Gandham Phanikumar


Internships are available during the summer break, typically from May-15 till July-15 only. Ideally I would prefer a student who has come through a recognized internship programme such as “Summer Fellowship” of IIT Madras, “Summer Fellowship” of the Indian Academy of Sciences etc. It is also possible to host an intern with funding from one of my projects. If a student has been selected for these summer fellowships, they are usually eligible to avail hostel accommodation and mess facility along with a scholarship.

It is possible to spend a winter break in our lab but this will be subject to approvals and without any hostel accommodation, scholarship etc. In view of the limited time for orientation and logistics, I do not recommend students to apply for winter internships.

Some tips for prospective applicants:

  • Check my website (pages on research and publications) to see if your area of interest aligns with what is going on in my group.
  • Check up the pages of my doctoral students on what they are doing and see if one of them could be a mentor for your internship. Feel free to write to them directly before making up your mind.
  • Use the search box on the main website of IIT Madras for “summer fellowship” and go through the brochure. Usually the application process for this programme will be at
  • Check out also the website of Indian Academy of Sciences which coordinates the summer fellowship programme to be hosted at different IITs, IISc, JNCASR and other institutes.

Some tips on how not to write for an internship:

  • Generic mail without addressing the prospective host directly. If a mail does not start with “Dear Prof. Phanikumar”, I am unlikely to respond positively to that.
  • Generic mail addressed to a whole bunch of faculty in one mail. I will assume that others in the To: list will respond.
  • Mailing a faculty member with their address in the bcc list. I don't even know if it is you or a virus in your computer that is sending the mail out. To be safe, I shall ignore such mails.
  • A mail without specifics on what you are interested in and what you want to work on with the host. I think it is easier for you to do homework and identify a topic than for me to spend time on a student who is not yet in my group.
  • Bombarding the inboxes of faculty members across the world with frequent mails without any homework on who could be interested and on what topic.

About the right time to apply for an internship:

  • Just after first year of your UG, you have no experience of courses in metallurgical / materials engineering. Internships are not possible for those entering second year UG, Use this summer break to do some general reading, improve your programming skills, meet up with grand parents and so on.
  • Just after second year, you would have already done couple of courses in metallurgical / materials engineering but perhaps not enough to actually think of a topic. You are welcome during this break but perhaps on generic topics which do not rely much on your core background. Take this up only if you are already comfortable with your academic responsibilities. It is often a good idea to spend this break at your own institute with your favourite teachers to learn more about what your Department / Institute has to offer you.
  • The summer break after third year of your UG is the best time to do an internship. Think of a topic that you could possibly continue working on during your project so that you can bring the work to a logical conclusion.

Here are some students who have been interns in my group earlier:

  • G.M. Karthik, B.Tech. (Mechanical Engineering), National Institute of Technology (NITK) Surathkal during summer 2012 with a summer fellowship from the Indian Academy of Sciences and during summer 2013 funded by a project at IIT Madras.
  • R. Mahemaa, B.Tech (Metallurgical and Materials Engineering), National Institute of Technology (NIT) Tiruchhirappalli during summer 2013.
  • V. Shahina, B.Tech., National Institute of Technology (NIT) Calicut during summer 2012 with a summer fellowship from the Indian Academy of Sciences.
  • S. Vani, B.Tech, Pondicherry Engineering College, Pondicherry during summer 2011 with a summer fellowship from the Indian Academy of Sciences.
  • Shruti Sharma, B.Tech (Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science), Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay), Powai, Mumbai during summer 2011 funded by a project at IIT Madras.