Nirali Shah believes design is about creativity, but is aware that it is equally about solving problems. An undergraduate student of design at the Anant National University (ANU), Ahmedabad, Shah sees designers as “solutionaries”. “At Anant, we are encouraged to solve everyday problems through creative thinking. Our journey to becoming “solutionaries” focuses as much on implementation as on blue sky thinking to create truly innovative and practical designs,” says Shah.
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Giving birth to ‘Solutionaries’
‘Solutionaries’ is a word that resonates within the Anant National University, one of the brand new universities in the country. Located on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on a 135-acre campus, the university opened last year under a law passed by the Gujarat assembly. Recognised as a private university by the University Grants Commission, it aims to become the country’s leading private teaching and research university in the fields of design, sustainability and built environment.
Eligibility: Class XII with minimum 50 percent (45 percent for reserved category)
Selection Process: ANUDET or ANU Design Entrance Test
Eligibility: Class XII (maths compulsory) with minimum 50 percent (45 percent for reserved category)
Selection Process: National Aptitude Test in Architecture; Diploma recognised by state boards of technical education. Admissions through the state Admission Committee for Professional Courses
Candidates should have successfully completed their undergraduate degrees from recognised institutions with a sound academic and extra-curricular record. Open to both Indian and international students
Focus on critical thinking
Only a year old, ANU is on a mission to prepare ‘solutionaries’. For the university, the word means people who are revolutionary in their thinking but solution-oriented in their approach. On the campus, education is not limited to technical expertise in the domain, but also new age skills of critical thinking, data analysis, problem-solving, communication and leadership. The university’s aim is to not just prepare people who are best “in” the world, but those that are best “for” the world.
Offbeat learning path
The university seeks to achieve this aim through its multi-disciplinary curriculum, providing students the flexibility and choice of subjects across different domains, so that they can make an informed decision, instead of being forced to follow a defined learning path. The learning approach is student-centric vs. the traditional employer-centric approach.
The university offers a Bachelor’s degree in Design (major in interior design) and Architecture. This year, it introduced a one-year fellowship for the Built Environment. In the next academic year, ANU will introduce a Bachelor’s program in Design, Interaction Design and Product Design along with Master’s programme in Design, and in Integrated Product Design that will combine courses from design, engineering and management education, to enable students to create uniquely innovative and relevant products and experiences. The course will provide students with an interdisciplinary perspective of product design. The university also offers the Anant Fellowship, which has three international students in the first batch itself, two from Ghana and one from Bangladesh.
Preparation for global challenges
The university also focuses on creating individuals who are problem solvers and can overcome modern day hurdles. One of the ways is by using design thinking as a solution.
“To prepare for global challenges, we need individuals who are revolutionary in their thinking and generate inventive solutions to present day problems,” says ANU Provost Pramath Raj Sinha.
“These ‘solutionaries’ will be able to ask in-depth questions to arrive at innovative answers to societal needs and challenges. Design thinking helps them approach the challenge in a creative and structured manner,” explains Dr Sinha, the founding dean of Indian School of Business.
“Higher education should focus on holistic development of students to prepare individuals with foundational life skills, in addition to domain expertise,” he adds.
The governing body of ANU has eminent teachers, business leaders and government representatives. Network 18 Chairman and Quality Council of India Chairman Adil Zainulbhai, Managing Director of Lodha Developers Abhishek Lodha, former dean of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Indira Parikh, Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar Director Sudhir K Jain, and Gujarat Principal Secretary of Higher and Technical Education SS Rathore. The president of the university is Ajay Piramal, Chairman of the Piramal Group and Shriram Group.