The APTIME Project is an EU Funded Erasmus+ Project with the aim of contributing towards the skills gap in Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM).
The University of Wolverhampton is the lead contributor and is joined by partners from France, Slovenia, Spain, Netherlands and Germany!
The field of Higher Education (HE) has been recognized as one of the key drivers within the EU2020 Strategy to overcome the socioeconomic crisis, to boost growth and jobs, and to foster equity and inclusion. Moreover, one of the key priorities for HE is the reinforcement of the “Knowledge Triangle”, through the support of innovation, entrepreneurship and university-business cooperation. This specifically applies to those traditional sectors, such as the manufacturing , where changes in education and training are required to equip the future workforce with the new skills for the new demands generated by the changing patterns of economic growth as a result of innovation in the industry.
The European Manufacturing sector is a key driver of sustainable growth with a significant contribution to Europe‘s overall economic competitiveness, innovation, employment and growth, yet the sector continues to face well publicised skill shortages – and these are particularly acute across developing and potentially disruptive technologies such as Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM).
This project will contribute to filling the skills gaps in the engineering sector, recognised by the UK Government in their Industrial Strategy, as well as at the European scale. The EU agencies are reporting shortages of STEM skills in the manufacturing sector having the negative impact on European economy. There is a strong demand for highly skilled vocational professionals for example engineers, where there are significant difficulties in the recruitment of these professionals across the EU, as shown in the study carried out by the European Commission in 2017. In order to address this issue, the education and training systems need to align better and more swiftly to labour market needs. In addition, there needs to be better labour market intelligence tools, and EU governments need to design initiatives that address shortages in a coordinated manner.
This Strategic Partnership between six European universities proposes the creation of a flexible learning pathway in line with the needs of learners and companies that could result in a Masters qualification. It will provide a joint study modular program between HE institutes combining high level expertise in advanced manufacturing technologies focused on the disruptive technologies of Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM). Technical knowledge combined with the project-based experience at leading companies will accelerate students' engineering and leadership skills.
The partnership will promote enterprise, innovation and will offer academic expertise and added value through the extensive range of additive layer technologies offered across the Partnership. It will provide students with opportunities to gain additional skills by studying and training abroad. In many instances qualifications are studied and passed but offer limited practical and real life experiences concentrating on theory and relying on the students to apply the knowledge gained during the award studied when they enter industry. In this instance the award developed will expose students to industry relevant equipment and industrial case study material that will produce industry ready graduates with the necessary practical and theoretical experience the ALM industrial sector requires.
Regular consultations with 18 pan European industry stakeholders (3 introduced to the project by each partner all of which be invited to be associated partners and to constitute the projects Advisory Group) will feature in reviewing and advising on the consortium's selection of learning methods, learning objectives, assessment criteria, research methodologies, and required knowledge, skills, and competences, filling the gap between research, education and the workplace. Innovative teaching practices on modules will be delivered through pilot transnational summer schools at partner organisations, attracting a minimum of 72 participants, resulting in first-hand experience and feedback data.
The curriculum to be developed is expected to include modules addressing manufacturing processes, processed materials, process control, factory systems, supply chains, risk management, change management, and, the product development process for additive production based markets. Modules will be delivered using live case study material from industry leaders, manufacturing entrepreneurs, and project stakeholders. Modules will be designed to both stand lone as a CPD offer, and build to a full Masters programme for those needing the accreditation. Intellectual outputs will include six postgraduate modules, a project module, on line materials to be shared and accessible through a virtual lab platform, and teaching materials developed, tested and shared across the partnership, this will culminate with a transnational ‘Train the Trainer’ event, extending the pool of experts across Europe with the knowledge to deliver this level of training in scarce manufacturing skills.