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MY Camper Varika Shukla: "My passion for space sciences will drive me far" - MyScience [archived]

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Millennium Youth CampMYC Profiles - May 24, 2012

MY Camper Varika Shukla: "My passion for space sciences will drive me far"

In the future, 17-year-old Varika Shukla would like to be like her role model Kalpana Chawla, Indian female astronaut. To get a step closer to her dream, Varika hopes to start aeronautical engineering studies next semester.

Varika Shukla from India.

“For me, science is the other name for imagination, as you imagine, explore through the knowledge and facts and then implement it in a simple and effective way to benefit the mankind,” says 17-year-old Varika Shukla.

Varika is originally from Kanpur in India, but now lives in Karnal, where she attended Tagore Baal Niketan Senior Secondary School. The same school the first female astronaut from India, Kalpana Chawla, used to study in.

“Kalpana being a woman has reached the heights which every Indian woman aspires to reach,” Varika says about her role model and adds: “In the future, I see myself as an astronaut!”

Varika has just gone through her final exams as well as various entrance examinations to study engineering. Her goal is to study aeronautical engineering in India and then complete her Master’s degree in a good university in the United Stetes. “I know my passion for space sciences will drive me far,” she says.

Varika has attended United Space School at the University of Houston and NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas. “I had interactions with astronauts like Lee Morein and Mike Fincke. Being at Space School influenced my way of thinking and changed my life a lot.”

After her trip to Houston, Varika’s father asked her whether she would also like to visit Helsinki, as he had found out about MY Camp online.

“I wasn’t confident of getting through the selection process and felt reluctant to participate. Finally, I ended up applying for the camp with my dad’s encouraging words ‘Try and fail but don’t fail to try’.”

Varika did not fail and the trip to Finland awaits her.

“My expectations from MY Camp include a life-changing experience after meeting the talented young upcoming scientists and innovators from all over the world. I am eager to meet the Millennium Technology Prize Laureates, take inspiration from them and hear their success stories,” Varika says.

Her other expectations have to do with learning about Finland and picking up little Finnish as well. “Finland to me sounds like a place, which is very cold and its fresh atmosphere charges you to be more technological and innovative.”

Varika is also looking forward to the project work and seeing what kind of projects the other groups, especially ICT and Applied Mathematics, have come up with. In her own project plan for MY Camp’s Climate Change theme group, Varika designed a global observation network named V-CON (Varika’s Climate Observation Network) that measures factors affecting climate change worldwide.

Varika wants to raise awareness on science and its possibilities to solve global problems. At school, she runs her own science club, Varika’s Astronomy Club. “I feel science is an eternal part of everyone’s life, it’s all about learning, experimenting and then implementing it in your real life.”

During her spare time Varika likes to read, do arts and crafts and dance traditional Indian dances, one of which she is going to perform during the International Evening of MY Camp…

Have a look at Varika’s project plan: Varika’s Climate Observation Network.

Like during the previous years, MyScience will introduce each MY Camper and offer news, videos and photos during the Camp. Stay tuned, but in the meantime watch videos and photos from MY Camp 2010 and MY Camp 2011.

Read more about Millennium Youth Camp from Finland’s Science Education Centre LUMA’s website.

Elisa Lautala works as web editor for University of Helsinki's Faculty of Science. Elisa likes all kinds of cultural events, good books, warm weather, and aqua-jogging.