MAI Graduate from India: to Face the outside World without Fear
Senthilkumar Vaitheswaran Karur was born in India, studied in Russia, and work for a Boing company in the United Kingdom now. But for us he will forever remain a MAI graduate, part of the university family.
Mr.Karur studied aerospace propulsion engineering at MAI and graduated in 2005. He was doing his Master’s degree with his twin brother Balakrishnan. He told us about his life path and choices that made him who he is now.
Mr. Karur, why did you decide to become an aerospace engineer?
Becoming an aerospace engineer looks like a dream come true. During my childhood, I had so much interest in cars and planes. My dad took me to the nearby airport (where we lived in India) to make me watch aeroplanes take-off and land. Also, I started collecting toys, stickers and paper models of aeroplanes during my school days with my brother. This has provoked my interest to take-up aerospace engineering when I decided to do my engineering degree in India.
What was your Bachelor’s degree dedicated?
I did my Bachelor’s degree in Bharathiar university, Coimbatore, India specializing in aeronautical engineering. Then, I did my Master’s Degree in engineering at Moscow Aviation Institute specializing in aero-engine theory and design.
Why did you decide to come to Russia and enter MAI? Where did you find out about the university?
After my engineering degree, I was planning to do Master’s degree in aerospace and thinking about different universities. But financing my education was a challenge to my father. Since he has to sponsor me and my brother for education at the same time as me and my brother are twins. In the year 2002, immediately after receiving bachelor’s degree in engineering, me and my brother attended an education fair held at Chennai.
In that same event, we came to know about MAI and other different universities in Russia. Since we (me & my twin brother) want to pursue education in aerospace engineering, we chose MAI as MAI has impressive course choices to offer. But we found more about the university after coming to Russia only.
How do you remember your MAI years? Was is it difficult to adapt to new conditions?
Coming to a foreign country like Russia, travelling outside India for the first time and starting to study at MAI was very very interesting and exciting. The initial year of learning Russian during the preparatory course was very exciting. We had students from China, Korea, Myanmar, Malaysia and Thailand. Mingling with them, trying to communicate with them in Russian and understanding about their country and cultures was all very interesting.
The second year, when I started studying at the MAI Department 201 “Theory of Jet Engines” to do my Master’s program, there were initially a few challenges getting to understand the nature of the curriculum, technical terms in Russian and project expectations. But our technical guide Mr. Agolnik Alexei Borisovich was very kind and patient to explain things to us and make us understand what is required to do. I was prepared to all the hard work needed and the interest to know ‘things’ kept me going and motivated.
What was the theme of your thesis work?
Theme of our thesis works was conversion of 2 shaft aero-engine to 3 shaft aero-engine to increase net max-thrust and take-off power.
To complete the thesis on time, I worked really hard, carefully planning and allocating time for different activities including discussion with professors, fellow students and self-learning. With all eminent guidance, I was able to complete things on time. On the day of the actual thesis, I was bit nervous to present that before a group of 30-40 people, but it was a very lively and unique experience. After the thesis, I really felt happy to get Red Honors Degree.
Did you participate in any extracurricular activities at MAI?
I used to play badminton and go for running with friends.
Do you have your favourite places on campus?
In a whole, I like MAI, but my favourite places on the campus were building of School № 2 and the Main Administrative Building.
Tell us please about the most memorable moments of your student life.
One of the most memorable moments in MAI was the events done during the Diwali celebration in 2005. Along with my Indian friends, I participated and helped everyone to cook many different cuisines. Later me and my brother arranged the room for the Diwali party celebration and invited other students from Syria, Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia to join with us for celebrating Diwali. It was such a happy occasion which I can’t forget.
What skills did you gain at MAI?
Doing a post graduate degree in MAI, Russia, has been a unique experience overall. As a student of MAI, I got many skills that really added value to my career. Few important skills I have gained include Russian language, technical presentation skills, communication with students from other countries, time management skill and a broader cultural understanding.
Studying at MAI helped you build a career?
Well, graduating from MAI has definitely been a great advantage to understand about aerospace industry’s best practices as a whole. It gives a student enough confidence to face the outside world without fear.
Tell us please about your career path. What was your first job, what are you doing now? What is your responsibility?
After Graduating from MAI, I started my career in India as a Graduate Stress Analysis engineer in a company located in Hyderabad, India. Then I worked with few aerospace majors like Hawker Beechcraft Co. & Goodrich Aerospace in India.
I immigrated to UK (United Kingdom) in the year 2010. I am сurrently working as Cabin Interiors Engineer (Senior Stress and Certification) at Boeing UK from July 2019. Prior to this, I was with Collins Aerospace (formerly BE Aerospace), Leighton Buzzard, England as a Project Manager from November 2014 till July 2019. In the current role, I am working on the compliance verification and certification of major and minor structural modifications of Boeing aircrafts.
How do you generally assess the level of aerospace education in Russia and Moscow Aviation Institute?
Aerospace education in Russia is generally very good. Especially, MAI’s curriculum is so practical giving students the hands-on industry experience before they go to any company and start working.
Do you have any plans for cooperation with the alma mater?
I would really love to work with MAI in the near future. I have plan to propose few courses for MAI that could attract students to the university. Also, I may visit MAI in the near future to take up few presentations for students on "Aircraft Interior Certification" & "Cabin Safety".
Please, share your experience and tell your secret how to become a successful engineer, to build a career?
Only education can make people wise. To become a successful engineer, a student has to learn many things. From my own experience, I have learnt few things along my career, and I have summarized it below:
- reading the books alone are not adequate, we should practice what we have learnt;
- look for opportunities to interact with leaders/experts in the engineering field and get to know what they have done in their career to come up;
- learn new softwares and other soft skills like presentation skill, time management etc.;
- become a member of some engineering or student association and participate in technical discussions or symposium.
What is the best way to get an interview when hiring, how to be prepared?
Before anyone appears for the interview there are few basic things that needs to be done:
- revise your basic subjects before the interview;
- spend a few hours learning everything about the company & the role- from as many sources as you can. Spend some time on Google;
- speak confidently and show interest to work in the company that has called you for interview;
- if you don’t know or not sure about the answer to any question, reply gently saying you are not aware of that topic/question and assure them you will learn it if they offer a job to you.
You were born in one country, studied in the second, and work in the third. How can you better adapt to different mentalities, approaches? What are the differences and what are the same in engineering?
I was born and brought up in India, did my masters in Russia and currently living in UK and also, I have been to few other countries like Singapore, the USA and Malaysia for work related travel.
Adapting to different cultures and situations comes automatically to you if you approach anything with an open mentality and curiosity to know about different things. International exposure which MAI had given me helps me a lot even till day. However, engineering is the same everywhere not matter wherever in the world you are.
What parting words do you want to give prospective students and future graduates?
Approach things positively always with confidence. Do not fear to try many things even though few things might not turn-out to be a success. Work hard and at the same time enjoy your life. Help others and be kind to all.