‘I don’t have that ‘9 to 5’ mentality’

Doing an interdepartmental thesis, more than double the required coursework, an international internship and a start-up: master’s student Siddharth Kalra is a busy man.

Siddharth Kalra: “I sometimes audit courses just for fun. I want to see what people are talking about.” (Photo: Heather Montague)

“I’m from India and before coming to TU Delft I worked in industry for three and a half years. There was a point when I had to choose if I wanted to stay in the corporate world or go back to the academic world. I chose the latter because I thought I would have grown organically and I wouldn’t have had the same experience and exponential growth that I have had in TU Delft.

I’m doing a master’s in Process & Energy at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. Being at TU Delft has been about doing as much as I could. Learning can happen anywhere and anytime but coursework at an educational institution gives a structure to that learning experience. I sometimes audit courses just for fun. I want to see what people are talking about. I’ve taken courses from Nuclear Engineering to TPM to Applied Sciences. I have done courses at Leiden, attended multiple ATHENS Exchanges and Virtual Exchanges. In fact, I think I’ve done close to 25 ECTS in the form of different exchanges.

It was coursework that led to me to become a finalist of the Bio Design Challenge in New York. Coursework also gave me the opportunity to do an internship in France and led me to choose an interdepartmental thesis which I am currently working on. The thesis is a mix between marine engineering, nuclear engineering and process & energy. It is a system-level approach on how to power a dredging ship and we expect it to materialise in the future because of the fundamental changes in the market, technology and regulatory expectations. We talked with some companies and it seems to be a blind spot for them, so there’s an interesting opportunity there.

‘In my previous job we were expected to be available 24 hours a day’

I’m also working on a start-up with two other students from biomedical engineering whom I met during one of the entrepreneurship courses. We were the finalists of the Ideation Challenge and the 4TU Impact Contest last year and it gave us a boost. We are still developing our proof of concept, and the idea is to get this device on the market.

I don’t have that 9 to 5 or 9 to 7 mentality. In my previous job we were expected to be available 24 hours a day. I think endurance and persistence are like muscles, the more you train them the stronger you become. But if you are fatigued, you also need to rest and take breaks to take care of yourself. You have to find a balance.

The question about what to do after I graduate has been on my mind for a long time. I feel like I have opened up several options for myself. This is good, but it also means I have to make a choice at some point. I still want to keep the options open, and going for a PhD is definitely one of the options.”

Who are the people who work and study on campus? We meet them in Humans of TU Delft.

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Heather Montague / Freelance writer

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