Interview: Dr. Anuradha M. Debnath, Director at IMS Design and Innovation Academy

Dr. Anuradha M Debnath

An exclusive interview with Dr. Anuradha M Debnath, Campus Director at IMS Design and Innovation Academy (IMS DIA)

Welcome to this insightful interview with Dr. Anuradha M Debnath, an esteemed professional and the Campus Director at IMS Design and Innovation Academy (IMS DIA). With a rich background in academia and a passion for fostering creativity and innovation, Dr. Debnath has played a pivotal role in shaping the educational landscape at IMS DIA.

Her leadership and vision have not only elevated the institution but also contributed significantly to the development of aspiring designers and innovators. In this interview, we delve into her journey, philosophies, and the exciting initiatives she has undertaken to create a nurturing environment for the next generation of design and innovation enthusiasts.

Can you share your journey and experiences that led you to become a Design Higher Education expert and eventually the Campus Director at IMS DIA?

Dr. Anuradha M Debnath: It has been an exciting and thrilling journey so far. I have been working on the following key areas to work on my core skill sets-

To be able to observe: This is not the ability to see but to expand the experience with observation under every learning situation. It has given me an empathic viewpoint of others’ journeys and not getting affected by others’ struggles in the final decision-making process.

To make a blueprint action plan- This is not something new, we all are working on making plans for our routine, how persistent and regular we are with it is our challenge.

Be open to learning – I am thankful, that I am guided by many industry mentors, and teachers and even through my students but slowly I realise that everyone has an interesting experience to narrate, it’s up to us what we are extracting out of those simple ordinary interactions.

Team is critical – People are the soul of any organisation. So, at IMS-DIA paid a lot of attention to every teammate’s journey so that we are all aligned with the common goal and mission.

Highlight the key strength- We all have some or other key challenges as individuals. Working with various kinds of designers it’s my core focus to highlight the key strength areas and improvise the gap areas as promising brands and workspace at IMS-DIA

What do you believe are the key trends and challenges currently shaping the landscape of Design Higher Education?

Dr. Anuradha M Debnath: The landscape of design higher education is a dynamic zone. In the present socio-political situation and with the impact of NEP 2020, there are upcoming various parameters.

The use of technology in design in an innovative way has always been a fashionable trend whether it is the latest use of metaverse, AI, UI& UX in various aspects of product design to fashion shows, these technologies have made our life simple and connected with diverse communities in many ways. 

The quality of international design education at an affordable price. Internationalization of any course is not just about to travelling international countries. Although the impact of culture, and batches of the co-learners are very intricate what we are learning and how it’s shared will always influence our learning curve.

The key challenge, among the many listings a few students during the school days study a lot in various fields but only a few can gather the integrated aspects of that part. So as soon as they land up in design higher education, they have to get into unlearning the old pattern instead if we can guide the students with that bend of mind after the 10th class, it will be lots of help to school, students and design higher education.

Also, I believe every individual is creative to some degree or other. To harness the creative thinking ability is further like any skill set development is a learnt behaviour. So, in the field of creative skill set mapping, we are trying to work on various teaching strategy tools.

Working in technical labs, and well-equipped classrooms and then connecting with the green nature for design aptitude development is one of our key strengths at IMS-DIA.  

IMS DIA is known for its commitment to design education. How do you ensure that the curriculum aligns with industry demands and prepares students for the evolving design industry?

Dr. Anuradha M Debnath: Learning is an ongoing process. At IMS-DIA we have a curriculum development committee that consists of a core academic team, industry mentors, international mentors and our alumni as well, together we question the various aspects of development challenges of our students as per the local and global industry benchmarks.

Our committed team of professionals have derived the formula of implementation through our advanced mapped curriculum which supports 70% hands-on learning and engagement.

As a seasoned professional in the field, what role do you see technology playing in shaping the future of design education, and how is IMS DIA adapting to these changes?

Dr. Anuradha M Debnath: Technology and innovation in design move hand in hand. At IMS-DIA we pay attention to hi-tech technological development through all our labs. We have 22 labs in our institution. We pay great emphasis on updating with the right machine and toolset in all these labs.

Our students have specialised timetables to practice with hand under the latest technologies. We have hi-tech labs for metal smiting, ceramics, Jewellary, organic sustainable product development, leather technologies, fabric and textile technologies, Interior design product development, furniture design, Photography, UI & UX, 3D technologies, VFX, AR & VR, game art design, matrix gold for Jewellary, animation and graphics industry aligned latest software, along with it we work with various craft sectors, clusters, brands to keep connected with our roots and market trends.

We emphasise AI technologies in the classroom and beyond the classroom through various live projects 

Design thinking has gained prominence in various industries. How is IMS DIA incorporating design thinking methodologies into its curriculum to foster innovation and problem-solving skills among students?

Dr. Anuradha M Debnath: That’s true, design thinking is impacting various sectors of industries from lifestyle brands to medical and defence empowerment. We use its aspects in the pathway of curriculum design, type of teaching and engagement tools for our students, assessment process (we have defined criteria in the evaluation process) and at the end the feedback mechanism to students.

This has helped has to adopt a problem-solving and empathic approach to holistic development in an integrated manner for our learning ecosystem.

Given the global nature of the design industry, how does IMS DIA prepare students for international opportunities and exposure in their design careers?

Dr. Anuradha M Debnath: We have various associations with different international bodies like WDO, IFFTI etc and international universities for student learning management progress, and exchange in different semesters. Apart from that, we have a talk series with the best of international mentors around the globe known as “Go beyond the borders with DIA”.

We have various workshops/ master classes with international faculty mentors on various aspects of textile, wood, porcelain, metal and other innovative materials. We support our students with various brand-based live projects, international student competitions, internships and placements where some of them get excellent opportunities at international locations.

What are your success tips for women entrepreneurs?

Dr. Anuradha M Debnath: As per a study by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor in the present situation, the rate of women entrepreneurs is growing in India. There is a high rate of nearly 20% rate of growth in the last 5 years. In the field of design, we can again see there are various women start-up firms/ brands coming up. When we focus on design education because of its impeccable nature to develop hands-on skills many young women prefer to express themselves as entrepreneurs. Some basic tips for young women entrepreneurs-

  • Have an Industry mentor for you in your journey
  • Make your action plan and projection ready, in case you find any gap, get yourselves equipped with it.
  • Many young design women entrepreneurs are hesitant to look into financial/ business know-how, we at IMS-DIA support our students in this journey with 7 years of support through our incubation cell.
  • Don’t hesitate to network and share your story, the journey of building a brand starts with small milestones and small acknowledgement.

As we conclude this enlightening interview with Dr. Anuradha M Debnath, it is evident that her dedication to education, innovation, and design has been instrumental in steering IMS Design and Innovation Academy towards excellence.

Her insightful perspectives on the evolving field of design education, coupled with her commitment to empowering students, make her a beacon of inspiration in the academic realm. We extend our gratitude to Dr. Debnath for sharing her valuable insights and wish IMS DIA continued success under her visionary leadership.

May her endeavors continue to shape the future of design education and inspire countless individuals to unleash their creative potential.

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