The transformation of 2D Automotive sketches into full-fledged 3D models, breaks the barrier between concept and reality by helping designers create a clean flowing automotive surface with high quality and efficiency.
Ankit Haria, our next pathbreaker, Digital Automotive Sculptor at GM-TCI (Technical Centre India), Bangalore, works as a bridge between designers and engineers, supporting the styling department of GM USA by making virtual 3D models from sketches which satisfy design criteria as well as engineering criteria.
Ankit talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about how digital design is helping designers to see the volume/silhouette of a car much before the vehicle detailing starts and how people can now buy visually appealing cars as per their liking and in the lower price bracket.
For students, technology is changing the way in which a vehicle is conceptualized, designed, manufactured and sold. If you have the creativity and desire to be a part of this revolution, jump right in !
Ankit, Your background?
I was born and brought up in Mulund (a suburb of Mumbai) for the first 25 yrs of my life. My dad was a travel consultant who is now retired. My mom is a homemaker and my twin sister is a project manager who handles corporate presentations. During childhood, drawing was one of my favourite hobbies that kept me creative most of the time. I used to sketch car designs on the last few pages of almost every school book. I graduated in Mechanical engineering from K.J.Somaiya College of Engineering(KJSCE), Mumbai, Maharashtra, and then did my post graduation in Transportation Design from MIT Institute of Design (MIT), which is located on the Banks of Mula – mutha River, a very beautiful location to study and keep you inspired.
What did you do for graduation/post graduation?
After my 12th, I got into the KJSCE, Mumbai for undergraduate studies (2012) in Mechanical engineering where I got to work at Orion Racing India. Orion Racing India is a student-run, non-profit racing team of budding engineering students from various streams. They develop, design and manufacture a formula-style car to take part in International Design Competitions organized by Formula SAE, most notably FSG (Formula Student Germany).
2012 KJSCE Formula Student Car
After graduation, I got the opportunity to work in an Industrial design consultancy firm “ Futuring Design Pvt. Ltd”, on-site at Godrej Appliances, Mumbai. To pursue my dream of becoming a car designer, I started my further studies in transportation Design at MIT in 2017.
What were some of the drivers that led you to such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?
As I had developed an interest in Automobile Design during my late school years, I won a tuition scholarship for B. Design at IED, Italy but couldn’t accept the offer due to financial difficulties. During the last two years of my B.E. program, I became a part of Orion Racing India, and lead a drivetrain system team in the last year of my graduation.
After graduating in 2012, I was able to join a small industrial design consultancy firm with the smallest paycheck of my time and that was also my first exposure to the professional world of Product Design and Engineering. And it was at this firm, where I got to know 3D modeling using mechanical design software SIEMENS NX-7.5, from the designs shared to us by an industrial designer ( who plays an important role in the styling of a product ). There, I got exposure to 3D PARAMETRIC modeling and its applications in the Product Development field. Here, I was involved in the design of Industrial appliance products like Refrigerators, Washing machines, etc.
Hence, in 2015, after working for 2.5 years and clearing my educational Loan, I decided to further my career in Transportation Design. Since I had experience and lust in 3d modeling, I opted to specialize in Digital Sculpting in the 2nd year of my PG.
How did you plan the steps to get into the career you wanted? Or how did you make a transition to a new career? Tell us about your career path
Studying at MIT completely changed my vision and widened my horizon on what an unconstrained mindset is. People often perceive design as just aesthetics, but it is a process. By studying design, you are essentially learning the process to solve any problem, whether it is a product, system, or service.
State of the Art “ Clay modeling Studio “ at MIT institute of Design, Pune
While studying transportation design, I got exposed to the process of research, ideation, concept development, CAS (computer-aided styling), prototyping, etc. These experiences trained me to get out of my restrictive/constrained mindset which was an unknown consequence set by the engineering curriculum. For more information, Please refer mine project portfolio here : Digital Portfolio 2021
Source : Ankit Haria Behance Portfolio
After the 2nd semester, I went on to do my summer internship at MakeWhale pvt. Ltd., Mumbai. There I got the opportunity to work on 3d printing through which you can quickly create prototypes of new designs.
Source : 3D Printing at MakeWhale
During my last semester of post-graduation, I interned at an Automotive design consultancy “ Estech Design “ at Aundh, Pune where I got to know the importance of Digital sculpting. I got to work on CAS (Computer Aided Styling) modeling. It was my first experience in the Automotive Research & Development ( R&D) industry.
