Heavy duty machines such as bulldozers, excavators, cranes and other equipment have built the world as we see it, through their raw power and engineering capabilities !
Gurbaz Singh, our next pathbreaker, Industrial Designer at Caterpillar, creates concepts for design and development of Caterpillar construction machines, both exterior and interior, with an eye for operator requirements and ergonomics.
Gurbaz talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about his keen interest in arts which led him to a career in industrial design where he could combine his skills in sketching and drawing with product manufacturing.
For students, machines pose unique design challenges which require innovative solutions that enhance usability and safety for operators !
Gurbaz, tell us about your background?
I belong to Chandigarh, both my parents are govt. employees.
I was always a quick learner with a keen interest in arts and craft. Although an average student in studies, I found interesting ways to depict and represent my projects in school. So, in simple words, I have liked to draw and sketch things since my early years.
What did you do for graduation/post graduation?
I did my graduation in Mechanical Engineering and my post-graduation in Transportation and Automobile Design.
What made you choose such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
Studying mechanical engineering introduced me to the world of Automobiles. There were multiple courses during my graduation which directly or indirectly sparked my curiosity towards Automotive Design.
In the third year of my graduation, a Mechanical Design Faculty Mr. Amit, guided us and exposed us to the fact that the skill of sketching and drawing could become a career opportunity when combined with product manufacturing knowledge.
Another key personality who helped me in this journey was Mr. Sohi, he taught me the basics and fundamentals of perspective drawing and transformed my scribbles into worthy illustrations.
I think deciding to go for post-graduation was the main event that transformed my career into where it stands today.
Getting selected at NID and the 2 years spent at NID completely transformed my outlook towards design education.
In retrospect, I think the main turning points in my life were after going to NID,
- Getting into top 10 in Automotive design Challenge, getting to present my concept at Auto Expo 2018, Delhi boosted my confidence a lot.
- Selected for a 6 months internship at Mercedes Benz trucks Design became the second turning point of my career.
Tell us about your career path
The preparation of your career starts very early, through design education. All the college projects make you industry ready and presentable. The thought process is to enhance your sketching skills to meet industry standards and then keep your work ready to be shared with companies.
Design at NID is a constant growth of skills and personality. The curriculum and environment encourages one to take challenges. We mainly worked on understanding basics of car design through hands-on skills and then putting all of it into design projects.
The larger duration projects also involved visualising these car concepts in 3D, like a clay model or 3D printing.
When you present all this to the recruiters, they immediately understand your approach and getting internships become easy.
During my internships at Swaraj Tractors Design and Mercedes Benz Trucks Design, I got a lot of learning exposure. I will try to chronologically explain how these internships affected my career
Swaraj Tractors Design :- At this stage, I had completed the 1st year of my masters. I was curious to learn, but was unaware of Industry practices. The Swaraj Design team was supportive throughout and let me explore different approaches for designing concepts. We worked on redesign of Swaraj Tractors, sketching front cowls, fenders etc.
Mercedes Benz Trucks (Daimler) Design :- Here I was out of college with a much more mature approach towards the industry. The project I worked on became the key project of my portfolio.
Here is a link to my thesis project at Daimler :
This project is available in my portfolio in detail.
How did you get your first break?
I got my first Job at Caterpillar from Campus interviews where I presented all my internship work and college projects to the recruiting team.
What were some of the challenges you faced? How did you address them?
- Challenge 1: Challenge was to show 3 years worth of work in a 20 minute interview. I prepared a brief printed document and virtual presentation specifically for this purpose
- Challenge 2: Another challenge was to present myself as a curious individual keen to learn and confident enough to lead. I worked on my articulation skills for this challenge. Being confident n my approach but still being open to criticism and feedback helped me a lot
Where do you work now?
Currently I work at Caterpillar as an Industrial Designer
What problems do you solve?
We create concepts for design and development of Caterpillar construction machines, both exterior and interior. I sketch new shapes and forms of machine parts taking care of operator requirements and ergonomics.
Caterpillar deals in Excavators, Hydraulic mine shovels, Track type tractors, Dozers, Underground mining machinery, Skid steer loaders and large mining trucks.
What skills are needed for your role? How did you acquire the skills?
Basic understanding of machine architecture and feasibility, sketching of design concepts, understanding the operator standards and requirements are some of the skills which are needed. These skills were acquired during my education, internships, job and self learning.
What’s a typical day like?
Research and development at Caterpillar is a collaborative effort, so there are lots of discussions around the above mentioned points, which are a part of day to day operations.
What is it you love about this job?
I love that I can make a difference in the daily lives of operators by designing the machines properly and I am getting a chance at doing what I love.
How does your work benefit society?
The machines built by us are the tools used by the people who are building our world as we see it. Our work makes sure those people are safe and efficient during their operation.
Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!
Unfortunately it’s confidential information 🙂.
Your advice to students based on your experience?
My simple advice would be to try and explore a lot at a young age. Whatever experiences are offered to you should be gained.
Try to identify the few key skills or domains that excite you and try to acquire more knowledge about careers associated with them.
My plan is to be able to influence and impact more design and development in India through locally made products so that India gains an edge at a global level, in the field of design and manufacturing.
Here is a link to my Portfolio :