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A Student Reflects on His Summer Internship in India

By Brent Niese (ME)

This past summer I participated in the second-year of a three-year project involving the research of the Jaipur foot- a low-cost, simple prosthetic. This project is a collaboration between The Ohio State University, Colorado State University, Dr. P. K Sethi Rehabilitation and Jaipur Training Center, and the Malaviya National Institute of Technology.

The goals of this summer's work included:

  • testing the foot’s materials (wood and various rubbers) to record the material properties,
  • building an accurate mesh from a 3-D model of the foot to predict failures, and
  • creating an epidemiology report to find a correlation between past failures.

The eventual goal of the project is to reduce the weight of the prosthetic, standardize the components, and mass produce the prosthetic to impact as many amputees as possible.

The Jaipur foot project has been especially rewarding for me, getting hands on experience while participating in a project that I think can truly have an impact on the world.

During the 12-week research internship our group, consisting of two OSU students and two Colorado State students, worked with Professor Harlal Singh Mali of Malaviya National Institute of Technology and the graduate students in his lab. It was a unique experience working abroad because I had to overcome challenges that I hadn’t dealt with during my previous Co-Ops in the United States. These challenges included the language and cultural barrier, limited equipment, and the infamous Indian heat. To overcome multiple challenges this summer I had to attack problems in unique ways using the engineering skills I had picked up through my classes at OSU and previous work experience. The experience taught me to be adaptable and gave me an understanding of how universal engineering is across the world.

Growing up in a small farm town, I was excited for the chance to get out of my comfort zone and experience a culture completely different than my own. Living in Jaipur for the summer helped me experience India in a way you can’t do as a tourist. I was able to make some amazing friends and incredible memories I know I will remember for the rest of my life.

From playing cricket to riding elephants and everything in-between, the experience was so much fun. I was able to explore so much of India during the weekends seeing cities such as: Agra, Udaipur, Rishikesh, Delhi, Mumbai, and Manali. Totally immersing myself into the Indian culture by experiencing its food, religion, and history was a once in a lifetime experience, and I would do it again in a heartbeat!