I’m late at updating my blog once again, but then, better late than never. This blog post is intended for the benefit of two categories of students – one, who’ve just cleared JEE and are exploring options and courses one of them being B.Des at IIT Guwahati, and the second, for those who’ve already joined the B.Des programme but are still unsure why they did so and what to expect out of it. This post is solely my personal opinion, based on my 3 years at the department and exploration prior to joining the course. For the reason that I’m also young both in the world of design as well as my understanding of the department, I’ve tried my best providing external links and generalized information from several sources for this post to look more resourceful than a personal opinion.
Lastly, i’ve done this in a hurry for the lack of time and urgency of freshers – please be kind enough to spare grammatical errors, spellings and other mistakes. I wrote this part by part – during my lunch hours, on the bus to work and finally, on a sunday evening.
Let’s begin with some common queries about design, which students, parents and anyone in general trying to find more about the course, has.
1. It’s a B.Des course, not a B.Tech. How does it affect me?
If you are chosing to pursue a career in design, a bachelors degree in design is well recognized. It’s more apt for you as a designer than a B.Tech. IITG has been offering this for a long time now, and on a world scale, it is fairly recognized. More details here.
2. Can I do an MBA after this? Or do I need a B.Tech for that?
Yes, you can do an MBA after this – it has no connection with Btech / B Des. Students from our department have been and are currently pursuing management degrees from IIM’s and other top notch universities.
3. What the heck is design anyways? Designing cool apps? Designing websites? Designing cool cars? Designing logos?
A really good reference to provide that would be this, which has a handful of even more references towards the end. This link does a good attempt to describe design from scratch, and talk about various fields, opportunities that it has to offer. The description is not comprehensive though – there are other well established as well as emerging fields in design which haven’t been talked about here. Another link which is a good read to introduce design is this. Clearly, design has IMMENSE scope and areas for you to explore and work in. Here’s a list of all the different branches I can think of at this point – (several of these are connected and have things in common) - Graphic / Visual design, Interaction Design, Design Research, Product design, Industrial design, User Experience design, User Interface design, Human factors / Ergonomics, Automobile design, Ubiquitous computing, Sound Design, Animation, Photography and Videography, Motion Graphics, Physical Computing, Tangible User Interfaces, Gestural User Interface Design.
4. Why you should / shouldn’t join B.Des, and what you can expect out of your 4 years here.
“You didn’t get a good rank, you desperately wanted to get in an old IIT. You’ve heard about the course in tits-bits, think it’s decent, and you’ll take it and work hard for a branch change. I’m good at sketching. I just cleared JEE. I think I was destined to join this course.”
The reasons could be many – some are more common, some, well a little hillarious and some, always hidden deep inside. I think the first question that comes to everyone’s mind before / after coming here is to try and understand what design is, what kind of course curriculum the institue offers, and what to expect at the end of 4 years. There’s just so much more to design that what we conceive of it – good aesthetics. And because there’s so much of it, bachelor’s of design provides the best possible chance for you to explore all these fields and figure out what interests you the most. Assuming that you’d never ever have heard about this course before, asking things like “If you’re creative and have passion for design, join this” doesn’t make sense. The good part though is, this stands valid for all branches in all IIT’s. Do students who pursue chemical engineering actually know at the time of joining their passion for the field? Or do students just aim for fat packages and the top colleges? The answer is in your hands. My simple suggestion is – read about it. Explore as much as you can. Talk to people, professors, students. Yes, professors – I had mailed a prof at DoD before joining here asking a few apprehensions I had. Convince yourself. Here’s another thought provoking article by one of our alumni, which digs deep in trying to answer what design actually is.
