Thursday, October 22, 2009

CAD modeling to Clay Modeling !! 

Any guess on where the big boys of CAD are heading for? I think it's definitely for the good. The direction in which they go seems to be really promising. There should be really good product managers out there who are driving innovative technologies in their labs.

Have a look at what Autodesk have in their kitty:

The multi touch interface seems to have a good fortune since it's going to improve productivity tremendously. Working with CAD tools become more like clay modeling !  This would even attract artists and other creative designers to use these tools and interactive design becomes quite ubiquitous. Imagine having a multi - touch wall where more than one person could work on a design.

One can couple this with augmented reality and you really get the power of computing at your finger tips.

I am trying to postulate what interesting applications or even business models could emerge from such technologies. I am eager to lay my hands on such innovative devices that makes design easier, faster and exciting.

Monday, October 19, 2009

 ESO - the next big thing?

ESO - Engineering Services Outsourcing, NASSCOM says, is the next big thing after BPO. A recent study by NASSCOM points to a $40 bn opportunity for India by 2020. Can India achieve this potential given the dearth of  talented engineers in this domain?

ESO requires domain expertise along with knowledge of CAD tools. There are a lot of engineers out there who are trained in CAD tools. But domain expertise comes only from hands on experience in the engineering industry. Recently I was reading one of the posts by Mr.Deelip Menezes (CEO and founder of Sycode) in his blog( which says that only 5% of CAD users in US have an engineering degree. What would be the number like in India?

Of the lakhs of engineers churned out of engineering colleges, how many really choose design as their career? Yet to see a study on this. Also, it is not clear whether the $40bn market includes areas like industrial/packaging design?

Will the new strategies adopted by CAD software vendors (eg.Alibre design giving CAD software for $99 ! , solidworks giving a three month trial license, PTC giving a limited version of their software for free... ) attract more engineers towards this career?

Let's wishfully hope that India can garner the great opportunity lying ahead.

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.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

CAD for the masses!

Alibre is extending their offer of $99 for Alibre Design CAD software for another 1 month ie. till October end. They claim that their software gives almost everything that other contemporary CAD softwares (like Solidworks, ProE etc.) do at a lower price tag. Their original price tag was $999 which itself was a great offer since others like Solidworks sells above $5000. Please read this blog to read more about the story.
Design has always been my passion. I get excited seeing my design taking shape as a product or machine however small and trivial it may be. I started my career as a designer. For sometime I had a teaching job, but since 2006 I am back to my design career. Teaching is also exciting, but I think the bias is more towards design.

I had a chance to guide my fresher employees  in my company when they joined as design engineers. In a way I was linking my greater passion, design, with my lesser passion, teaching. It was certainly gratifying when you see them doing it on their own and coming out successful.