Here are the links.

1.      I had a Black Dog, his name was Depression

(Source of photo: World Health Organization (WHO))

2.      Living with a Black Dog

(Source of photo: World Health Organization (WHO))


For those who feel that the simple “do it yourself techniques” are not sufficient in dealing with their mental distress, I highly recommend they get professional psychological support. Due to the stigma associated with mental health issues, most people instinctively say no or downplay their own suffering in order not get branded as a “crazy person”.

For those who are currently in that phase, please calm down and think about it this way: If you’re suffering from a case of repeated fevers which are getting worse, would you hesitate in getting professional help or avoid it due to fear of bitter medicine and face full blown pneumonia? Mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness problems in establishing social relationships and similar are just the same as a small fever, cough or cold. As long as you get them treated quickly, they will not be an issue. If you let them grow in strength, then when they finally explode, it will be a case of pneumonia or worse mentally speaking.

So please do not hesitate. There is no shame or embarrassment in asking for and receiving help when we need it. That is why humans live as a society and not alone. Also, you are not the only ones suffering or getting treated for such issues. You will find a surprisingly large number of people going through the same difficulties or have gone through them earlier. This will help that feeling of anxiety about getting treated for these issues or the fear of others finding out and judging us fade away.

Contrary to what our lizard brain tells us, our families and friends will not look down on us or cut us off or humiliate us for having mental health issues. They will be surprised, shocked and sad initially but they will stand by us. I have seen this happen every single time. Some families require a bit more time to adapt but you don’t have to tell them immediately. You can do so once you feel better after getting treatment or just bury the entire issue once you’re healthy. So please feel free to approach and getting the support you need.

In case, if you feel lost or embarrassed on how to or where to ask for such help, you can always go to the International Academy and talk to the student counselors present there. They will help you get in touch with the Psychological Counseling services and help start you on your own way.

Coming to that topic, psychological counselors of RWTH Aachen University support inhouse free of cost counseling. The professionals working here are highly experienced and empathetic. For women, you have a special female counselor available in case you feel uneasy talking to a male counselor.

Here you can find an introduction of psychological counselors of RWTH Aachen University on the students’ need for counseling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_6UY6BA2dM.

I highly recommend people who are hesitating to get help to watch it once. It will give you a new perspective.

If you are interested to check which benefit you can get from psychological counseling, please contact the student counselor of IntAc:  i.ventker@academy.rwth-aachen.de

(Source of Photo: TEDx Talks Youtube)


Though this will not be a sad recounting but a happy article where I hope to share some simple methods which helped me greatly during my time of need. These methods do not require any complicated steps or training or professional support. They can be done anytime and anywhere without any problems. My only hope is that they provide at least some relief to those who are suffering now. So, without further ado I will get right to it:



The first technique I would like to share is a simple breathing technique that can be done anytime one is feeling anxious, hurried, depressed or pressured mentally in any other way due to real life stress point such as an important exam, job interview, familial issues and similar. The process only takes around a minute or less and is quite quick and effective due to the fact that it works from your body to affect your mind forcefully.

So whenever you are feeling under immense mental pressure or distress, immediately close your eyes (it doesn’t matter where you are though it is better to sit down as you will need a support once your body relaxes) and started taking as deep a breath as possible while simultaneously clenching both your fists. Try to breath in as deep as possible and exert as much gripping force as you can and once you reach your limit (don’t overexert, just trying reaching as close to the limit as safely possible) then start holding your breath and clench fists in position for as long as you can then slowly exhale while releasing your clenched fists as slowly as you can.

Try repeating this action a few times and you will notice that your brain has gone silent and the physical pressure you felt due to your mental distress has reduced or completely disappeared and your mind clear enough to think of a solution to your problems. There are many other kinds of breathing techniques which require a bit more effort to learn and execute but are quite worthwhile. The links to these techniques will be posted in the next article with more explanation.




The next best step that allowed and allows to retain my sanity and hope for the future even now is walking. Yes, it is nothing fancy. Just plain and simple walking. There is a catch though – this is not the kind of walking where you have a fixed destination and schedule such as grocery shopping or going to work or to appointments.

For this walk to be effective, you cannot have a destination or schedule. Whenever you are feeling down or depressed, just get up and go out for a walk. Don’t think about the time or where you want to go or whether it is day or night. Just leave and keep walking wherever your heart takes you and for however long you need it. Just breath in deeply and enjoy that freedom. All psychological problems are an equivalent of being under a heavy weight that squeezes the life out of you and narrows your vision bringing your hope and courage down. So, by breaking free and walking wherever your heart pleases, you will experience the sense of freedom that will help you breathe freely and just expand into the world around you without any restriction. It makes one feel so in-tune with nature and all your worries feel so silly now.

This will help give you the courage to face whatever is causing your mental distress in a calm, brave and logical manner.

Personally, walking under the bright and beautiful sun with a nice breeze with background chatter of happy people going about their business helped me out of a lot of emotional tough spots. Though I preferred the quiet night under the moonlight where there was no other noise or chatter sometimes when it was just too noisy. Therefore, there are no rules or restrictions. Just go out and walk and be free.


Further techniques:

Here are some more complex breathing techniques which are quite suitable for particular situations such as a method to relieve exam anxiety or insomnia due to pressure and similar.

1.       Progressive Muscle Relaxation (for tutorials please check online search engines)

For those facing insomnia or lack of energy due to stress or anxiety, this is a good technique to help relieve them and bring about a good night’s sleep or to feel invigorated.


2.       Breath Relaxation (for tutorials please check online search engines)

For those who are panicking or under mental duress, this is a quite quick 5 minute meditation that helps with calming down and reaching a state of inner peace.


3.       Body Scan Relaxation (for tutorials please check online search engines)

For those facing severe exam or performance anxiety or suffering from lack of concentration or if the previous methods didn’t help completely then please try this 10 minute long deep meditation. It’s quite effective but requires a place to lie down and there is a big chance one would fall asleep so please take care of the time constraints.

Introduction: International Academy Student


Name: IntAc student
Country: India  
Age: late 20s
Study program: Production Systems Engineering


What inspired you to talk about the services provided by INTAC?

In the last two posts I talked about my own life, now I would like to talk about how my case is sadly not so unique in this ultra-high speed modern era where it has become so common for people to suffer from stress, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, loneliness and more just due to the pressures and expectations (sometimes quite excessive due to external social or peer pressure) of our daily life which I have to say is quite ridiculous.

When one is doing well, we honestly don’t realize or recognize the value of proper support and services such as counselling. It’s only when a problem strikes one down that we do. During my hardest years, the support and counselling provided by INTAC and Faculty 4 really helped me get back on my feet. Even when I believed I would not succeed, they kept pushing me forward along with my family and friends and eventually helped me get through my problems one by one. Thus, helping me regain my confidence to push forward in life by myself.

This kind of constant support and guidance is needed by many students and alumni who suffer from many of the same problems I did or are in similar circumstances seeing no way out. I only found INTAC and their support services by pure chance. But how many will have the same luck? That is why I would like to talk about my experiences here, so that at least one more person in trouble and needing help will approach INTAC and thus hopefully start on their path to normalcy.

I only started fighting back against this now crippling fear and anxiety, with the help and guidance of INTAC and Faculty 4 student counsellors. They helped push me forward by showing alternate paths, experiences of others who were in my position and so on so forth. They are a big part of the reason why I was able to get my confidence back and graduate. They really made the difference!



Disclaimer: Due to the positive feedback we have received last month, our PSE student will continue to share his story and journey with us. This time he will focus more on the techniques and experiences. This month’s One Of Us story is a very personal one with many individual components. If you are an International Academy student and are facing problems that you cannot deal with on your own, please contact us. The sooner you let us know what is happening, the higher the chances are that we can assist and/or help you. The story is published anonymously, however, if you are interested in establishing contact with the author, please write an e-mail to i.ventker@academy.rwth-aachen.de.

Part 2: ...Staying Down is a Choice

Throughout this entire period, I never stopped receiving counselling and guidance. In guidance, I will first talk about the psychological counselling to keep this passage flowing in order. During my regular sessions, I always complained to the psychologist about every single fear and anxiety, but that man has incredible patience. He listened and gave advice without ever being patronizing every single time. Every single fear that I kept locked inside, he was able to draw it out just by listening. I started feeling comfortable talking about things I never even verbalized before. I guess it is because the first time he saw me was when I was at my worst not before unlike my family or friends, so I was more comfortable talking.

And every single time that happened, these terrifying beasts of fear became inane problems to be solved. So, what about fears that were not easy to face? Then I was given tools to deal with them – breathing exercises, meditation music and more. (cf. the links at the bottom of this article, it sounds like a new age religion ad, but they really do work. Whenever I was feeling utterly unable to focus on my work or be paralyzed with anxiety, these methods helped me relax and restore my focus. The fear in one’s mind causes the body to produce hormones which create the stress one feels when depressed. So why should the reverse not be possible? If we forcefully calm our body down, it will affect our mind positively.

Now I have to talk about the student counsellor from the International Academy. She was the other half of my treatment program. If my psychologist handled the software, the study advisor was handling the hardware as student counsellor. Whenever I met her, she supported me with study tips and added many different aspects of RWTH and Aachen that I never realized there were. For example, Toastmasters Aachen and the wider Toastmasters community, the various engineering and activities clubs such as those for technical projects or participating in competitions, many social programmes such as language exchanges with elders, organized hiking or biking trips in and around Aachen, history tours, traditional story telling events and more.

Each and every one of them was amazing. At the regular Toastmasters Aachen meetings, I met many wonderful people and started to slowly but surely smile and communicate (stutteringly at first) personally and on a public level. Despite my initial awkward speeches on stage, I was given encouragement and advice on how to improve not mockery. This helped me break out of my shell. Then comes my meeting with seniors at retirement homes. Speaking with the elders here, I was able to hear about their long lives and interesting or heart wrenching stories which made me understand more about life. Hearing about decades of successes and failures in a calm room on a third-floor surround by octogenarians really made me have a new perspective in life and be happy that I made my mistakes when I am still young and have the time and energy to make up for it. With my language exchange, a chance obtained through the study advisor in International Academy, I met another wonderful person who really opened my eyes to a completely different facet of life in Germany – family.

The International Academy student community on IntAc's Welcome Day


Due to the language barrier, many foreigners including me have a hard time getting to know the normal German lifestyle. We start to group up with other foreigners. But this language exchange opportunity, gave me the chance to actually see this facet of life and I found something very similar and warm as family is family no matter where we are in this beautiful world. This simple realization made me more comfortable with life here in Germany than ever before. I started talking more in German as mistakes are not to be feared or avoided but they are to be made as fast as possible so that success will come faster as well. Then one day, I realized that I was speaking more or less in German over the phone without all the anxiety I had before. That was the day another item in my “To Do” list which I never thought will get checked off, did get checked off.

So with their help, I was able to slowly heal, restore my confidence and venture out into the world again. I slowly started getting in touch with the people I cut off during my dark days and started restoring my personal connections. Similarly, through their connections and recommendations, I was able to get a start in building my own professional network here in Germany. I started making many things – failing or succeeding in one try did not matter anymore. With every setback, the fire to succeed just got larger.

Then, as unbelievably now that I think about it, I had reached a point where I could share my experiences with others and hopefully help them through whatever they are going through in life. If anyone would have asked me if I would be giving advice to others just two years ago, I would have laughed at that person’s face. But yes, it did happen. It has come to the point, I am able to calmly write about everything here in the open without fear or shame as it is just a part of life.

                Now I am trying to start my next phase of life with more confidence than ever before. I truly hope all those who face similar problems or any other problems in life will ask for the help they need. There is no shame in asking for help. We all need a shoulder to hold onto once in a while. International Academy and Faculty 4 have created many shoulders for students and alumni to hold onto. You just have to take the first step to facing your demons.

In Life there is no one who has not faced humiliation, but defeat or failure does not mean the end and victory does not require perfection. So anyone suffering from problems, please do speak out and ask for the help you need.

“There is nothing impossible to a willing heart”

Part 1: Falling Down is an Accident…

Growing up, I always heard my parents say, “Falling down is never a shame; never getting up is”. I heard this saying over and over again whenever I made a misstep or faced setbacks. I always thought I understood what it meant. For example, I failed in exams, then got up and attempted it again.  This led me to believe that I truly understood what my parents told me. That I was a person who had faced failure and gotten up.

                Then life decided to give a knockout left counter. Only when one faces a real problem – a true failure – do we realize what It means. I crumbled at that time. That first blow broke my self confidence and I felt real fear and anxiety towards any other challenge coming my way even simple exams. The anxiety was so great that my hands would shiver, and I would sweat buckets with my brain freezing up the closer I got to any deadline of any sort. As one would expect, this obviously led me to failing more or avoiding my problems and feeling even worse. As this situation persisted, what remained of my confidence slowly chipped away. Eventually, I stopped trying and got lost in my own bottle – books. I refused to look at reality and kept avoiding it. This avoidance only increased as more and more time passed and I felt more pressure – to complete my course, get back to life and move on.

                Eventually that pressure became so high that I totally withdrew from life and all communication. I slowly lost touch even with very good friends as I could not answer the usually inane conversation starters like “How are you? What are you doing now?” I felt ashamed that I had failed, and I truly felt that I will never be able to make up to it. This made me feel pain – so much pain that it was worse than what I felt when had injured before. So, to avoid this pain, I truly started cutting all contact and retreated deeply into my own mind. Honestly, I thought this is the end.

                Thankfully in this case, the story has a happy ending. One fine day, my parents called me and the moment I heard their voice, everything came out – all the pain and all the truths that I had kept hidden. Then my father flew over and he simply said, “Even if the sky falls, we are there for you”. It was like a ray of light just appeared in my pitch-black world. For the first time in years, I had a sneaking suspicion – a small hope – that, yes, things will get better. It was only then that I was able to approach the RWTH International Academy and ask for help.

                Whenever one is doing fine, we never realize the need for support. We always believe that if something happens, we can deal with it by ourselves – till it happens. Then we are stuck having no idea on what to do or who to approach. But thankfully, in my case, by chance I was able to reach out to the right people. Honestly, I went in pessimistically not thinking that anyone would listen to a late twenty something man with empathy. But I was wrong. I am thankful I was. They did listen to me and that was the day I started crawling back from rock bottom but this time I had my rocking climbing gear.

                I started out feeling too nervous and ashamed to talk about my failures. Most students who have learnt under the modern education system would understand the feeling. We come from a system of education where failure is abhorrent and considered to be the final end. That deeply rooted idea of mine, changed when I saw that they listened to me calmly without being judgemental and through the course of this conversation, I got to know that I was not the only one suffering from problems and failures. That to fail is normal and that even those who climbed to the top faced real failures. At that moment something changed.

Every single story about struggle and never giving up – every single book I read, every single legend I heard about, every single fantasy and more – they all came rushing back to me. But this time, they were not in my head but somewhere much deeper and I was truly able to understand why people respected those with courage even if they failed. It was then that I truly started understanding my parents saying, “Falling down is never a shame; never getting up is”. Everyone falls down and there is no need to be ashamed of that. We have to be ashamed only if we never struggle to get up.

Student counselor Ms. Ventker in a talk with one of her students


Now coming back to the story, the student counsellor of the International Academy quickly went to work as soon as she heard my story. I had a number of problems – some with very real consequences such as the various deadlines for my studies and submission of various thesis reports. It was truly amazing to see how fast and how decisively the counsellor worked in solving problems I thought were unsolvable. Sooner than expected, I was back in the University attending classes with more hope than I had in the previous three years.

It was at this time that I met the other person who would really influence my life. It was the psychologist in-charge of helping students at the Faculty 4 office. I honestly had no idea that our faculty had started a specialized psychological counselling service till then. Personally, I have met a lot of people – students or alumni – facing a lot of psychological problems such as high stress, depression, loneliness, alienation and so on but it is usually very hard to get appointments with the few psychologists available in any timely manner.

But this was a very good thing. With an inhouse psychologist it was much easier to get an appointment and get the help one needs. That was the case with me. A psychologist is trained to listen and moreover make one speak one’s thoughts – to give one’s fears, worries, anxiety and all other similar formless emotions a fixed shape. Humans are afraid of the unknown but adapt to all threats that are known. By speaking about one’s worst fears and pains, one gives them form and this form makes one realize that the enemy they are facing is not too great or terrifying.

That’s exactly what happened that day. Talking with the study advisor earlier, I realized that I had no need to be ashamed of my failures as that is normal to face failure and that there is no need to be ashamed. Talking with the psychologist, I got a different perspective of my own problems and failures. He calmly explained his opinion and experiences and taught me a number of exercises to control my anxiety. They were very simple but very effective and they served me well in facing my first challenge on my climb back up to normalcy – my first set of examinations. That first step was hard but the constant support, guidance and encouragement from my family, the Intac study advisor and the faculty psychologist kept me from fleeing and all the techniques I learned helped me calm down during the most critical moments. Then it was done – my first hurdle was crossed and at that moment I felt the sun shine on me. I truly felt the sun shine on me for the first time.

It was just an exam, but it was also my first victory. This small victory made a monumental change on the inside. It was my first positive reinforcement. The first little bud that showed that I am not a failure and that I can improve. That defeat does not mean death. Then I got a bit bolder and faced my next challenge – a much tougher set of examinations and I failed. I did not expect that, but it did happen and this time I didn’t feel fear or guilt or depressed. I had a feeling – a tenacity – I have never sensed inside myself before. This voice kept saying, “Go and get it done now!”. So, I kept moving forward and the support continued.

Introduction: International Academy Student


Name: IntAc student
Country: India  
Age: late 20s
Study program: Production Systems Engineering


What inspired you to talk about the services provided by INTAC?

