Designing a Bright Future for Design and Engineering Graduates in Asia
October 2008

Designing a Bright Future for Design and Engineering Graduates in Asia

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Many forces are reshaping the world of building and construction, manufacturing, and civil and geospatial engineering in Asia today as we know it. For example, Asia’s oil consumption will approach that of the United States—the world’s largest consumer—by the end of 2020; nearly half the world’s population will live in urban centers and governments; and companies in the region are being pressured by global consumers to reduce their carbon emission and exercise greener practices.

In response to these macro-economic forces, job definitions are evolving and today’s professionals are facing pressure to be equipped with multi-disciplinary skills related to their profession in order to be successful – Product engineers cannot rely only on physical product prototypes alone to be assured of its functionality and safety for consumers; Architects need more than just 2D drafting skills, they need to be able to analyse the impact of different design and material decisions on a building’s performance over its
entire lifecycle.

Gaining a Competitive Advantage with Design

One ‘meta-skill’ that plays a big role is the ability to leverage and master these macro-economic advances is design technology. By giving professionals the ability to visualise, simulate and analyse their designs before they are real, they can achieve big benefits in terms of project cost, time, productivity, and innovation.

There are clear ramifications of this on post-secondary education: Conventional instruction does not provide the interdisciplinary exposure students need, so universities need to align instruction with workplace demand. By bringing real-world requirements, experiences and tools into the classroom, students will be better prepared for professional practice, and able to define and solve problems in a more holistic fashion.

A new approach to design education in Asia Pacific

At Autodesk, we believe that education must go beyond a mere focus on the practical side of design education, and adopt an approach that combines aesthetics and function. Because we know what it takes for our customers to succeed in the commercial industry, we’ve committed to partnering with leading educational institutions to establish multi-disciplinary Centers of Excellence and provide students with the world-class design skills they need to stay at the top of the design food chain.

Case Study: “Designed in India, made for the world”

India has emerged as a prime destination for high-end design and engineering work in recent years, and the Government has developed a National Design Policy to support the promotion of design education in India as a means to achieve national and international competitive excellence. A renewed focus on infrastructure development as a growth driver for the economy has also led to a need for qualified architects who are trained in inter-disciplinary areas of urban design and building technology. In fact, it is estimated that educational institutions in India will need to cater to up to 200 major industry segments in which design will play a critical role. This adds up to an estimated requirement of 5,000 to 8,000 designers per annum against the current supply of 300-500 designers in India.

At the Sir JJ College of Architecture – the oldest college of architecture in Asia – our design professionals work closely with faculty at the Center of Excellence to develop a multi-faceted curriculum. By teaching students to embrace digital design software tools in situations that mirror the realities in the industry, they have the critical thinking and analysis skills needed to succeed in an integrated practice of design.

The Centers of Excellence at the internationally acclaimed National Institute of Design (NID) campuses in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and Bangalore in India, also have a Research Chair for Innovation which offers multiple opportunities for joint research projects between Autodesk and NID. As a result, the school has been able to focus on developing an innovative design curriculum and pedagogy that facilitates the spread of design education across multiple tiers of India’s education fabric.  The Research Chair further provides students and faculty with the support they need to conduct advanced research in the areas of ‘next generation design’ and design education.

Collaborating with students from around the world

In other markets like China, we have established the China Student Design Community Portal to make software and learning resources available for free to all engineering and design students across the country. Students can also take advantage of student forums, class discussions, trainings and tutorials, networking with other students, contributing their work to the design gallery, job postings and collaborate with their peers around the world in such disciplines as architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial design, construction management and more.

Mutual success

There is no question that the nature of work is changing. The issues and challenges that today’s professionals face will only become more complex with time, and the imperative for educational institutions in the region to prepare students for the future has never been more pressing.

It is reward enough for instructors to be confident that their students are getting the exposure to interdisciplinary content and design technology that will serve them well in their professional careers. Universities benefit in this equation as well – they gain a reputation for developing students who are more likely to succeed in their chosen professions, and this can help attract the attention of more prospective students, not to mention potential employers and donors. And as we work to broaden students’ skill sets and teach them to leverage steady advances in design software, we are not only redesigning their education and giving them a global passport to work anywhere in the world, but also redesigning a more sustainable future for us all as well.

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