Emerging complexity of modern design and engineering problems and their strong interaction with nature, environment, and society led to the situation where it is no longer sufficient for an engineering professional to be only competent in the narrow field of specific engineering, solving partial engineering problems assigned to him or her. The modern engineer has to understand the whole new product/service development process and foresee all aspects of product’s interaction with the environment (cultural, economic, ecological, social, psychological, etc.).
Within the concept of Industry 4.0, the transition of mechatronic products towards smart products is key. Whereas the discussion about smart products in the context of digital production is more prominent, the shift towards the paradigm of smart products also suggests that the current way of product development needs to be adapted fundamentally. Like shown within representative studies, there is a consensus among industry experts on changing working processes and contents; new development methods, models and tools. Furthermore, many authors claim that these requirements will even lead to new job roles, comparable to the developments in the field of mechatronics in the 1990´s.
To our best knowledge, in all project countries, there is no curriculum, specialised on the smart product development, running on any education level and institution. The main goal of this project is thus to develop and accredit an innovative engineering master programme, which will teach students above mentioned trends in theory and practice of smart product development, which will foster development of their transversal skills, including working in multi-disciplinary, multi-national, and multi-cultural environments, helping them to gain real industrial and entrepreneurial experience and making contacts for their future professional careers. A special emphasis will be put on implementation of six design principles into the study programme (commonly recognised Industry 4.0 principles): Interoperability, virtualisation, decentralisation, real-time capability, service orientation, modularity. The integration will be twofold: The curriculum itself will follow these 6 principles, as well as demonstrate and teach students the use of the principles in their design engineering processes.
The study programme will be acknowledged and ECTS awarded in all three Programme countries. The students will be able to enrol lessons at any of the three HEI partners and to migrate during their studies.
The project itself connects the academic professionals from three universities from three different European countries, all recognised and with rich references from the field industrial and design engineering. In order to achieve the main goal of development and international accreditation of Smart Product Development Master joint master programme, the project partners will perform a series of activities and deliver a set of comprehensive intellectual outputs: Based on preliminary research results they will fully develop the joint Smart Product Development Master programme, which will give students cross-university and internationally recognised 120 ECTS; the project partners will run the evaluation and accreditation process of the curriculum in all three involved countries. Based on the accredited programme, they will prepare a full set of necessary teaching and learning materials for the newly developed master programme. Besides this, during the project lifetime they will set-up the programme’s ICT infrastructure necessary for the fluent project work and further run of the master programme. ICT infrastructure will among others include the project webpage, a digital classroom, course database and grade-book, the alumni information platform, and a VC infrastructure for communication of all academic and industrial partners and students.
The project itself will involve at least 15 professors and teachers, directly working on this project, approximately the same number of supportive industrial staff, who will not be formally involved in this project but will provide industrial and economics aspects to this project. However, the project is designed to cause a larger long-term impact to broader number of people, including academic staff, students, and industry in the region by delivering an innovative design engineering master programme, which will teach students to recognise their role and responsibilities towards the most challenging design and engineering issues of the modern world. With the interdisciplinary knowledge, given by the programme they will be able to design solutions, which will be sensitive to the increasing problems and challenges of modern global world: environmental issues, sustainability of design, migrations, integration, economic fluctuations, aging population, global ethical issues, etc.