May 17, 2014

Success Story : Prasam Pal (PD, NID)

 Prasam Pal, a regular reader of this blog, got selected for Product Design in NID. We wish to congratulate him and thank him for sharing his success story

Dudes & Dudettes..

(Disclaimer: This is my 'rookie' story and might not help or apply for many of you. But I am writing this for the many 'ones' it might. I'm usually a 'glass half full' kinda guy.)

 BACK STORY (Can skip reading it if you like): I'm Prasam and I'm a Mechanical Engineering Student (4th year B.Tech). I have recently got through NID, Ahmedabad for their PGDPD (Product Designing) Programme. I always had a creative mind that was very furious and volatile and a very lazy body. After being confused as to what to do with my life, I ended up doing what most Young Indians do. 

 I regretted taking up Engineering from the first day I stepped (more like slept) into the class. Mechanical Engineering was supposed to be like being Da Vinci, about creating stuff that you wish existed. But it was not.
It was more about empirical formulae, Lengthy Calculations that yielded a 'theoretical' answer. I thought practicals would be more fun, but even there too there was more writing in files than the fun stuff. And to my horror, there was a subject called 'Design of Machine Elements' WITH LITERALLY NO DESIGNING IN IT!!!  I always had a thing for Mechanisms or any clever idea for that matter, in any field. Thus the whole Copy Assignments > Writing Practicals > mugging > puking it up on the paper >  forgetting it the next
day 'thing' wasn't really workin' out for me. I turned into a looser artist cum lazy bum who had lost his way and married his laptop.
 Then one day a friend found about an exam called CEED in the IITB site while browsing it for his stuff. Even though I tried to shrug it off, but that had caught a spark in my mind. I didn't know that yet. After finally filling out the forms I appeared for both CEED'14 and NID-DAT'14.

Although I had made-up my mind about being a designer, I was still the loser I'd turned into. I like to think that the real preparation went on in my head 24x7x365. This might sound silly but, I fancy myself as a thinker, not the Philosopher kind maybe but just 'sitting and thinking-kind'. I like to think about stuff. I guess most lazy people do. (Think Weird stuff than get of to couch to actually do it I guess...hehe)  But I won't lie to you guys and this isn't me tooting my own horn; I'm good at sketching; & not just sketching, painting as well. I have been drawing ever since I can remember. This was my only power for the upcoming battles. In fact this was the only thing that kept me going without ever feeling impelled to prepare. Just to keep myself complacent about my preparations I started taking sketching classes with a friend and fellow candidate for rookies in the Automobile Society of our college. Apparently we were decent at teaching and the attendance went up. & with attendance so did the pressure. Now I had to stay up nights having to search the net for new fun stuff to teach them every day whereas before I could pop a cola bottle in front of them & "still life" their next two hours into oblivion.. ;) found a lot of fun stuff on the internet too... stuff that I always knew in my gut, was there but didn't know what they were called, such as perspective, all kinds of views (Isometric, Orthogonal), Different types of Polyhedrons (I like geometry too.) etc. I love to read so had no problem reading every piece of designing literature that I could get my hands upon. Such as:
·         Universal Principles of design by Lidwell, Holden & Butler.
·         Anatomy and Art by Victor Perard.
I read anything cool and always tried it out, sometimes even at class. Those cute juniors were my guniea-pigs; sometimes through them I understood stuff way deeper than I'd normally do.
 After that placements season came and I gave up preparations all together; till getting placed and after I did get placed (in an IT company) I was so drunk with victory that I totally procrastinated my way to the 1st of December'14.

I couldn't prepare anything prior to CEED. Read a bit of
Manorama'14 and solved the previous year's papers on the train and secretly prayed for all the time spent on those juniors yield some fruit. It did. I cracked CEED with marks barely enough to be eligible for IDC.

Ok fellas, this was my bad. I knew enough to clear CEED but
not the written, Materials test & the PI of IDC. Everyone here were deserving candidates. And if I was a judge I wouldn't select my sorry-ass portfolio with 4-5 days' worth of sketches. Although my artwork was good. The PI for Automobile made me feel invisible & Even though it felt like the PI for ID went well, the result said otherwise. (I wouldn't Bore you with Details on this as many who have cracked IDC have done a wonderful job of explaining the test to you)

I cleared NID-DAT pretty much the same way I had cleared CEED (33/50). CEED was more Indian-culture & art oriented & NID is more 'current-affairs and weird, out of the box way of thinking & interpreting them' oriented. One thing was weird: My friends got scores like 25 and 27 and didn't get selected but I had seen people scoring a 15 clear the written.
Didn't get it. Some of them hadn't even attempt all the questions. I guess you needn't attempt all the questions as long as you have killed the ones you did.
I'm not very good at handling Rejection and this sparked a flame in me. I vowed to give NID my best shot.

