I always wonder what it takes to be a good researcher, considering I want to be one. Is it intelligence or knowledge? Or strength of character?
Sourabh Kaushal has some answers for me … He is a Space Debris Researcher. And he is NOT a space engineer. He obliged me with the story of his journey and lessons so far. And I couldn’t keep something so good to myself. The beauty of simple stories – they never fail to inspire. Read on!
I am Sourabh Kaushal, a 22yr old engineer – Bachelor of technology (Hons.) Electronics and Communication Engineering from Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra, Haryana, India. And I hail from a small district of Haryana called Yamunanagar.
I spent my childhood in a small village of Himachal. When I was in school I was an average student in class and sometime I was made to sit at the back. So you can say that I was a backbencher boy.
When I was in class 12th I developed a bit of interested in Space Science and Technology. I really wanted to become a space/aerospace engineer but My Dream is lost now. Read and you will know why!
I failed….I failed many times in my life…
I really wanted to become an IITian when I was in class 12th but I failed to qualify for it.
I failed…to become a space engineer.
When I was in college I proposed to a girl but she rejected me Again I failed.
After engineering I took GATE exam. Again I failed..
I have failed a lot of times in my Life but I have also learned a lot from all these failures.
I believe that” Success consists of going from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm”
So, I could say I really achieved a lot in my life after all these failures. When I was in class 12th I was a bit interested in the topic of human life in space and I used to always wondering about the questions of possibility of existence of human life in space.
In 2008, I got admission in engineering college but not in space engineering(My dream). One day while sitting in the laboratory, I came across the topic of space debris and found it to be very interesting. I wanted to learn more about it and started to dig out its history and recent growth.
When I spoke at events, many student asked me the question - ‘how to start the research work’ so I would love to share my experience:
First thing is that you should be passionate about your topic, about your subject or work. I am an electronic engineer by profession but space researcher by passion…I know more about space than electronics even after having spent 4 years in engineering.
If you are passionate about something then you will easily achieve it.
I choose the subject i.e. space debris when I was in the first semester of my engineering and started learning all about it.
Sometime students asked me : how did you manage your schedule when you were a student as you had a lot of semesters, labs, practices, sessionals, exams etc..
I told them to look at all the Nobel prize winners, researchers, achievers. They had to do their work within 24 hours and yet they achieved. Even you have only 24hours in a day and I’m sure you can manage your time for your dream, your passion..
When I started my research in 2008, everyone dissuaded my work, even the Chairman of my college, faculty members and my friends. But I was 100% concentrated on my work and proposed some new methods to mitigate space debris. I review more than 100 research papers i.e. literature survey. I know literature survey is very boring work but it’s important in order to figure out the previous work, drawbacks, missing parts etc.
After literature survey, I started connecting/linking with experts all over the globe and discussing about my work.
At 18 I wrote my very first research paper and submitted it to ISEC, USA. My very first research paper stood runner up for Jerome Pearson Award.
This was just the beginning of my journey. I researched a lot on space debris and wrote more research papers. Till date my research papers have got selected in more than 25 International conferences organized by NASA,ISRO,JAXA,IEEE,ISEC etc.
I also received accolades for my work i.e. runner up “Jerome Pearson Award”, “Dr. Kalpana Chawla Young Scientist Awarrd”, “Young Innovator Award”, and I was also nominated for “Jerome Leaderer Space Safety Award” by IAASS, CANADA.
In 2012 I become an INK Fellow. INK is in association with TED. It is one of the most important and memorable days of my life. INK has given me a huge platform otherwise, coming from a small town there were no proper labs, lack of resources and many other hurdles. But really it was great and unbelievable that I was selected as INK Fellow.
All these awards and achievements have always boosted up my morale to a great extent.
But, I had my share of problems too during the journey – lack of resources, fund problems, no proper guidance being some of them.
There were times when my research papers got selected in USA,JAPAN,EUROPE etc but due to lack of finance I was not able to go there.
Sometime I feel like quitting this research work. There is a lot of dilemma. Whenever I go for job interviews in Electronics/software company, the HR says that you have done a lot of work in space sector so you should go for space company. Sorry there is no vacancy for you!
And when I go for Space company they say – sorry ! you are not an aerospace/space engineer hence you are not eligible for job. To sustain myself I do need a job.
But then I don’t give up. I’m still doing research work because I am passionate about it, I live for my dream and am sure one day my dream will come true.
When I met students in events and they say that they have great ideas and technologies but no proper platform, I see my old self in them. I faced the same problems during my research work and really do not want these students to go through the same fate.
I discussed this issue with my friends and we are planning for startup. I know I am not an Entrepreneur or a business person but still I am planning for startup in the sector of aviation/space. As this will be the ‘first of its kind’ startup in India in the sector of aviation/space, we are HOPING FOR THE BEST
No doubt, my life has been filled with lots of ups and downs but these have given me the strength, inspiration and motivation to do something good with my life. I will always work for the development of society, humanity and nation.
Apart from these, I have interest in sports and I have won few medals in athletics. I love playing cricket and travelling
I will just end this note by saying-The true sign of Intelligence is not knowledge but Imagination. So always live for your dream and passion and one day you will achieve them.
To be, you have got to do. And do more than enough.