I have taken many courses over time, but very few were as interesting, engaging, and novel as IIT Bombay’s III Course on NPTEL by Prof. B.K. Chakravarthy. So here is my review of this design and innovation course.
Review of IIT Bombay’s Design, Technology And Innovation Course
It’s a short, non-technical course that exposes you to various aspects of innovation and design. From the many examples and case studies discussed in the course, I am highlighting a few that I learned the most from.
The course starts with a brilliantly simple but innovative product, with an absolutely efficient implementation of service around it, The Jaipur Foot. Here, we learn about the humble genesis of this prosthetic product. How the team at BMVSS manages to deliver these custom prosthetics for Rs 2000 (~20USD), which is provided for free to the users. The system is so efficient that a person who comes on clutches walks back home the same day!
Challenges of Reaching a Million Users:
We all, at some point, have seen the distribution of Solar LED lamps to people with little to no access to electricity. But have you ever wondered what happens to those lamps? Why is there another drive within a few years handing over the same type of lamps?
As a concept, solar based LED lamps are quite simple to design and manufacture. These are lamps often built to a cost, to reach the maximum number of people within given resources. The main issue comes with the maintenance of these lamps.
Over time the wires within the assembly might fail or the battery starts to degrade with repeated use. Due to a lack of knowledge and tooling these simple to resolve issue renders otherwise perfectly fine device useless. This section of the course named “Challenges of Reaching a Million Users” tackles the same issue innovatively. Prof. Chetan Solanki and Prof Jayendran V explain how they managed to pull this seemingly impossible task off while involving locals and providing more entrepreneurial opportunities to people. Their solution was an eye-opening moment for me. As an engineer my instinctive solution was to design a better product that would last for a long time, basically over-engineering. This made me realize the constrained thinking we have. And how we limit our thinking to the area of expertise we have.
I am limiting myself to just these couple of examples for this review, but there are many more interesting case-studies like Biomedical innovations, Smart-cane, etc. discussed in the course.
As I mentioned in the beginning, this course is the most interesting, engaging, and novel, so are the case studies discussed during the course.
I highly encourage everyone to take this course. If you take the final exam and go through the assignments on time, you will also get a certificate. You can see mine here.