When one is doing well, we honestly don’t realize or recognize the value of proper support and services such as counselling. It’s only when a problem strikes one down that we do. During my hardest years, the support and counselling provided by INTAC and Faculty 4 really helped me get back on my feet. Even when I believed I would not succeed, they kept pushing me forward along with my family and friends and eventually helped me get through my problems one by one. Thus, helping me regain my confidence to push forward in life by myself.

This kind of constant support and guidance is needed by many students and alumni who suffer from many of the same problems I did or are in similar circumstances seeing no way out. I only found INTAC and their support services by pure chance. But how many will have the same luck? That is why I would like to talk about my experiences here, so that at least one more person in trouble and needing help will approach INTAC and thus hopefully start on their path to normalcy.

How does it relate to your studies?

I used to suffer from exam anxiety, stress from other factors and so on so forth. I believe this is quite normal among students but when I truly faced a failure and lost my self-confidence, this very common exam anxiety became near-crippling. I just couldn’t study or face the exam pressure head on, and I started avoiding it. Same with the stress of applying for and doing thesis work and other parts of the curriculum. Obviously, this does not bode well for the state of my education and as time passed, I kept getting more pressured.

I only started fighting back against this now crippling fear and anxiety, with the help and guidance of INTAC and Faculty 4 student counsellors. They helped push me forward by showing alternate paths, experiences of others who were in my position and so on so forth. They are a big part of the reason why I was able to get my confidence back and graduate. They really made the difference!

How has this affected you personally and professionally?

Normally I am a taciturn person when meeting someone for the first time and this problem only exacerbated when I lost my self-confidence and became withdrawn. This led to the withering of my personal connections and the professional network I had built up. I even lost the confidence to talk to people since I always used to get asked “What are you up to? How are you doing?”. Once I approached and started receiving counselling, I was slowly able to find the confidence to reconnect with people I pushed away and make new connections through opportunities provided to me such as an introduction to Toastmasters Aachen, Seminars and so on. Now, I am more confident when dealing with strangers and I can honestly see how it greatly it affects their impression of me.


Disclaimer: This month’s One Of Us story is a very personal one with many individual components. If you are an International Academy student and are facing problems that you cannot deal with on your own, please contact us. The sooner you let us know what is happening, the higher the chances are that we can assist and/or help you. The story is published anonymously, however, if you are interested in establishing contact with the author, please wrire an e-mail to i.ventker@academy.rwth-aachen.de.

My Personal ASML Scholarship Experience

In my interview with the ASML representatives, I was asked about how I would react when working with ‘very direct’ speaking people. At that time, I did not know the context of this question, but I answered that I tend to be direct with people who are direct to me. I followed it up with an example to corroborate this statement. Luckily, this was what they were looking for, as I later learnt that Dutch were considered to be very ‘direct’ speaking people and the interviewers were trying to judge my compatibility with the other students in the scholarship. This was the first of the many aspects about the Dutch culture that I learnt by the means of this scholarship.

ASML Technology Scholarship consists of financial support, a professional development program and a personal mentor who is a part of the company. The professional development program is in the form of training sessions which take place once in two months at their facility in the city of Eindhoven in the Netherlands.

Our first session was held in the end of August where were introduced to the structure of the company and the topics which would be introduced to us for the personal development. In a ‘speed-dating’ system, we talked to different ASML employees. The aim was to select a personal mentor and for the mentor to select us based on our mutual areas of interest. The experience to judge a person within such a short interaction required me to narrow down my focus of importance to a very small range. I was perfectly satisfied with the mentor assigned to me as it was based on the preference I gave at the end of the ‘speed-dating’ session. To me, what stood out about the person assigned to be my mentor was his belief that he would not tell me what to do, but just help me out in whatever I wanted to do for my self-development. My mentor and I have regular discussions on the goal I set for myself and my progress relating to it.

The scholarship students have had about 5 training sessions at ASML till now where we formed a deep insight about topics such as personal leadership, different personality types, conflict resolution, project management etc. The best part of all these sessions are that they are conducted by professional consultants in the field of talent development, training and coaching.  The format of the sessions is learning and understanding through games, exercises and group activities where we are required to interact extensively with other Dutch students. I was overwhelmed by the opportunity to talk to multi-talented students coming from different fields such as physics, mathematics, engineering, computer science among several others. Mingling with these students not only exposed me to a different cultural perspective but also the surprising potential of a multidisciplinary team to deliver positive results.

Before applying for this scholarship, the only place I had heard about ASML was through its advertisement posters in the Mensa. Their tag line “The most important tech company you have never heard of” was very catchy. Unlike most mechanical engineers, fast cars or roaring engines never captured my fascination. I was more interested technology that goes into making highly precise machine tools that manufacture mechanical parts with accuracy in micrometres. Learning about ASML, introduced me to machines that manufacture electronic chips with accuracy in nanometres. I was intrigued! The technology that goes into such machines is not limited to mechanical engineering but is an interdisciplinary field of physics, programming, data science and many others. Through the course of my scholarship and interactions with my mentor, I learnt of a whole new ‘hi-tech’ industry out there waiting to be explored. My objective to pursue my masters abroad was precisely to be exposed this kind of state-of-the-art technology and interdisciplinary engineering required to make highly autonomous machines of the future.

Apart from the formal training sessions, we participants were able to form our own groups for a city tour or dinner. The fun activities outside of trainings helped break the ice and share differences in Indian and Dutch culture. The most challenging part for me in this project was not the selection process but the requirement to look within myself and set up my own personal goals. I learnt various tools available which could help me through this process step by step such as core quadrants and DISC profile. The greatest take-away from this project for me was to discover my own talents and weaknesses.

ASML Scholarship: Application and Selection

My selection for the scholarship program is a perfect example of luck when preparation meets opportunity. Like most middle-class students coming from developing countries, I have also had to painstakingly arrange my financial resources to start my studies at RWTH in 2017. That was the reason for my disappointment for not receiving the ‘Best of Class’ scholarship for the first semester. This was when the students of my batch (CAME 2017) came to know about the partnership between ASML and RWTH International Academy and the technology scholarship that they offered. The scholarship consisted not only of a cash benefit of 5000 Euros, but also a yearlong ‘professional training program’ at their facility in Eindhoven and one of their internal employees as a personal mentor. The scholarship was traditionally offered by ASML to Dutch students just starting their master’s degree. Their elaborate selection procedure for 2018 in the Netherlands had just ended. However, with RWTH International Academy courses, ASML decided to make an exception and allowed the participation of students in 2nd semester of CAME course for a pilot project.

Contrary to the procedure for Dutch students, our selection procedure consisted of three phases: application documents check, online video interview and actual face to face interview. The application documents included CV, motivation letter and transcripts of records. Unfortunately, my first draft of application documents was rejected by the International Academy as it didn’t comply to european standards. However, as the luck would have it, since it was first checked by international academy, I had the opportunity to tune it to the final version which was not only accepted by the academy but also by ASML. In the second round of process, the online interview, our answers to some general questions displayed on the screen were recorded to test our communication, motivation and drive, both in general and specifically for the scholarship program. Five selected candidates went into third round of the selection procedure. The sincerity of the company was evident when six representatives from ASML’s HR and technical departments visited Aachen to interview the five of us for the technical scholarship. My interview, which consisted of general questions about my background, interest in the scholarship and hobbies, was conducted by four of them in two rounds. The next day, three students from my batch including me were informed of our selection for the scholarship.  

Introduction: Urvashi Upadhyay

Name: Urvashi Upadhyay           
Country: India
Age: 26
Study program: AME


What inspired you to take part ASML Technology Scholarship?

The money that could help me finance a portion of my studies at RWTH and the prospect of making professional contacts which would be helpful for my career prospects after I graduate

How has this scholarship affected your professional network?

The affect of the scholarship on my professional network extends to several aspects. First of all, the scholarship has given me an opportunity to make contacts with both human resource and training personnel of the company. As a part of their ‘training days’ I remain in constant touch with my mentor who is a team lead of one of their internal departments. The best networking of all has with about 30 other bright Dutch scholarship students coming from various technical and scientific backgrounds with varied personality traits and great communication skills. Keep reading to know more!

Support, Contribution and Overall Experience

Support and Contribution

Being a YA with DAAD India, I support and contribute directly in the following areas of promotion and support of German Higher education and research.

Every year, many students migrate from South East Asia to Germany for higher education. Coming from entirely different education system, often searching and applying for universities can be quite confusing. Thus, DAAD India is there to support with the queries of the aspiring students. DAAD India also organizes various webinars and information sessions. As a YA, I help and support the aspirants by solving their queries and giving suggestions based on my experience. It ranges from basic application process to the dynamics of living abroad which includes housing, roaming around Europe etc.

For the students who are already studying in Germany, DAAD India helps them with in various areas. There are scholarship options for students based on various categories depending on area of study. DAAD India also helps with further studies options like doctorate and post doctorate research. There are options of project funding from DAAD for various research organisations in Germany. Some German organisations offer fellowship options which are project oriented and they are promoted by DAAD. Finally, extensive network of DAAD YAs always helps support students with their issues as well as help in spreading awareness of various further studies options. As YA, I support students by giving them information and redirecting them to the relevant websites of contact persons.

Many alumni who have German Degrees and are working in Industries pursue doctoral and post-doctoral research. Various scholarship options are available for these positions with DAAD India. Apart from doctoral research, there are options for fellowships and project funding. Thus, DAAD India and I as a YA help the alumni with their queries and support them in their quest for further research.

You can always contact me for any queries on ya.gaurav@daadindia.org



Overall Experience

Working as a DAAD Young Ambassador helped me in three areas.

Firstly, I learnt functioning of DAAD, DAAD India, scholarships and programs. I got opportunity to get trained by DAAD officials at head office in Delhi. Further I interacted with the German Embassy in India and their Science and Technology department. I attended various forums where DAAD and DWIH are working and had a great experience in networking with the officials of these organisations. This helped me to develop the understanding of how education system, funding and diplomatic relations work across the borders.

Secondly, the information session which I conducted at various universities was an interesting way to further develop my public speaking and presentations skills. It was a wonderful bi-directional learning. Further I got to understand various students’ perspectives through their doubts and answering their doubts helped me to further improve my communication skills. I also learnt how to write media and press reports to be published in print and social media.

Finally, it is a great tool for networking. Starting from officials at German Embassy in India, DAAD India, DWIH and other German organisations till the higher officials working with universities and Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India, I got a chance to interact with these people and further understand about how the higher education system works in India and about the dynamics of the Education sector. Last but not the least, my fellow YAs coming from different countries and backgrounds really made it possible to network and learn further making the whole YA experience as a memorable one.

About Organization and being a DAAD Young Ambassador

In 1922, a student from Heidelberg visited the United States and organised scholarships for fellow students in New York. It was a project that ultimately became the DAAD, a success story. DAAD is a federally funded and state-funded, self-governing national agency of the institutions of higher education in Germany, representing over 365 German higher education institutions. In 2016, the DAAD funded more than 131.000 German and international scholars worldwide. Since it was founded in 1925, around two million scholars in Germany and abroad have received DAAD funding. The DAAD headquarters are in Bonn and there are 15 international regional branch offices which exist to provide information and advice on study and research opportunities, as well as available grants, tailored to students and academics within their region.

DAAD India is in the National Capital of India, New Delhi. Established in 1960, DAAD India promotes academic exchange between Germany and India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka. It serves as South Asia Head office for DAAD. It supports academicians and scientists in fulfilling their academic and scientific pursuits by providing financial assistance.

As a Young Ambassador (YA) working for DAAD India, the main responsibilities are promotion of Germany’s Education and research worldwide, providing platform for students who want to study in Germany, supporting German organisations etc.

As a YA, I visited universities and top Instituted in India to interact with the students and give them the knowledge and awareness about the opportunities available in Germany as well as what I personally learnt during my journey at RWTH Aachen, Germany. The information sessions are arranged by the host university and sessions are conducted according to the target audience like engineering, Management, Natural Sciences etc.

Another key role is answering the queries of future aspiring students. Queries are generally in from of Emails as the YA official emails are published on the DAAD India page for the aspirants. However, there are various other platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Quora etc. from where the aspirants send the queries. Generally, the queries are resolved by YAs based on their knowledge and experiences. After each info session, the attendees have lots of queries and it’s a very effective way of clearing the doubts and further making the way clear towards application to German universities.

DAAD India has an Instagram page which is handled by the YAs. My role particularly included the strategy and planning for Instagram which includes the standard documentations related to the posting policies and procedures. The posts include things happening in India like information sessions, upcoming pre-departure meets etc. as well as Germany events like Job Fairs, festivals etc.

YAs are responsible for supporting the DWIH (German Centre for Research and Innovation) New Delhi and the organisations within DWIH in terms of promotions of events, university courses and helping relevant stakeholders to connect to these organisations. The DWIH is a consortium of 15 German organisations comprising funding organisations, research centres and universities. The main objective of DWIH New Delhi is to promote German research landscape in India, enhance existing research cooperation and strengthen ties between Indian and German academic and scientific communities.

Introduction: Gaurav Deshmukh

Name: Gaurav Deshmukh
Country: India
Age: 27
Study program: MME-PS


What inspired you to take this position and how did it affect your career network and perspective?

I am a firm believer that education can improve the world at large. Education becomes solution to most of the issues. DAAD is a well-known organization working directly with federal ministries of Germany and various other organizations in India. I felt that it is a good platform to pursue my goals by promoting German education system. Having lived in Germany for more than three years, I felt that the education system is really good but there is a huge lack of awareness in India about Germany. Moreover, India is a huge demography with many diverse regions thus making it a great potential for spreading awareness about the opportunities of higher education and research in Germany.

In the capacity of DAAD Young Ambassador, I am working with multiple stakeholders. They include universities and educational institutes in India, DWIH, the German embassy in India and many other organizations. This helped me interact with people form diverse background like law, education, research, art, international politics and diplomatic relationships. Further, my colleague YAs come from various countries in south East Asia like Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka. They bring different ideas with unique perspectives and further chance to connect with the education ecosystem in their countries. All these helped me to grow my professional network across many geographies and cultures.

As my area of interest and specialization in more towards product management and process improvement, working in teams is an essential competency. This role helped me to learn about communication, innovative problem solving and multicultural management. I improved my communications skills as my job role makes me to contact prospective students and answer their queries. Further, I work with other organizations under DWIH (German Centre for Research and Innovation) which developed my interaction and negotiations skills. With respect to innovative problem solving, the issues coming from students across Asia are wide and most of the time need unique thinking to solve them. And finally, I work with South Asia Headquarter of DAAD and with people from Germany as well as from different countries in south Asia. I learnt how to manage stakeholders across multiple cultures. All these things are related to my career path and interest and helped me a lot to further advance in the same direction.


Challenges and Growth

To be honest, the most challenging part have been ever since I have been a part of the board of the association. They say “uneasy lies the head which wears the crown”. Rightly so. I loved being the volunteer where there was more fun and less stress. I strive to reach that fun element myself and for my team members. Setting up rules in the Organisation and sticking to it and bring strict to people to stick to the rules has also been a challenging part. Setting up systems and making decisions which can have multiple impacts.

AISA members are not motivated by money. Their only motivation is friendship, well beingness, and the fun factor. Being a part of AISA has been a boost in my confidence level. I did really well in my second semester as compared to my first semester when I wasn’t a part of AISA so much!

But being a part of such associations can also be hectic sometimes when you realise that you are not investing as much time in your studies as you should. Such phases also came in my course of studies where I failed a subject twice. Therefore a balance of fun, stress, studies and work is important to keep yourself abreast of the life goals.

Working in AISA has also helped me in getting a Hiwi job which has been a continuous support in my life in Aachen since August 2017. It helped me improve my German language skills so much. I was meeting many more people and speaking with them rather than sitting back in my home and watching a German movie. It has helped me investigate me subject which I study in a more practical way and hence better to grasp. More than that, it has helped me in my life immensely.

My favorite part of AISA is the element where I get a sense of self satisfaction with what I have done. The best part is the socialising part. AISA or rather Germany has in many ways taught me to appreciate human connection and at the same time love for oneself. I have made some of the best friends in the course of this work and that’s what I value the most.

I got some t-shirts printed for AISA (this had never happened in AISA before). So being a textile engineer I was given the job. I did some research and found a partner shortly. My institute head Prof Dr Thomas Gries has been a constant support for our group of students and has been supporting us in the technical events like the Indo-German Symposium. I have had appreciative remarks from my supervisor for displaying good skill set and passion towards working.

Working for AISA also helped me win a scholarship from the DAAD for being a “Particularly Involved Student”.

I am proud of the fact that we made AISA a registered body under the state and now we are AISA e.V. which was never the case. And I am proud of the fact that my team members love me. That is my biggest happiness

In course of the work, I never imagined I could learn designing, modelling, accounting, DJ-ing, Negotiation. Presentation, acting, dancing. It has been life changing and explaining everything in a couple of paragraphs is injustice to the experience.

I have learned amazing lessons of team building and leadership which no books could teach me. These are life lessons which I am sure will prove to be decisive in shaping my life ahead. I have met people who I might have never met otherwise. Although my studies do not include negotiation skills, it is good that I have such experiences as well.

My Personal Journey in AISA

The first undertaking of AISA where I served a volunteer was the Indo-German Symposium. The sheer scale of the event was intriguing and I knew I was fortunate and happy to be a part of it in any manner. Shortly after I was given more responsibilities: In April 2017 came AISA’s bigger ventures like the Cricket tournament (ACL – Aachen Cricket League), where I got a chance to be a co-organiser with my friend Suvajeet. A successful undertaking and your confidence level shoots up manifolds.

