Sunday, October 11, 2009

They don't teach design!

How many of us know that design is not taught in normal engineering degree courses. Being a mechanical engineer and having taught for some time I know at least the case of mechanical engineering course. They teach how to do engineering design, but not product design or even machine design.

Ironically the subject name is machine design! And they have two papers Machine Design 1 and Machine Design 2. I don't say that it is irrelevant. But what is lacking is an insight into the creative design process, the larger picture of what design means.

I think I should give a small example to illustrate my point. If some one asks you to design a chair, do you begin by checking for the strength of legs or arms of the chair? Unfortunately the syllabus for the above said subjects is structured like that. They teach how to check the strength of a shaft, riveted joints, welded joints etc. It is quite unnatural to do this way. Give students the bigger picture and come down to more detail like designing a shaft.

The design of a device or gadget starts with the thinking processes in design, how a designer should consider parameters like form, aesthetics, material, process, manufacturability, dimensioning,  etc. Once the design achieves a form then he / she starts to consider the engineering part of it like strength validation, optimization etc.

Just imagine how interesting it would be to be in a design class where your teacher asks you to come up with a new, ergonomic black board design? This simple exercise will help students realise the importance of thinking process in design and also kindle the creativity in atleast a few to become great designers later in their life.

I am looking for avenues where I can voice this concern so that our future engineers stand to gain.


Gopikrishnan T said...

Excellent point delivered with such an ease & force ! I wish to join the force which would make a turn around in the way Engg. students approach their curriculum.

Kesava Prasad said...

Thank you for your comments.