Working on a new project as a Data Science Trainee, going over the project I realized that there were many similar aspects shared between Rocketry and Data Science. This singular thought made me reminisce about my college days. My mind drifted from the project, and I was back to my sophomore year in college—a Mechanical Engineering student passionate about rocketry and robotics.

Through my years in college, I participated in several intercollegiate activities involving Robowars, Model rocket launching, and Building Arduino RC cars. Without my knowledge, my experiences in these various events were now helping me as a Data Scientist. There were a few points that stood out to me which I am stating below:

Always think about the larger picture

My team and I decided to participate in one of the intercollegiate rocketry tournament held in New Mexico, US. While building our rocket, we divided the work by creating 5 sub-assemblies for the project. This helped us ease the workload on everyone. Although each of the individual components was made perfectly, upon assembling all the parts, we noticed some assemblies were slightly misaligned in the rocket.

This made us change a majority of the structural part of the assembly to obtain the perfect fit. A small oversight led to a major blunder, costing us valuable resources and time. In hindsight, the one major flaw in our plan was that we all focused on our work. We should have looked at the bigger picture. This one mistake taught my team and me a very important lesson. – Always take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Attention to Detail

In the Robowars VJTI Mumbai competition, our bot had been performing well in the previous matches, and we had the confidence to win the whole competition. Pumped with the excitement of winning the preceding games, we entered the semi-final match. The game was going according to our expectations until we got a short hit from the opponent’s bot, and our bot got stuck on a protrusion from the wall.

This rendered our bot immobile even though all our assemblies worked fine. The competition’s main aim is to make the opponents’ bot immobile, which our opponents achieved. In our post-match analysis, we realized why our bot got stuck on the wall. It was due to the outer body bolts we had used. We then changed all the outer body bolts to countersunk bolts. This taught us about focusing on the details of the design and understanding the possible outcomes because of just one oversight.

Assigning work through expertise

Understanding the team’s abilities (Individually and together) will help you define all the sub-parts of your project. Getting to know the abilities of your colleagues will be easier at the time of redistributing your work. Data science students or coders would relate to this immediately, as it often takes a lot of work to understand the code or work done by your co-worker. There were similar problems that I faced back in my days of engineering. A few people in our team always needed help to come to the competition’s site.

Understanding their work in order to solve the related issue was one of the most challenging things we needed to face on the competition site.

A clear-cut process flow for project management

Rocketry, like Data Science, has a very complex workflow. While participating in the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC). It was the flagship event held at Spaceport America, organized by ESRA (Experimental Sounding Rocket Association). My team and I worked on the design of the project but missed assigning the workflow from the project, which led to 2 teams creating the exo-structure and the recovery mechanism of the rocket while no one worked on integrating the GPS model into the recovery mechanism of the rocket. Clearly defining the workflow is an integral part of any project, which was made abundantly clear to us.

Time management

Time management is crucial for all projects. This point may seem obvious to most, but its importance cannot be overstated. While participating in our Indian intercollegiate Robowar competitions, we faced a considerable predicament. Our bot, through the series of matches, had accumulated much damage. The majority of the complimentary time we had spent on repairing our bot.

This was very unprecedented because we had not planned for this. We needed more time to properly strategize for our upcoming matches and analyze our opponent’s bot beforehand. Correctly allocating time for each process was very essential, which we could not do. We learned from this mistake and rectified this when we represented India in the FMB (Robowars) World Cup held in Jiaxing.

Always have a plan B

It is a straightforward suggestion but makes a difference in every project. We ran into a major setback while competing in the FMB (Robot Wars) semi-finals. Our bot had taken some heavy damage in the previous matches and needed urgent repair for the upcoming game in the finals. Due to various circumstances, we could not bring spare parts for our bot to the tournament. We decided to purchase the spare parts at the local shops, but on visiting the shops, we realized that the parts needed were unavailable. Adding this to the language barrier, we were in a dire situation. To our surprise, one of the team’s sponsors we had just defeated helped us.

He helped us procure the parts we needed and also helped us with all the repair work. This helped us win the FMB tournament, making us the first Indian team to win the FMB World Cup in the 60 kg category. This incident always reminds me of the importance of a plan B.

After graduation, data science was the most upcoming interesting field that struck me. Data Science encapsulates a variety of fields, including manufacturing for IoT, Healthcare, Financial Services, and many more. It fascinated and enthralled me. While searching for companies specializing in data science, I chanced upon Ellicium Solutions, a Big Data, Analytics, and Artificial Intelligence. Ellicium is one of the most upcoming companies in the field of Data Science.

I got an opportunity to join Ellicium Solutions, and now, as a Data Science trainee at Ellicium, I am learning so much. Often I realize while working that I use many of my learnings as a rocketry competitor in my everyday life as a data science trainee.

Emergys Blog

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