“Luckily, we got a public WiFi and after connecting to that, I got the email about the 50 per cent scholarship,” he said. “I was overjoyed. I shared the news with my family and teachers who were very happy after I’d be going to Australia’s top university.”
Two of Ishank’s friends from high school had also applied for the scholarship. One was unsuccessful while another won the 25 per cent scholarship. Ishank said he felt extremely fortunate to receive 50 per cent tuition support. He marvelled that his school marks were only 0.2 per cent higher than his friend’s.
“It is a massive support during my studies, and it has inspired me to push my limits,” he said.
Robot rovers the highlight of first year in Australia
Ishank describes Canberra as “a quiet, calm, less populated and very cold city”.
“My experience in ANU so far is amazing. I have learned and experienced so many things in such a short period of time,” Ishank said.
He chose to study engineering and computing through a Bachelor of Advanced Computing (R&D) at ANU because of its global prestige and because it “provides a lot of opportunities in terms of internships, research and job opportunities”.
“In one of my courses, I learnt to build a rover, and code it in such a way so that it can solve a maze without human intervention. I studied mechanics, electronics, and coding in a single course, which was very innovative,” he said.
Ishank’s Discovering Engineering team was assigned randomly, but he soon became friends with his three collaborators. Owen Chenhall focused on coding the robot's brain: an Arduino board. Ishank's job was to create the 3D modelling for the rover, as well as the wiring that connected the robot's brain to its eyes and its motors.
Yingjie Wang worked on 3D printing and writing up reports. Dimi Vlahos helped Yingjie with writing and Owen with coding. Toward the end, Ishank joined the coding team "because coding is based on the slots in which wiring is done in arduino".
“We coded using C++. We used two sonars: one used to keep proper distance from side walls and other detects the walls in front," Ishank said.
All four were brimming with confidence as testing day neared. Their robot had solved the maze during their workshops. Unfortunately, Ishank came down with COVID-19 and was unable to attend testing day. But he received a jublient text message from Yingjie that their robot had solved the maze.
"I think we are the first team this workshop which proves my point that our rover is the best [smiley face]," she wrote.
The test required the robot to solve the maze in two minutes, "but ours completed it in less than a minute”, Ishank said.
He was recently elected President of Indian Society called InSA (Indian Students Association) which he expects will help him hone leadership and interpersonal skills.
He expects to graduate in 2025. He said he is grateful that his degree provides a lot of flexibility in terms of choosing electives and subjects “even from other Colleges such as Arts, Science”.