It has often been said that technology raises the bar for manufacturing, but chances are that it will be common across all levels of competition where the major (and sometime only) differentiator is likely to be design.
And with the "Designed in India [ Images ]" idea taking shape across all manufacturing activities, the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad [ Images ], is breaking free of 45 years of campus innovation to outreach.
That the outreach is in the shape of more campuses is merely coincidental, for its aims are loftier -- to free up imagination and combine it with hardcore research, to launch an era of intellectual property and ideas.
"Ideas come fast, and they perish fast," says Dr Darlie O'Koshy, executive director, NID, "so you have to hit the ground with them and run fast."
The ED is running fast too. First on his plate is the inauguration, on March 31, of NID's second campus, and its first outside Ahmedabad -- in Bangalore. Spread across 40,000 sq ft, it is dedicated wholly to research and development.
Students from Ahmedabad interested in research (or, as Dr Koshy says, "breakthrough ideas") will get attached to the institute with a faculty that includes NID alumni wanting to head research units.
The Rs 5 crore (Rs 50 million) campus -- plus Rs 2.5 crore (Rs 25 million) spent on the R&D labs -- will have a student body of 100-110 who can continue working on their projects after graduation as research associates.
It hopes to conduct research for industry and institutions in and around Bangalore. "Research requires an innovation economy," says Dr Koshy, "for which Bangalore is ideal."
Even though there is growing recognition for design in India, Dr Koshy says that traditionally, "Our design sense is weak but our business sense is strong. Design is not considered the interface between the industry and the consumer."
The move then, for NID alumni to be "true innovators of breakthrough ideas" is a recognition of the digital format overtaking the analog format, of which Bangalore is possibly the best representation.
Bangalore aside, the coming week, on April 4, NID will lay the foundation stone for yet another campus -- this time in nearby Gandhinagar. The Rs 19.5 crore (Rs 195 million) post-grad campus spread over 15 acres will be fully ready for the academic session of 2008-09.
The current campus in Ahmedabad will then house 600 students for undergrad courses, while the PG campus in Gandhinagar will be dedicated for PG and fellowship programmes, also for 600 students.
On course in Bangalore
The Bangalore campus of the National Institute of Design, which goes online from April 1, will offer four courses in as many R&D labs:
In addition, the campus will offer research focused short-term programmes, and a knowledge management centre for research by scholars and designers.
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