"I was at my hostel room when the final results came out. I felt the adrenaline rush and thought wings had grown on my shoulders. It was nothing short of a dream coming true. And I felt a strong urge to just fly out in the air," Arti told PTI.
Arti, who is on the cusp of graduation from PEC University at Chandigarh with a bachelor's degree in aerospace, says, "earning these wings" is also a fulfilment of a long-cherished dream of her late father.
She and her college mate Rashika Jain, and three young men from south India, riding on full-scholarship, are slated to fly in August to Toulouse, home of aviation behemoth Airbus and several other aerospace companies and research centres.
Ishaan Prakash, 22, pursuing his Bachelors degree in aerospace from SRM University in Chennai, says he took up aerospace, inspired by NASA's 'Curiosity' Rover Mission.
"Since childhood, I have been fascinated with space exploration and aeronautics. So, this scholarship means a lot.
I will make my country and parents proud. I want to study further and go into research after this programme, so probably I will do a PhD too," he said.
Ishaan, whose father works in a US-based technology major, and the other four students, were on cloud nine during a felicitation function held recently for them at the French Embassy here.
Kartik Venkatraman and Sagar Shenoy Manikar from the MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology at Bengaluru, both in early 20s, have also started learning French to make the most of their stay in the European country.
"I have just started with my 'bonjour' (hello) and 'au reviour' (good bye) but Sagar has already done a preliminary level of learning. We are having a lot of fun learning a foreign language, and it also helping us prepare to live in a foreign country," says Kartik, beaming with confidence.
All five students have an impressive academic track records, he says, adding, besides, grades, the selection criteria also included assessment of the nature of projects we had done during our college days.
Girls like Arti and Rashika feel their achievement would also give wings to the imagination of millions of girls in India, as much as about equality.
And, we will make you all proud," says Arti, who hails from the town of Khanna in Ludhiana.
In December 2013, MBDA had signed a sponsorship agreement with the ISAE-SUPAERO Foundation and ISAE, thereby setting up the annual Indian scholarship programme.
MBDA is a defence major based near Paris that is a partner in the fully-sponsored programme that has already selected over 20 Indian students since its inception in 2013.
"We began the first scholarship in 2014 and that batch graduated in 2016. Since 2014, 23 students have been selected in three different batches. And, now we have five this year," MBDA India Head Loic Piedevache told PTI.
"The performance of Indian students has been very good and therefore the programme has been extended to three more years till 2020," he said.
The number of Indian students studying in France is steadily increasing and the French government has set a target of having 10,000 of them per year by 2020, according to Deputy Chief of Mission at its embassy in India Claire Thuaudet.
"There are several recreational clubs in Toulouse, including a wine-tasting club. And, we are looking forward to these five bright students joining the university there," Piedevache said.
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