A Balasubramaniam is one of the early product design graduates of NID, (National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad) having specialised in Industrial design. He is known for his work in both the industrial sector and the crafts sector having done projects with Eicher, Eveready, Usha, Telekonnectors Ltd, Crafts Council, DC Handicrafts and the UNDP. Having a rich experience in the domain he talks about how he entered the domain of education. He believes in co-creation which helps to build new dynamics of the institution. The institution aims to create courses which disseminate the industry relevant knowledge. He appreciates the efforts put in my dynamic faculty who are experienced and holds accolades in the design stream. In the later segment he shares how students get an exposure to different subjects beyond design to make them understand the industry and society better. On a concluding note, he asks students to not only dream but take steps towards achieving the same.
As we were involved in educating our clients about the design profession, it was easy to transition into an educator’s role
I am one of the early graduates of NID Ahmedabad. Our generation of designers had helped establish the profession in the country. Therefore, we were very involved in promoting design, marketing the profession, participating in curriculum development that is industry-centric, teaching as visiting faculty and helping establish new institutions. All these activities were seamless. This is why designers took on different roles. As we were involved in educating our clients about the design profession, it was easy for many of us to transition into an educator’s role.
I believe in co-creation which helps in taking every stake-holder along to build new dynamics in the institution
I believe in a flat hierarchy. At JKLU, we have co-created an exciting new Institute with help from professionals, industry mentors, management, faculty and even students. I believe in co-creation and it helps in taking every stake-holder along to build a new institute. Everybody contributes and my role is that of an instigator and a coordinator.
We aim to create courses which disseminate industry relevant knowledge
Even when we set ourselves up for creating a new institute of Design, we were very clear about creating programmes that are industry-relevant and socially important. We focussed on our students who come with aspirations of becoming professional designers. We focussed on creating branches that would stay relevant four years from now, when they graduate. We avoided popular programmes that are slowly losing relevance and focussed on new, exciting branches of Design. The curriculum was developed after consultations with professionals, academics and industry. As a result, we have a robust and relevant programme. Therefore, we call our programmes future-ready as we are confident that our graduates will be able to function in an industry that needs them.
We invested in professionals who had prior experience and award winning faculty who have worked in the domain
We were focusing on being relevant. We differentiated by offering contemporary disciplines of design. We recruited young, award-winning faculty. Our senior and seasoned visiting faculty are the same faculty, who teach as visiting faculty at various branches. We equipped ourselves with best of Design books, courtesy Prof M P Ranjan’s family, who donated his personal collection for all designers to use and built a resource centre that has the best curated books on design. We invested in labs and studios, where students can work beyond class hours. We are sincere in the efforts to create a robust institute and this was noticed. This year, despite the health crisis, we got applications from 20 states across the length and breadth of India!
We have been able to attract students across different states and different strata of society
Design thrives in a diverse environment. We are happy that we have been able to attract students across different states and different strata of society. When they sit, study, stay and work together, they develop empathy, a quality that is very important. They enjoy working on projects together and developing their design sense as well as their social attitude.
Our faculty get enough opportunities to work on curriculum development, research, assignments and presenting conference papers
We have created an exciting environment for our students. Our faculty are young and articulate and enjoy the act of building the institution. We have a very involved and informal approach. For instance, my students address me as ‘ Bala’, as do my faculty and colleagues. This comes out of affection and respect for each other. We have built a place of mutual trust and respect. This helps in building an enjoyable atmosphere. My faculty get enough opportunities to work on curriculum development, teaching, doing research assignments and presenting conference papers.
We have created a positive environment that fosters excellence
We are new, but a forward-looking institute. Our sincerity of purpose is felt, once you have enrolled. We have created a positive environment that fosters excellence. We have the unique advantage of three institutes, working together. This gives our students an unfair advantage of doing courses across the three institutes and getting a well-rounded education. This gives our students an edge in the market. We are keen on creating new professionals who are both left-brained and right brained.
Higher educations’ biggest challenge is to stay relevant and purposeful
Higher educations’ biggest challenge is to stay relevant and purposeful. We need to be robust enough to be purposeful and nimble enough to change. Universities across the world are rediscovering and repurposing education and delivery. To weather the current crisis, it is important to be ready for change. Online teaching and blended learning are becoming important and central to education these days. We need to become trans-disciplinary, so as to give our students an education of value. This comes with openness in co-operating and avoiding silos of working.
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Our students get an exposure to different subjects beyond design to make them understand the industry and society better
We are yet to reach that stage. But we are confident that we are creating graduates who are well-rounded. Our students get an exposure to different subjects beyond design, too. We help them in getting an exposure to industry as well as the society. We make them culturally aware, socially responsible and professionally capable. We prepare them for life, as much as we are preparing them for the jobs.
It is not only important to dream but work towards finding ways to fulfil them
I am saddened by the number of students who are clueless about what they want from life. Instead of following their heart, they take on courses on other’s suggestions. While everyone wants a high-paying job, very few want to put that effort in following their passion. It is not only important to dream but work towards finding ways to fulfil them. They need to be dreaming as much as they are aspiring.