Coming from an academic background, Mayur Bonkile knows the value of a disciplined and focused approach in Science. It has made him one of the finalists in FameLab Climate Change Communicator 2021, a global competition organised by the British Council.
Over a Zoom chat with Edugraph, Mayur, who is now a research associate at Imperial College of London, speaks about how Mechanical Engineering can be an ideal gateway to Thermal Sciences and Energy Science and Engineering.
Edugraph: You did your BTech in Mechanical Engineering and then went for an MTech degree in Thermal Sciences. What inspired you to pursue this specific field of study?
Mayur Bonkile: Since my father is a Mechanical Engineer, I came to know about Mechanical Engineering from his books. As I idolised him, I decided to follow his path and did my BTech in Mechanical Engineering from Government College of Engineering, Amravati, Maharashtra. After finishing this course, I got a job through campus placement at a multinational company that builds boilers and heaters for power plants. But my academic background inspired me to go for further studies — I left my job after a year and did my MTech in Thermal Sciences from NIT Calicut. Continuing this research journey, I also did my PhD in Energy Science and Engineering from IIT Bombay.
What's the pathway for students if they want to pursue Thermal Sciences?
Mayur: Thermal Design, Manufacturing and Production are three areas in which you can do a master’s course after Mechanical Engineering. If you come from a Mechanical Engineering, Automobile Engineering, Production Engineering or Electrical Engineering background, you can opt for Thermal Sciences in the MTech course. Everything becomes multidisciplinary as you pursue higher studies. Like any other Engineering discipline, you need excellent mathematical and analytical skills to excel in this field. If you are familiar with the principles of thermodynamics and fluid mechanics, it’ll definitely help you in the long run.
Are there any stipends that one can make use of? Are there internship opportunities in this field?
Mayur: If you are a GATE-qualified candidate, you’ll get a stipend every month as a master’s student. As a PhD student, you can also get a stipend in the Teacher’s Associate category.
There are lots of internship opportunities available in the industry and corporate world. IITs offer summer internship programmes. Even undergraduate students can get such opportunities when they are involved in six-month projects.
What career options are open to students of Thermal Sciences?
Mayur: You will have a lot of options that can be categorised under academia and industry. If you have a master’s degree, you can continue your passion for research and go for PhD research, postdoctoral research and academia research. You can also immediately join the industry — automobile or power — after obtaining your MTech degree. There are other options such as the food processing industry that make use of the combined principles of heat and power.
You did your PhD in Energy Science and Engineering. What's the prospect lying before energy engineers at present?
Mayur: The future belongs to energy engineers. We are an energy-hungry generation and need energy even for trivial tasks like charging our mobile phones or laptops. Such massive amounts of energy could be generated either by burning fossil fuels or adopting sustainable ways of generating energy. Gradually, we are shifting towards more sustainable forms of energy like solar energy and wind energy. Sustainable development of this whole ecosystem holds the key to our future. The process involves the technology of energy storage, generation, transportation and consumption — this is where energy engineers can contribute to the changing energy landscape.
You're one of the finalists of the global FameLab competition. How did your work on Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries and Thermal Sciences help you prepare for the event?
Mayur: My PhD thesis is on Li-ion batteries, the ones that we use on our mobile phones, laptops and also in some electric vehicles. My work was to study how to store solar and wind energy into these batteries. I presented a three-minute video highlighting the challenges that we have been facing in the energy-generation and consumption sector. Right now, we are using fossil fuels that invariably come with environmental challenges. So, how do we shift to renewable energy? We need some kind of storage technology, and the use of batteries can be one of them. This is what I explained during my presentation in the competition.