Space Talks: Boeing India Experience
Interview with Boeing India's Karthik Mahesh on his journey to Boeing and current job profile.
Aerospace Engineering is preferred by many. Many fancy the science behind flying objects. But few make it a passion. In a batch of around 60 students of Aerospace Bachelors at IIT Bombay, you'll find maybe ten such people. Karthik Mahesh, currently pursuing a job at Boeing India, is the only one working in the industry from the ten. For today's Monday Mentoring and Space talks let us learn about Karthik's flight from IIT to Boeing.
What has been your journey up till joining IIT?
I was exposed to air travel early as I live outside India, and the flight bug bit me at an early age. I wanted to be a pilot, but flight school is expensive, and the IAF was ruled out as a career thanks to my myopia. Since I was a good student, and mechanically inclined, my parents persuaded me to join a foundation program for IIT, where physics really caught my fancy. Engineering and buildings started to look a lot more attractive as a career, and I started getting serious about it in the 11th grade.
As for why I chose Aerospace Engineering, I’ve been fascinated by aircraft for as long as I remember. I’ve made paper planes since childhood, spent thousands of hours on Microsoft Flight Simulator, and even made a working wind tunnel model for my 11th-grade physics project where we explained how aeroplanes really fly. It was just a natural progression.
The journey at IIT. Were your expectations fulfilled?
The funny part of this is that I arrived at IIT as a CSE student, thanks to my rank. Here was where a lot of walls started to break down, as was the expectation that IIT would make me the best version of myself. IIT just gave me the tools I needed, and I had to stop being a "bakra" and figure out who I was. IIT really excels here, and you embark on a journey of self-discovery because you're not the best at everything anymore. There are tons to learn, and you need to find your niche or your calling. One shortcoming of IIT, however, is that a lot of my peers either found themselves in the wrong branch or not wanting to do engineering at all. This societal pressure has an impact on the environment and culture (of life at IIT).
Currently, you are working at Boeing India. How did you land at Boeing?
My ultimate goal has always been to build aircraft, and I was determined to work at an aerospace firm from the outset. This (resolve) firmed up during the internship season in 3rd year, where I sat out the consulting, coding, and FMCG companies and was waiting for either Gulfstream or Airbus. A senior of mine who interned at Boeing, however, said that the learning experience would be more fruitful at a Boeing internship than at Gulfstream. When Boeing India came for recruiting before Airbus or Gulfstream, I applied even though the profile wasn't in my preferred field of Aerodynamics.
I wasn't on the shortlist, but while taking a tutorial on the interview day, I got an urgent call from the IC (Internship Coordinator) saying that Boeing wished to interview me. I ran from my tutorial and gave that interview completely unprepared, and in a t-shirt and shorts. They must have seen something in me because I got the job offer. I took away many positive lessons from that internship, and that persuaded me to apply for the Boeing IT profile when they came for recruiting next year, knowing that I would be able to learn a lot from it. I skipped all the Day 1 and Day 2 companies again and got the job.
What are your job profile and daily schedule at work?
I work with a CFD product team in Boeing IT, where we build an interface to flatten the learning curve for everyday usage of CFD. This (job) places me in close contact with CFD and Aerodynamics Engineers and keeps me up to date on current industry standards and practice.
A typical day at the office runs from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Following that, I play football or work out at cult.fit. I make my food, and go cycling on weekends when possible.
A Key Takeaway from Undergraduate Life
If you're the smartest or most knowledgeable person in the room, you're likely in the wrong room. Be yourself and never strive solely to be the smartest. Everyone has their niche, and you should find yours by experimenting with different activities, and everything that college has to offer. Following the beaten path solely out of peer pressure makes you lose individuality.
A big thanks to Karthik to share his story with our fellow space nerds.
Organisation: Boeing India
Job Profile: Engineering Systems Developer