Imagine a world in which people talk to machines – self-driving cars, drones, and robots completing human tasks. This is the Fourth Industrial Evolution, and the Caribbean Maritime University, CMU, through its partnership with the German-based, FESTO, is at the forefront of preparing those students – for the future.
It’s a fantastic partnership between FESTO and the CMU to establish what’s called a FACT Centre to give students state of the art cutting-edge engineering training. FESTO, a global market leader in industrial education, is an engineering-driven company, specializing in pneumatics; the branch of engineering that specializes in gas or pressurized air, and electric automation technology. The CMU is the leader for maritime education and training in the region.
Both entities will offer students and employees of manufacturing companies’ hands-on training to learn industry skills necessary to succeed in an evolving economy.
“By 2020, the fourth industrial revolution would have brought us advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and biotechnology,” according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). This period – the fourth industrial revolution – is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds.
Elaine Hayden, Director of Special Projects and Strategic Initiatives at the Caribbean Maritime University, believes there will be a dramatic shift in the skills demand set over the next few years. “Modern, state of the art manufacturing starts with qualified people,” she said. “And with the introduction of advanced technologies in large to small innovative companies, the FACT Centre will supply skilled technicians to the manufacturing sector and beyond.”
The PwC 2016 Global Industry 4.0 Survey agrees: “The biggest challenge for industrial leaders isn’t technology – it’s the people.”
Training – or retraining the workforce will be “a challenging task” for companies as we approach the fourth industrial revolution, Hayden said. However, she was quick to point out that the FACT Centre is equipped with the resources and the technical know-how to solve this skills-gap. “We have four state-of-the-art laboratories and internationally trained FESTO certified lecturers that will be delivering the courses to our first cohort in September.”
The FACT Centre will offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Mechatronics and Automation – areas that will see a rapid increase in job prospects over the next few years as well as specialized courses in industrial pneumatics, electromechanical systems, and hydraulics.
In addition to offering undergraduate degrees, professional development and certificate initiatives, the Centre will focus on fostering an education through a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) approach and strengthening CMU’s track record of aligning academic programmes with industry demands.
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