In Aniruddh Das’s opinion there are certain places that can one make feel special. For the young Indian researcher such an area is Dresden’s Altstadt-district.
540.000 inhabitants instead of 16.3 million – compared to a major metropolis like New Delhi Dresden seems almost provincial. However, this is exactly what Aniruddh Das likes about his chosen place of residence: “Dresden is a great combination of a small and a big city. You have loud and lively locations like Neustadt-district, where people celebrate on the streets. But you also have beautiful quiet places, where you can be on your own.” For the Indian PhD candidate such a spot is Dresden’s Altstadt – despite all the tourists.
“I like to stroll through this area. All these magnificent buildings, like the Church of our Lady (Frauenkirche) or Semperoper, give me a royal feeling – and they also give me new impressions of my own native city. Until coming to Germany, I never paid attention to the historical sites in Delhi.” Similar to this observation Aniruddh Das also noticed differences in the technological infrastructure: “Unlike in India the lights are dimmed in Germany. So, at the beginning I always felt sleepy. Also it becomes rather uncomfortable here, when temperatures hit 30 degrees. As an Indian I’m actually used to hot weather, but I’m also used to air-conditioners in all the rooms.”
Either Europe or USA
Nevertheless, it was Germany’s good reputation in engineering which enticed the young researcher to come first to Darmstadt, then three years later to Dresden. “For many Indians who want to study engineering abroad it’s either Western Europe or the USA. Because of the language barrier many choose the latter, despite all the advantages of the former.” In Das’s opinion the two countries are on the same level. “Plus, most universities in Germany don’t charge for education.” Thus, it was an easy decision to start his master’s degree in materials science at the University of Darmstadt, after finishing his bachelor in mechanical engineering in India.
Similar to Dresden, which mixes elements of a small town with features of a big city, Aniruddh Das combines fracture mechanics and materials science now for his PhD at the HZDR. “I investigate fracture toughness of oxide dispersion-strengthened steels. This material is used for the newest generation of nuclear fission reactors and nuclear fusion applications.” As their microstructure is slightly different from conventional steel, it becomes very important to test how it will react under extreme conditions, like high temperatures. “My experiments provide information about the safety of reactor components,” Das summarizes.
This kind of hands-on research always attracted him, the young scientist recounts: “Something which I can feel or see is much more appealing to me than, for example, writing a computer program. I want to see how things work.” Maybe this is also the reason that draws him to Dresden’s Altstadt. While looking at Frauenkirche Aniruddh Das points out the different structures of the new and the old wall, clearly indicated by their different colors. “I think, this is a perfect example how different elements can work well together and build something new and beautiful.”