With events like “India on my Plate” and “Indische Fruhstück”, friends became closer, bonding became stronger and responsibilities became bigger. August and September 2017 saw the “Home buddy” program come to its true colors which was well appreciated by the International Academy and the university. I came to know that I would have to organise the Bollybeats event (the biggest Bollywood party in Aachen). Me being the co-dj in the Bollybeats was never expected and dreamt of. The fun filled event and huge appreciation humbled me.

On the side-lines I was taking responsibilities of being the light guy (Beleuchter) in the famous “theatre” in Aachen in one of the events from DIG (Deutsch Indische Gesellschaft). My spectrum was increasing ever so rapidly. My results in the summer semester improved.

Next thing I know is that I am being given the finance responsibility of the association. I was doing a lot of sponsorship talks and getting some money for the association. It felt good to be in charge of an important post of a renowned Student association.

Shortly came the biggest function of the Association for which it has always been known for the “Diwali – Kulturabend” (2018 called “Utsav”). Playing vital role in it got recognised by the then-AISA-president and it was an amazing opportunity for me to increase my knowledge in functioning of innumerable things. Sponsorship, Marketing, sales and many more. My German improved and so did my management skills. From artistic knowledge (I was a part of the skit and dance team), accounts, digital techniques and so many more things, it was such a big learning curve for me.

Hard work paid off and I was made the chairman of the association, a duty I was reluctant to take initially. Meanwhile I got a great chance to visit the dinner by the Consul General of India in Frankfurt on Indian Republic Day 2018. Me being elected as the head of AISA was surprising as I felt that there were more competent people than me. I am still constantly learning from them.

The real work started after that when the newly elected board had to form a registered Verein (Association) (eingetragener Verein or an e.V.). This also helped me expand my German law knowledge and how they are so similar with the laws in my home country. This was my first encounter with the court and lawyers of Germany and thankfully a pleasant one. With great powers come great responsibility they say. When we managed to pull off the registration procedure in less than 2 months’ time, it gave me a lot of satisfaction. The newly formed board was now legit and we could do so much more. My friend, and co-board member Vedant takes the lion’s share of credit for making us a registered association.

Since then, my roles have been organisational and striving towards making this association a sustainable and developing tools of functioning which can be executed for years to come. To be honest, I try to learn from such student associations like BEST, INCAS, AStA, AIESEC and others and constantly look to make things better in my own way. New members started joining ever so rapidly and events could be executed with so much more fun and collaboration. Although the Board remains at the helm of affairs, the main focus or rather objective is to work in a systematic method of sustainable character development of AISA’s working members.

Introduction: Gopal Pansari

Name: Gopal Pansari
Country: India
Age: 27
Study program: Textile


How I got started in AISA

I arrived in Aachen on a gloomy and lifeless Sunday and was haunted about spending my rest of the coming few years in such an environment. Thankfully the next day was a Monday and clearly more lively.

RWTH Aachen is the biggest University I have been to. It is very easy to get lost among a huge crowd of people. It is easy to develop insecurities within oneself and with the so many things happening all around you, it is difficult hold yourself from sticking your neck out and saying, “I want to join you amazing people”. And there is always an element of fun involved when people get together to make something common happen.

Ever since I was a part of the huge RWTH Aachen society, I have been meeting people from countries and places I haven’t even heard of before and ethnicities who I had very little knowledge about and a deeper sense of understanding on how naïve I was in creating opinions about anything in the world. My spectrum and vision of perspective have increased exponentially in the last couple of years. Not just for the rest of the world but also for my fellow countrymen (both Indian and German ). And AISA has been instrumental in my journey so far. I have been a part of the AISA e.V. (Association of Indian Students in Aachen) since October 2016.

Getting involved with the activities of AISA was never a thing which I was intrigued in or motivated in. It was due to a very friendly environment which I was introduced to and the journey began without me even noticing it. I started off as a normal usual volunteer who are required to clean up the chairs at the end of the event. But the enthusiasm counts. Shortly I was given more responsibilities which never felt like responsibilities.

It wasn’t, it isn’t and it will never be difficult to get into AISA or being a part of it. A feeling that “all Indians coming to Aachen are invariable a part of AISA” was ingrained in me from the beginning. So is the case today and hopefully will remain so!

Studying, Freelancing and Hobbies

Freelancing to increase my personal contacts.

Apart from the academics I am also a hobby photographer where I freelance pre-wedding photoshoots and design graphic templates for events. This hobby made me develop negotiation skills, observations skills and business skills. I developed many contacts with this hobby and I look forward to developing much more skills with my abilities. It’s only the academics that fetch you jobs but also the hobbies within us that can yield us one. Also, it’s not about taking pictures or designing, in turn develop skills that can help us in the later stage.

Culture and Food in terms of career aspects, Experiment e.V.

All I knew about Germany was mostly from websites and books and I always placed myself captivated to know more this country in person. Hailing from India, which has one of the most diverse culture in the world, I find that the German culture related to food and human relationships are more or like the same except the food here are more made to the severe climatic conditions. People here are more open to any conversation and are straight to the point which makes me very curious and to know much more about the same. Apart from learning by very own there are some Non-profit organisations like Experiment e.V., that organises home stay in a Guest Family of Germany where you can experience the actual Christmas celebrations and know German culture in person. In addition, this exploration sometime leads into building up your network in Germany which may benefit you in the near future.

Aims to participate

Further I would like to participate more in these events and cultural bridging events where I can increase the depth of contacts and network so that it can be the sole underpinning for my career in future.

Career Opportunities for Master's Students

Opportunities from Business Fairs

As we all know that Germany is a country for mechanical engineers. It has many cities that conducts fairs for advancement in automotive industries. Cities namely Hannover and Frankfurt are the major two cities that are famous for the fairs. More than 6000 companies from all around the world come to these cities to portray their technological enhancements. I have visited Hannover and was enlightened with the technological enhancements. Moreover, looking apart from the technology I got to know much more companies that are looking for ambitious students like us for internship or Job. Industry 4.0 is one technological advancement where most of the companies are looking for and the fair also offers endless opportunities for German companies. Small businesses in particular have new challenges to overcome. Apart from Fair cities every city with universities has its very own Bonding team, where they organise bonding fairs to collaborate the students with the company. I presume that, these fairs would provide greater insights to approach for internships and jobs.


Our very own RWTH Aachen University conducts excursions to different companies every year in the month of May. Where we get an opportunity to visit some of the well-known multinational companies and understand the actual procedure used in production and also how to apply for Jobs and internships in those companies. Adding to this, bonding teams also conduct excursions once in every month to different industries and in different application fields. Visiting the companies and getting to know them is a very essential part of the excursions and also making contacts with the company representative on that day of your visit. This actually builds up network which sometimes helps you to apply for jobs or internships with their references.

Career Day and Networking

The networking and recruiting event Career Day of RWTH International Academy takes place every year and 2017 was its 4th time. The event’s main purpose was to provide master students of RWTH International Academy’s programmes with networking opportunities throughout their course of studies to ensure a successful transition into the job market even after graduation. Last year close to 150 students of all the different programs of RWTH International academy availed the opportunity to get information from the well renowned multinational companies which are based in Germany. With this networking, students and companies find opportunities such as group discussions, both the companies and the students gain valuable contacts for the future endeavours. This year we had Rimowa a part of LVMH, France had its visits for intern candidates and I am proud to have been selected for the interview among the top 28 candidates. I look forward to participating more in such events.

Introduction: Amith Gouda

Name: Amith Gouda
Country: India
Age: 25
Study programme/semester: MME-PS/ 3rd Semester


My Background

As soon as I completed my bachelor’s in mechanical engineering I got a job in a multinational automotive firm Toyota Kirloskar motor. My field of interests were operation research, project management and Supply chain and I was allocated to the same dept as of my interests. During the course of work, I decided to learn more by doing Master of science in the related field. I found RWTH Aachen would be the perfect option for me and later I was awarded a seat at RWTH Aachen in MME-PS. MME-PS is one such course where it benefits every individual who wants to be either an entrepreneur or a logistics expert or a production expert or a management expert. Now I foresee that, this is it! I have been given an opportunity to open the door to explore new culture, knowledge and many more to add on.

Further journey with AIESEC

Then my journey began as an Executive board member for AIESEC in Aachen. I was elected vice president of Human Resources. It was an amazing experience to have a team work for you and get to be the one to decide various marketing plans, events and make the team bond to achieve those goals. Yes, we also had some failed experiences, workload troubles and as we all know managing humans is the most difficult part. The most challenging part was time management. With studies, mini-thesis, personal life, part time jobs and being a vice president, I surely had some fun rollercoaster experiences in life. This gave me some clarity and made me understand what is important to manage one’s time well. During this time, I got in contact with AIESEC in Germany and got opportunities to attend National Conferences and VP national summits. Again, I met some amazing people, made some awesome friends and this time the network reached all over Germany.

Picture 9: Vice president Summits for Human Resources 2018.

AIESEC conference


Marketing ventures.



Having stepped down from my position as a vice president due to time constraints with work and study life, I am still a part of the AIESEC Team Aachen (working for Talent Management). To be a part of the AIESEC journey and if you would also like to “write your own story” feel free to join us (https://aiesec.de/mitgliedschaft/). There are different opportunities, like voluntary projects, internships, scholarships, networking, power to implement an idea without the fear of failure and partying with amazing people, awaiting you. The entire journey till now was amazing including work, stress, fun and the journey continues as I am an “AIESECer” at heart .

First steps into the AIESEC world

AIESEC – Your Story Can’t Write Itself!

AIESEC is a student organization that works for the betterment of society by empowering young people. The organisation believes in developing leadership skills to achieve peace and fulfilment of human kind’s potential. Yes, there are ‘n’ number of organizations working towards the same goal. So what makes AIESEC special? Even I wondered the same when one of my friends introduced me to AIESEC and asked me to join them. I figured out the answer: it’s the journey towards the goal that makes AIESEC special! The journey comprises of four basic routes: empowering others, solution-oriented, self-aware; and the most important one, being a world citizen. The organization as of 2018 exists in over 120 countries all over the world. Knowing about all these facts and being awestruck by the power that rests in us as students, I decided to be a part of this wonderful organization.

               In the quest to obtain an identity we have divided ourselves based on religions, castes, race, sex, countries and what-not, forgetting our basic identity as Humans. With this ideology in mind and in order to spread awareness of the fact that peace is possible if we work as one unit, I joined team AIESEC-Aachen in September 2017. The responsibility handed over to me was to be an Exchange Participant manager for Global outgoing Volunteers.

Picture 1: Team AIESEC in AACHEN

My basic responsibility was to contact potential exchange participants who had enrolled into the AIESEC web portal (https://aiesec.org/global-volunteer) and be their AIESEC-Buddy to guide them through the process of deciding on a project and to be there for them until they completed a project.

This experience was mind-blowing. I learnt how difficult it is to convince people to travel around the globe for taking up some projects and to keep them motivated to pursue what they had applied for. The happiness that one acquires when you see an individual growing, helping others develop and you being just a small part of it is immense. This was my experience with Ida my first AIESEC Exchange participant who had been to Ghana for a teaching project. The photos that she sent, the experiences that she shared and for sure the times when she faced different challenges made me realize how easy and joyful it is to be there and care for someone who was a stranger two to three months ago. With her permission, here are some of the photos that she took during her journey as an exchange participant.

Picture 2,3,4: Ida and her journey as a Voluntary Teacher in Ghana.

Introduction: Rahul Karuvingal

Name: Rahul Mohandasan Karuvingal      
Country: India
Age: 28
Study program/semester: M.Sc. CAME / 4

What inspired you to be a part of AIESEC?

Life as a student is incomplete if you are not a part of any student organizations. The question was which one to be a part of. RWTH had a lot to offer in terms of student organizations, too. I was a part of the Association of Indian Students in Aachen (AISA) during my 1st and 2nd semester which helped me with improving organizing fun events. During those times I got introduced to AIESEC through a friend and was inspired by the idea of students working towards the betterment of Society. The whole concept of being a Global Citizen, sending participants to exchange projects in different countries and being responsible for the change in these individuals was amazing. With the idea of being useful to Society and to network amongst some German students I decided to be a member of AIESEC in Aachen. (Also, English is the official language in AIESEC)

How does it relate to your studies?

Being a student of CAME one can say it's only Math and Science that’s going to relate to my study field. But when you talk about soft skills and growth as an individual, AIESEC has everything to offer on these lines. The main moto of AIESEC is to inculcate leadership qualities in an individual. I could say as of now I have improved my sales skills, marketing skills, skill to manage a team and last but not the least I learnt to care for the world. I think these skills are important to survive with anything in this World. And most importantly we get an opportunity to try our ideas without worrying about failure.

How has this project effected your professional network?

One part of AIESEC in Aachen deals with managing Companies as partners in and around Aachen so that we can get potential exchange participants from different parts of the world who are interested in doing internships in Germany. I personally didn't work in this team as I lacked German language skills, but the network is open being a part of the organization. There are different opportunities provided by these partner companies to attend workshops and to get acquainted with their human resource departments. Apart from this AIESEC has a huge network of Aluminis all over Germany. The place where I am currently working also has an AIESEC alumni and it’s easier to bond with them. Overall, I am still building my network both on professional and a personal level.

Master Thesis and Career Path

How do you think this project has affected your studies?

Actually, during my thesis, I analyzed a very high volume of information related to the company’s business model and this had to be done very precisely. As a result, this gave me a broad knowledge of the current energy market in Europe.


How has your master thesis affected your professional network?

Actually, during my master thesis, I talked to many professionals and experts from the energy industry and interviewed them as well. Normally, students are interviewed by the companies but I did it the other way around because of getting information from the company’s business model and this helped me make very good connections in the energy industry and paved the way for future cooperation. It might also be interesting for students to interview top managers of companies, but for me more interesting and surprising thing was when some managers were interested in my research and even offered me internship and a permanent job. Consequently, during interviews, I could find many experts in my field of study and broaden my professional network.


How has your master thesis affected your career perspective?

To be honest, I was planning to develop my master thesis further and based on that, run my own start-up because this was the favourite topic that I could ever choose to enter the energy industry. But it didn’t happen because I decided to continue as a research assistant at the E.ON Energy Research Center (ERC) and stay with the academics. Since I was working on business model innovation for the energy industry during my master thesis, I could attract one of the professor’s attention in the E.ON ERC in RWTH Aachen University and get the application for a PhD position which starts from October 2018.


From an innovation to a master's thesis

Describe the course of the project, from start to finish

I decided to combine the electrical engineering and management topics together and extract an innovative research from them, a research which has not been ever done before. Since I was interested in the digital transformation in the energy industry as well as disruption theory in the management, therefore I planned to investigate that how innovative business models can help the energy companies to create value for their customers and capture the market for themselves. So this was the main idea but I didn’t know how to implement it. Therefore, I asked one of my professor’s (Prof. Salge) support and during several meetings, he advised me to do a multiple case study research and analyze energy company’s business models empirically. Generally, it was an independent research which means I had to everything by myself and I didn’t meet my supervisor very often. We usually met every six weeks or more to talk about the progress and the next steps to be followed. As a result, I learned to be independent and stay on my own idea. However it was a bit difficult in the beginning, later I was very happy about it and could improve my self-confident. My supervisor was also very satisfied and happy with my results.


What was most challenging in your thesis? What did you like?

Well, the most challenging part for me was choosing the innovative energy companies across Europe. Because I needed to provide a state-of-the-art research, therefore my case studies should have been innovative and contemporary to let me extract new information. Analysing a big volume of data was another challenging part of my thesis. Because I needed to cluster the data and find the similarities and differences carefully in order to find the applied business model patterns.


What was your favourite part?

I am very interested in the electric energy industry and the way that digital transformation is influencing this industry. So currently renewable energy resources with solar photovoltaic systems and energy storage systems with as Li-ion batteries are the key drivers of this industry towards a sustainable future and that’s why I like energy transition.


Introduction: Mahdi Karami

Name: Mahdi Karami                     
Country: Iran
Age: 26
Study programme/semester: MME-EPS

What inspired you to come up with your own master thesis topic?

Well, in the beginning, I was looking for a topic which would be state-of-the-art and very practical in the energy industry. I looked for my desired topic in several institutes as well as many different energy companies across Germany but I unfortunately I couldn’t convince myself to choose any of them because they didn’t caught my attention. Therefore, I decided to ask one of my professors to support me in defining my own master thesis topic. So he asked me about my background and interests to find out what really makes me happy. Although the procedure of master thesis topic definition took me almost three months, in the end it really worth and paid off!


Organization of the thesis: How did you decide on taking part? Was it difficult?

I have studied Electrical engineering and management and since I was interested in a topic which covers both technical and managerial subjects, therefore I decided to write a thesis about “Business Model Innovation for the Digital Energy Industry”. This topic was not offered by any of the institutes in RWTH Aachen University or companies in the energy industry. However, it was very easier for me if I directly went to a research assistant and asked him/her to give me a topic which he/she is working on but then it wouldn’t be my own idea and I couldn’t make sure if that would make me really happy during my research. This was the most difficult time I experienced at the time of master thesis preparation. The thing is that most of the students start their professional career in a field related to their master thesis topic because they gain experience and get a good insight into their field of study consequently. So it’s better to choose a topic which suits best to your capabilities and interests and if that topic doesn’t exist, then define it yourself!

I think that I am very sociable and don’t really like to stay in a room all the time and do research or simulate very complicated electrical circuits. Therefore, I planned to work on a topic that demands me to go out and talk to different people, from customers to suppliers. This was a very nice experience because it provided the opportunity to extend my professional network, get to know about the business atmosphere and organizational working culture as well.