At Estech, I learned how styling software “Autodesk Alias “ is used to create a clean flowing automotive surface that is ready for production.
Later, after post-graduation, I got selected through a campus recruitment drive at Dassault Systemes, Pune which has a visualization consultancy firm “ 3DEXCITE”. I was offered the role of a Creative Designer. The job provided me the opportunities to get familiar with visual design and also raised my interest in making realistic images of cars using their proprietary computer software “ DeltaGen “.
I was hired at 3DEXCITE for the role of Creative Designer and was responsible for making data for virtual car configurators of German automotive brands like Opel, BMW, Audi, Porsche, etc., that let users customize every visual aspect in cars. I learned to make realistic images using computation power.
Source : Marketing Suite Made by 3DEXCITE.
How did you get your first break?
I actually had a first break, three times in my career.
The first one happened in Jan 2013, when I joined a startup consultancy company after a gap of 6 months after graduation.
I got my second break in Jan 2018, when I joined a visualization company where I learned to make realistic images using computation power.
The third break came in sept 2019, when I joined an American Automotive company, “ GM R&D India”, Bangalore as a Digital Sculptor. My responsibilities were to make Class A 3D models for both concept and production vehicles. In automotive design, a class A surface is a set of surfaces of high efficiency and quality. I usually work with the designer and engineer right from the concept stage to the production stage.
So essentially these three diverse breaks got me to where I am now.
What were some of the challenges you faced? How did you address them?
As a young engineer right out of college, I felt there was a gap in my understanding of what pure automotive design is. At design schools, it is often difficult to fully grasp the complexities of the real world. But the truth is that design is all about constant improvement and iteration.
Another challenge is the constantly changing world of software and tools. Equally important is the originality in the thought process that can set us apart from any technology/tool that aids in design.
Challenge 1: The major challenge was understanding the reverse engineering procedures since I had not worked in a structured company before. Though I am good when it comes to design, reverse engineering is not just about designing the components and creating drafting documents. Along with that, technical details of the products have to be included in the drafting document which includes each nut and bolt. So, that was the biggest challenge in completing the project. I did a search on the internet to address this issue and along with that, I spoke to a few people from the industry who helped me out.
Challenge 2: The second challenge was completing the project in a short span of time. Because of the first challenge I mentioned, it was really difficult for me to complete it on time. So, I had to plan my day accordingly, to complete the project and other tasks too. I split the work into parts, which really helped me stay emotionally strong and motivated.
Where do you work now? Tell us about your role as Digital Sculptor
I currently work for GM-TCI (Technical Centre India), Bangalore as a Digital Sculptor. We support the Styling department of GM USA by making 3d models from their sketches, renders, doodles.
My role acts as a very important bridge between designers and engineers. Because I am responsible for making appealing models which satisfy designers as well as engineering criteria.
Car Design Process Flow
Usually sculpting is related to working with clay or other materials , but we sculpt cars using digital medium like computer instead of physical medium like clay. For more information on how Digital sculptors convert 2D to 3D, Please refer the Video here : Jaguar Design Masterclass
How does your work benefit society?
We save a lot of time in getting the highest quality of vehicles to the market which was not the case a few years before. We are helping designers to see the volume/silhouette much before the vehicle detailing starts. People can now buy visually appealing cars as per their liking and in the lower price bracket.
Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!
I had worked on the drivetrain system of the 2012 FSAE car “ Arion “ of Orion racing India team which was the only Indian racing team to compete in all dynamic events at FSG, Germany (Formula Student Germany ).
Orion Racing India 2012 Car at FSG, Germany 2012.
I had also worked on the Product design of both A-side ( visible side ) and B- side (Non-visible side) for Client Godrej Appliance, Mumbai which won prestigious awards “ India Design Mark“
Souce : Futuring Design Pvt. Ltd.,Pune.
Your advice to students based on your experience?
Practice, practice, practice !!
Whether you are learning 3d software, rendering software, or a new language, practice will make you most efficient and productive.
Work smart, but never take shortcuts.
Try to add diversity to your work every day, it will help in your professional life.
Work on group projects as a team, because in the professional world everything happens as a team and not individually.
I wish to consult automotive startups in their Class-A modeling process with all my acquired knowledge gained from my experiences with the best automobile companies that fit my vision.