Srinivasulu Reddy, founder and CEO of Skykrafts Aerospace, a startup building drones and drone infrastructure for applications in agriculture, forestry, research and emergencies. Drones encompass all aspects of engineering besides design and artistic elements, this calls for a team of professionals working in iterations till the drone works the part and looks the part. Popular open source projects and tools in the domain have cut the time to market, therefore embracing open source ecosystem and building a community around commercial drones is seen as a healthy way to develop drones.
Srinivasulu Reddy ("SR") interviewed on Wednesday, 18 November.
SR : As an electronics engineer by education with a liking for gadgets, I have a been making electronic products for over 15 years.
SR : As someone who is passionate about product development in general and making drones in particular, I work with a diverse group of engineers and designers as a team. I see design engineering as the force that attracts all engineering and the glue that holds the product together.
SR : As a design engineer, I work with others as a team. I put special emphasise on “voice of reason” when rejecting each other’s ideas. As we refine our work we also reject a great deal of qualified work. It is important to optimise for the amount of time, energy and resources that gets wasted when something gets rejected. Rejecting ones own work while it still is a bunch of ideas in ones own head is far better than rejecting each other’s ideas while brainstorming. Creating digital models allows us to take rejections to next stage. Mockups, scaled models and prototypes allow us to carryout even more rejections, we iterate at every stage before we head to the next stage and to production.
SR : The beginnings are most exiting, it can get quite frustrating from there onwards, if it gets too frustrating to the point that it starts affecting everyone around me, I take a break, at times the entire team takes a break, we generally get back after a few days and resume with better clarity than when we broke apart. The overall sense of finishing a product is the only fulfilment that matters. The pleasure of designing is like the pleasure of creating, it is similar to the pleasure of emptying oneself out, it is like getting rid of some burden, a great relief at last.
SR : Some of the non-design skills I think have helped me: Taking the time off is as much a contributor to my work as the working time, the human mind seems to have an ability to optimise even while we are not actively working on something. To be influenced by another person, style or trend is counter productive to a creative process, it robs the project of originality, I take steps to strip away from external influences. I have been through a journey of refining my taste for everything.
SR : I will continue working in the field of design engineering, seek to grow as a team. As a species we are rapidly growing in population, sustainable product development is not a choice anymore, I will work towards designing products that can endure, products that can be realistically recycled. One of the areas I wish to work is supply chain and logistic, by using drones. This is a solution that has the potential to connect producers and consumers like never before.
SR : For Beginners: Study the evolution and history of design trends in your field of work, a lot has happened in the last one hundred years. Authenticity is the greatest luxury, be authentic, do not seek credit if your contribution has been negligible, but accept it if you are given some credit. Get rid of people who do not provide credit to your contribution. Time and energy are your strengths. Set aside the first two years of your career to seek knowledge, acquire a point of view, refine your taste for good design and gain experience, you must pick your first job or project very wisely.
SR : For fellow designers: Provide clear credits to all the members for their due contribution. There are many ways to do the same thing, there is no absolute right or wrong. Sometimes even good designs fail, therefore enjoy the process. Do not criticise without validation, particularly if you happen to review a work of a younger member. If you come to understand that you are on the wrong path, do not hesitate to redefine yourself while you still can, death will eventually do it in time.
SR : The first three to four hours of the day are the most important. This is the most creative part of my day, here I write, draw or plans, run the most difficult decisions in my head. By the time I am ready for the business day, I would have achieved a good three hours of work. The first half of the work day is usually for unplanned work, I am available for anyone to talk to me. The pace changes after lunch, it is time for discussion with groups and teams, this is when everyone gets familiar with what others are doing for the next day or two. Sharing experiences with each others can light up an otherwise boring day, some of these can flow to be quite spicy.
SR : We keep pace with trends that are associated with functional aspects, such as technological symbols, safety and enhanced users experience. We keep artistic influences so as the product is pleasant. We are somewhat cautious about trendy elements, as they keep changing, we intend our products to endure through many trends.
