New Department@IITD : Interview with Prof P.V. Madhusudhan Rao

In an effort to bolster research & education on design, a new Department of Design was formally inaugurated at IIT Delhi on Mar 28 2018. The vision of the department is to be a globally known for quality design education, high impact research and cynosure for creativity and innovation.

Head of the Department Prof P.V. Madhusudhan Rao speaks to Dr Vanita Srivastava on how this will build the research and academic ecosystem of the institute.

How will this department help the research and academic ecosystem of IIT Delhi?

Various departments/centers/schools of the institute have had a long tradition of working towards engineering design and product realization involving faculty and students. Science, technology and innovation activities across the institute require strong design ecosystem to succeed. Similarly the intellectual roots of design which extend into the arts, humanities, sciences, engineering and management contribute to the theory and practice of design enabling more effective design practice. Present engineering design implementations often lack inputs such as human factors, interaction design, aesthetics etc. On the other hand faculty and students pursuing industrial design too overlook engineering/technology inputs in their solutions. Given the strengths of IIT Delhi on both engineering and design fronts, the proposed new department would provide a platform to promote integration of engineering and industrial design. Creation of department of design is a win-win situation for all entities of the institute, the main programmes and the multi-disciplinary research that the department will focus on.

Why do you think Design as a separate area of specialization is relevant in present times?

India is moving fast towards establishing itself as knowledge driven economy. Government too has launched multiple initiatives such as Start-up India, Digital India, Make in India, Accessible India and others. It is clear that these initiatives cannot succeed unless “Design in India” is strengthened. Country’s ability to develop successful designs and designers is a key requirement and foundation for above mentioned programmes. IIT Delhi’s initiative to establish Department of Design in country’s capital would be a big leap in this direction and pave the way for strengthening design education across the country.

What is the faculty strength at present? Is there a plan to increase the strength?

We have present faculty strength of 4 with another 3 associated faculty from other departments/centers helping us in building the department. The plan is to recruit about 30 faculty over a period of next 10 years.

What are the main programmes of the department? When is the undergraduate course going to be introduced?

The new department will offer undergraduate and post graduate programmes and courses in design with special emphasis on “product design”. IIT Delhi presently offers M.Des. (Master of Design) a post graduate programme specializing in design and over period of 25 years has produced design professionals who have contributed immensely to country’s design needs. Institute has PhD programme in Design with 10-15 students pursuing their doctoral programme at any point of time. A minor area in design has been introduced this year for undergraduate students to specialize in design. The institute is planning to start B.Des. (Bachelor of Design) programme soon.

What are the research areas that the department will focus on? What kind of multidisciplinary research are you looking at?

Over a period of time department will have academic activities encompassing all major areas of design in general and product design in particular. These include Creativity and innovation, Design Theory & Methodology, Applied Ergonomics and Human Factors in Design, Universal and Inclusive Design, Design for UX/UI, HCI; Graphic Design, Communication Design, Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing, Design Automation and Design Optimization, Design Computing and Design Informatics, Materials & Design, Design for Product Life-Cycle, Art & Design, Product Aesthetics, Digital Media & Design, Social and Cultural aspects of Design, Design Policy, Design Strategy and Design Management

What are your future plans for the department?

Immediate future plans is to recruit outstanding faculty, strengthen existing programmes and to start new programmes such as Bachelor of Design (B.Des.). The long term goal is to build one of the globally best departments in design known for quality design education, high impact research and cynosure for creativity and innovation.