Why did you decide to come to the U.S. to pursue your degree and, specifically, how did you decide to come to Philly, Drexel, and materials?
I got many opportunities for doing research during my undergrad at IIT, and that's where my interest in research originated. I had designed an electrospinning unit and a chemical vapor deposition setup, was studying NOx absorption and adsorption by carbon nanofibers, and was fascinated by the great imagination and wonderful mysteries being uncovered under the name of nanotechnology research. Therefore, even though I was studying chemical engineering (which I still love), it appeared my research interests could be pursued more in a biomedical engineering or materials science department. I was unsure at first whether I wanted to go as far as pursuing a lengthy degree (Ph.D.), therefore I decided to go for an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Drexel, after consulting with some faculty in Biomed. After I arrived, I got an opportunity to meet with Dr. Yury Gogotsi, who I thought was heading just the kind of work that would interest me. After a year, I converted my degree to a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering in order to do more detailed and solid research.
What are your favorite things about Philly?
I love the composition of Philly's population. Owing to a large number of schools in the city, there's a big young, student community, and due to some major industries around, it's nicely balanced by a corporate class. So the environment in the city is always very lively no matter which part you're in. To enjoy an academic environment, you just have to be west, and to enjoy a corporate culture, just be east. I also like that people here are relatively more health conscious and concentrate efforts on keeping physically fit. I like the fact that it's very cosmopolitan. Everywhere people from different countries can be found, and this has helped in developing a rich, diverse culture. I love the food, its quality and variety and the large number of restaurants that make it possible. And I also like that Philadelphia has a rich history and a large number of museums, including the great Philadelphia Museum of Art. I think Philadelphia is a very complete city.
What was your typical schedule like during the week and weekend?
I am a late night worker, so my day would start a little late. I would try to start the day with some physical Yoga exercises, after which I would go to school. Sometimes I would go to the gym in the evenings. I would cook for myself about twice a week, and go out with friends on a Friday/Saturday evening for dinner, or for some drinks on weekdays after work. On weekends, the focus would shift a bit more towards physical exercises and music (I play guitar and flute) and any backlog of work.
What do you find are the biggest differences between your home country and the U.S.?
The biggest difference between India and the US is the infrastructure and order. I find a great system in place here and people (mostly) follow rules. Basic amenities are easily available and accessible even to the commonest person and that helps in spending time on worthier tasks. Work wise, I find a much better work culture and work quality that exists here.
What are you currently doing post-graduation?
I currently work as an Applications Engineer at CVD Equipment Corporation.
How do you feel your Drexel materials degree has prepared you for your post-graduation plans?
My Ph.D. work has helped me understand how to work in a team and helped me develop independent thinking. My work has also been quite challenging and I have been lucky to meet it with success on a few occasions.
Do you have any advice for international students looking to study in the U.S.?
Before joining grad school in the US, make sure that the reason for undertaking research work is a shear passion for it and nothing else. If that's the case, everything else will fall in place nicely. There's a lot of very exciting and cutting-edge work being done, great infrastructure and very talented faculty to monitor it.