Post Show Success & New York City

Post Show success

In a couple of weeks after getting back to Germany, I started getting many invitations for exhibition at art fairs and offers for collaboration with the galleries. To name a few:

  • Artifact Gallery – New York City
  • Gabriel Fine Art Gallery – London
  • International Art Events – London
  • Art Project USA – Florida
  • Shenzen and Hong Kong Art Fair – Hong Kong

New York City (The city of dreams, they say)

Apart from my art exhibition experience, the city too won my heart. The heart of New York is as big as the city and the dreams of people residing are as high as the skyscrapers. My daily commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan was not less than an adventure for me. The crowd in the subways, the elegance of the yellow taxis, the hustle of Times Square, the emotion behind the Statue of Liberty in fact each and every aspect of this city held a story within it.  I have tried to express the beauty of this city through my photography skills below. I consider myself very lucky to be able to represent at this art fair in NYC. That really gave a great kick-start to my art career and boosted my confidence to a new level.

A final message and a vote of gratitude

Even though my hard work and skills lead me through this platform, it would not have been possible without the support of International Academy. They really understood my passion and supported me in all the possible ways that I could reach there. The ‘Student Project Grant’ award is indeed a gem of my success and I will always cherish this prestigious award throughout my life. I would like to express my hearty gratitude to the International Academy members for their support and understanding. And last but not the least, my sincere gratitude to all the people who believed in me and my art and always backed me for my ventures. It is because of the constant motivation from the audience that I feel so excited to work more and explore new heights of the art world. At last, I just want to convey a message to my fellow students that if you believe in yourself and if you think that you can do it then you definitely can. Taking risk and overcoming the fear is always better than regretting later.

Four Days of Expo

19th April - Inauguration Day

The first day itself witnessed nearly 3000 visitors. Many people showed great interest in my art. From artists till art lovers, all appreciated the details of my works. I was overwhelmed with the response and was happy to have a quality discussion with them about my art.

Me with one of the artist couples from Vietnam

20th April

Even this day was filled with excitement as more and more people were gaining interest in my booth area. After gaining a brief idea of the fair and gathering much confidence, I initiated some business talks with the galleries. I approached many art galleries like Artblend Artist Agency based in Florida (US), Novem Fine Art based in Ontario (Canada), Roka Art Gallery based in Padova (Italy), International Art Events based in London (UK). The day ended on a successful note when the Artblend Artist Agency decided to make a contract with me and exhibit my works with them in their art gallery and further in Spectrum Miami Art- Art Basel Fair which will take place on 6-9 December 2018 in Miami. This was confirmed by them further through an email. Happiness was understatement for me as I cracked a deal just in my first attempt.

21- 22 April

These days were marked as trade days where many potential buyers came to the show and bought arts from various artists. Unfortunately, I could not sell anything but the response I got for my art was terrific. My sole motto was to get contacts from galleries and expand my profile to the world to get more new opportunities. I believed that I can earn from my art soon in the future but creating a good impact and making a good artist reputation is more important for me as an emerging artist. I was feeling quite sad as this show was coming to an end and I had to bid a good bye to my fellow artists. But I was happy and content about one thing that I finally made through this challenge and completed the journey on a lucrative note.

The art expo was truly a wonderful experience for me. My journey ended with all the accomplishments that I desired for. I will cherish the memories throughout my life.

An Art Expo in New York

My experience in New York

It is an artist’s obvious desire to get his/her works exhibited and represent himself/herself on a platform where people can get to know him much more and get closer to art. And I am so happy that I am one of those who got this opportunity. I got the news of my selection in Art Expo New York 2018 on 1st of January 2018. New Year was never so great before!!

Art Expo New York is one of the largest art fairs in the world and this year it celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Key facts and figures:

400+ exhibitors around the globe

Nearly 35,000 attendees including art lovers, art collectors, trade buyers, architects, designers and galleries

The entrance of the art fair

It was my first ever biggest exhibition and so it was definitely a great challenge for me as I was competing with hundreds of well established artists around the world. I was quite unsure which of my art works would represent me best and would convince my audience. So I asked my people around me, my family, my friends and other art lovers and finally I was able to decide upon my best works that I would exhibit. I was allowed to exhibit 6 works on my wall space but I decided to display 4 as I believed in ‘Less is more’. This is one of the key statements that artists follow while exhibiting their works. Here are my 4 art works that I exhibited.

The art fair took place from 19 April – 22 April 2018 at Pier 94, Manhattan NYC.

18th April - Orientation Day -  Whereby the artists had to register themselves, get their badges and set up their art works on the wall. On that itself I got to know my neighboring artists and other artists of the expo.

My wall after the set up

Introduction: Ali Vora

Name: Ali Vora

Age: 26 yrs

Course: M.Sc. CAME, 6th semester

Nationality: Indian


  • My life in Germany

Being in my bachelors in automotive engineering, I always had a dream of pursuing my master studies in Germany as I am aware of the prestige held by this nation in automotive technology and research. Getting myself into an automotive company at a good industrial position is an ultimate goal.

I started my M.Sc. CAME studies in October 2015. Initially, I was quite nervous and scared of my future life in Aachen but as the time flew, I started building up confidence and realized the gravity of hard work in order to sustain here. The course is perfectly drafted for any candidate to pursue a career either in research position or any manufacturing and planning position.

Apart from academics and work, the life overall in Aachen is extremely happening, and full of opportunities because of the vibrant student population. Being a student dominated city, it is quite easy to make friends of different cultures at every step and exchange quality ideas and thoughts.

Talking about the work life in Aachen, I am out of words. Aachen has provided me with a lot of work opportunities in institutes as research assistant and intern and in other companies as part time student worker. I was never idle and constantly occupied myself in some productive work so that I can sustain my living in Germany and save some for my passion which will be discussed further.

To sum up everything, my life in Aachen has been very productive and I can proudly say that my decision to pursue my masters in M.Sc. CAME at RWTH Aachen was very smart.

  • My Passion (AV Art)

Being a self-taught artist, I started doing art since I was 10 years old. Having a strong affinity towards drawing, I developed an expertise in charcoal drawings and sketches on paper and canvas with years of practice and dedication. My works are true examples of detailed simplicity conveying a story and appealing thoughtfulness in black and white that really grabs the audience’s attention.

During my school times, I won many drawing competitions at school levels and one at state level in 2008 and was passionate to make a name in the art world one day. After moving to Germany in 2015 for my Master’s studies, I never ceased to do art.

  • Motivation:

My motivations behind doing art are the unseen and endless beauty of this universe that I personify on paper/canvas in an artistic manner. Theme of women sketches form an integral part of my collection as my life has been influenced and shaped mostly by women. I also find pleasure in creating animal, abstract and fine art. I constantly work on innovating new themes of charcoal art that is inspiring in itself.

  • Exhibitions:

2016 -  Got selected in Rotterdam International Art Fair in Rotterdam

2018 - Participated in Art Expo New York 2018 as a Rising Artist

  • Goals:

As I just started my art career, I desperately look forward to be a well-established charcoal artist creating a great positive impact on the audience, make good contacts with artists and galleries around the world, participate in various art fairs & exhibitions to show the magic of black and white and provide quality and skillful art works to the audience and art galleries.

Perks of being a Toastmaster

Toastmasters Aachen has not only provided me a platform to develop my communication and leadership skills, it has literally provided me a gateway to experience the German culture at its best. It has provided me a platform to practice my German language skills and an opportunity to make lifelong friends.

Link to my Icebreaker speech in German: Das Streben nach Glück


The motto of an Icebreaker speech is to introduce our self to the club by sharing some fun facts about us and in turn breaking the ice)

Toastmasters is not only about communication and leadership, it’s about having fun while pursuing all these things. At the club we organize frequent outdoor events where we get an opportunity to socialize and get to know more about each other.

(Pictures from a socializing event with Toastmaster buddies)

There is no fun in learning if you don’t get an opportunity to exhibit in front of others. At Toastmasters we have contests to help us exhibit our learning and share our experiences to the world. The contests start at the club level and culminates at the international level with the winner being awarded the title ‘World champion of Public speaking’.

Link to the humorous speech contest video: Who Will Take Me Home?


The speech describes the funny experiences which I encountered during a journey from my hometown to a neighboring city in India)

(Following is a snap from the recently concluded Area contest in Aachen)

The contests are also a gateway to network with people from all walks of life. Top executives from fortune 500 companies are part of Toastmasters and you get an opportunity to interact with such inspiring and motivating personalities without any barriers. You never know, you might also end up meeting your next employer. Toastmasters Aachen recently hosted the Area level contest where members from five different clubs located across NRW participated and it was a great opportunity to make new friends and professional contacts.

(Glimpses of a networking event at a corporate location in Netherlands, where the CEO of Arion Deutschland GmbH and a top executive from Medtronic GmbH shared their success stories. The event included the participation of Toastmasters from various clubs across Germany and Netherlands)

Along with gaining proficiency in public speaking and leadership, Toastmasters International recognizes your achievements with several certificates and awards for the completion of various levels and these certificates are recognized by employers all over the world and is a great value add on your CV. Toastmasters caters to everyone’s requirements. If you are interested in pursuing comedy there is track which focuses on the nuances of entertaining and humorous speaking. If you are interested in motivational and persuasive speaking, there is track tailor made for you. If you are someone who enjoys leading and managing teams there are endless leadership positions in PR, marketing, finance etc. within the organization which you can be a part of. More than anything it has the best mentoring program where you will be guided in each step of your journey. Toastmasters International is like an endless ocean where you keep discovering new stuff, you just need an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.

Right from day one, when I attended my first Toastmasters meeting as a guest until today where I am penning down my Toastmasters journey. Toastmasters has helped me in transforming continuously to achieve the better version of myself. This transformational journey has indeed been fun and memorable, and I have enjoyed every bit of it, this is mainly because of the friendly learning atmosphere provided to me in the club, where I can confidently commit mistakes and even get applauded for the same. Toastmasters has always been a source of inspiration in my life and has always motivated me to scale greater heights as a leader and has provided me the perfect platform to hone my communication skills. I would be very happy to see my fellow classmates reap the benefits by being a part of this wonderful organization.

Looking forward to welcoming you all at Toastmasters Aachen

Are you up for a toast with Toastmasters?

1. Introduction

Good public speakers are made, not born.

In today’s competitive world, social and personal excellence depend heavily on a person’s ability to communicate clearly. Public speaking is an important skill which anyone can acquire and develop. It is also one of the best methods to overcome self-consciousness and building confidence, courage and enthusiasm in oneself. But most often than not we fail to invest time in this much required skill set, mainly because of the fear of making a fool of ourselves in front of others. But public speaking is something which can be mastered only through practice, there is simply no other way around it. You become a professional by learning from your mistakes and mastering the nuances of communication over a period. To do all this, everyone needs a platform where they have complete freedom to experiment, commit mistakes and not get judged at the end of the day for expressing their thoughts.

What if I tell you that there exists such a platform and it has been fostering people throughout the world in realizing their dreams of becoming confident communicators and leaders in their respective fields.

Does it sound too good to be true?

Don’t worry, I can completely understand your dilemma, because a few years back I was exactly in your shoes and found it very hard to believe all these at first glance.

2. First Innings

It all started with a conversation with my boss at work, who was an awesome speaker and a confident leader. I was gob smacked with his impeccable oratory skills and approached him for some suggestions on how I could take my communication skills to the next level. That was when he mentioned about an international not for profit organization called Toastmasters International.

You are right, even I thought of French toasts and toasters when I first heard the name!

As unique the name sounds, the organization is also truly one of its kind in the entire world. Toastmasters began as a series of speaking clubs organized by Ralph C. Smedley, who as director of education at the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) saw a need for the men in the community to learn how to speak, conduct meetings, plan programs and work on committees, and he decided to organize a club where they could learn these skills in a social environment, and the men responded well to the concept. He named the group the Toastmasters Club; "toastmaster" was a popular term that referred to a person who gave toasts at banquets and one who has mastered the art of presenting a toast.

With that brief history of Toastmasters, let me take you back in time to describe my Toastmasters journey!

It was sometime in the month of July 2014, I attended my first toastmasters meeting as a guest. I was very skeptical about attending the meeting, at the same time was also very curious to know what would be in store. As I was a bit early, there were not many people and I took a seat at the back (like a typical backbencher). The meeting began, and I heard three wonderful speeches followed by a fun filled impromptu speaking session called table topics.

“The human brain is an incredible thing. It works from the moment of birth – and up to the point where you get up to make a speech” - Mark Twain, and that is exactly what I experienced.

Though I did not have the courage to go onto the stage and speak during the table topics session, I was determined to become a member soon, and as decided, I became a member in the immediate membership cycle. Many people attend the meeting as guests, few of them become members, and few others become consistent guests. I am glad that I became a member and kick started my Toastmasters journey at the earliest opportunity.

3. Second Innings

There is a saying in toastmaster’s fraternity that ‘Once you are a toastmaster, you remain a toastmaster for life.’ As soon as I received the admit letter to RWTH, I was on cloud nine and the very next thing I googled was to check whether there is a Toastmasters club in Aachen, such is the value add and exposure you get in the organization (which I would be explaining in detail).

As I had recently set my foot in Germany to pursue my master’s degree. I was exposed to the biggest culture shock of my life with everything being new. Right from the food I had to eat to the language I had to speak, everything looked and sounded alien to me. I was terribly missing 3F’s which are Food, Family and Friends. Most of all I was terribly missing my Toastmaster fraternity and that was when I got my heavenly calling.

Toastmasters Aachen came like a blessing in disguise, and the very first meeting that I attended made me feel like being at home and I am ecstatic to have found a home away from home at Toastmasters Aachen. I must confess that my second innings in Toastmasters through Toastmasters Aachen has been a wonderful and joyous learning experience so far. The warmth and support that I have received from the club is immense and it has boosted my confidence to another level.

Toastmasters Aachen has been my true support system and life line in Aachen. Moving to Germany was my first time coming out of India and I hardly knew anyone in Aachen. The beauty of Toastmasters is that you need not know anyone just the tag of being a Toastmaster gives you a worldwide visa to all the clubs across continents and you would feel just like at home no matter wherever you are, that’s exactly what I experienced at Toastmasters Aachen.

Introduction: Srikantadatta Tagadur

Name: Srikantadatta Tagadur
Country: India
Age: 27
Study programme/semester: CAME (4th Semester)

What inspired you to join Toastmasters?

My desire to become a competent communicator and a confident leader motivated me to join Toastmasters.

How does it relate to your studies?

Honestly, it is not related to my studies. I study CAME which is a highly technical course, but what’s the point if I am not able to convey my technical prowess to the outside world in an effective manner. That’s where Toastmasters play a vital role, it’s structured approach towards mastering the nuances of communication and leadership helps in communicating my ideas clearly and confidently to the outside world.

How has Toastmasters effected your professional network?

I actively participate in all the events taking place within the organization which includes participating in speech contests and attending conferences in different cities and countries. This provides me with an excellent platform to meet people from all walks of life and enhance my professional network.

How has Toastmasters effected your career perspective?

I have completed specific levels in communication and leadership tracks for which I have been recognized with many certificates and awards. These awards are recognized by employers all over the world and is a great value add to my CV.

Overall Experience in Lyon

The internship experience was a great learning for me. Starting from application of work permit till the submission of business cases of the products, every day was a new challenge. I learnt a lot about the workings of governments, working within a huge corporate group with dense network of hierarchy, working across different cultures, languages and time zones, and finally developing technologies of future. The products I worked upon are emerging specially in the era of Industry 4.0 and thus I got a great start in the fields of emerging technologies. Last but not the least, I developed a great network of people and had some awesome memories with the huge machines called Trucks.

Social Life in Lyon

1. Socializing in company

Company HR used to organize Lunch meetings for interns and apprentices. It was a good way to know each other as well as share knowledge across the departments. Also, there were after-work drinks meetings outside the office which again helped to socialize in more unofficial setting. Apart from these, there were many people whom I met during the Lunch as they were always interested to know more about India, Germany and my experiences in France. There were few Indians as well working at the same site and as Volvo has two companies in India, there were always many visitors coming from India as well as people going to India. This was even more interesting as we were few who were recognized as Indians who eventually used to become unofficial guides forming a knowledge transfer network between cultures..

2. Socializing in City

There are many big research organizations and universities in Lyon and this mean that a lot of international people there. It was easy and a wonderful experience for me to socialize in Lyon. I went to some Erasmus parties as well as local meetups to meet locals as well as expats living there. There was a big Indian community in Lyon and I got to know about it from their Facebook page. Coincidently, one of the active members of the community was also working in Volvo in the same office where I was working and this I could easily integrate into the local Indian community. Apart from people in Lyon, I met many people from Grenoble, a smaller town near Lyon. As Lyon had two rivers and lot of heritage UNESCO sites, there were regular group trips and there was never a shortage of places to visit in Lyon.

Halloween party with Locals and International colleagues

Indian Traditional Festival in Lyon

3. About Lyon and France

  • Lyon is third largest city in France after Paris and Marseille. Lyon lies in Rhone Alps, with two rivers Rhone and Saone confluence in the city
  • Lyon is known for historical and architectural landmarks; part of it is a registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lyon was historically an important area for the production, weaving of silk.
  • Lyon played a significant role in the history of cinema: it is where Auguste and Louis Lumière invented the cinematography.
  • is also known for its light festival, the Fête des Lumières, which begins every 8 December and lasts for four days, earning Lyon the title of Capital of Lights.
  • Lyon is famous for food and considered as gastronomical capital of France. Indeed, the food was excellent, whether it was in Volvo canteen or in the streets of Lyon, they maintained the tradition. Lyon has traditional restaurants called ‘Bouchon Lyonnais’ which serves Lyonnaise food i.e. food of Lyon which generally include Potato Lyonnais and Rosette de Lyon.

