One message we heard from members in our 2018 ‘Voice of the Customer’ study was that members wanted more opportunities to connect with peers in meaningful ways and to participate in more substantive programming. On September 11, top executives from Michelman, Bonfiglioli, Perfetti Van Melle, Pilot Chemical and Festo (along with Board President Yannick Schilly and Treasurer Chris Flaig) worked together to provide their thoughts and input to faculty and staff from the University of Cincinnati (UC) and three of Europe’s top engineering schools on a proposed international Master’s Degree Program in Industry 4.0 and the Factory of the Future.
Building on our partnership with UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS), the EACC was invited to assemble a group of manufacturing executives to meet with CEAS faculty as well as visitors from the University of Bordeaux, Ecole Nationale Superieur d’Arts et Metiers, and the University of the Basque Country. The academicians working to develop this new program wanted to know if the skills and knowledge the program intends to build are relevant and, most importantly, whether such students would be hired upon graduation. The manufacturers in the room were able to discuss efforts to implement “the Factory of the Future” in their own facilities including some of their most pressing challenges.
A UC official described the event to me this way: ”Four global universities –powerhouses in engineering –and global industry discussing how to educate talent and to provide research support that will be driving industry forward five to ten years from now.” Several of the European visitors said they could not imagine an event like this taking place in Europe and that our input to the process was invaluable to their work. And several of the manufacturers told me they were fascinated to see the connection between the classroom and the factory floor (and to get the 'inside track’ on this future pipeline of talent). Indeed, the opportunity exists to use coursework and training from this collaborative effort to help companies get their own workforces up to speed.
The discussion ended with some talk about how to build on the dialogue. Perhaps our manufacturers could host visiting European professors and students on future visits; maybe we can organize a group of executives to visit the campuses and business partners in Europe with a future delegation from UC. All agreed that the value of the meeting was the opportunity to turn it into an ongoing dialogue – so stay tuned for the next steps!