Harmonizing the graduate attributes of mechanical and industrial engineering with the Fourth Industrial Revolution needs in automotive production
Authors: Timothy Laseinde
Abstract: Significant global shifts have inundated the production of automotive components over the past few years. To meet global "Sustainable Development Goals," the industry is moving from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. The fourth industrial revolution has changed the current phase of global manufacturing's competitiveness and can potentially increase competitiveness in the future. Because of this shift, manufacturers of automotive components now need different skill sets. Consequently, a better alignment of graduate attributes with evolving industry demands is necessary to create sustainable job opportunities for industrial and mechanical engineering graduates expected to fill critical roles in the automotive manufacturing industry. This paper presents the findings of an investigation into the engineering programs of higher education institutions within South Africa and how the engineering graduate attributes in the mechanical and industrial programs align with the automotive industry demands. The advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has caused significant upheaval in employment stability. Apprentices are being phased out of the workforce and replaced by smart machines. The automobile industry has seen revolutionary changes in its production methods in the last century. Conversely, higher institutions have not implemented major curriculum changes and still practice traditional teaching processes. The technology used in the average classroom has barely changed in the past three to four decades. The study's overarching goal was to create a model that colleges and universities can use to close the skills gaps through curriculum updates that better prepare students for success in the workplace. The automotive sector and academic institutions collaborated on an action research project to develop this framework. A framework emerged from the study aimed at assessing how well higher education institutions meet the needs of industries, and it shows the required measures to remain competitive.
Keywords: 4IR, curriculum, engineering program, higher education, automotive industry, graduate attributes
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