Hi! I’m Venkata Mukund Kashyap Yedunuthala

Hi! I’m Venkata Mukund Kashyap Yedunuthala

I am a fourth-semester student of Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg, studying Computational Materials Science. Among the three first names you see, I prefer being called Mukund. I am 23 years old. Originally from Hyderabad — one of the cosmopolitan cities located in southern India. Widely known for its Pearls, Hyderabad was the seat of the Nizam Dynasty until mid 20th century. Currently, it is one of the largest and emerging IT hubs of India. I’d been living in Germany since October 2019. While many of my peers tend to disagree, I absolutely adore the ambience presented by this university town located near Dresden. It is a breath of fresh air compared to the cacophony I’d experienced in Hyderabad. However, these bizarre circumstances, a result of the ongoing pandemic, have dampened my efforts to experience Germany at its best.

Constructed in 1591, Charminar (literally: four minarets) is the iconic monument, and a mosque, in Hyderabad. As seen above, the area comes alive particularly during the holy month of Ramadan.
Source: Jagannathsrs, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Truth be told, I did not envision myself as a student of Computational sciences. India’s budding space exploration programme, which is heavily televised and publicised, had built my appetite for science. As a kid, I was fascinated by Voyager 1 mission’s iconic photograph, “The Pale Blue Dot.” That awe-inspiring portrait of this planet, to this day, remains simultaneously daunting and fascinating. And, in these strange times, became a source of new perspectives. A combination of such factors lead me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and, subsequently, my current field of study.

I gained most of my knowledge in programming in recent years. While my bachelor’s degree offered the basics of programming, I owe most of my current prowess to my education in Germany. I was introduced to High-Performance Computing in one such course offered by my university as a part of the curriculum. It was exhilarating to size up the potential of scientific research enabled by HPC. As you could imagine, my background in computational mechanics instantly made the connection to mind-boggling speeds of computations possible. Most of the solvers, to my understanding, rely on complex linear algebra. I realised that a well-constructed solver could do wonders. As such, when our professor alerted us about this opportunity, I applied immediately and eagerly hoped for a successful application.

As you may have guessed correctly by now, my application was successful. I’d been selected to work on Project 2123: Parallel radiative heat exchange solver for analyzing samples from the OSIRIS-REx space exploration mission.

Captured on Oct. 20, 2020, OSIRIS-REx mission’s Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event.
Source: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

From the moment I first noticed this project, I knew that I had to work on it. I was beyond thrilled to see the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft touch down on asteroid Bennu in October last year. The craft, projected to return to Earth with the asteroid samples (!) in 2023, should go down in human history as one of the most significant scientific achievements. Thus, an opportunity to get a sneak-peek into the nuances of such a mission was already too good to pass up. Scientific ramifications and interest around the research aside, this project had suited my background exceptionally well. I am excited to make my contributions to this research, along with my teammate, Cormac McKinstry. While it is disappointing a bit that I wouldn’t be able to test my amateur French this time, I am eager to work from the comfort of my home, and learn a lot from my mentors, Daniel Pino Muños, and Modesar Shakoor.

Feel free to reach out to me on my LinkedIn page. I hope all of you stay safe, and healthy. Here’s to an exciting and productive summer ahead!

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