4. Roaming Around

I roamed around a lot from Lyon. Paris was just 2 hours away by fast train called TGV (French equivalent of Deutsche Bahn ICE) towards north of Lyon. In the south, Marseille was 3 hours away by road. As Lyon itself was on the foot hills of Alps, there was an easy access to Alpes. I visited some small places in Alpes like Annecy, Vienne and Geneva in Switzerland. I even visited Turin in Italy for some official work and Toulouse in France, which is the headquarter for airplane manufacturer Airbus.

Grenoble, France, Open access owner: Olivier Duquesne; Access through https://flic.kr/p/cW88t

( Text: Gaurav Deshmukh, MME-PS )

An Internship At Volvo GTT

1.  Initial phase

As the internship was in France, I had to take the permit to work in France. France has a special internship contract called Convention de Stage which is a three-party contract signed between Student, company and the university. After getting this, the contract is approved by French labor office to issue the work permit as an intern. Though the procedure took some time for me, overall it was a good experience to learn about the different ways how the government works across the borders. With initial days of anxiety and uncertainty, it all went well in the end.

2. Work, responsibilities, challenges, learnings.

My internship was within Volvo GTT in the After-Market Technology (AMT) which is responsible for product development for the aftermarket business. Aftermarket business includes technology for diagnostics and repairs, services for maintenance etc. I was part of Technology and Services Development team within the aftermarket and I was responsible for product management of two products for AMT. My work included analysis of market and competition, discussing with advanced engineering team for feasibilities of ideas, cross component knowledge exchange, discussion with teams from Sweden and North America for market requirements and developing the business case for product development. I was also involved in development of service product offerings which included costing and pricing analysis.

Test Benches in GTT: Source: http://www.transportissimo.com/renault-trucks-recrute-273-operateurs-en-cdi/

3. What made me proud and happy

The products on which I worked were approved for Implementation in project at the end of my internship. This meant a lot as I could see all my work would be reflected in future trucks of Volvo group across multiple brands globally. Also, it meant a lot of savings for the company. Being passionate about automotive industry, I was especially happy to be part of a team and a project which would affect the upcoming trucks across the globe with emerging technologies of future.\.

4. Best part of my internship

Best part of my internship I feel was having a good team and the best manager I have ever worked with. My manager allowed me to take decisions, work independently, listen to ideas and eventually giving a lot of open opportunity to learn and interact with people throughout the group. This is particularly very important for the learning curve. Apart from him, the team was very supportive and helped me with whatever I was stuck with. They never made me feel that I didn’t know French, so it would be a problem. Overall it was a great environment to work and learn.

5. Biggest challenge for me

I think language forms a very important part of the local culture. Though the official language of the company was English, local office conversations and gossips used to happen in French. Its very important to know what’s happening around in a corporate environment so that you have a better conscious of what you are working. I somehow lacked on that part as I used to miss out on some critical discussions which were indirectly related to work.


( Text: Gaurav Deshmukh, MME-PS )

About the Volvo Group


Company: Volvo Group Trucks Technology
Sector: After Market Technology
Department: Technology and Services Development
Role: Intern for aftermarket products development
Location: Renault Trucks, 99, Route de Lyon,
Saint Priest, Lyon, France
Duration: August 2017 – December 2017

1. Volvo Group

The AB Volvo Group, branded as VOLVO, is a Swedish multinational manufacturing company headquartered in Gothenburg. While its core activity is the production, distribution and sale of trucks, buses and construction equipment, Volvo also supplies marine and industrial drive systems and financial services. In 2016, it was the world’s second largest manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks.

Volvo Group's mobility operations include:

  • Volvo Trucks
  • Mack Trucks
  • Renault Trucks
  • UD Trucks
  • Dongfeng Commercial Vehicles
  • Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles
  • Volvo Construction Equipment
  • SDLG
  • Volvo Buses

Source: http://www.volvopenta.com/brand/en-en/this-is-volvo-penta/about-us/part-of-volvo-group.html
Volvo Pent

2. Volvo Group Trucks Technology (GTT)

Within Volvo group, there is a primary entity of Volvo trucks which has further entities like Technology, Operations and Purchasing. Volvo GTT is responsible for all the Research and Development activities, advanced engineering projects and product management. GTT works for all the truck brands within the Volvo group.

3. Renault Trucks-Lyon Site

Volvo acquired Renault Trucks and it became part of Volvo Group since year 2001. Renault Trucks is headquartered in Lyon and since the acquisition, the Lyon site is used by Volvo for various operations.

©Google Street View
Renault Trucks Headquarters, St. Priest, Lyon, France.

©Google Street View
Volvo Trucks, St. Priest, Lyon, France.

I was based in the Volvo GTT working out of the Renault site located in Lyon.


( Text: Gaurav Deshmukh, MME-PS )

Introduction: Gaurav Deshmukh

Name: Gaurav Deshmukh

Country: India

Age: 26

Study Program/Semester: MME-PS, 5th Semester.


What inspired you to do this internship?

Internship provides the real-world experience and the opportunity to apply learnt knowledge for practical problems. Having deep rooted interest in automotive business environment and Volvo group involved in design and manufacturing of technologically advanced trucks, it was one of the dream companies to work with. Volvo is a market leader in premium technology trucks and is developing technologies of future. Moreover, my Profile was in line with the position and the work with respect to my experience and interests. Finally, France offered me a new culture for working and I thought that working for Swedish company in France would be a multicultural learning.

How does it relate to your studies?

Industry 4.0 is the buzz word heard everywhere. I studied industry 4.0 application in multiple subjects within the course. This internship gave me opportunity to work directly on ‘Predictive maintenance’ which is a major part of Industry 4.0. Moreover, the skills of product management, project management, economics and international business which I studied in various courses in Maastricht School of Management were used to develop business cases during my job. Thus, it was an application of diverse subjects in complex environment for business development.

How has this internship affected your professional network?

Volvo group is a major automotive conglomerate with many individual companies working at 18 different countries serving 190 different markets and has many international Cross Functional Teams. Thus, it was Immensely helpful to develop the professional network. Also, development of network is much more effective when there is work autonomy and idea expression, as it was in case of Volvo. Further, the after work social parties also helped me a lot to grow my network. Apart from company itself, Lyon had major research organizations and business establishments. That served another channel to socialize though city events, festivals and clubs.

How has this project affected your career perspective?

In addition to the technical and business strategy corporate learning, I learned one major thing, the intercultural communication and working over different cultures, languages and time zones globally. Apart from India, I had experienced German and Dutch culture during the studies. Volvo, being Swedish company and working in France gave me a good overview of cultural differences within Europe. Additionally, my project was for North American markets, so I had major interaction with North and South American teams along with some Asian teams. Thus, last one semester I could observe and learn how different cultures work together and challenges associated with it. This changed my perspective of career from being only technically and strategy concentrated to overall development.

Analysis of Low-Energy Impact on Polymers and Polymer Matrix Composites

It was in the month of May 2017, that the applications for the IntAc alumni scholarship was again called for and this time I approached the process with a grit. This was a second chance for me and I put all efforts and dedications for the process. On the 16th of May 2016, Ms. Mackenstein’s “euphoric” mail completely released my tensions when she confirmed that I am being awarded the prestigious Alumni award. I shared my excitement with only few and replied to Alice:

The scholarship assured that I would be granted the fund for my flights and a maximum 3 months of stay during my research. This was the time when I was in the literature review phase and upon sharing the news with Prof. Mallick, he was happy for me too and advised me to visit the New York and Chicago cities. More on this later.

The most important or rather fortunate task I did before starting to the USA is speaking about my voyage with the Deutsche Bank personnel. I explained my concern regarding the transfer and conversion of currency and to my help, they activated “special services” for my Deutsche Bank account by which I could withdraw cash in Dollars at any Bank of America (BoA) ATMs without conversion charges and taxes. Although the number of BoA ATMs in Dearborn was comparatively less, I made sure that I stock enough money in case I had to travel or stay in places with mediocre BoA services or my friends offered me some in case it was extremely urgent.

As mentioned earlier, Prof. Mallick adviced me to travel and experience the society of the USA, I planned my solo trip to various places of which New York and Chicago are worth to be described. Amtrak, unlike Deutsche Bahn, has no ICE trains and it took 13 hours to cover a distance of 650 km from Niagara Falls station to the New York Penn Station. I couchsurfed at my friends’ in New York & New Jersey cities and the most exciting part of the journey was the trip to the Statue of Liberty and the tour to the remains of WTC. On one side, I experienced the history of European migration to the USA and on the other side, I was spellbound on how the city of New York stood back after smoking the soot of 9/11.

Figure 3: View from Empire State Building (top). View from One World Trade Centre at Manhattan (bottom)

After glancing about the history the USA’s venture into the fight for crude oil upon visiting the Rockefeller centre, I closed the curtains of my New York exploration. Moving on, the next visit was to the city of Chicago. Completely unaware of the fact that Mies van der Rohe migrated to the USA, I climbed on the top of the Willis tower to take a glance of the city he designed. I then understood why FB5 (Civil Engineering) of the RWTH Aachen is built at the Mies van der Rohe Strasse in Aachen and a department was named after him at the Illinios Institute of Technology in Chicago. The zenith knowledge that he had earned to construct skyscrapers combating the wind and rain of the city of Chicago was very intriguing. The experience of witnessing the truce between the setting sun and the rising moon over the Navy pier from Jan Hancock observatory is completely inexorable.

After an ample travel, I headed back to UMD to work on my thesis. By the time I returned back to the institute, Prof. Mallick had amassed all the necessary data from the experiments and discussed the exact FEM model that was needed to be analysed. Due to the summer break however, I had no means to ply to the university since the university shuttle service was closed. It was only then I understood that the concept of footpath was completely alien for the people living out of big cities of the USA. I had to walk over the side lawns (see Figure 4) for a distance of 2 km one way to make it to the institute. However, understanding my plight, Prof. Mallick allowed me to work from home and asked me to consult him personally in case of discussion or clarifications.

Figure 4: Hubbard Drive with a commuter friendly footpath

The material that was under testing was a variant of Nylon with three different glass fibre orientations. The FEM simulation was performed in a condition similar to experimental testing and the results were mutually compared. The test consisted of static and dynamic loading over the polymer matrix material as shown in the Figure 5. In the case of static loading, the indentor of 25.4 mm diameter was made to impinge over the surface of the poly matrix material and the resulting stresses, strains and cross-sectional thickness variations (refer Figure 5) were recorded. In dynamic loading case, the indentor of 6.35 mm diameter was dropped from various heights and the same data were captured. The force displacement curve, the residual stress and strain curves and the variation of polymer matrix thickness across various regions were studied.

Figure 5: Model setup (Left). Thickness at various regions (right)

The sample results from the numerical simuations are shown in the Figure 6. Based on various other criteria, e.g. dent thickness, residual stresses and strains etc. the most suitable polymer matrix material was prescribed for automotive hoods and dashboards for occupant and pedestrian safety.

Figure 6: Results from numerical simulation (Sample). (a) Static loading. (b) Dynamic loading

With a cheerful smile after recollecting my journey exploring the USA, I have few strong advices before I draw the curtains of my blog. The greatest time for a person to learn, explore and travel is in the student life. The more the number of journeys, the more is the inner strength to combat unforeseen and intangible challenges. With a diamond hard mind, one can conquer anything that they aspire to. Being enslaved to the jail-like 1.0 and 4.0 system of scores only builds mental pressure rather than making a person enjoy the real beauty of engineering and technology. Scores only quantify a person to aim at only one answer by repeated practice but a strong mind always opens up parallel and out of the box thinking. I was quite fortunate that I experienced various challenges, societies, technology during my student life at the RWTH Aachen. What about you? Come out of your cocoon and fly high!

I sincerely thank IntAc for being a catalyst of my journey on quenching my thirst towards constant learning.

( Text: Bharat Anantharam, CAME)

Preparing for a research internship at the University of Michigan

I have a motive in my life to amass a diverse range of experiences - be it personal or professional. With diverse experience one can discern the right from the wrong facts. With this ideology, I stepped ahead to pursue my foreign research internship. Through this blog I would like to share my experience about the process, the hurdles and the way I won over them to satisfy my thirst of constant learning.

I first streamlined the universities that were working in my area of interests. I had chosen close to 20 universities worldwide which work in automotive crash/NVH/Durability analysis using FEA and/or experimental analysis. Further, I researched about the faculties and the individual professors based on their publications, h-index and availability. Upon finalising on the list of professors, I mailed them expressing my interest. Although only a few replied, few were retired and shared the contact of actual people who were in chair. Fruitfully, few professors replied mentioning the possible topics, from which I had to separate the ones that I already have worked on, e.g. material modelling, programming etc. from the ones that were new and challenging. Finally, from the list of possible interesting topics of the project, I decided upon “Analysis of Low-Energy Impact on Polymers and Polymer Matrix Composites” offered by Prof. Pankaj Mallick at University of Michigan at Dearborn (UMD), the USA. After confirming my participation, I immediately logged into Facebook to look out for my friends and acquaintances that were living in Dearborn.  What tickled my funny bone is that, I found many of my bachelor friends were living in Dearborn and also that, like for courses offered by IntAc, the mechanical engineering department/faculty at Dearborn was flooded with Indians :D. I got in touch with many of them through a single person, Vishnu - my junior in B.E. who was more like a local don :P. Through the Indian community, I became aware about the cost of living in Dearborn and to my surprise, they had already arranged a place for me to stay.

Well the destination was still 3/4th of the way ahead, since the next important factor was to fund myself for my complete stay in the USA. Although I had not received any scholarship at this point, I was very firm in pursuing the offered project. First of all, hailing from India, investing for my masters in Germany and then thinking about a self-funded internship in the USA is a test of one’s determination and risk taking capabilities. To minimize my risks, I first started hunting for possible funding partners for my programme. I had approached various sponsorship programmes, e.g. MIRAI, RISE, IAESTE, RWTH Ambassador Program, UROP Abroad under the International office of the RWTH Aachen. Few programs were exclusively for German students, few for only bachelor degree students and in few programs, I had to choose a topic of internship that was available. However, at the same time, RWTH International Academy had freshly announced its new “Alumni Scholarship Program” which grabbed my attention since, the scholarship was offered irrespective of the topic of choice and other conditions.

With a lot of hopes of receiving the prestigious IntAc Alumni Scholarship, I prepared my documentation and applied for it on the 15th of Dec 2015, however, unfortunately, I could not make through it. Although disheartened, the rejection did not discourage me from flying to the USA to pursue my project. In parallel, I had to make my visa documentation process for which I received the DS2009 and Selvis form from the International office of the UMD. Upon receiving the documents, I had to book an appointment at the Frankfurt US consulate for which I had to pay Visa + Selvis fee of approx. 330 Euros. The online portal for applying for the US visa is very time consuming and one has to make sure that the data entered is meticulously verified before submission. On the day of appointment, I was made to enter the consulate not with an extra paper apart from the application and visa documents. Although I carried a bag with me, I was made to hand it in at a shop 500 m away from the consulate. Although I had uploaded a recent photograph on the online application portal, the official was not satisfied and he suggested me on getting a new photograph from a photo-booth right inside the visa office. All I had to make sure was I had to tender exact change for the photo-booth since nowhere inside the visa office there is a provision to pay via card. I was told that my visa was granted immediately and should wait for the stamped Selvis form and visa (along with my passport) through mail.

Few days later, I received my passport with stamped visa but however without the Selvis form. I was not sure about the requirement of the Selvis form at that point of time and hence carried a photocopy of the same during my travel to the USA (Actually, the US consulate at Frankfurt had forgotten to send the stamped Selvis form, thanks to their carelessness). My first port of entry was in Atlanta where I had approx. 2 hours of transit time. And to my shock, for the flock of people flooding into the immigration section, only two out of ten were opened. And the first cultural shock that I could witness was the officials at the immigration desk discussing about a latest action movie that was recently released. Annoyed with the slow verification, I requested few of my fellow travellers ahead in the queue to let me ahead since the time for my connecting flight was approaching. After successful requests, I stood in front of the immigration granting officer who verified my visa and with a querulous expression on his face asked me “Where is the stamped Selvis form”? I was completely shocked and showed him the copy of the Selvis form that I received form the UMD office. Only reply he made was “I am sorry, Sir, I know you’re in a hurry but I bet you won’t be able to make it to your Detroit flight. Please follow me to the Federal Immigration Office”. I felt chills running down my spine at that moment.

However, the scenario at the Federal Immigration Office was quite different. I was asked to submit the missing document within a month (which was later done) and my entry was granted.


Escaping from the thunder jolt, I approached the terminal where I was told that my flight had already taken off and the other flights and the hotel rooms of the agency were fully booked for the day. With peaks of helplessness, I posted the following on Facebook and instantly, my Messenger chimed to notify a message from a friend who spoke to me after 2 years out of the blue.

Well, the answer to his question was a very decent appreciation of the country and the people associated for my visa issues, I prefer not to mention it here ;) :P Finally, he picked me up from the airport to his place where we chatted and gossiped about all the days we were not in contact. Next morning, I was again dropped to the airport by him and the journey to Detroit International airport was smooth later. I was again picked by a friend (well, a friend of a friend), Sumukha at the Detroit International Airport who dropped me to my den which I had to share with three other cubs for the next 3.5 months.

Place of stay at Fairlane Woods, Dearborn

I headed towards the university to complete the formalities necessary for registration and I met Prof. Mallick for the first time. He killed my perception that Prof.s have a serious and gritty looks by his jovial and soft spoken words.

With Prof. Pankaj Mallick at the Institute Lab

He gave a brief introduction about the University layout and helped me in completing the formalities through his secretary Ms. Sherry Wagner Boyd. After the orientation, he explained me the exact task of the project and offered me the relevant materials, e.g. work desk, literature, access to the library etc. Not to forget was his support towards Insurance.

