Ashish Srivastava is PhD student that has been studying Computing (Space Technology Group), in the School of Science and Engineering on Spacecraft Technology since 2016. Ashish is from India and is currently living in Dundee with his family.
One Dundee: Can you tell us what course you are on and which year of study you are just finishing?
Ashish: I have completed my PhD in Computing (Space Technology Group), School of Science and Engineering on Spacecraft Technology. My PhD commenced in January 2016. The University Senatus Academicus granted me the award of Doctor of Philosophy on the 27th May so I will be graduating in June 2020. However, it is quite disappointing to me and my family that the Summer Graduation ceremony had to be postponed.
One Dundee: What attracted you to come to Dundee in the first place?
Ashish: I was working for the last 16 years in the field of Spacecraft technology as a scientist in the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). SpaceWire is used by more than 500 satellites orbiting in Space and is the biggest contribution of the Space Technology Centre from the University of Dundee to space technology. The Space Technology Centre’s research outcomes such as SpaceFibre technology and PANGU (Planet and Asteroid Natural Scene Generation Utility) software attracted me to come to Dundee and research in this field.
One Dundee: Have you felt the information provided to students by the University has helped keep you informed of the coronavirus situation and how it affects you and the University?
Ashish: I would like to thank the University for keeping the students updated about the coronavirus situation, all while keeping regular help and support available. With the outbreak of the pandemic, I was quite apprehensive about my PhD viva and extension of my visa. The immense and continued support of both University faculty and administrative staff helped in the smooth sailing of both activities.
One Dundee: Have you been in Dundee throughout the period of lockdown?
Ashish: Yes. I planned to go on holiday with my family after the completion of my viva and National 5 exams of my daughter. Coronavirus outbreak and lockdown wiped out everything.
One Dundee: What has been your experience of lockdown? Are you with friends or family, or on your own?
Ashish: I live with my family (spouse and two daughters) and lockdown experience of staying at home was amazing. I got the maximum time to stay together with the family.
One Dundee: Have you felt safe and supported?
Ashish: Yes, I felt very much safe in Dundee after looking around situations in other countries including my home country, India.
One Dundee: If you are in Dundee, have you felt supported by the wider community?
Ashish: Yes, I have felt fully supported. I recently got my award of degree after approval by University Senate, which shows the continued support for my education process, I had communications from the University’s administrative assistant in Registry all the way up to Senate despite being in full lockdown.
One Dundee: The University has had to change how we deliver courses and exams & assessments. How have you adapted to that?
Ashish: I don’t really have courses online, however, I did complete my thesis viva. The whole examination committee was very comforting and it went very smoothly with the external examiner participating from Cranfield University. Initially I was worried about video conferencing and proper communication. But I think, delivering the exam in this way was easy with better interaction and communication.
One Dundee: Have you requested support from the University, either from your School or Student Services?
Ashish: Yes – Thesis viva committee, Dr Keith Wilcox (Postgraduate Research Lead, SSE), the International support.
One Dundee: What support, if any, have you received?
Ashish: Thesis viva committee helped me to stick and carry out the evaluation on the previously fixed date, even though the academic staff was extremely busy in delivering their duties in a new way through online. Dr Wilcox keeps guiding me and providing all the new guidelines released by the University to carry out thesis approval and online viva conduct. The International office aggressively supported me in getting my DES Visa application. The International support manager Mrs Susan was immediately replying to my questions and guiding me throughout this process even during this difficult time. I am grateful to all these people.
One Dundee: How have you been spending your time in lockdown when you aren’t studying? Have you been learning a new skill, having Zoom parties with friends and family or doing something entirely different?
Ashish: I am spending time by working from home to my present employer STAR-Dundee Ltd., helping my children for their home schooling, attending webinars from UK Space Agency and UK Space companies and zoom call with friends and family.
One Dundee: What are your hopes and concerns now?
Ashish: I hope to see normal conditions soon and the main concern is my family in the home country as the virus outbreak is on an upward trend.