Some more handy links about the course and taking this decision:-
Course structure: http://www.iitg.ac.in/acad/CourseStructure/bdes2013onwards.htm
Minor Programme: http://www.iitg.ac.in/campus/academics
Placement brochure: http://www.iitg.ernet.in/placement/brochures/Brochure_Des.pdf
Portfolio of passing out bachelors batch: http://iitg.ac.in/design/bdes14/index.html
Portfolio of passing out masters batch: http://www.iitg.ac.in/design/portfolio/ishanya14/index.html
Department website: http://www.iitg.ac.in/design/
Additional info: http://www.dsource.in/
Design programme, IIT Kanpur (Masters and Phd’s only) -http://www.iitk.ac.in/design/
Design programme, IIT Bombay (Masters and Phd’s only) -www.idc.iitb.ac.in
Design programme, IIT Delhi (Masters and Phd’s only) - http://www.mdesiitdelhi.com/
India design report, 2011 - http://issuu.com/ciidesign/docs/cii-_india_design_report_2011/1?e=6041592%2F4071239
Design resources: https://medium.com/@de/resources-799d16952a56
5. Summer Internships & Placements
An important aspect of the design program is industrial and professional experience and research through internships in various industries, companies and universities both in India and abroad. The following is a glimpse of companies and universities where students from the department have interned in the past.
▪ Google (Mountain View), Google India
▪ Microsoft IDC
▪ Samsung R&D, Samsung SISC
▪ Xerox Parc Labs, France
▪ Deutsche Telekom
▪ Godrej, Philips, ITC Ltd.
▪ Oracle, Cordys, Cognizant, Pubmatic
▪ LT Research,Clarice Technologies
▪ Maruti Suzuki, Nimbuzz, C-Dac
▪ Compassites Software Solutions
▪ Famous Animation Studios
▪ MIT Media Labs
▪ University of California, Berkeley
▪ Northeastern University, Boston
▪ University of Ghent, Belgium
▪ TU Berlin, Germany
▪ TU Delft, Netherlands
▪ Carleton University, Canada
▪ Karlstad University, Sweden
▪ EPFL, Switzerland
▪ Middlesex University, UK
▪ Carnegie Mellon University, USA etc
Placement opportunities for the graduates passing out of the department have been very bright and they have been recruited by reputed organizations such as:
▪ Microsoft IDC
▪ Samsung R&D
▪ Capillary Technologies
▪ DE Shaw
▪ Samsung SISO
▪ Clarice Technologies
▪ Infosys, Geodesic
▪ Cordys, Oracle
▪ JDA Software
▪ Zensar, Wipro
▪ Texity Systems
▪ Grail Research
▪ Compassites Software Solutions etc
6. What next after B.Des? Can i do a MS / PhD. after my B.Des?
The number of opportunities that open up for you as an individual after completing your bachelors are immense. While many students from the department opt to pursue a Masters programme or a Ph.D programme from reputed universities in the United States / Europe, a lot of students also prefer to directly start working in the industry for full time roles. Students needn’t necessarily do a M.Des after a B.Des – many of our alumni have completed their MS (Masters in Science) in HCI (Human Computer Interaction), Interaction Design, Product Design etc from top notch universities such as Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, Indiana University, University of Michigan, MIT, TU Delft, Copenhagen Institute of Design (CIID) and so on.
Last but not the least, DoD is also known for producing some of the finest entrepreneurs. There have been several cases of DoD alumni starting their own design driven Startups – some examples include Madrat, Bookpad, Gopeppers, Skopex, Perdix Global.
Common misconceptions / thoughts before / after getting admitted to B.Des, DoD
This is part two of my post, which targets a few thoughts and general conceptions or a mindset that might develop about the department. These views are my personal views – I’m aware there would be a few who might differ in opinion. Nevertheless, these issues are not talked about too much, and somehow effect one’s view about the department as a whole, which subsequently affects one’s performance in the department.
“I’ve spent my past two / three years solvinng integral calculus and mechanics problems – you now expect me to sketch? Design posters and visiting cards? I’m an IITian. I’m meant to do more scientific stuff – to be asked to design logos and posters is an insult. I didn’t join a premiere technical institute to do manual software work.
