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Upgrading design education

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CRAFTING TOOLS: Engineering students get hands-on at the Central Institute of Tool Design, Hyderabad.
CRAFTING TOOLS: Engineering students get hands-on at the Central Institute of Tool Design, Hyderabad.

K. RAMACHANDRAN

Design is fundamental to engineering, and new software developments are advancing its capabilities.

For details, log on to feastsoftware.com or email feast@sineiitb.org.

Design, they say, is the life of engineering. India's official document, National Design Policy, among its various steps articulated to make India a global design hub, has highlighted the need to prepare a platform "for creative design development, design promotion and partnerships across many sectors, states, regions, integrating design and technological resources to stand out in the international arena." The policy statement also seeks to "feature India as a front-ranking country in quality design education." Design education is also identified as a thrust area in the policy along with efforts to make small and cottage industries use the designs.Official agencies and institutionalised efforts by organisations such as the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA-India) have been pushing for improving the quality of the engagement among teachers, students and professionals in design education and product development.When it comes to engineering education, it is the mechanical engineering design course, which gives students the first exposure to professional/ practical engineering of any industry. Mechanical engineering design or machine design is a major segment of engineering, dealing with conception, design and development, refinement and application of machines and mechanical apparatus of all kinds, says Sunil Koranne, CEO of Feast Software, an incubator company of IIT-Bombay.For example, to design a connecting rod in an automobile component, one needs a huge amount of data and then large number of calculations to arrive at its finite factors, including estimating its life, failure and fatigue properties.The information needed to estimate fatigue or failure of a material or component or bring in safety factors, is not easily available. So, a student or researcher can find it tedious or repetitive to arrive at an optimum design. The only way to do is to design things many times.

E-learning

"We need to introduce to engineering students of design, professional studies which integrate tools and sciences. Today's packed undergraduate curricula requires that it must be done in an efficient manner within the available time," Mr. Koranne adds.His company FEAST (Fatigue Engineering Analysis and Simulation Techniques) Software, has developed a software tool called E-Yantra Medoco (machine elements design, optimisation and costing). It serves as an e-learning tool for students and graduate trainers both in academic institutions and industries.

Time-saving

The software helps the designer in considerably reducing iteration and computation time. It saves time for the teacher spent on explaining the basics. Information on failures together with visuals enables the student and engineers to identify failures in the field and also know the causative factors.In essence, Mr. Koranne says, E-Yantra prepares the students for providing the solutions to real world engineering problems, as it enables the engineer to design, construct experiments, analyse and interpret the data.E-Yantra supports work for designing of connecting rods, shafts, gears, gear boxes, welded joints, couplings, flywheels, springs and power screws and provides modules to compute the fatigue and failure rates, besides costing. This will help to make the design of the machine or component more practical.The company is also looking into new materials beyond traditional materials so that it can catalogue their finite properties and make them openly available. Now new materials data is strictly proprietary and held by the makers alone.E-Yantra has been installed in a few colleges and in some industries. This will cut down students' and industry researchers' time in doing failure or fatigue analysis as the software can do this for them instantly. Mr. Koranne says once the software is installed in a college, the student can work on real world challenges and offer design solutions to local industry too.The software costs Rs.1.8 lakh for colleges (and can be shared by 10 nodes), while it costs higher for industry buyers.


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