New Delhi: "Whatever a man has done, a man may do." Riding high on the very motto and armed with tremendous nerve, sheer patience, iron determination, relentless efforts and robust optimism, he is doing what many of his contemporaries can only think of. Abhishek Agrahari, a third year Mechanical Engineering student at Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET, Patiala-Punjab) is just 20 and he has bagged multiple international research internship offers more than his age from various prestigious universities across the globe and that too at a time when the whole world is grappling with the dreaded pandemic COVID-19.

International offers received by Abhishek Agrahari for research work in various scientific fields from reputed global institutes include - University of Oxford, UK; Pennsylvania State University, USA; University of Illinois, USA; Technische Universitat Munchen, Germany; Tel Aviv University; Beijing Computational Sciences Research Center, China; Shanghai Jia Tong University, China; Gyeongsang National University, South Korea; University of Adelaide, Australian School of Petroleum; Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Spain; Heriot-watt Univeristy, Edinburgh; Lithuanian Energy Institute; and Iscte-Instituto Universitario de Lisboa, Lisbon.

Already worked with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on gas turbine engine; IIT, Bombay on fluid structure interaction; and IIT, Kanpur on fluid dynamics, he has currently offers from IIT, Kharagpur; IIT, Indore; and IIT, Madras too.

Speaking exclusively with MyNation, Abhishek Agrahari, who lives at Mayur Vihar Phase 3 in New Delhi, said, "Being a non-IITian it's been very difficult to achieve these offers. It's all about knowledge and talent. I had to do extensive research work and study exhaustively apart from my general syllabus for Mechanical Engineering. There are several rounds of tests and interviews. Once the concerned professor finds me to be good enough to fit into their scheme of things, only then they offer me to join their research team. Sometimes professors and the concerned institutes bear all the expenses, but sometimes it is not the case."

"I have been active in research in the broader areas of fluid mechanics, more specifically  fluid-structure interaction theory, plasma physics, water waves mechanics, kinetic theory (kinetic equations and model like boltzmann equations, fluid kinetic coupled model), mathematical general relativity, black holes, formation of black holes due to sudden gravitational collapse of non-linear waves and gauge theory," added Agrahari.

Abhishek’s career path is not without trouble. He often finds himself desperately seeking out sponsorships to realise his dreams as he belongs to a family which is reeling under acute poverty. His father worked in a private firm, but now he is jobless for many months. He wants his tuition fees at TIET to be waived as he is unable to bear the financial pain. He has already approached the institute administration for the needful to be done. But nothing has materialised so far. He has taken a loan to pursue his dreams and career in engineering.

Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Winston Churchill had said, ‘‘A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.’’ More than 9 months into the dreaded pandemic Covid-19, the novel coronavirus has wrecked a lot more than the health of millions of people across the globe. The ravaging illness has not only stolen lives, livelihood and a state of normalcy--it is attacking the future as well. As students and teachers embrace the online means of education, those belonging to the weaker sections of the society are somehow still on the starting line of the race. With limited or no access to a stable internet connection and a digital device to participate in the classes, the pandemic has left many students behind, damaging their future prospects.

Engineering students too have to bear the brunt of this coronavirus. Peeved by the fact that they had international offers in their hands from renowned institutes of the world, but they couldn’t venture out to realise their cherished dreams. Abhishek Agrahari is also no exception. This corona has attempted to dishearten him, ‘‘though for the time being’’.

Abhishek shared his pensive musings. ‘I would’ve been in the US right now, but this corona has given me a temporary setback in my mission. Dispelling all the despair and desperation I’ve decided to look ahead with renewed vigour. There may be several other engineering students who might have missed their bus because of the pandemic. But I have a word for all of them. It’s said that opportunity knocks at the door. The current pandemic, in all literal sense, closed the doors following lockdown. It is up to us to either wait for the opportunity to knock at the door or open the door and look for opportunities. I am glad that I chose to open the door which further opened my eyes to the realities of the world."

He added, “In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity. The recent COVID Pandemic has been a learning phase for humanity at large. Not to ignore the threat and challenges mankind has been forced to face post this COVID scare, I somehow feel that the current pandemic brought out a new individual in me. It’s the lockdown in recent times that, I would say has unlocked my thought process about many facts, so far unseen and not appreciated by me. I have learnt that it’s imperative that we give back to society. It need not be financial aid but could be imparting knowledge, sharing information, providing social comfort, etc.’’

Faced with similar situation there are a lot more engineering students who might be under a kind of depression. ‘‘The lockdown across countries, states, and cities forced most of us to stay indoors and pursue our online classes, activities, and hobbies from within the walls of our respective homes. I took up the opportunity to get connected with as many reputed technical universities in the world as possible. I also got involved in imparting the unconditional and perpetual support to many of my fellow students in their upcoming endeavours,’’ he added.

‘‘Richard Branson has optimistically stated, “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.” Every formal and informal interaction with them opened a new aspect of life and struggles being faced by them. I realized that you do not need to be rich to help someone, but you surely should have a heart that beats. Nevertheless, Anne Frank believes ‘No one has ever become poor by giving,” Abhishek said.

‘‘Over several years of my teaching experience, I have taught thousands of students, coming from varied backgrounds and possessing a wide variety of talents, abilities and personality traits. I can remember few as talented as Abhishek Agrahari. Based on my observations, I can attest that he is a highly intelligent, sincere and hard-working student with a tremendous drive to reach his goals. He is broad-minded and has interests in different areas of Mechanical Engineering. He has an unusual thinking style and ability to combine methods and ideas from different disciplines,’’ SS Bhatia, Dean of Academic Affairs, TIET told MyNation.