Higher education has to keep pace with the global market needs for the necessary ICT skills and the overall understanding of the complexity of industries in 21st century. Manufacturing companies have to effectively deal with the constant evolution of products, processes and production systems (and all in parallel) that can be more easily monitored, developed and up-graded by using digital tools.
Firstly, this project focuses on the development and integration of a Virtual Learning Factory Toolkit (VLFT), i.e., a set of existing digital tools to support advanced engineering education in manufacturing. The aim of the VLFT is to bring back to the engineering students the results of research activities in the field of digital manufacturing. Modeling, analysis, virtual and augmented reality, as well as the role of the human workers in the factories have been among the main research topics in manufacturing.
A second aspect of the VLFT project addresses the trans-nationality of the activities. Mobility, multi-locality, and transnational migration are important trends for European citizens and companies. These social developments in society and companies lead to new forms of living and new requirements for working in the EU. The teaching and learning in higher education has to adapt to these developments. Engineers are not only required to have state-of-the-art technical knowledge, but also to work in international teams spread in different sites and nations. They have to work with colleagues, suppliers, and clients from different cultural backgrounds, operate as part of a team, and master the challenges of virtual cooperation in specific engineering tasks and within international value chains. Higher education must provide transnational team work in the curriculum of tomorrow’s engineers to provide a competitive advantage in their future careers. This project thus contributes to the EU 2020 strategy for Employment and Labor Market Relevance by providing the graduates that Europe needs. Therefore, motivated by the needs of today’s globalized European environment, the objective of this project is to improve and enhance the learning process in higher university education of sustainable engineering through mobility and cross-border cooperation. Multidisciplinary, inter-cultural teams of students and supervisors, from 3 European universities and 2 research institutes, will work together and will contribute, in the sense of the EU Modernization Agenda, to strengthening the quality through mobility and cross-border cooperation.
In conclusion, the overall objective of this VLFT project is to support the transfer of latest research outputs back into education. By developing the easily usable Virtual Learning Factory toolkit, the ICT skills of teachers, professors and students are improved and the content (study outputs) of the curricula is in accordance with the labour market and societal needs.