This is my second blog with Your D.O.S.T.
I’m Dhirendra Sinha. I graduated from IIT Guwahati more than 13 years ago, did my MS from Texas A&M University and currently live and work in the United States. I work as a Director of Engineering for Captora Inc, a startup in California.
I want to share few incidents from my experience at IIT Guwahati where I really pursued my dreams and not gave up!
I am an engineer, I want to build something!
I realized that I had achieved what I was longing so much for. Now I was in IIT Guwahati, I was an IIT’an. Now what? I needed my next goal to live. I wasn’t ready to believe that IIT is all about classes, daily quizzes, assignments, exams and labs only! I was an engineer, I wanted to build something, find something which makes me tick and make this world a better place!
It was my first semester – sometime in November of 1997, we were all rushing towards our lecture room for our next class. Suddenly, I saw on the notice board a poster for “Techfest”, the technical festival of IIT Bombay. It caught my attention and I forgot about everything else. I got very excited about the problem statement mentioned in it. One of the problems was to make a pick-and-place robot. I immediately decided to participate in it.
What will it take to build the robot – the raw material, the technology, the finances – I had no clue! But I was certain that I want to do this and I will get it done.
Keep your ideas floating, go next year – you are too young! – This was the advice given to me by my professor when we shared our excitement and interest with them. My friend asked me “what would we do now?”. Somehow, my commitment doubled after this discouragement! We started thinking about it, drew some rough sketches on paper, but couldn’t get to a concrete plan to build the robot.
End sem exams were approaching, most people locked themselves in room and started studying. I was so obsessed with this idea that I did whatever I could to get grades, but wasn’t ready to sacrifice my newly found interest. Exams got over, I got pretty good grades for whatever little I studied. I was happy and we went for the winter break!
When dream is strong enough, facts don’t count!
I drew lot of sketches during the vacation. We came back and talked. I was even more excited about building the robot but my friends were not excited, they wanted to focus on studies. So I was left alone. I went to a nearby hardware store and started looking for things which I could use to build the robot. I didn’t have enough money to buy a lot of fancy raw material. I bought a screw driver, some Aluminum strips and few other junk metals pieces. Got some small hand-saw blades from our Mechanical workshop so that I can cut the aluminum strip into pieces.
As I was very inexperienced, lot of my initial ideas were not practical but slowly slowly, after multiple attempts, the robot started shaping up. I used to work at night after dinner, so that people don’t unnecessarily comment and make fun of me. It was winter time and I started developing high fever and sore throat but the dream of building this robot was just driving me.
Few days left for the D-day!
It was about 5 days left for the event and I still had to complete the robot. I had asked permission from the Institute to go to IIT Bombay techfest. I still remember the day when I bunked all the classes that day and told my friend to tell Dr. A. Srinivasa and Dr. Y. Kadolkar (both professors in the physics department who had encouraged me a lot) that my robot is ready and I will be meeting them in the evening. At that time, I didn’t even know how I would mount the gripper (the fingers of the robot) to the body of the robot but by evening, I did figure it out and took a bus to the Institute.
I was very weak, coughing, in fever and red eyes because of lot of sleepless nights. I met Dr. A Srinivasa and he asked me “Is your robot ready?”. I said “yes sir!”. He asked “Can I put this pen between the gripper and will it hold it and move? If the pen doesn’t fall, I will get you the permission to go”. I said “sure”.
He put the pen in between the gripper and my robot held it and moved ahead! He was so thrilled and excited to see a first year student knowing nothing of engineering built a robot. He was more excited than me. He asked me to just relax and he went ahead and got the Director’s permission, gave me a initial advance Rs 1000 to take care of the train fare to Bombay!
That evening all my batchmates came to know about it, they congratulated me and offered all the help – cough syrup, buying a train ticket from the station.
Techfest at IIT Bombay
Finally I boarded the train. I still had fever, was coughing but was super excited. It took 3 days and 2 nights to reach Bombay. I reached IIT Bombay, I walked in the room holding robot in my hand and excitement in my heart.
|With my Robot
There were around 15 different kinds of robots. The competition started. My robot participated in first round with another robot and it lost. I was out of the game.
Was I sad?
Not even a bit! All the robots were very impressive! All made by 3rd and 4th year students. The robots were on display. People were coming and asking different questions. Lot of people were more impressed by my guts to come and participate in first year and my pursuit of passion. Second thing which impressed a lot of people was that my robot was made from junk metal parts and used a simple mechanism. I got a lot of appreciation. I attended the complete fest and then boarded my train back with lot of learnings, lot of excitement and a Big Dream.
A Dream that IIT Guwahati should also have a Technical Fest!
It’s important to not only dream big, but pursue your dream long enough that it has to come true.
If you are chasing your dream, 80% people will discourage you, so believe in yourself, find and be with people who encourage you. If you have a dream worth pursuing, protect and nurture it, give it all you have and some more and it will come true!