Throughout my plan on the episode of the USA, what I had actually not thought about was the compulsory need of an insurance. UMD has a tie up with an Insurance provider, Aetna whose plans are completely out of sync with other insurance company plans. Later I found out, that this is the usual case in most of the US universities. In Germany TK, AOK, Barmer or MaWista target exactly the insurance norms that the German govt. sets for public health and safety. But in the USA, the concept of insurance is extensively privatised and the capitalists milk the cow by bending the requirements according to their needs so that a student of one particular university is forbidden to purchase a private insurance since their policy does not provide sufficient coverage to the diseases as offered by the university insurance partner. This turned out to be a huge bouncer for me and I approached Prof. Mallick for seeking a solution. Call it his love towards his students, prof. Mallick waived off my need for insurance by claiming that I was the part of the institute. I am really thankful to him.

( Text: Bharat Anantharam, CAME)

Introduction: Bharath Anantharamaiah

Name: Bharath Anantharamaiah
Country: India
Age: 28
Study programme/semester: M.Sc. C.A.M.E. (2012-2014)

What inspired you to take part in this project?

Being fascinated by FEM analysis, I worked on various projects at the RWTH Aachen, e.g. Static, Fatigue, Damage, NVH and Crash analysis. The project offered at University of Michigan at Dearborn was challenging me to explore material based occupant and pedestrian safety analysis. This area was particularly interesting, as instead of approaching occupant safety with the available conventional devices such as airbags and seatbelts, the project dealt with innovations in material science to offer enhanced safety performance.  Additionally, the exposure would have offered me the transatlantic work experience which is an added advantage.

How does it relate to your studies?

Working as a scientific research assistant in FEA at various research institutes of the university, the prominence of automotive crash and occupant & pedestrian safety as the research priority was clearly realised. The project I pursued at the University of Michigan at Dearborn was the application of the FEM knowledge that I mastered at the RWTH Aachen in the automotive safety and material testing domain.

How has this project affected your professional network?

By pursuing this project, I gained the confidence of my guide at University of Michigan at Dearborn, due to which I was offered few career opportunities at the university. Also, I developed many contacts with the alumni of the university who are supporting me with referrals at their companies.

How has this project affected your career perspective?

My work will be published in an international journal. I was also offered a master thesis in the same domain. Additionally, recruiters have shown interest in the project during interviews. This project has placed my profile at a higher preference level to recruiters worldwide.

The Making of an Educational Booklet

As I wanted the learning process to happen the most practical way, I wanted to test the material I was including in the booklet, so I thought I should test it personally to try it out and see how it works. I thought that the best way to learn it would be to build something and follow the process, so I got all the information from the project I did during my master thesis and it was very helpful. But apart from that, I wanted to test the process with different examples, and it is also my favourite part of the project as it is really fun to work practically with people. I had the chance to attend two main events that contributed to this goal. The first one was the ETH “Manufacturing the Future” week, where in team, we designed a prototype of a machine that would destroy plastic residual PET bottles, turn them into pellets, melt them and extrude to produce filament for FDM 3D Printer, and finally print a small toy for children, which could be the memory from an amusement park where he was visiting. The project continued to evolve and the machine turned real, yet because of geographical location I couldn’t continue to test my process with that project. I could apply and test only a small part of my project but it was a great experience to explore how the design process works in a team.

“Manucycler” machine prototype

As a second testing process, I thought of designing and building a musical instrument. I thought it could be something that people could design and build to learn the process in a motivating and relatively easy way. So I took a course to build music instruments and tried to follow the process I was proposing. It was a really nice and funny experience but I found another challenge: there was no time to work on following my process during the course, and after the course, only part of the project could fit. But I worked on designing and building a protective cover for it as it is part of the design process proposal, which worked out very well. One more big challenge was and still is to do a life cycle analysis of the materials and parts of a product. Confidentiality and organization of information is a big challenge that still needs to be solved, and I found that out already during the thesis.

“Bambunini” Music instrument and its protective cover

There were a couple more challenges I unfortunately encountered while working on the project:

  • No team: I was working most of the time alone. There are people who people kindly offered and gave me support when I requested, but there was no one that walked together with me during the whole process, which would have allowed a more periodic and constant feedback, and that would have accelerated and eased the progress.
  • No room to live in: I was living with a roommate and exactly when I started working on the project, he had to move out, and I had bad luck to be kicked out as well as I didn’t have a job contract for longer term. Then I lost a lot of time and effort looking for a room, because the Octoberfest together with the new semester starting didn’t allow me to find one so in the end after two months of searching I gave up and lived with friends, but it was not an easy process to focus on my work.
  • Computer problems: My old laptop started to die, first the RAM port stopped working so it took time to find out what was the problem until I fixed it, and then the Wi-Fi  board also failed, so I could only connect to internet with a cable.

But apart from the challenges, I enjoyed the process a lot, especially travelling around to get more experiences and meeting new people related to the topic. The content I learned during my master program was quite useful for the project: I regularly accessed the material from the courses I took to get ideas and to build the booklet. The main course that relates to my project is machine design process, where we learned the engineering design process, although I wish it can be taught with more depth in to sustainability.

Today I continue working on the project. I have been refining information and it has continued to evolve. The next steps are first, to finish a second version of the booklet. It has several changes from the first version and I am working on its registration so I can publish it. After this, the plan is to turn it into an interactive website and into educational material that can be carried out through practical courses of different time frames, and maybe also later online courses. I want to spread information as free and open source as possible, but I also need to get economical resources back from all the effort I am giving. A great next step will be to make a team with people that are working on the same field.

I see myself in some years working still on this topic: teaching it through workshops, summer schools, university courses or school classes, and also constantly learning more about it as it will continue to grow and evolve every time faster and wider, so I feel quite excited about the future.

I would just like to conclude by saying that the story of my thesis and the story of the project have been two linked wonderful experiences, which happened to me because I committed to follow the professional topics of my passion. Yet finding my professional topics of passion has not been fast nor simple process. I have many hobbies which I sometimes thought that could be my profession as well, so a big step for me was defining which topics are hobbies and which topics I want to work out as profession. So a couple of recommendations that I would give to those who are seeking next steps in professional life are: First, find which activities are your basic needs that you need to be healthy and at your 100%. Then find out which activities are your passions. From the list of activities that you love, find which help the world (external development) and which help yourself (internal development). If there are any actual activities or passions that affect negatively yourself or others, avoid them or change them for other activities that do not have negative impacts. Finally, look for opportunities of activities that you feel passionate about and that at the same time improve the world somehow, because by doing something that helps others is the way to gain back the effort in economical resources. And do not take opportunities that are not congruent with that what makes you happy. Today we live the age of possibilities so it is possible to do what you like although a challenge is to get rid of fear. These tips help me to do what I want and help things around at the same time, I hope they and the story can help someone else as well and if there is anyone that would like to chat further about anything that I wrote, please let me know.


( Text: Ricardo Pfeiffer, MSc PSE Alumnus )

Alumni Research Grant: Sustainable Product Lifecycle Systems

The story of the Alumni Grant project starts with the story of my thesis, which makes it a longer beginning. After the first year of my master program MSc PSE, I started looking for thesis projects related to the topics of my interest: sustainable engineering design and production systems. I didn’t want to work on a project that would be unrelated to that field, so I looked on all RWTH Institutes. After some time without success, I thought it would be easier if I created my own project proposal, so then I could really do what I wanted. A friend of mine wanted to invest on building a compacted earth brick production machine to build sustainable buildings, so I thought that could become my project. We made a project proposal to the IGM Institute to design and build the machine as my master thesis and the idea was very well accepted by the staff of IGM, which were all kindly open and interested in helping, but it turned out that the construction part would be quite complicated, as there was no easy access to the necessary production equipment such as specific welding, laser cutting or metal cutting machines.

After some time of struggling with figuring how the project could be carried out, I found a thesis project open position to work on sustainability analysis together with engineering design for a German bicycle start-up company Koala Bicycles GmbH established in Munich, with the intention to improve their designs towards more sustainable. I was very attracted to the project and thought it could be more realistic to carry that project out than the one I was struggling to do, so I sent them a motivation letter expressing my interest to participate. The funny part is that it was a thesis project offered by the ETH Zürich University in Switzerland, as the members of the company were students that founded the start-up aided by the University, but luckily that was not a limitation factor, they accepted my application were all very kind with me. The only condition was that I needed to move to Munich in order to carry out the practical part and to carry out an internship, which also sounded very attractive. For sure I accepted the challenge… and sadly had to drop the initial project with the IGM. I then needed to find an internal supervisor that would be willing to coach me in the project, but luckily it was short until I found one. Key factors to find her fast were that she was working on research about sustainability-driven engineering design (so the same topic as the thesis), and that I had already green light from the company and the other Uni to start working.

I moved to Munich and started living an amazing period of my life. I was working on theoretical research about sustainability-driven design and also practically building bicycles with natural materials such as bamboo and natural fibres. The workplaces were incredible and the people really kind. Big challenges were large number of tasks to be done and communication with supervisors through Internet, but as I enjoyed the topic so much I didn’t care. I enjoyed the whole project process from the first day until it was all done, I was really living my professional dream. I learned how important it was for me to work on the topics that I am passionate about, because challenges become easier to handle, and I felt quite motivated so once I was done, I wanted to continue working on similar opportunities.

While working on the thesis, I found out that there are several opportunities for research and development. One is the way engineering design is handled and taught: it has still a big gap in the formal integration of sustainability principles and the necessary methods that can be used to design considering sustainability, which are already available, so I got some ideas on how to close this gap. I also found out that in general, social understanding and awareness about the topic of sustainability is still at the tip of the iceberg: people know that we are facing difficult times in the world regarding natural resources depletion, pollution and so on, but understanding sustainability from a systematic perspective is not easy without having specific education on that topic. And without deep systematic understanding and awareness, it is not easy to take decisions towards change, especially in the field of design and production which is the core of the global problem of unsustainable systems. Education is from my perspective the best way to solve the problem, as people from any age can learn how to transform unsustainable systems into sustainable. So there is an opportunity and also a global need to increase educational content and programs that merge technical education with sustainability education.

Mater thesis design outcome: more sustainable bicycle fork

After my thesis, I wanted to continue my profession by focusing on those fields of opportunity I found, ideally by working on education as a teacher and by working on sustainability-driven product design. I was travelling when I received the invitation to apply for the Alumni grant. It was a great offer as it would allow me to work on those ideas, so I applied and luckily got green light. My proposal was to develop an educational toolkit in the form of a booklet that could be useful to teach or learn about sustainability-driven design and production systems.

It was a really great opportunity as I got again big motivation to continue working on the topic I am passionate about in an officially recognized and supported way. This time it was independent from company and supervisors, although I got support from different characters along the way. I was already living in Munich, so I continued working there where I also had the chance to access the workshop where I did my master thesis. It was the ideal place to work this project.

The way I worked was to first, design a plan with all the tasks I wanted to carry out. It started by taking the information I developed during the thesis, which was a sustainability-driven design process proposal, as the base and backbone of the booklet I wanted to create. The idea was to integrate in that booklet the necessary information to learn about  sustainability-driven engineering design and production systems in a practical and interactive way. As I started doing research and gathering information, I found out that there was a lot more than I was considering, so the content started to evolve and that was the first challenge that emerged: new important information appeared constantly and I had to constantly adapt the content. By the time the project ended, the first version needed a lot of optimization, so I continued polishing it. The title was “Sustainable Product Lifecycle Systems - Educational Design Toolkit”.

First version of the educational booklet: “Sustainable Product Lifecycle Systems – Educational Design Toolkit”


( Text: Ricardo Pfeiffer, MSc PSE Alumnus )

Introduction: Ricardo Pfeiffer

Name: Ricardo José Pfeiffer Hurtado

Country: Mexico / Switzerland

Age: 30

Study programme/semester: MSc PSE (started: 2014, graduated: 2017)

Project Title / Topic: Sustainable Product Lifecycle Systems

What inspired you to want to go abroad?

My goals at 2014, when I chose to go abroad were the following: First, I wanted to live in Germany or Switzerland to have the experience of living in Europe, learn German was a very strong goal, visit and grow the relationship with my family there and I wanted to get more knowledge on the topics of Engineering design and Production Systems, combined with Sustainability, which I knew I could learn and experience in both countries. I was also interested in education so doing a Master was a next step towards academic path, which I was not sure if I wanted but then I could decide it later if I do a PhD. And finally, I needed a scholarship so I got informed about the possibilities of applying to a scholarship with the Mexican institution of CONACYT, which had a strong partnership with the German DAAD. All that together made me point at Germany.

What were you most excited about before coming to Germany?

There was no specific thing that made me exited but many: The whole new life adventure that was upcoming. I felt really grateful to have the chance to go and study, I knew my life was about to change a lot for good.

What are your career goals?

My professional focus topic is Sustainable Engineering Design & Sustainable Production Systems (both go together), and I plant to work it out in two ways, depending on the opportunities I find: working on product development as a design engineer (with high influence on the possible production systems), and working on education, which is an activity I really enjoy and know how important it is especially regarding design and production systems with strong focus on sustainability. I am preparing educational content and courses of different time formats to apply for teaching. And the dream goal is to, together with some friends, open a Makerspace / Fablab where people can gather to learn and teach in a practical and collaborative way, all around the mentioned topic: take courses, design own personal products, design products for companies, for governments, and all always sticking to sustainable principles. The place and time is not yet defined but step by step that would be the end goal where my aims merge.

P&G European IT Hackathon

Early in November last year, I came across an ad for the Procter & Gamble European IT Hackathon. The mid-semester boredom had me looking for a diversion lately, so after a few calls, applications went out from me and some of my friends here in Aachen. Soon, this was followed by an acceptance mail. Our team from Aachen included Rohit Walia, the Electrical Engineer, Anush Satheesh, a Production Systems guy and myself. While we were thoroughly unequipped with the capacity to code, we were clear about our primary objectives: Eat, Enjoy and Network.

So, on the 24th of November this little band of adventure-seekers left by train for Kronberg am Taunus – a small town near Frankfurt where P&G’s Research and Development centre in Germany is based. Housed in a massive facility is the Makers Space – a lab/lounge like environment optimised for ideation, creativity and with all the tools one might need to create something from scratch. Participants from across Europe (and Israel) explored the 3-D printers, tool boxes, sensors and much more left at our disposal. The participants included engineers, fashion designers, MBA students, art students…

Soon, short presentations from department representatives introduced us to the general challenges that P&G was facing with its various products. This was followed by a Design Thinking workshop to ideate possible challenges and concepts that we might try to approach. Teams were formed – we found two other students (coders luckily) and our band was now ready. What I really liked about this system – there was no defined goal. We could define our own problem statement and create a solution! Of course it had to be relevant and useful for P&G.

The Batbrush - our product and creation

It took us about 6 hours, including the design thinking phase to finally decide what our team would try to make – a mechanised smart toothbrush for children. Thus, began a sleepless night of designing, coding, manufacturing, troubleshooting, and ofcourse, lots of eating. Our concept for the product kept evolving through the night. Personally, I was able to apply knowledge I picked up in a previous internship in sensors to our product. I learned how to use the Spark IoT device from scratch and along with my team member, coded it to recognise brushing movements and patterns. Parallelly, we also developed a universal housing for our sensors and IoT system, which could be attached to any toothbrush like a cap. Besides this, our device was synced online with a backend server which was able to report data in real time. Some cool CAD models churned out amazing prototypes through 3D printing. Finally, as the sun started shining bright outside, the groundwork was complete, and I went for a siesta (which I could enjoy for no more than an hour). When I woke up, we had a fully functioning prototype for a IoT enabled toothbrush cap capable of detecting a user and recommending a dental hygiene routine. Though crude, we now worked to make a presentation which would pitch our idea. Our USP was simple – we created a product with additional features for about EUR 20EUR, the equivalent system for which was available win the market for about EUR 250. Due to some prior commitments, Rohit and I recorded our parts over a video and left early for Aachen.

Rohit & me recording our pitch for the Batbrush

On our way back, we discussed how we might have performed better. Our team had strategized well in terms of division of work and prioritising tasks. We wondered if we could have pitched in a better way. But all this was now behind us. We had met our primary objectives – to Eat, Enjoy and Network. Overall the sleepless night was rather unexpected and fun! We had the chance to meet an amazing bunch of innovators among the participants and network with P&G professionals. Later in the evening, as Aachen was celebrating the Diwali Kulturabend, a quick phone call from my friend and teammate Anush in Kronberg, “Dude, we won!” We had won as the best team in Germany. I dashed to find Rohit in the crowd during the event. Later in the month, an international video call declared our team 2nd in Europe (just after another team in Israel btw). In short, an unexpected, enjoyable and rich experience. A huge thanks and shout out to my team members, and the staff at P&G.

The Video call declaring us 2nd in Europe

( Text: Vedant Prusty, MME-CAME )

Introduction: Vedant Prusty

Name: Vedant Prusty  
Country: Bhārat             
Age: 24
Study programme/semester: MME-CAME / 3

What inspired you to take part in this project?
The fun of networking and free food.

How does it relate to your studies?
It doesn’t! Not kidding… but I do have a background in Mechatronics Engineering – that’s functional knowledge to be able to take up any role in such multi-disciplinary Hackathons.

How has this project effected your professional network?
Well, to put it concisely, I did walk away with an offer for an internship

High Voltage Direct Current HVDC System Development

The growth in the electrical energy demand, the penetration of the renewable energy resources and the transmission of electrical power over long distances between the generation units and the load introduce new challenges to the electrical power grid – all of these aspects inspired me to integrate in an international project in order to gain an extraordinary experience and participate personally in the one of the most important future project in electrical sector in Germany for upcoming years.

