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26 Jun 2021 By HUBERT VAZ

Former ISG student leads team to World Rank 2 in US satellite design competition

Driven by an unflinching zeal to achieve heights of success from an early age, and powered by a youthful craving for deciphering software solutions, Dhruv Tewari, a former Indian School Ghubra student, has achieved success in CanSat 2021, a prestigious, annual student design-build-launch competition for space-related topics organised by the American Astronautical Society (AAS).

Co-Team leader of Team Gagan, a 10-member group of bright minds from Netaji Subhas University of Technology, Delhi (India), which took part in the

competition that is open to teams from universities and colleges from around the globe, Dhruv led them onto the path of success right from the initial rounds when they exhibited great promise in their project which ultimately secured World Rank 2 with a final score of 99.17%. (The first place of the competition went to another team from the same university in India).

Disclosing details of their participation, Dhruv explained that his team comprised the brightest young minds of his college with three freshmen, six sophomores, and one junior. The team was led by Vaibhav Sharma and himself, who together managed the team and ensured that everything was done meticulously. 

Expressing gratitude to M P S Bhatia, the faculty advisor of the team for his support, guidance and faith in their capability right from the beginning, as well as to Pradeep Tripathi (Global Phone Technologies, Oman) for his  generous support by sponsoring them, Dhruv said it was a great experience participating in a prestigious competition which is intended to teach space technology and let students take their first steps in space.

“These are worthwhile as they do give students the satisfaction of the end-to-end life cycle of a complex engineering project. It also calls for the utilisation of unique skills from different disciplines, which help to augment the multidisciplinary skills of the contestants,” he said, adding that their task was to build a CanSat following the approved competition guide, and then compete with top teams shortlisted from different countries around the world. The team had to virtually demonstrate the capability and credibility of their CanSat creation this year because of travel restrictions due to the pandemic.

‘Team Gagan’ members and their respective roles included Vaibhav Sharma – Team Leader (Software Dept – Integration and multithreading), Dhruv Tewari – Co-Team Leader (Software Dept – Real Time plotting, API management and data transmission cloud services), Tushar Yadav – Electronics Department (Electronics codes and component transmission Xbee setup), Vicky Jaiswal – Electronics Department (Electronics design for PCB and soldering and integration of components in the satellite), Shivanshu Mittal – Mechanical Department (CanSat designing and component selection), Yogesh Sharma –  Mechanical Department (CanSat designing and component selection), Piyush Sehgal  – Mechanical Department (CanSat designing and component selection), Deshraj – Software Department (GUI Development), Kabir Batra –  Electronics Department (Electronics integration and soldering of PCB), and Khushi Singal – Software Department (Document design and CanSat flight flow).

Embrace the chaos


Dhruv Tewari, co-leader of Team Gagan, who supervised work in all divisions of the competition, was entrusted the core task of software development. This was crucial for building a CanSat and maintaining all the communication and functionalities of the satellite using software. “The software created was called the Ground Control Station where all the operations and real time plotting of data from the CanSat would be visible on the Graphical User Interface we had created from scratch,” he disclosed in an exclusive chat. Excerpts:

What was your contribution in this project?

I specifically made the real time plotting software that gathered data from the satellite and performed data interpolation and visualisation, My responsibility was to manage API related work that was used for getting the real time location of the satellite during its launch.The transmission of the data packets was managed through a cloud service and ensured that there was an establishment of a subscription based model. 

I also mentored a freshman from the team to create our GUI (Graphical User Interface). It was great to mentor a person with no prior programming skills to become a good programer. 

As the Co-Team Leader, I had the responsibility of managing the team and ensuring that flow and continuity in work is maintained. I looked over the entire process and managed each activity by guiding the team and taking regular updates on the progress from all the departments. I also ensured that the team was on track as we had deadlines to meet. Managing that aspect was crucial in us moving forward and performing. During the pandemic when we all teammates were in different locations and it was not easy to procure the components required to make the CanSat, it was also a task to keep the spirit of the team high and motivated.

What was the conviction which all of you had while taking part? 

We, as a team, had a strong belief and dedication to win the competition from the start. We were super excited about competing with the best minds in the world. We were not a perfect team and led by two sophomores but we were hard workers and determined. As a team, we were always certain that we would be winning a rank in the competition. From the initial stages we were ranked 2 in the world which was quite motivating for us. We had put a lot of effort, and due to our clear understanding of the requirements of each round, we made sure that we fulfilled what was asked for and could show more to the judges. Our difference of marks with the first rank holders turned out just 0.01%.

Did you research what previous teams have done to consciously come forth with something new? 

The documents for the top 5 in the previous year are shown on the CanSat website and could be looked at for understanding how the previous years achievers had represented their work. 

All the content and documents were made from scratch, so we did our own research on specific fields of engineering, such as which software development lifecycle would lead to a faster and better development process, or what payload release mechanism is best suited in our dimensions. 

We did a lot of research on the topics, and various systems that we could implement, the softwares that would be the best and made sure that the best one could be implemented. We made sure that we had understood our system and why we had chosen the system.

How would this outcome affect your future career prospects? 

Achieving World Rank 2 in an International competition is an amazing feeling, the outcome of this would showcase my leadership and software development capabilities. My journey in the contest has opened my eyes to a much broader world of Research and Development. I have definitely developed an inclination towards research and problem solving and it would showcase in my career. 

My latest achievement – International Organization of Software Developers (IOSD). Under the previous terms leadership, a group of developers from IOSD-NSUT (the largest tech society) team had created two major projects in NSUT, NESCII – a blogging platform – and NSUTx – a cross platform app – made by and for the students of NSUT, which facilitates access to information and latest college updates. 

I personally was involved as a developer in NSUTx – a daily app that provides the functionalities of the college portal on every iOS and android phone. The app has been a great success with more than 2000 downloads, a 4.4 rating on the Google Play Store, and a 4.7 rating on the App Store. 

The leadership of the last term showed faith in me and I have been elected as the President of International Organization of Software Developers – NSUT. This is the same society that I was a part of during the development phase of one of the projects. Now, I not only manage the two existing projects, but also we, as a team, have planned to solve more problems and are in the process of ideating the projects that are required in space, so as to ease the life of a user.  In my professional career, I feel that my mindset of problem solving would be a great asset.

What is your ambition in life? What message do you have for grade 12 students in Oman? 

My ambition is to learn and solve problems. I would like to explore more of software development and also learn about management and self growth. I feel that I tend to develop a passion for anything I put my mind into and work on. Research in space exploration and the power of machine learning to solve problems is something I would be keen on exploring.

My advice for 12th grade students is to relax and enjoy each moment of your life with an ever increasing sense of wanting to grow and learn. Stay focused, calm, and everything shall fall in place at the right time. Opportunities are plenty if you are keen to learn and not just win. Take a plunge into the field of your choice and be prepared to work hard and not give up because of the difficulties in your path.

I am lucky that my family stood by my dreams and gave me the choice to do what I wanted. That is extremely important – you should do what you want to and not just what everyone is doing. In the time we are in, everyone wants to become the best. With the population of the world increasing continuously and the chaos around us developing, the best way to move forward is to embrace the chaos.

‘Thoughts become things. If you see it in your mind, you will hold it in your hand.’ – Bob Proctor 


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