The Sky’s the Limit!January 11, 2018
“In the era of social media likes and shares, it is a different feeling to watch your parents get excited about your newspaper ad celebrating your achievements,” said Aru Raghuwanshi, a 4th year Electrical & Electronics Engineering student at Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT). 2017 has been an exceptional year for Aru, who was the Electronics Head of the Mars Rover Manipal (MRM) team that won the 8th spot at the University Rover Challenge (URC) held in the US last year.
Mars Rover Manipal is a multi-disciplinary student team of Manipal Academy of Higher Education. The team strives to design and build advanced rovers aimed at helping explore the extra-terrestrial environment as well as the applications of robotics in interplanetary missions.
While Aru is on cloud nine now, he recalls the early days of the project where he wasn’t sure about the team’s fate. “It was scary because we had seen the teams from India’s biggest tech institutes falling flat on their face,” shared Aru. He further added, “We had to get past several challenges including time management and opinion conflicts within the team, but we worked it all out as it was in the best interest of the team.”
Reaching for the stars
Talking about the hard work the team put into the project, Aru mentioned that it had been the top priority for the entire group over the past one and a half years and each member pushed themselves to their fullest to achieve the results we see today. The team had a strict routine to follow and had to work on the project every day after classes (Sundays included!). After all, it cannot be a piece of cake when you are competing with the best teams from across the globe.
Aru laughed off recalling that he has forgotten what an active social life looks like, but is glad that his hard work had paid off. The project was launched in 2014 and the team won the 13th place during their first appearance at the URC. It was both motivating and frightening for the second team to live up to these expectations.
Sharing the backstory about being a part of the second MRM team, Aru explained, “The project sparked my interest during my second year of engineering when I saw a friend operating a big rover. Post the screening process testing our field knowledge, I became a part of the team and the seniors guided us for about one year after which we had to step into their shoes and lead the project on our own.”
In the spotlight
Aru also stole the limelight as the face of Manipal Academy of Higher Education’s national ad campaign for his project. Sharing his experience, he mentioned that it was unexpected, but equally exciting. And who does not like a little attention? His friends also pulled his leg for turning into a model from an engineer, but then isn’t that what friends are for? With the kind of exemplary work Aru has been associated with, we think he should start getting used to taking the centre stage!
Aru also expressed his gratitude to Manipal for supporting the team and encouraging students outside of academics. “What puts Manipal in a different league altogether is the fact that the Academy gives your every opportunity to prove yourself. The Academy understands that academics are not the only testing measure of a student’s calibre, something that the Indian education system could learn a lot from.” Aru thanked the Academy, his teachers and his seniors for helping him realise his dream and guide him throughout the project.
The road ahead
The final year student is all set to overcome the real-world challenges as he steps out of the Academy this year. Describing his future plans, Aru said, “I have a couple of offers right now which I secured through campus placement. However, I intend to undergo a few internships right now and then jump into the business. I also wish to pursue an MS in the field of Robotics or Computer Science and probably have my own start-up some day!”
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