Wind Parks in North Sea
Source: Havvindparken Sheringham Shoal (Foto: Harald Pettersen/Statoil)


How does it relate to your studies?

The government subsequently revised its estimate, saying that the installation of Wind Parks with a total capacity of over 60 GW in the North Sea will be completed by 2030. Due to their location far from shore, they will connect these parks by using modern High Voltage Direct Current HVDC system linking with modular multilevel converter stations MMCs. Because of the high installed capacity; it is envisaged to connect the wind farms using a meshed HVDC grid, also featuring interconnectors between different countries (Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom and Denmark) to increase the reliability of the system.

As I have a quiet interest in the High voltage technologies besides a good knowledge in the simulation of power system with some experience before, I am always looking for the new challenges in the high voltage fields.

I believe that RWTH Aachen University can provide an optimal environment for master students, who want to refine their knowledge and experience, furthermore it converts them from theoretical into practical level. For that reason, I found the new technology in this project of using MMCs and applying the fault ride through methods in the HVDC meshed system fascinating to work on and it will be a big step forward in energy sector.

ARD-alpha reportage – in the laboratory of high voltage in RWTH Aachen University


How has this project affected your professional network?

Working with researchers and professional engineers is always valuable, by participating with such a project makes your professional network strong, and open the doors to obtain a substantial opportunity in student’s career life after the graduation.

ARD-alpha reportage – in the laboratory of high voltage in RWTH Aachen University


Planning and challenging

Thesis project is kind of full time job – it might be even more if the student is diligent and wants to get good result. The best things to do is to divide the thesis period on the task which one has to work on. Student also should synchronize the writing task with the daily work in order to include all the process in the thesis so as to avoid wasting time.

Working in the University office

ARD-alpha reportage – Studying in the library


(Text: Osama Aldakkak)

Introduction: Osama Aldakkak

Name: Osama Aldakkak
Country: Syria
Age: 27
Study programme: M.Sc. MME - Electrical Power System

I am Osama from Damascus, the capital of Syria. I came to Germany in 2015 in order to complete my studies in master program. Since I have graduated from electrical power engineering faculty from Damascus University, my ambition was always to complete my studies and get involved in international projects to refine my experience. My eyes turned into RWTH Aachen University as it is one of the best universities of Excellence in Germany and the copious amount of new technologies and ideas.

(In only two years of time, Osama has not only achieved excellent academic performance, but also gained a handful of extra-curricular experiences and skills. He even wrote a self-introduction in German to demonstrate his language skills. The International Academy Social Media Team is highly impressed!)

Ich stamme aus Syrien und studiere mit einem Stipendium der RWTH International Academy in Verbindung mit dem DAAD Elektrotechnik. Als ich 2015 nach Deutschland kam hoffte ich meine Weiterbildung mit meiner Qualifikation an der RWTH Aachen zu entwickeln. Am Anfang habe ich mich einsam gefühlt. Und es war schwierig, alle Credit-Punkte in meinem Master Studium zu sammeln. Aber dann wurde es einfacher und ich habe mich daran gewöhnt, zehn Stunden am Tag zu lernen. Aachen, das ist meine zweite Heimat, es ist wirklich eine schöne Stadt. Und man kann in Aachen viel erleben, Freunde verschiedener Nationalitäten kennenlernen. Es gefällt mir sehr.

(We would like to draw your attention to two television documentaries that featured Osama. Although the reports and interviews were conducted in German, the reports showed the transformation of Osama before and after his studies at RWTH International Academy as a postgraduate student in electrical engineering. Check the videos out.

Documentary filmed and broadcast in 2015: Akademisches Asyl für Syrer

Documentary filmed and broadcast in 2017: Der syrische Student Osama auf der Suche nach Heimat )

Industrial Cyber Security Hackathon 2017

When Siemens announced their Hackathon, I was most excited. I had gathered up a team of my colleagues, with whom I had already participated in and won another a similar competition. As a student of Management and Mechanical Engineering, I have already studied various programming languages such as JAVA, C, C++, and HTML as a part of the curriculum as well as my personal interest. I feel the intersecting knowledge of the two domains helped me to have better hands on experience in the real-world challenge through the Hackathon.
As machines are becoming smarter, the work in production lines will be enriched and humanized. Simple manual tasks will disappear. This radical transformation also invites some cyber threats which need to be taken care of and therefore I feel the challenge very well addressed this concern and Siemens provided us a platform as a team to have better hands on experience in real world situation. The very fact that we were exposed to a real-world problem of active threats that occur on the Industrial network motivated me and my time to think outside the box. In fact, with real world problems, it is often the case that the most obvious approach is hardly ever the solution.

Starting with the first day, team members introduced to each other since not everyone knew everyone. For my team, this was an opportunity to better understand who we were up against. We were glad to know we had a multidisciplinary team already among ourselves. We shared information about our backgrounds, interests and experience. Our team was of 4 engineers with a cross functional background in studies with an amalgamation of mechanical, informatics and computer science skills. After learning about the different challenges, we collectively decided the challenge that we would be working on, and discussed the objectives/goals and then decided about what role would everyone play on the challenge. We ensured that all of the members are involved in determining team roles and responsibilities and should work with the team to help them with the concept we proposed. The challenges were appropriately demanding. There were in total 5 challenges. Our task was to detect anomality in the network. Every member of the team contributed by giving inputs from their perspective relating to the challenge and in the end, we compiled it into an action plan and worked it out.

But truth be told, things never run easy. Of course we ran into problems with regards to the outputs we were producing. In terms of how and which threats to detect, there were already significant differences of opinion. Thanks to the constant help, inputs and suggestions from the Siemens mentors on the venue, we resolved all or doubts fast enough to be able to pivot our plans and get back on track.

The night was long, but fun. And most interestingly, our efficiency kept growing as the deadline kept approaching – no doubt about that

Introduction: Suraj Rathore

Name: Suraj Rathore                   
Country: India                 
Age: 25
Study programme: M.Sc. Management and Engineering in Computer aided mechanical engineering

What inspired you to take part in this project?

We are experiencing the fourth Industrial Revolution in terms of cyber physical systems which will also strongly influence the society and people. As machines are becoming smarter, the work in production lines will be enriched and humanized. Simple manual tasks will disappear. Workers will become coordinators who ensure a smooth production and only intervene when a machine calls for action. This radical transformation also invites some cyber threats which need to be taken care of and therefore it’s an opportunity for me to learn from this challenge.

How does it relate to your studies?

I am a Mechanical engineering student and have also studied various programming languages such as JAVA, C, C++, and HTML as a part of the curriculum at the University. I feel the intersecting knowledge of the two domains will allow me to have better hands on experience in real world situations through this challenge.

Deepanshu's NASA Experience: A Testimonial

In the last installment of this month's #OneOfUs series, Deepanshu talks more about his work and the experience at the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field.

We would like to thank Deepanshu for his participation in our series and hope you enjoyed it just as much as we did! 

A Research Exchange at NASA

[The following post is an extract from Deepanshu Sodhani’s IntAc Alumni Research Grant report]

1 NASA Glenn Research Center

NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field is a NASA center, located within the cities of Brook Park and Cleveland between Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and the Cleveland Metroparks's Rocky River Reservation, with a subsidiary facility in Sandusky, Ohio. Its director is Janet L. Kavandi. Glenn Research Center is one of ten major NASA field centers, whose primary mission is to develop science and technology for use in aeronautics and space. As of May 2012, it employed about 1,650 civil servants and 1,850 support contractors located on or near its site. With diverse, world-class technically skilled personnel and state-of-the-art experimental facilities, the Mechanics and Life Prediction Branch of NASA Glenn Research Center's Research and Technology Directorate is highly reputed for ist technical and scienti_c accomplishments and contributions to aerospace and other structural systems over the past several decades. With organizational experience in delivering products for high-visibility aerospace industry projects, the Mechanics and Life Prediction Branch is well positioned to meet NASA's challenges to develop and demonstrate revolutionary aerospace propulsion and power systems that encounter severe, long-term environmental and operating conditions; as well as your experimental and modeling challenges. They pioneer interdisciplinary approaches to enable the best utilization of advanced materials through innovative structural concepts and integrated design methodologies. They have extensive collaboration with industry, academia, and other government organizations.  GRC performs fundamental research for the engineering of structures and materials. It promotes scientific understanding of structural and material behavior as it relates to durability and reliability. They develop analytical and experimental tools for design characterization, veri_cation and validation and support all of NASA's missions and interact with external organizations. Branch members are engaged in several technical societies, participating at various levels from individual members, to committee leads, to local and national officers.

2 Impact of Research Grant and Research Stay

At the time of my research exchange, I was a scientific co-worker at the Institute of Applied Mechanics, RWTH Aachen University, Germany. My field of research was multi-scale modelling of particulate and fiber reinforced elastomeric composites. During this time we had had multiple successful research exchanges with the Materials and Structures Division at NASA Glenn Research Centre (GRC). When an opportunity presented itself to me for a visit to NASA GRC, I started looking for funding opportunities for a research exchange. Being a non-EU citizen, finding a grant for research exchange from German funding agencies was diffcult and I am therefore grateful to the RWTH International Academy for providing me the funding under International Academy Alumni Research Grant. Thus, as a consequence of being granted with it, I had gotten additional support and enthusiasm for my scientific endeavours by colleagues, collaborators and mentors. The International Academy Alumni Research Grant allowed me to gain this experience and I can only recommend it to everybody. As, going abroad gives one the opportunity to make international contacts and gain new perspectives on ones research, the main purpose of my stay was to further my research, to experience a different research environment and to network within my field of research. Through this research visit, not only did I get the chance to collaborate with world class researchers and advance my project further I also got the opportunity to experience an amazing culture and make friends. It was not only a nice experience to see how the daily routine looks in an environment that is strongly inuenced by fundamental as well as technologically advanced research, but also to interact with other young/experienced scientists. The entire stay has enriched me both professionally and personally. I received valuable inputs to my research and created contacts with professionals and researchers from my field. The topic of my research during my visit was slightly changed compared to the originally proposed topic to be a little more in tune with my research topic at that time. During a previous research exchanges I was introduced the multi-scale modelling approach of Generalized Method of Cells (GMC), and was intrigued to try out this approach for particulate elastomeric composites, and its capability to evaluate localized damage. A brief overview of the topic is presented earlier. The one month was sufficient for doing an initial study of the topic presented and to understand the feasibility of the approach. This was helpful to broaden my horizon and to acquire new impressions. Overall, it was a very nice experience - very interesting and also a lot of fun. I learned a lot during this time, even though, formulating a concrete research subject and a concrete strategy was a challenging task. I could adopt some of the work routines of the other co-workers at the research centre, which has helped me in other projects. However, in order to present results ready for a publication in a journal, detailed investigations need to be carried out for complex loading conditions in correlation with experiments. I booked my flight by KLM from Berlin to New York through Amsterdam. It took me about eight hours to get to New York. From there I drove to Cleveland. On booking.com, I booked a Hotel for the first week of my stay near the researchcentre. A colleague from the research centre would pick me up every day as we were only allowed to enter the research centre while being escorted by an employee. After the first week, I moved to a student accommodation for the rest of my stay. I would recommend the hotel for short stays, but to find a student accommodation for a longer period as it is more economical. While living in mid-west cities like Cleveland, USA, one has to keep in mind that it is essential to hire a car for commuting. And, hence, I am grateful to the colleagues at GRC to assist me in my daily travels. I would also like to say a few words about advantages of working process organization. Firstly I had my own work place for my laptop, therefore no need to transfer all the necessary data on any other computer. Practice shows it saves a lot of working time. Secondly, afternoon co_ee time was an excellent opportunity to discuss working issues with colleagues, as well as great support friendly atmosphere in the team. There was also time to explore and catch up with some old friend and colleagues. On the first day on my visit I got an opportunity to attend a general meeting at the research centre, where astronaut Dr. Kavandi, three ight veteran was appointed the first ever woman director of GRC. It was also a lot of fun to attend the St. Patrick's Day Parade in the Cleveland town centre and bar hopping with colleagues. I also got an opportunity to play football with colleagues one evening in a week. Over the weekends I also had opportunity to travel to Virginia to attend a friends wedding and also to catch up with some International Academy Alumnus. In the end, I would only like to recommend young PhD students to take time out from their regular research to travel and work with other research teams for an invaluable experience. Also, one should always stay in touch with their Alumni, as it can lead to wonderful opportunities as it did for me.

Introduction: Deepanshu Sodhani

Name: Deepanshu Sodhani

Age: 32

Country: India

Course: CAME (Oct/2008-March/2011)

Deepanshu Sodhani is a CAME alumni of RWTH International Academy and a recipient of the alumni research grant. He is doing his Ph.D. at RWTH’s Institute of Applied Mechanics (IFAM) and his main research focus was on morphology of particle and fiber reinforced soft composites. His institute has its first collaboration with the NASA Glenn Research Center in 2013. For Deepanshu it was interesting to see how the researchers at NASA form a bridge between fundamental academic research and its translation to industrial applications, i.e. space exploration. He got the opportunity to gain a different outlook on his own research, e.g. when he was working on particulate composites and compared his traditional full field finite element simulation with their multi-scare appraoch.

Final Day and Closing Ceremony -October 14-

And here is the day we all waiting for! It was beautiful sunny morning. We all wake up early, everyone went for their respective work – Tents folding and packing, Breakfast Preparation, Fruits cutting etc. It was the last time we all were doing these tasks in Australian Desert.

Last Sunrise for us in Outback!!!

The observer who remains every time with us confirmed us at 8:00 in morning that we can start the vehicle as per rules.

We reached the Adelaide ahead of our solar car. The atmosphere was amazing and mesmerizing. Every team along with their crew and supporter were waiting for their solar car to arrive at finish line.

It was so lively that I didn’t want to miss any single moment. We parked our Scout Vehicles in Victoria Park in Adelaide and we had a shuttle bus to reach the Victoria Square – The Finish Line.

Adelaide Finish Line

One of my team mates wore super cool Kangaroo Dress, other were in Team T-shirt with German Flag in their Hand. We sat in the Shuttle bus .The moment was crazy, we were dancing, singing, shouting.

Victoria Square, Adelaide

Soon we reached the Victoria Square. Our Solar car was about to reach any moment and we were waiting impatiently. We were shouting “Aachen” ”Aachen” to mark our presence to the world of solar car. We already had made much positive noise in dynamic scrutineering when a 2 year old, debutant team, marked his presence in top 5 position.

As our vehicle approached the finish line, our energy and enthusiasm increased many times. It was the dream moment. Seeing your solar car on the red carpet podium is a kind of feeling which can’t be written and described in words. We made it finally. There was a satisfaction, contentment, happiness all over. We were congratulating each other and sharing our happiness.

See this celebration video: https://www.instagram.com/p/BaNi-L8gZzk/

Sonnenwagen at Finish Line (PC: Team Sonnenwagen )

Next day we had the closing ceremony at Adelaide Convention Centre. The hall was full of respectful delegates. A speech from the great people always makes me motivated. Mr Chris, event director said “World Solar challenge” is not just a race, it’s a challenge which can be completed only when you work together with all the team and solve the issues together. It’s about meeting new people all around the world, making new friends, discussing new ideas. World Solar Challenge is a solar car family and each and every member present in this hall is distinguished member of this family.” I find it so true. I met so many people from different part of the world, exchanged ideas, discussed the technical problem they faced and innovative solution they developed to solve it. I made so many friends from Stanford, Michigan and Tokyo University and many other.

I was talking to mechanival team member of Stanford Solar car Team and discussed her experience as a mechanical Engineer in her team and problem their team faced. People present in the hall were so friendly and open for discussion. I was amazed when I talked to one of the Engineer from Nuon Solar Car Team from Delft University of Technology, Netherlands. They worked a lot to make their driving strategy efficient. They take the satellite data of weather forecast for every 10-15 minutes and then they plan their driving strategy. Apart from that their lead vehicle runs 100Km ahead of solar car sending them the real time weather information which is another level in driving strategy.

There were so many things to learn from top Teams, We were participating for the first time, our focus was to build a good solar car but for winning this competition or at least competing with top teams much more hard work in other direction is still needed which we will definitely incorporate in our next project. We were ranked 13th in challenger class out of 28 Team before we participated in Adventure Class. We covered around 2700Km out of 3000Km best as debutant. Next time I want to see my team in following list. J Top three team in challenger class are:

  1. Nuon Solar team , Delft University of Technology
  2. University of Michigan Solar car team
  3. Punch Power Train Solar team , K U Leuven


Winners of Challenger Class (PC : WSC )

It was a breath taking experience and great learning. What we learnt from here has got inculcated in our heart and soul and will act as stepping stone for our next project. I would like to congratulate all my teammates who worked really hard since last two years. At last I have a huge feeling of gratitude for the minds which made Sonnenwagen a success with their hard work and support, Mr Uwe Navrath, Lecturer, Practical Introduction to FEM I & II, Continuum Mechanics department who supported me for my work in Sonnenwagen and last but not the least International Academy, RWTH Aachen University, Ms Alice , Ms Ventker , Ms Leah,   Ms Kristian and their whole team  for all their support and kind gesture.

This was just a small effort of mine to put all my feelings from enthusiasm to tiredness, from being proud to fears, feeling of commonness, joy, perplex, hopes, despair from day one till the end of this wonderful journey which we had on "World Solar Challenge 2017". One more thing which I learnt from here is how to deal with situations which are totally not in our control.

-By Bharat Jha, CAME 2016.


RACE DAY 6 -October 13-

Every night, we have our Team meeting after dinner. But today it was different unlike other day. Usually every day we had something to cheer about and we discuss the strategy for next day. Today's discussion was very important as any bad decision could have closed the door for us in this competition. We had already missed a control stop and if we miss another we would be disqualified from the competition.

