FAQ’s about Engineering Design — Akhil Poojary

1.What exactly is Engineering Design?

Having completed 4 eventful semesters as a student studying Engineering Design at IIT Madras, let me take the liberty of being absolutely impudent here: Engineering Design is NOT just about sketching pictures of stuff that looks cool(though we are capable of doing that). Don’t be deceived by the name. Only a part of what we do is related to drawing,sketching,painting and the likes. What Engineering Design veritably is, would be an amalgamation of all the major engineering disciplines, all stuffed in a box, gift-wrapped and given to you with a ribbon on the top.
 Originally an ancillary to Mechanical Engineering, our department has grown to be highly interdisciplinary in the way the course structure has been devised. The courses offered here will interest both the mechanical and electrical engineer in you, along with the coding enthusiast. As far as the sketching and painting part is concerned, you’ll be introduced to that BEFORE you can get to the technical aspects of creating anything from scratch. It’s imperative that one knows what they really want to create, before they can get behind the technicalities of going about creating it. We have a lot of craft too! 
 Lastly, what I think is exclusive to our branch is the extensive amount of practical knowledge a student gains through the various labs(I’ll get to those shortly) and projects he/she has to undertake. It ain’t easy, but worth the pain.

2.What is the amount of effort I have to put in if I select ED,as compared to other branches?

Honestly, considerably greater. There will be times when you’ll have friends from other branches chilling around doing absolutely nothing, while you have a truckload of stuff to complete. Fret not. The skills you will pick up while completing your projects will be far greater,I repeat, FAR GREATER than you could’ve ever imagined. And trust me, you’ll have a whole lot of fun doing it (PS: The other department guys may even get jealous because of the fun you’ll have; always rub it in their faces ;P ). 
 I’ll not lie, you’ll have a lot of labs. A lot of reports. A lot of projects. But we’re not preparing you for another 6 hour multiple-choice, hard-ass examination, are we? No, we’re preparing you for life. In life,you won’t have well prepared questions that someone will provide you as you grow up, so that you can study and answer them, and get access to the next one. No, what you’ll get are vague problems, which will have equally ambiguous answers. The trick is to not get the correct answer, but to know the best method to approach the problem. And that’s exactly what we’ll teach you to identify.

3.How will I decide if I want Automotive or Biomedical?

One does not have to decide from the onset which stream he/she has to take. You’ll be given a good 2 years untill you can finally decide for yourself. Both the streams have almost similar courses, with the exception of a few courses which are specific to that stream. We also have a 6 month internship in the VIII semester(4th year). Trust me, a LOT can be accomplished in 6 months. You can consult the faculty, the seniors, the alumni for their advice on this decision. Ask nicely, and they’ll be more than happy to help.

4.How is the faculty in ED?

The professors and the staff in our department are extremely helpful, friendly and most of all, qualified.They have more than enough expertise in their area of teaching, and combined with their experience, you’ll get the best out of attending the classes. Some of the professors are so good at teaching, that attending their classes is enough to get you a more than average grade in the quizzes and semester examinations. Even then, you’ll have to put effort and be keen enough to ask questions. Oh boy, the professors here like students who ask questions. Be inquisitive.

5.What is the placement scenario in ED?

Last year, nearly 87% of the students who sat for placement got placed in the first round of placements (and that’s a really good figure). Students got placed in various core and non-core sectors(Core implying job profiles related to only engineering in specific). A lot of eminent companies like Bosch,Eaton,Mercedes,McKinsey,etc recruit graduates from our department every year. I’d say the placement scenario is pretty good.

6.What facilities are available in the ED department?

A 3D Printing Laboratory, Two Product Design Laboratories, an Automotive Systems Laboratory, A Robotics Laboratory, a Mechatronics Laboratory, a BioMechanics Laboratory, a Computer Laboratory…..Need I say more?(I haven’t even completed the list yet). And yeah, ALL of them are state of the art Laboratories, with really expensive lab equipment. You’ll spend more time in the laboratories than you will in the classrooms, I’ll tell you that. Our course structure is constructed in such a way that more importance is given to the labs (more number of labs in a week), and that translates directly to more practical experience gained by the students.

So it can be said that Engineering Design will prove to be an engaging course for students who believe in a more practical approach to gaining knowledge, than a theoretical one.

7.What other opportunities I have if I do not want to sit for placements?

You have a handful of options:Going for higher studies (quite a few graduates have opted for that), deferring placements to work on your own startup idea (‘deferring’ placements implies you withdraw from campus placement for the year, but you can sit for placements the next year). Some people even go for UPSC or CAT examination. We encourage students to take up entrepreneurship as a profession. One of India’s most successful hardware startup “Ather Energy” has been founded by Engineering Design graduates.This startup has been dubbed as India’s Tesla and has reached a valuation of over 800 crores in just 3 years.If you want to continue your studies in our department, there is an MS(Master of Science) Program and a PhD Program as well.A good number of Alumni are pursuing their PhD’s in some the world’s best universities in fields ranging from Robotics to Biomedical Engineering.
 Ultimately, knowing more about something you want can only be done by talking to the people who have already pursued it. And in that respect, we have plenty of Alumni who are willing to provide their valuable insights for the same. You just need to know whom to ask.