Background & Motivation
Why Design & Manufacturing Education?
As economies evolve historically, they make transition from agriculture (primary) sector, to industrial (secondary) sector, to services (tertiary) sector. For example, the share of agriculture in the Indian economy declined from 51.9% in 1950-51 to 13.7% in 2012-13, whereas industry had 21.5% and services sector had 64.8% share. In modern economies, the manufacturing industry sub-sector serves as engine of economic development, and provides means of productivity and numerous high-quality, high-wage jobs. With 17.5% of the world’s population, India’s manufacturing GDP output was the 10th largest in the world at US$240 billion in 2013. However, India’s Asian neighbor China with approximately 20% of the world’s population became the world’s largest manufacturing nation and the World’s Factory in 2010 overtaking the USA, and in 2013 had $2.9 trillion in manufacturing output versus $2.43 trillion from the USA Every new manufacturing job also creates an additional two to three jobs in related activities.
In 2009, China’s manufacturing workforce exceeded 100 million, whereas around the same time India’s organized manufacturing sector employment was less than 11 million. Micro, small, and medium enterprises account for 95% of total industrial activity in India. Moreover, in terms of Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index (GMCI) in 2010, India was second in the world next only to China and ahead of South Korea (3rd) and USA (4th). It was predicted to maintain its rank in 2015.
India has a large youth population (the youth dividend) who must be provided gainful employment. The manufacturing sector offers promises in this venue for graduates and dropouts of colleges, polytechnics, ITIs, and high schools, since with increasing automation of software and knowledge work the hitherto productive information technology (IT) sector cannot be expected to provide major employment to this segment of the Indian youth population. As China’s population ages rapidly and its factory wages keep rising, an estimated 80 million manufacturing jobs are expected to be outsourced from China to other countries, including India.
The great potential for manufacturing in India is highlighted from the following comparison of India and China in terms of their current manufacturing sectors. It is obvious that even a mere doubling or tripling of our manufacturing industry output can lead to tremendous growth in economic output and millions of new, high-paying jobs.
Accordingly, India’s 2011 National Manufacturing Policy has set an ambitious target of 25% share for manufacturing in GDP and manufacturing employment of 100 million by the year 2022. This is an achievable target, as the share of manufacturing in comparable economies in Asia is much higher at 25-34%. The Indian government has recently started a Make in India campaign to promote manufacturing industry, so that India can become a global manufacturing hub. According to the 2012 National Policy on Electronics, semiconductor electronic manufacturing alone is expected to create 28 million new jobs by 2020. This achievement will be remarkable, if we compare the fact that the entire IT industry in India has created 3.1 million jobs.
The National Manufacturing Policy identifies constraints to the growth of Indian manufacturing sector as “inadequate physical infrastructure, complex regulatory environment, and inadequate availability of skilled manpower” (emphasis added). Therefore, the success of the Make in India campaign depends very much on the availability of innovative, affordable, high quality manufacturing technology education infrastructure and effective manpower training on a national scale.
Interestingly, the manufacturing workforce skill gap is prevalent even in the United States where training in computer aided manufacturing (CAD), computer aided manufacturing (CAM), and computer numerical control (CNC) machining is provided routinely at middle and high school levels. The US Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) has called on higher education to improve its manufacturing courses and programs, citing the 600,000 jobs that went unfilled even at the height of the recent recession during 2009-12. There is increasing evidence that introducing basic education in manufacturing makes all engineering students, irrespective of their domain of specialization, into better engineers since real-world problem solving is the basic requirement of engineers in industry and services. Similarly, hands-on practical training in laboratory and workshop on unstructured problem solving imparts creativity to students.
The decade of the 2010s has been designated as the decade of Innovative India. Yet, Indian engineering and technology professionals, teachers, and students lack in the area of creativity and innovative thinking. While Indian education, starting at the school level, is often blamed for this lack of innovation, in a focused domain-specific higher educational initiative like ours, fruitful efforts to inculcate innovative teaching and learning can nevertheless be undertaken with careful planning and implementation. A 2013 study by the McKinsey Global Institute lists 3D printing, advanced robotics, cloud technology, mobile Internet, Internet of Things, semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles, and renewable energy as among 12 major disruptive technologies of our times. Many of these technologies are based on the use of actuators, sensors, controllers, and software which are also the basic tools and components of modern manufacturing for value addition, innovation, and competitiveness. These disruptive technologies provide a $20 trillion economic opportunity for India. Therefore, innovative design and manufacturing education can also help India catch up with the developed world in the pursuit of these disruptive and value-adding technologies.
As economic competition becomes global, India has a major advantage in terms of skilled manpower, that can produce innovative and advanced yet frugal (jugaadh) technologies, products, and solutions for domestic consumption, import substitution, and the export market. ISRO’s Mangalyaan is a good example of innovative value-added high technology that is globally competitive. The need of the hour is to foster innovative teaching learning methods in higher education on a large scale, in a short period of time, for maximum impact on the national endeavors to leap frog India into a global manufacturing hub. Therefore, hands-on education in design and manufacturing can provide Indian students and graduates with creative, innovative, problem solving, and R&D skills. The entry of these well-educated graduates into the workforce of the future Indian manufacturing industry will provide a boost to the competitiveness and growth of high-tech engineering industries in India.
Objectives of TLC
Therefore, the Teaching Learning Centre for Design and Manufacturing Education at IIITDM Kancheepuram has the objectives of contributing at a national level to providing innovative, hands-on, state-of-art education, affordable and creative teaching and learning materials, and training to faculty and students of universities and colleges, as well as polytechnics and ITIs, in the areas of innovative product design, subtractive (computer numerical control-based) and additive manufacturing, prototyping, and product development and commercialization.