SR : For something to be considered as well designed Every aspect of design must have a designated purpose, it must achieve it in an unambiguous manner. Features must be able to cope up with the intended regular use. Over applying foreign themes or over decorating with artistic styles must be avoided, except where such style is intended to be appreciated for its own sake. A good design must enhance user's experience.
SR : Nothing is ever really done or finished, having said that, it is necessary that the final product meets all the initial requirements, that the product is not just easy to use but offers great user’s experience. Once all these are met and consistently exceeds the expectations of the user base, we bring the work to a closure by preparing communications, presentation and technical documents. We do put an end to all development, to call a product a success we must generate sales, and have positive feedback from the endusers, that is a grater value for the user’s time and money.
SR : I think I am yet to create my best work. However, I have spent significant time in designing ahaDRONE, a cardboard drone, later expanded the techniques to create several different models to suit indoor, outdoor and also a heavy lift capacity drone, and further made a fixed wing cardboard drone. To prove our ability in creating cardboard gadgets we designed KAVACH-2020, a Cardboard faceshield. This was a unique product developed to tackle Covid-19 challenges. We developed this product amidst the strict initial lockdowns, with our team scattered and barely any resources. We are particularly glad about our initial belief that corrugated paper board is a versatile medium and can be utilised for many applications. It also gives us great satisfaction that we have worked on engineering aspects of manufacturing corrugated board. I will continue my focus on engineering corrugated technology and look forward to create sustainable designs.
SR : I find Charles and Ray Eames very interesting, I also find their contribution in architecture, films and furniture design as profound, it would be cool to talk with this design duo if at all possible. I also find Dieter Rams very disciplined and having a great influence in shaping our world than we can see.
SR : At present I live in Hubli, a city with a little over 1 million population. I travel quite often to other cities as part of my work, I also travel with my family and friends, I find Mumbai very energising and as having a character of its own, I also find tourist towns and cities as having a positive vibe. As a design engineer working on cardboard drones and gadgets I am influenced very little by the culture and more by efficient use of resources. Good design can also bring sustainability, it can improve recyclability, reduce obsolescence and help build enduring products. Being a designer, I build small gadgets to manage our two German Shepherds, things like remote controlled fence gates and feeders, life with pets would be a lot easier if we can manage them for the couple of days we are on the road through internet activated fences and feeders.
SR : As a design engineer, I work with other engineers and designers as a team, I always enjoyed working with others. I prefer to spend some informal time to understand our objectives and ensure that we are all working towards a common goal. I look for two qualities while hiring a candidate, one is their skill level or capability and the other is their level of commitment or dedication. Work is an important part of life, work culture is sacred, discipline in workplace cannot be undermined under any circumstance, it is also important to give credit, where it is due, to all contributors, however small their contribution may be. As a head of my organisation, decision making is vital to my role. I look for people who are good decision makers, candidates who can factor many variables and take decisions and own the consequence of their decisions, I consider such candidates as an asset to the organisation.
SR : To be able to spend my time discussing someone’s ideas and concepts is what I consider as my contributing to the society, I can quickly adapt to diverse topics, learn something new if I have to. To me an opportunity to work on something I love is rewarding in itself. I do offer younger designers opportunities and sometimes I offer them my time and let them lead the project. While working with younger designers, I try to be less judgmental and only critique where I can validate such criticism with a reason.
SR : The benefits of participating in design awards and competitions are: International visibility that I receive due to this award is both personally and professionally rewarding. Qualitative emphasis on presentation material while applying to the award is rich in detail. The designer’s ranking helps motivate to do better within my field of work. Design competition is an avenue to observe and learn from trends as they are being formed. Sometimes a question is more important than the answer, the opportunity to share my views and thought process is a humbling experience.Srinivasulu Reddy Profile
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