Although unfortunate, I think there’s a fair chunk of students even in the final year who do have such a mentality, or at least, a part of it. Graphic design as a whole is disregarded by default in DoD as not being geeky enough – there’s nothing scientific or technological or engineering involved in it. It’s meant for painters and artists. How often have i heard my peers say – I don’t like graphic design – it’s not one of my interests. To persue design without having an interest in graphic design is equivalent to pursuing CS without having an interest in coding. Graphic / Visual design is the basic, introductory and requisite course for all designers, irrespective of whether you spend your whole career as a visual designer or if you end up being a product designer. Until and unless you have a sound understanding of all concepts related to graphic design – typography, grids, colors, patterns, etc any subsequent efforts in any field would be below standard. Bad presentations, bad portfolios, bad resumes, bad products, bad user experience.
Visual design is not simple. Definitely not simple for people who come from a science and mathematics background, having spent more time doodling on the back of our classmate registers during our coaching days. Visual design can’t be taught purely through lectures. Yes, there are theories, which are covered in class. But you need to practice. You need to come out of your comfort zones. What generally happens is students end up finding great free internet resources – free vectos, free icons, free color palettes. A little basic understanding of illustrator, and suddenly everyone believes to have learnt graphic design and wants to move on.
On a professional level, Interaction designers / UX people with strong visual design are always more in demand and preferred. In a majority of interviews i’ve had with professors as well as managers in big companies in the process of obtaining an internship, I have been persistently asked to talk about my visual design skills over my interaction design process and practices. And I know for a fact at least for positions related to User Experience, good visual skills is a MUST.
Yet, when professors ask students to sketch in class, students look up with amused faces, and walk out with disgusted looks in the end. And at the end of the semester, the professor is unhappy because of overall lack of interest, students are unhappy because they just weren’t spoon fed something revolutionary and geeky enough.
The professors in my department suck. They dont take classes on time, they dont teach me anything, they dont provide me good guidance. I think i’m just wasting my time doing things I already know here. I’m not learning anything new, I deserve better. If I were to learn design through online courses on coursera, why am i wasting my time here?
I for one know design isn’t the only department which has complaints like these. What’s unfortunate though is, a lot of these statements and complaints are not true and difficulties faced by individuals. True, there are professors who don’t teach you the way you want them to, and there are, who do. That however never stops you from learning, does it? To judge a professor by his teaching style is one of horrible mistakes a lot of students tend to make. What that results in is a poor student-professor relationship which is so crucial in the world of design. For me, a majority of my learning has come based on the feedback I’ve received directly from my professors, my host and my mentors. If I begin hating my professors and don’t seek guidance from them, I believe i’m being just too overconfident – I should probably have directly applied for a pHD at MIT instead of learning what color theory and negative space means.
Take Design! It’s the coolest branch in IITG. You dont have to study at all in design – these guys party during mid sems and end sems! You’re a designer – you’ll not understand.
I’ve read a lot of students, primarily students of IIT-G fraternity who aren’t in the design department, portraying the course to be cool and chilled out. The reason for comprehension of department is that is genuine – once in the department, students do not primarily have blackboard based teaching and lectures wherein you’re expected to listen to someone speak, take notes and learn design. As a consequence, there is a heavy focus on assignments and projects rather than mid semester and end semester examinations. Secondly, some of the things that as designer’s you’re expected to learn and do, are actually pretty cool, and thus, the common perception.
I’d conclude by saying that design isn’t simple and easy as it looks at first glance, and the perception of it being ‘cool’ depends upon how you approach it. I find it pretty cool, for the reason that I find it powerful, impactful when it comes to real world problem solving. I also find it cool, because I enjoy doing what it teaches me to do and the fact that there’s endless possibilities and things to learn and explore and develop a career upon is sufficient to keep me happy
Feel free to pester me with any queries / debates / criticism / questions that you might have, via the contact information here.