The designing approach in NID is way different than the IIT's
The latter is way more technical, more practical and more scientific whereas the former one looks for more out-of the box, more aesthetic & more holistic approach of thinking. Here you need to be an authority on at least one subject/hobby on which you can yap away for at least an hour. So I got into the habit of reading about art, history and architecture (had it in high-school). I knew enough about swimming. They look for an emotional quotient in their protégés. I had a few of my poems ready. I had read the Eames India Report* back and forth.
My English was decent enough but I had to keep the slangs down (wasn't easy).

Studio Test:
It was way more difficult than the materials test at IITB. Here we were asked to make a bangle dispenser where u won't have to disturb the whole stack to get any random one out. & the second part was making an illustrated instruction manual for the same bangle stand. And unlike IDC, no joining aids (Gum, Tape, Pins) were given, NONE!!! Marks were given on :
o   Static Structural integrity
o   Access test: to be used once.
o   Aesthetics
o   Originality

Psychometric Test:
12 boxes on a paper with some random incomplete scribbles to be completed into something meaningful I guess. (45 minutes)

PI & Portfolio*:
(I won't repeat the basics such as knowing your work inside out, being technically sound) My Experience with the preparation for PI and making my portfolio was kind of like 'Kung-Fu Panda 2'. It's not reading some silly rules or tips here and there and doing it 'their way'. It is a quest, a quest of finding your inner-self. Who are you? Why are you here? Why did you make this? Why this why that... If you really listen to the voices inside your head you will find questions keep cropping up. Reflect on them, Introspect, Meditate on them. You may find the answer in the unlikeliest of places. Your portfolio & your demeanour should reflect the answers of those questions. Honesty is the best policy fellas. They want to see something unique in there. A few rough sketches might do wonders for you that a leather-bound file may not

(ALERT: This advice is NOT for CEED aspirants, In CEED they sure expect creativity but they like it to be by the book, So don't go breaking the conventional thumb-rules such:
o   Restrict it to about 15 pages (Lesser the no of pages you require to convince them, better the designer you are).
o   I tried keeping separate files for Artwork, Design-work, and a one full of rough scribblings.
o   Good Presentation, being well dressed and stuff.)

you needn't play by the book for NID. They expect to see crazy in you. Show them all your cards and let them know who you are. They Might like what they see. I never would ask anyone to do the portfolio after seeing someone else's or based on anyone's tips (the very reason I'm not polluting your mind by showing you mine). Be original. It WILL be interesting. (I wore a sweat-stained kurta, cargo and crocs to the interview) I won't give you tips on how to crack the PI. Everyone needs to figure it out by themselves. But here are some behavioural DO's & DON'T's:
o   Even a hint of arrogance shall be your 'kryptonite'.
o   Be humble about your work and abilities
o   But never fake humility.
o   Critically acknowledge your strengths (No Boasting) and weaknesses (Not insecurities). (The congruency  of your Speech & Portfolio will show how good a critic you are anyways.)
o   Never look desperate to get in.
o   Don't look overconfident either.
o   Never say anything negative (Never say I hate this. Say I liked that better.)
o   Show your eagerness to learn. (For E.g. Suppose they asked you a
question you couldn't answer or answered incorrectly. Before leaving, if you ask the right answer to the question that shows your eagerness to learn or learn from your mistakes.)
o   Be witty and Charming (but not cocky)
If you're still feeling sceptical about my methods then I'll have you know that I got a 39/40 on my PI (lasted about 50 minutes). The only real way of cracking any d-school entrance is to really LOVE Designing. Success is a state of mind.
Getting into design school doesn't make you a designer cause you already are.
Learning from mistakes rather than successes is my way, that's why I'll ask you to not look at what I did in NID but what limitations I had in IDC. Many Thanks to Prasanna Sir for creating this wonderful blog for us to share and learn from each other.

U can't see my Portfolio but you can view my usual work at
If you ever feel the need then do contact me at

& Most Importantly Have Fun & Enjoy it.

If anyone thinks my happy-go-lucky attitude's isn't very healthy, then please forget you've ever read this. Sorry about this being so long (I had to write about 2 exams). I actually speak a lot (Don't regret it after this PI though).
No offense was intended, I am just an academically challenged kid.


Chetan Yadav said...

Yes buddy, you speak a lot! :) But it was fun reading the story...Every engineer has the same back story but your choice of words make it different.

Prasam Pal said...

Hehe..Cant really apologise for being who I am (with a straight face atleast)....My "Actual" Choice of words would hav actually made Prasanna Sir NOT POST IT!... Bt I guess I "chose" my words carefully in-order to make it more..(how to put it)..Gentleman-ly!!!

(When I actually start to express my feelings about how Engineering is taught in this country you'll have to shove the kids outta the room ;))

jeinil patel said...

same pitch.!!a frustrated mechanical engineer who preparing for NID. .:D

Xenon Ray said...

dude u just nailed it :)

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