Outstanding Student Achiever
His lean frame, simple manner and unassuming nature belie a maturity way beyond his age and a sharp mind full of great focus and determination. Despite having faced many difficulties in life, his resolve and ambition to do something meaningful for society is inspirational. He himself is inspired by Albert Einstein and Swami Vivekanand. Rahul Biswash, third year student of Electronics and Communication Engineering of our School of Engineering is currently off to University of Arkansas on a fully paid scholarship, working on a special research project. Lucky dude, many would say! Well, think again. Rahul, our ‘Outstanding Student Achiever’ this month has faced many an adversity and is the perfect example of fighting all odds to achieve something big and unbelievable. This is a story that just may give you goose bumps!

How does it feel to be selected by University of Arkansas for this scholarship?

I had never anticipated such an honour but my project work was always focused on innovation. I may not be the greatest in terms of getting scores or a high CGPA but fortunately University of Akansas was looking for students who could research on 3 D printer and had more practical knowledge. Dr. Harry Pearson there especially asked for students who had more hands on knowledge. My resume was sent to them by our then Dean, Prof (Dr.) Deependra Kumar Jha. Luckily I fit the bill and was selected. I feel excited.

What kind of projects have you been working on at School of Engineering, G D Goenka University?

My first project was a 4 leg animal mimicking robot. Then I worked with a team of students on creating a low cost 3 D printer. I worked on a Function Generator, 3D LED tube, Voice-activated home automation system and Wireless energy transfer mechanism.

Tell us something about your background? Were you always an inquisitive kid? Did you create anything in school too?

I studied from my class 9th to 12th in some Govt Schools in Delhi. Till eighth standard I lived in a small village, 70 km away from Nainital where my forefathers had come and settled in 1971 from Bengal. In school I used to keep making things and experimenting. I remember when I was in 9th class, CRT tubes were used to make televisions. I had the CRT tube of a small TV. I used to frequent my uncle’s electronic shop and learnt about circuits from him. I connected the tube to a big TV and it was usable. That was my first project, you can say. In 11th and 12th I made electromagnets and always tried to create things I read about in our books. I come from a very humble background. My father was in fashion designing field. He has been my greatest inspiration and always dreamed of me doing something great. But sadly we lost him a few months ago.

When you joined G D Goenka University 2 years ago, what were your expectations from the School of Engineering here?

I was very optimistic on getting selected here. I wanted to study well with dedication. What the University provided me was a great platform to do the kind of projects I wanted to, with the faculty here. Sometimes I would work all night on a project and realize that it was time to come to college. I would be groggy eyed. My faculty gave me that leeway. What I appreciate is that they recognized my potential to do lab work. I was allowed that freedom and even though I was not a top scorer, I was encouraged to work in the area I wanted. I feel I am fortunate I came to the right place.

How soon was your talent recognized here? How do you think G D Goenka University has encouraged you and nurtured your talent? Any faculties who particularly guided you?

My talent was recognized in the second semester, when I made a robot that was totally my own creation. It was not copied from anywhere. Dr. Sandeep Nagar really encouraged me and guided me in all my projects. I told Dr. Nagar in the beginning that I am really interested in robotics. He suggested me to take up his IDP (Inter-Disciplinary Project) pertaining to robotics. I learnt a lot there. He suggested to us that if we can light up an LED, we can run a motor too. If we can run a motor, we can run eight motors too. It was a simple idea that we worked on progressively and thus created a synchronized robot.

Our Dean Prof. (Dr.) Deependra Kumar Jha, who is now the Vice Chancellor of the university also really encouraged me.

How excited are you about the US internship? What is the first thing you want to do there?

I will reach there and meet the faculty that I have to work with and take all the instructions for the project I have to do.

Straight away you will go and meet faculty? There is nothing else you want to see or do in US? (joking)

I have not thought of all that. That will happen no doubt. But all I want to do is go and work with the faculty there and do good research in the project assigned to me. I have to work on a 3 D printer. They had a requirement that I should know C++, Python etc. I could not complete all as my father passed away. I had to stabilize my mother. But I want to quickly make up and learn everything.

Do you think this is a life-changing moment in your life?

Definitely it is. I am getting an opportunity to showcase my work to people who know better. I am sure they will give positive feedback about my dedication to the project. Nothing could be more exciting for someone like me who comes from a rather humble background.

What are your other interests besides research?

Not much. All I have is a great curiosity to know. I just like to know how things function. I like to innovate and create something that could improve the lives of people. Otherwise I like music. I listen to instrumental music especially piano and violin. I also listen to spiritual and devotional songs as they give me strength.

You said your family went through a lot of financial upheavals. Did you ever get disheartened at any point in your life that you may not be able to realize your dreams?

Yes, there have been times when life was very tough. But what I feel is God is there. What is God? I feel God is inside us. If we decide to do something, we discover there is a positive energy in us and all around us. We should capture that energy. There are times when you feel you will fail, but you have to keep going. There were many times I felt I will fail and unable to realize my dreams.

Did you ever fail at anything?

Oh yes! I had failed my eleventh standard. We were going through very troubled times. My father had lost his job that year. My uncle was hospitalized and I had to attend to him every day. I could not take any tuitions. I could not cope up with my studies and failed. That year I decided since I had nothing else to do, I started teaching Physics tuitions in my neighbourhood. I covered 11th-12th syllabus for them in two months. One of my students got through her entrance to Jamia Millia University. That was a positive affirmation.

Then after my twelfth, I was getting admission in NIIT in Assam but my father did not have enough money to even send me there at that time. I waited for a year and appeared for other entrance tests. I had familial duties to perform. But I never lost faith. Finally after one year my father had saved up enough to send me to university and I came here.

What do you have to say to students who get disheartened if they do not get good marks and think of taking drastic steps?

I would just say that nothing is more important or precious than life. I have seen my father’s life go away in front of me. I know the value of life. Everyone should. Today my younger brother is studying through school of open learning and doing a job alongside, to support me. We have all faced every situation in our life.

Coming to G D Goenka University, where most students are from affluent backgrounds who come in their fancy cars and wear designer labels. Did you ever feel out of place?

Never, I don’t even think about these things. I feel that in this world, we are known by what we do, other people will treat us the way I behave with them. It has never bothered me what car someone has or what brands they are wearing or what they are eating at the canteen. It is fine if they are enjoying life. I would also like to try all good things in life. I am sure many opportunities will come for me. I do not get disappointed by trivial things. My research work gives me immense pleasure and sense of achievement.
As narrated to Ms. Shivani Mohan, Faculty, Business Communication