“This year we had one of the worst weather conditions in the history of World Solar Challenge” said a WSC official when I interacted with him. But this is something on which no body has control. Despite this as a debutant we have performed better than many old Teams.


Clouds & Sun Continues playing their Hide and Seek Game !!!

It was decided that we will trail our vehicle (carry our vehicle on trailer) until next control stop which was around 200Km and thereafter we will drive further on solar energy. This is one of the important rules of this competition, you can either trail your vehicle or drive it but you should reach the control stops before time but only your solar kilometres will be counted for ranking.

I along with some other member had second opinion, I didn’t want to trail the vehicle as trailing is option when your vehicle has some technical failure and you are not able to drive it. Also I wanted to see 3022 Km on board in front of our solar car name. But none of us wanted to take any risk and sense of fear was easily visible on faces. So we decided to go with majority and to trail the vehicle to next control points in morning.

That was indeed the coldest night of desert in every sense. The gradual and sudden increase and decrease in temperature of day and night made many of us uncomfortable in the morning with common cold, cough and light fever. Here I want to introduce one of the important member of our Team.

Dr Bob: Our Team Doctor

Mr Bob is the doctor for our team travelling with us for entire trip from Darwin to Adelaide. He is from Melbourne and he took a week off from his work to help us in our journey. See the level of preparation we had. I don’t think if any other team has an official Team doctor. :) I became friend with Dr Bob on very first day as we both along with an intern from one of our sponsor were only English speaker in entire team.

So the race for Day 6 started as per planned strategy. We reached the next control point by trailing and then started driving the vehicle for the next control stop. Things worked quiet well and we reached “Port Augusta” the last control stop on time Now Adelaide was around 200 KM away and we had to reach there before 11:00 tomorrow morning which was sufficient time.

Sonnenwagen driving towards its last stop (PC: Team Sonnenwagen)

Today we had last night in outback desert. The lost excitement returned back. Maybe the sense of completion or reaching to Adelaide or the last night in desert or probably all these factor contributed in getting the excitement back.

Panoramic view of our Last Camp in Desert near Port Augusta

Tomorrow is a big day. We will reach the place for which we have worked hard for two years. Waiting impatiently for tomorrow. :)


-By Bharat Jha, CAME 2016.

RACE DAY 5 -October 12-

Day 5, October 12,2017

I don’t feel like writing today. It was a bad day L Things started as per planned strategy in the morning. We had a beautiful sunrise. We were happy that everything is on track and going well. We reached the next control stop just before time. More than half of distances have already been covered. It was already an achievement for us. We were happy, contended and hopeful. The Race had reached at its toughest phase. Now the lead you got from initial days was going to help you as it requires more distance to be covered in shorter time unfortunately we had none because of bad weather in previous days.

Next control stop was “Coober Pedy” which was more than 400Km away and we had to reach there before 3:30 am. We had to maintain average speed more than 70Km/hr. Weather was perfectly sunny, we had no complains with clouds and sun. We were cruising at required speed. Vehicle was running completely on Solar energy so our battery was not getting charged which means once solar energy is not available we can’t run further as we have no battery reserve.

It was 3:15 in afternoon, we were cruising at 72Kmph, just 12Km behind the next control stop. Suddenly we had some electrical failure and our solar car stopped. Nobody had expected this. We were so close to control stop. Few of us went to control stop to talk to the officer but they didn’t agreed for any further extension. Although our electrical team fixed the issue in no time . But it was too late now. We reached the control point 15 minutes later. They have already closed it. Nobody was there to entertain us. We tried to reach the officials but everything was in vain and they were too reluctant to further change the rules and give any extension.

This is World solar Challenge – toughest solar car racing competition, we can’t complain about these things. Every seconds count in a race and we were delayed by 15 minutes.

By WSC rules if you miss the control stop, you are going to be in adventure class from challenger class. We are currently in top 15 in challenger class. I don’t know what will happen next. 2187 Km already covered which is appreciable for a new comer but still we are capable to cover 3000 Km. We don’t have clear idea about what going to be next. But there was sense of dissatisfaction everywhere. This happens when you work really hard and miss something closely. After putting tents in evening we tried to motivate each other. This is a big race and these things can happen to any team.

Sun was setting; we have inclined our solar cells to collect the last bit of energy of the day from sun. Everyone tried to hide their emotions but the fake smiles showed all unsatisfied and disappointed faces. There was no excitement in putting camp today. We had to forgot what happened today , as race is not over yet. Someone played a nice soft music to change everyone moods. Sun was about to set and it was looking beautiful. Someone brought his Camera and started taking photos of sunset and our solar car. Later all of us joined him and took some nice snaps which helped in changing the mood in camp.

Super Awesome people around super solar car !!


-By Bharat Jha, CAME 2016

RACE DAY 4 -October 11-

It was 3:00 in morning, few people were still working on vehicle. We heard sound of thunder and lightning and it was terrifying. First time I experienced a thunderstorm in the middle of desert. Intensity of storm was so high that our tents were about to fly out. Temperature dropped gradually, I was shivering of cold in my Tent. My sleeping bag was not able to protect me further. Soon it started raining heavily.

Sonnenwagen Waiting for Sun

We started losing our hope for the race. Next control stop- Alice Springs was far away and we needed to travel with at least 67Kmph to make it before closing time i.e. 12:00 noon. We had very less battery left from previous day as previous day was cloudy and we couldn’t charge much. Rain stopped at around 6:00 but clouds had no mood in going away. At around 7:00 we saw sun for the first time behind the clouds which started changing the readings of voltage and current confirming that our battery has started getting some charge.

Soon we decided to start with the battery we had, as we had no other option. Race started initially our speed was around 35 Kmph with this speed it was not at all possible to reach Alice springs till evening. We got a message on radio, probably a “warning” from safety officer, World Solar Challenge that we are driving too slow and it is not allowed to drive less than 50Km/hr at Stuart Highway as per safety regulation.

Things were getting worse, situation was tensed in our every vehicle. We decided to stop somewhere where there is good sunlight and charge our battery and then drive further. I was in my car and we drove further to search for a good location where we have good sunlight and we can stop. But if we stop it was impossible to reach Alice Springs on the other hand we had no other option.

Searching for sun

Again a message came for us in Radio, this time it was from Control officer, WSC and it was good news for us. They had extended the next control stop closing time by 2:30 hrs because of bad weather conditions. It was a big relief for all of us. Now we were sure we will make it for sure. Soon the Hide and seek game between sun and Clouds was also over, we can see sun as happy as it remain during summers in India. Things were dramatic and happening like a scripted Bollywood movie. This day will be remembered for long time. We reached control stop at around 12:15 much before extended time. This part gave us some moment to cheer but movie is not over yet !!

Everyone was happy in our camp after a great day, together we we arranged our tents in a beautiful pattern later we had nice barbeque of typical Australian food: kangaroos and camels.

See this video: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1924375404551438&id=1529876350668014

New Place ! New Village ! Why not New Design ? :)

When your goals are accomplished everything looks beautiful. Nightsky was clear and beautiful, full of stars which are rare phenomena in big cities. I kept on gazing at the night sky like a 5 year old kid searching and identifying different stars in my Google night sky Application.

Village goes to sleep !!! :)

- By Bharat Jha, CAME 2016

RACE DAY 3 -October 10-

It was supposed to be big day. We had to cover more distance today to compete with other teams which are far ahead of us. Some bad news came from our driving strategy department about weather forecast for the next two days. It was not at all a rosy picture. It was supposed to be cloudy after noon and prediction were worse for tomorrow.

There was no early morning sunshine today. It looks like Sun had won the “hide and seek” game with clouds. Our breakfast was ready. We had yogurt with fruits and oats- typical German breakfast J

We started with the left over battery from yesterday. It started well but since our battery was not getting charged it wouldn’t last long. We were driving at very low speed to utilize the maximum capacity of battery. When it come for nature, it is fair with everyone. Our next competitor “Principia Solar car” which was few kilometres leading us had the same issue. Since we were using our battery optimally, we overtook them soon but still it was not going so well for us today. We were lagging behind but there was nothing we can do to get sunlight for our solar cells.

Principia Solar Car & Sonnenwagen at Control stop

The Next control stop is Alice Springs, where we have to reach before tomorrow noon, which was next to impossible at this speed and this charge condition. Sun is still unseen or would say lost somewhere. We were crawling at 40 Km/h which was not at all sufficient for reaching the next control points on time. No making up to control point in time means disqualification from the competition. Another option was to put your vehicle on Trailer and trail it to check point. Although this will reduce your vehicle “Solar Kilometres” but you are still in race. Many teams do it but we wanted to complete whole distance with solar car, so ignored this option for a while. Weather had become worse with some light rains as well in between. We cruised at around 45 Km/h and the day ended as we have to stop at 5:00 in evening.

We saw the sun setting at 6:00 in evening for the first time entire day. We kept our solar panels in the direction of sun to extract anything out of it. It was one of the beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. We were tensed and worried just because we have not seen since morning and it was sad to see the sun setting when we needed it most. But seeing sunsets are always relaxing.

After dinner, we started working again on solar car for after race maintenance, pre check and preparation of vehicle for next day race. I along with one of my colleagues check the chassis tubes and joints for any visible cracks which was part of our daily inspection. It is 10:30 and we are having light showers few people are still working on vehicle preparation. Tomorrow will be a big day, we have no idea what will happen. We just know weather is predicted to be worse.

 Let’s see what happen tomorrow ….

By Bharat Jha, CAME 2016

RACE DAY 2- October 9-

After having some good sleep in middle of desert we woke up early in the morning. We divided the work and arranged ourselves into small team. Some of us went to kitchen for preparing breakfast and some were given responsibility to unfold and pack the tents back. Most important task was taking our solar vehicle towards the direction of sun so that we can get some early morning charging for our solar cells before the race starts again at 8:00 in morning.

Putting solar car in front of sun for early charging before race starts.

Packing the Tents back

Our electrical team fixed the problem we had with solar cells charging and we started with positive mind set just focussing on our capability and giving our best performance. We started our day with fresh mind and new strategy. We were running at constant pace, clouds and sun kept playing hide and seek game, which we were not enjoying obviously L . Today I understood the importance of every single ray which falls on the solar cells. During the day I was travelling with convoy and our main task was to support if any breakdown occurs. Sitting inside a SUV with three German Friends is always a fun. You can practice and improve your German Language!!! Unfortunately that didn’t happen :(

Today we performed better than the first day not only covered more distance but also saved the battery for the next day morning. Everything worked as per planned strategy. I hope better for tomorrow.

- by Bharat Jha, CAME 2016

RACE DAY 1 -October 8-

Last night whole team was working in the workshop till 4:00 in the morning. We had a lot of stuff to pack, from spare parts of the vehicle to all the camping equipment, from kitchen stuff to food item for next few days. Packing all these stuff and loading them in trailers and vehicles took more time than we expected. Adding another sleepless night to my long list of sleepless night doesn’t affect me much now :)

We reached the starting line at 7:00 in the morning. There was huge crowd who came to say good bye to the solar cars. Solar cars started one by one behind each other for the seven days of adventure race going through middle of Australian desert. Solar car should have one lead vehicle and one chase vehicle in its convoy.

At the Start Point, Darwin Convention Centre, Australia

We were driving at an optimum velocity planned by the driving strategy experts to optimize the performance of battery and give maximum performance. This is a long race where driving strategy plays very important role. After driving for the few hours we came to know that there is some technical problem and our battery is not getting properly charged. Race for the day one ended at 5:00 in evening. We could have travelled more on day 1 but we will manage it in next days.

 We are supposed to stop a place where our solar car stops and camp. We decided to camp in middle of desert. Camp for 40 people , kitchen , small workshop or working area , everything we had in our Sonnenwagen Village J . Enjoy some of the photos.

- by Bharat Jha, CAME 2016

Dynamic Scrutineering - October 7th -

It was supposed to be a big day for us and indeed it was. After clearing the static scrutineering we had to prove ourselves in dynamic scrutineering. Dynamic scrutineering comprises of many checkpoints like speed, braking performance, handling, control and stability. We were prepared for all these tests. In Germany our solar car had been to intensive testing so we were confident enough to clear all these checkpoints in one go. The only thing we were excited about dynamic testing was to see how we stand among our competitor. The most excited part of the dynamic scrutineering was the high speed testing where we have to clear specific distance on the racing track in specific time. Every team has to go through this test so it was first time we could check our performance among everyone.

Dynamic Scrutineering was planned on Hidden valley Motor Sport complex Darwin. Scrutineering started at 8:30 in morning. All the big team went for scrutineering one by one - Nuon , Twente , Michigan , Stanford . Our solar car was ready on the track gearing up to start and give the best performance and marks our presence to world of solar cars. Whole team was standing on the terrace along with the crew from all other team cheering for their respective teams. The environment was so mesmerizing that memories will remain unforgettable for lifetime. The other German team from Bochum joined us in cheering our solar car. The loud chant of “Aachen” “Aachen” from both the teams made the atmosphere more lively. Here is a video we took.

We cleared all the stages of dynamic scrutineering in one go and got the “Clear to Go” tag for our vehicle. The proud moment was for us when the BWSC released the ranking for the dynamic Scrutineering and we were in the top 5. It gave whole team a sense of satisfaction and further motivation for the competition to perform well. Later every one of us signed on the solar car to make it memorable.

Find my name :)

“Clear to Start”- After Dynamic Scrutineering

The big day was over with sense of contention but we have to work a lot in the night as we have to pack everything in workshop for leaving Darwin tomorrow for the race.

- by Bharat Jha, CAME 2016


Static Scruteneering - October 4th -

World Solar challenge!! One of the most difficult solar racing car competitions of the world started this week. The race itself will start on 8th of October. We will have to complete 3022 Km form Darwin (North Australia) to Adelaide (South Australia) in challenger’s class.

The World Solar Challenge comprises of series of events before the start of race like pre check, Static Scrutineering, Dynamic Scrutineering. In these events the entire car is check to make sure that it is capable of participating in race.

Static Scrutineering for Team Sonnenwagen was planned on 4th October along with the other big teams Nuon, Twente, Michigan, Tokai and Stanford. No stone should remain unturned that was our moto day before static scrutineering. It was a sleepless night for most of us as we had to make sure that everything is working flawlessly and we are meeting every regulation criteria. The whole team was working together irrespective of their department. We were helping hands for each other to complete the work efficiently. We wanted to make driver cabins safer, so I was rolling the safety insulation tapes around the tubes near to driver cabins with help from one of my team member. Although I trust my impact simulation results J but it is always better to go towards perfection when safety is concerned. After completing this I switched further for other tasks.

In morning we reached the Darwin Convention centre at 8:00.  We had to register ourselves in the event and we got a participation identity card. The scrutineering started at 9:00. There were many stations, which were checking for Electrical systems, Battery, Safety, on-road, dimensions, weight, logos positions and driver’s seats.

One of the important check-points was the driver exit from the solar car in case of an emergency. The solar car driver is supposed to exit the vehicle by its own within a specific time in case of emergency. Clearing checkpoints one by one gave us the feeling of immense joy and proudness. We successfully cleared all the checkpoint of static scrutineering. We are back at Test track for next two days. Dynamic scrutineering is planned on 7th October. We will have to run the vehicle in different condition specified as per WSC regulation. I will be back with further updates soon!!!      

- by Bharat Jha, CAME 2016

Team Sonnenwagen & the World Solar Challenge

The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge has been hosted every two years for the past 30 years – each time giving students from around the world the chance to take part in one of the toughest races: 3000km through Australia’s outback, in a car powered by solar power alone.

Sonnenwagen Aachen is not only one of the two German teams taking part in this year’s challenge, but also the only German team in the challenger race. Sonnenwagen Aachen is a student initiative for research comprised of 40 students from RWTH Aachen University and FH Aachen.  For the World Solar Challenge they have developed a car run solely by solar power to take on the challenge of racing through Australia.

You can find more information about the World Solar Challenge at https://www.worldsolarchallenge.org/.

If you want to check out Team Sonnenwagen, head over to https://www.sonnenwagen.org/ and follow them on social media to accompany them on their journey through Australia from  October 8th to 15th!

Introduction: Bharat Jha

Name: Bharat Jha                           

Country: India  

Age: 25

Study programme/semester: MSc. CAME (Conception) / Semester 2  

What inspired you to take part in this project?

I have a firm belief that the best way to master a skill is to apply it to practical situations. Real learning starts when you apply the theoretical knowledge to solve real world problems. The Sonnenwagen Project provided me with such opportunity to enhance my practical skills. Additionally, my curiosity to learn the ethics of German working culture was fulfilled as I got to be a part of Sonnenwagen Team and got the chance to work and interact with several other fellow students.

How does it relate to your studies?

Scope of coursework included in the CAME programme is diverse. It covers many different horizons in the fields of design and Simulation like Finite Element Analysis (FEM), Multi Body Dynamics (MBD), and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). In the first semester I took courses on FEM and Practical FEM which helped me in learning the basic concepts employed in carrying out FEM simulations. Theoretical and practical knowledge gained from above coursework helped immensely with my Sonnenwagen project as I was involved in the strength analysis of the Chassis and its weight optimization using the FEM technique.

- One Of Us -

At RWTH International Academy, we know that sometimes, your studies may seem dry and theoretical. Or maybe you are interested in one of our courses, but can’t quite picture what to do with the acquired skills after graduation.

Which is why we would like to introduce our new series „One Of Us“ – each month, we will talk about one of our students or alumni, who took part in a special project during or after their studies, to illustrate different ways your studies at RWTH International Academy could lead you to.

Whether it is a student project or an interesting internship, our students and alumni will give a glimpse into their life and let you know just how you can use your skill set from university out in the real world.

„One Of Us“ is a monthly feature, starting from October. For more information, stay tuned!