Jaskaran comes from Haryana, India. He did his bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College (PEC), Chandigarh, India. Prior to joining KTH, he was a research assistant at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, India. He loves travelling and taking beautiful landscape photographs. He also occasionally plays acoustic guitar.
What made you choose KTH?
Sweden’s reputation as an innovation and sustainability hub precedes itself. I was looking to apply for a master's programme related to materials science at reputable universities in Europe, and KTH was always suggested among the best. University admissions provides a user-friendly application portal where you can apply for up to four programmes in a single application. Since, I was switching from mechanical engineering to nanotechnology, the departmental screening requirements for admission were not as stringent as other universities and my research experience was deemed sufficient by the department for offering me admission to the nanotechnology programme. KTH frequently ranks among the best universities in Europe and the world especially in science and engineering and it is also among very few universities that offer a dedicated master's programme for Nanotechnology. Stockholm – the Capital of Scandinavia and the host of Nobel Prize – is an amazing city with a high quality of living standards and so much to explore, especially if you are a photographer, and this was another deciding factor for coming to KTH.
What do you like most about KTH?
There are countless things I like about KTH – the flexibility of the programme and courses that I can take, the friendly and approachable nature of professors, world class labs and facilities, the highly diverse student population, frequent social events, and talks with companies to encourage student-industry networking and many more. But my favourite one is something very subtle – inclusivity and ease of assimilation. The lengths organisers go to accommodate your food preferences at social events is commendable – lunch lectures always serve vegetarian/vegan sandwiches, events would ask your food preferences before-hand to ensure you are never left out. Being a vegetarian, I am highly impressed by this level of inclusion at KTH.
What are your impressions of Stockholm and Sweden?
Stockholm Syndrome – for me this phrase holds a very positive meaning. With time, you get attached to this city in a bond that is hard to let go. I feel at home when I am in Stockholm. I am grateful for the numerous ways that Stockholm makes my life easy – the public transportation that will rescue you even in the middle of the night from far off places and stays reliable even in the dread of winter and snow, cashless transactions, ease of access to various services with just your personal number, rich & colourful cultural events held in the city year-round, small & beautiful towns & islands around Stockholm, the snowy wonderland this place becomes in winters, coffee and fika and a lagom life. I highly appreciate the dedication of the Swedish society, which steps up as a whole to lead the world towards positive change, innovation and always pushes for a sustainable future.
What is your best memory from your time at KTH so far?
Being a photographer, I frequently travel in and around Stockholm to take good pictures. Over time, some places have become my favourites – one of them being Sigtuna, Sweden’s first town. My best memory comes from the first time I visited Sigtuna, which is located very close to Stockholm and is accessible via SL transportation. This small town has a few ancient relics like runestones and medieval church ruins. The streets are extremely clean, and I saw the best sunset I had seen in a long while when I was relaxing close to the lake here. I visit this place every few months when the weather is perfect just to relive that mesmerising experience.
Are there any differences between studying at KTH and your home university?
The biggest difference I’ve observed is how friendly and approachable the professors here are. Most professors will gladly talk about their research, opportunities they can offer, help you with resources you need to complete course requirements, etc. The student-professor relationship here is more like colleagues, and this offers much more scope to learn from them. They are also usually flexible when it comes to scheduling classes and presentations and are always considerate towards their students.
What would you like to say to students thinking of choosing KTH for master’s studies?
KTH is among the best science/engineering universities in the world with world-class facilities. When searching for university rankings on the QS website or other ranking agencies, you will see that KTH consistently ranks among top 100 universities in the world. But when you take a closer look, you’ll see in fact it is among top 30 or top 50 for most engineering and science disciplines. It also has among the highest international student ratios among master’s students. This university is a hub of innovation, and combined with Sweden’s policies to facilitate start-ups it is an amazing place to put your innovative ideas to practical use. KTH has dedicated resources that will help you achieve such goals.
What do you see as the most significant aspects of your programme?
The nanotechnology programme is well designed with well-crafted courses and specialised tracks that can be followed – nanoelectronics or nanomaterials. The flexibility of the programme allows you to take some courses from other departments if you want. This programme is exactly what I needed at this stage of my career – strong foundational knowledge of various aspects of nanomaterial synthesis, characterisation, and application. The programme coordinators regularly notify the students if some internship or thesis opportunities becomes available. One can also apply for a semester exchange programme at KTH’s partner universities. Summer months are a perfect time to gain internship experience, and this is encouraged by the department. I got an amazing internship offer during the summer where I worked at a synchrotron facility in Switzerland to study high magnetic spin molecules.
Are you taking part in any student activities?
I occasionally join events organised by student bodies where they need a photographer to take pictures, especially with the Indian student organisation – Flavors KTH. I was also a part of the Media team and a host (photographer) during THS Armada 2018 and took pictures for various events.
Do you have a dream job after graduating from KTH?
I wish to do a PhD after graduating with a master’s degree from KTH. My first choice for my PhD is Stockholm, preferably KTH or Karolinska Institute because a lot of research opportunities are available with novel nanomaterials for applications in energy, sensors, and biomedical applications. The curriculum of my programme has provided me with sufficient fundamental knowledge, and I hope I will get a PhD position soon after I start to apply.
What dreams do you have for the future?
In 6–8 years, I wish to join one among the best technical institutes in India and start a career in research and academia. I want to gain expertise in synthesis of a wide range of nanostructures and work for their applicability in the fields of renewable energy/medicine while also disseminating the knowledge I would gain over the years to the future generation of students. While at it, I also wish to travel to various places on my bucket list, keep upgrading my camera gear, and take amazing shots of various landscapes on this planet.