TEAMINDUS YOUNGLINGS INTERNSHIP PROGRAMME
July 03, 2019
My name is Mayank Agrawal and I am currently studying in the 10th standard at the Doon School, Dehradun. I have an interest in all things engineering and I also love playing football.
TeamIndus Younglings Program
As soon as I exited the Bangalore airport, I knew I was in for a great time. Although, the pre-reading we had to do for the internship was daunting and frankly, I felt that I along with my friend from Delhi would be far less informed than the others. And so we checked in at the hotel, tried to understand whatever we could at the last moment and went to sleep.
There were 24 of us who had signed up for the program, the majority of them being from Bangalore itself. We began the day with basic introductions and an overview of what we were going to do over the next few days. The most vital being the location of the coffee machine. And thus began our first session in planetary science and the history of space travel by humans. All of us, despite not being serious space enthusiasts, learned about these heritage missions. Eventually, we started discussing more recent missions such as the Parker Solar Probe and Juno. Our mentor for the session, Jatan Mehta sir, ensured that we had answers to all our questions while keeping it all fun and informative. Understanding Lagrangian points were extremely interesting to learn along with how the moon gets its mountains smack-dab in the middle of a crater. This session, albeit long, gave us the basic tools and examples we need to understand concepts later on into the internship such as space-grade electronics, gravity assists and so much more.
As we powered into the second half of the day, things got complex with orbital elements and Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion. We struggled for quite some time but eventually, everyone understood what now seemed ridiculously simple. Then with a surprise quiz, we all became competitive for a chance to on the Leader Board. But then soon enough, was five already and we went back, eager to learn more.
The next day we went down to the ‘clean room’ and understood some of the issues related to designing in space such as the effects of vibration and very interestingly, the behaviour of fuel during take-off and in space. Subsequently, we were informed about the various stages of design and testing a spacecraft, including the study of materials (A.K.A. tribology). We then moved onto some more technical applications of power required in a spacecraft.
The most interesting part of the day came with lander design where we saw simple aluminium acting as a shock absorber on the moon and in tests, all because of its structure. It was truly surprising that the littlest of things could make or break the entire landing like creating tiny needle-like holes. We walked through the steps of designing a lander which included use of space-grade electronics which are at least 10 years behind current technology! To make up for poor processing, the flight software session taught me how to ensure we get the best and the most reliable performance from computers and sensors onboard.
The third day began with us learning about aerodynamics and engines; both on earth and in space. It was shocking to learn that after crossing the speed of sound, air resistance doesn’t rise but actually falls! After we learned about gas and turbo engines on Earth, we moved onto the completely different solid, liquid and hybrid engines we use for space travel.
The highlight of the day was the stomp-rocket challenge and our team’s rocket, around the size of an index finger, was called Falcon Teeny, although it did not exactly fly but cartwheeled in the air until we were close enough to come second in the competition. We had learned about how a rocket should be designed prior to this and one team implemented it too well, so their rocket flew in perfect parabolic trajectories at least 2.5 times the actual target distance. Quite unlike the Rampranav XL rocket which ‘ejected’ its payload during launch to reach the landing site ;).
Afterward, we had a concluding session to understand how GNC (Guidance Navigation and Control) works in a spacecraft so far away, as prep for the next day.
Day 4 was by far the most enjoyable because we got to finally understand how the GMAT software works by using our knowledge of orbital elements along with a hands-on activity of controlling a rover while sitting in the command centre. We created a simulation of a Hohmann transfer from a low-earth orbit to a geostationary orbit. Then the simulation told us how much fuel was used, speed and so many other parameters required to plan for a space mission to optimize cost and efficiency.
Then we saw their very own command centre and operated a rover in a fine sand pit in another building using remote control software. From time to time we would not be able to see the rover. This was to simulate the gaps in the transmissions of the rover in real life. We even ‘visited’ the pit, leaving those sitting in command wondering who the ‘aliens’ were! Yet it was over soon.
Next up we understood how telecommunication works in space along with the components essential to their success and the factors which affect it and finally ended the day learning MATLAB. We learned how to denoise and make a photo much clearer using the software and using the information given about the image such as resolution, find the size of the object. It was quite interesting as it left me wondering whether we could do it with everyday photos but alas, the instructors taught us enough for me to understand that it would not be the same with coloured images.
The final day was here and we were all running high on caffeine from our daily shots of coffee. We had a sort of a mega-quiz in the morning to help us revise what we had done and a short discussion about the various worksheets we had been doing after the internship over the past few days. Then we set down to learn about the qualities of signals which transmit the all-important information down to us. Digital or analogue, continuous or discreet, we learned the qualities of these signals. The use of these signals in any device was made clear and I was intrigued by the similarities between them and space communication.
Our final activity of the internship was to decide between various options and technologies and create a compelling case to convince investors to invest in our imaginary company. Working in the team was really enjoyable and everyone had a laugh convincing the investors who were quite fun and eventually did not invest in anyone’s company which was quite hilarious.
In a nutshell, this internship taught me a lot about aerospace engineering and aeronautics. I only wish I could have stayed longer. It was a pleasure and I hope I intern or maybe even work later in life.
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details on the Younglings program.
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