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's 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's 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's 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's 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's 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's 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.

Competences for the development of smart products

“Within the concept of Industry 4.0 the expansion of mechatronic products towards smart products is key. Whereas the discussion about smart products in the context of 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. It becomes obvious that besides technological topics like big-data or IT-infrastructure, the human factor is of major importance for a successful realization of industry 4.0. Especially new concepts for training and further education for product development are needed to cope with the emerging challenges. In order to design new educational concepts, instructional goals are key. Nowadays these goals are described in a competence oriented way. “
Source: Competences for the development of smart products, A. Maier et al. Paper link, opens an external URL in a new window.

CASProD Competences for the development of smart products

CASProD competences (JPG)

Source: Competences for the development of smart products, A. Maier et al.

Curriculum structure

The joint Master's Programme between University of Zagreb, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture (UZ), University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering (UL), and TU Wien, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering (TUW) is divided into 4 semesters, 30 ECTS each. The first semester will be held at UZ, the second at UL and the third at TUW. The fourth one will be dedicated to master thesis and can be held at any of the stated universities according to student’s preferences:

The contents of the programme are structured into 6 streams of different disciplines:

  • Stream 1: Product development
  • Stream 2: Digital Manufacturing & Information Systems
  • Stream 3: Big Data Systems
  • Stream 4: Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Stream 5: Transferable Skills
  • Stream 6: Integration Project

Additionally, the students have to select courses with at least 13 ECTS from a pool of selective subjects. This allows the students to put emphasis on any of first five streams, depending on their preferences. The ECTS are evenly distributed over the first three semesters. The programme is based on the core characteristics of engineering: the iterative process of designing, predicting performance, building and testing. Such contents of the courses and application of project-based learning as pedagogy will enable building of appropriate technical and professional competences, such as problem solving, communication and teamwork.