Is Industry 4.0 an achievable goal for Indian Industry ?
What is Industry 4.0 ?
It is claimed to be the 4th Industrial Revolution : The automated collection and programmed analysis of digitized industrial data and the automated resulting action.
While Industry 4.0 can be summarized in a simple sentence, the Technology, Manufacturing Systems, Hardware, Software and Data Analysis processes that underlie it are infinitely complex. It is for this reason that a logical, systematic and progressive approach to teaching it becomes extremely necessary. Contrary to the perception of many, Industry 4.0 is not an end unto itself, it is not a destination. Industrial companies don’t become Industry 4.0, they use it as a tool to continuously improve and drive waste out of their processes. Thus it is imperative for all Engineering students to reach the workforce “Industry 4.0-Ready”.
But as we talk of Technologies like Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, 3D Printing, Collaborative Robots etc., we need to assess where our students stand, in order to be able to chalk out a plan for them to be part of an Industry which will look nothing like it has in the past years. We, as a nation are a contradiction of sorts. We embrace change in some things so quickly that it puts other countries to shame. But, at the same time, in several things that matter, we choose to take a lackadaisical attitude.
Let’s take school education. A lot of change has happened and continues to happen. Technology, Smart Systems, Teaching methodologies, Student Psychology. Even though, these changes may not have reached every child in school, at least there is some visible desire to bring about change. What after that ? Even today, Medical & Engineering are the most popular Higher Education courses in India. Commerce and Humanities are finding great favour among students. Yet, they have a long way to catch up. When Engineering is one of the top 2 options of Higher Education, it is time, the Government, the Industry and the Academia paid attention to where this Education stands & what it hopes to do for these students.
It is a long arduous task but one that is imperative nevertheless. A strong foundation is essential but changes have to be brought about to build on that foundation. The curriculum has to accommodate concepts that are directly relevant to the Industry. Today, it does not even give a peek into the real Industrial World. In order to get this workforce ready for the Industry 4.0 environment, the Academic world has to necessarily work with the Industry, and together, they need to come up with a syllabus that allows for Practical Exposure to the Industrial Scenario.
We need a syllabus that teaches
- Cross Functional Engineering Design
- Basics of all Engineering Disciplines
- Problem Assessment & Solution Conceptualization
- Innovation in Solution Design
- Software Programming
- Data Analysis & Relevant Report Generation
- Presentation Skills
- Team Management Skills
Unless & Until these basic skills are acquired by students, it will be extremely difficult for them to cope in this highly Technology driven Industrial world. As much as it is fascinating to talk about Fully Automated Factories and Drones and VR/AR, if we don’t get the basics right, we are in no position to imbibe these technologies.
If Colleges are not able to adapt themselves quickly enough to this change, they must take the help of other Skill Development Institutes. The only redemption for students who have taken Engineering as a career is Skill Development. Else, they are going to become irrelevant in this fast changing world.
As we go, Points to Ponder :
Why are all Tech start ups in India about Mobile Apps for some services that make people’s lives easier ? Why has Engineering & Technology become synonymous with Apps & Portals ? Is “Make in India” a real possibility if we can only talk of IT Services ? Why is the Entrepreneurship Development Cell in every College only about Mobile App Development ?
Let’s discuss this in the next blog.