Creativity and Innovation in Educating Engineers and Product Designers of the 21st Century for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Creativity and Innovation in Educating Engineers and Product Designers of the 21st Century for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Ahmed Kovačević (City, University of London, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2725-2.ch025


Industry 4.0 is the trend towards automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies and processes. It requires engineers and product designers trained for the challenge. Collaborative design in virtual environment (CODEVE) is a teaching methodology developed for this within the European Global Product Realization (EGPR) course since early 2000. Each year, an academic virtual enterprise of participating European universities and an industrial partner is formed, and students distributed in international teams. Educational and project tasks are performed through virtual communication tools. The CODEVE methodology was tested on design of consumer products, service-driven products, and industrial machinery. Its evaluation was supported by the Erasmus+ funded project called Networked Activities for Realization of Innovative Products (NARIP) from 2015-2017. As explained in this chapter, it enables students to work for industry, encourages them to understand and explore methods related to Industry 4.0, and helps them to overcome barriers of distributed environment.
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In this rapidly changing world, the future of many companies depends on globalisation of design, digitalisation of manufacturing, servicing and sales. A study published in March 2006 by Henly Management College, outlines an industrial view on what engineers who will operate in this century should be. The main message of the report can be summarised as; “… At the heart the defining and enabling skills that form the core competencies of the engineering graduate… Three roles are identified. Firstly the role of engineer as specialist … Secondly, the engineer as integrator reflects the need for graduates who can operate and manage across boundaries, be they technical or organisational, in a complex business environment. Thirdly,…the critical role engineering graduates must play is providing the creativity, innovation, and leadership needed to guide the industry to a successful future. This is a vision of the future that underlines the vital importance of undergraduate engineering education to the UK engineering industry…”.

Two distinctive views on the development of these competences can be identified. The first, often referred to as the reductionist view, assumes that design competence is nothing other than a set of basic design abilities typically addressed individually. The opposite is the holistic view, which sees design competence as a synergetic construct of generic human capacities, as explained by Horvath (2006). Various authors argue that design competences are built in different contexts (Bourgeois, 2002). In the past, the emphasis was put on getting basic knowledge for a designer to possess and use. At that time, students were taught in a way which helped them to pass examinations rather than to solve successfully real life design problems. Recently, however, design problem solving capabilities have been given growing attention and various aspects of design competence have been investigated and addressed. Many authors analysed which industrial and pedagogical requirements of competences students should have and how to obtain these in university engineering design courses. Nunch and Jakobsen (2005), identified the three most important characteristics of competence namely, contextual, behavioural and problem oriented. They argue that there is no universal deliverable for engineering design education but rather that specific design know-how should be conveyed to students depending on the goals, content and form of a design.

Figure 1.

Engineering Design Competence


The competence development is normally assessed in terms of its operation to enable design problem solving. For instance, Crain et al. (1995), put these in categories such as teamwork, information gathering, problem definition, idea generation, evaluation and decision making, implementation, and communication. The authors claim that these should be developed within introductory design courses and suggest that other competences are to be addressed in higher design courses to suit specific disciplines. In all cases, knowledge remains important, but it is more often considered as an element of engineering design know-how, rather than as the only goal of design education. Overbeke et al. (2004), identified nine competences that need to be developed by industrial design engineering education, and grouped these as core and meta competences.

Key Terms in this Chapter

NARIP: Networked Activities for Realization of Innovative Products, Erasmus+ project funded by the European Commission between 2015-2017 to test CODEVE methodology.

Industry 4.0: The trend towards automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies and processes which include cyber-physical systems, the internet of things, artificial intelligence, etc.

New Product Development: General term which defines the process and methodology of developing new products in industry.

Engineers of 21st Century: New breed of young engineers educated to be experts, innovators and integrators, crucial for success of Industry 4.0 initiative.

Holistic Approach to Design Education: Development of comprehensive set of engineering design competences including knowledge, skills, capability, experience, and attitude.

EGPR: European Global Product Realisation, the university project-based course organized by a number of European universities and an industrial partner.

CODEVE: Collaborative design in virtual environment, teaching methodology developed within the European Global Product Realization course.

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