As manufacturers prioritize the search for new ways to eliminate waste and raise productivity, technology is a critical piece of the puzzle. The Industrial Internet of Things, robotics and additive manufacturing – to name just a few – are increasingly vital to the success of both products and the bottom line. Factories of the future – also known as Smart Factories or Industry 4.0 – are marked by humans and technology working together in a way that seamlessly combines the virtual and physical worlds. But…are the humans in this equation up to the task?
Many experts argue that answer is not yet, and that engineering education needs a fresh approach in order to meet the skills demanded by this new environment. Entirely new business models are emerging as the virtual world becomes more tightly integrated with the physical world. The next generation of engineers must be taught in an interdisciplinary way, so that they understand not just their specific area of expertise, but how it fits into the other disciplines it takes to bring a product to market in the fastest and most effective way. They also benefit from an approach that mimics that virtual collaboration and cross-cultural teams that are found in the working model of most organizations today. If students are not educated in a way that considers the global, interdisciplinary teams that are a hallmark of the modern factory, they’ll have to learn on the job which drags down productivity.
Compass magazine recently explored these challenges in an article entitled, Factory of the Future. Check it out to read about innovative programs being established at educational institutions around the world – specifically Germany, France, India and the US – in order to turn out next-generation engineers. It takes a look at how more school programs are bringing in current manufacturing practitioners to learn more about what is needed in their businesses, and help design learning environments that can best prepare students for the high-level technical skills as well as the collaboration mindset needed to excel in today’s factory model.
Dassault Systèmes is proudly partnering with some of these institutions to help them train future engineers on the digital technologies and business processes that they’ll need to work in these future factories. Check out a recent program with l’Université de Lorraine.
What do you think tomorrow’s engineers most need to learn before entering the workforce? Are there some specific skills that should be taught that would benefit your organization or your country’s manufacturing goals? Let us know in the comments below!
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