Industrial Product Development (IPD) is the process of entirely planning and prototyping novel technical systems. It ranges from definition of the product profile to creation of concept, design, prototypes production and their testing and validation. The manufacturing phase follows subsequently, and is the second and final stage of the Product Creation process. Thus, IPD is certainly one of the core means of adding value in companies and is crucial for their success through innovation.
State of the art trends, such as Eco-products, Mechatronics and Customer Individualization are making IPD more and more complex. A new approach of going beyond the borders of various engineering domains such as Computer Science, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering is therefore necessary. The increased competition on the market, decrease of time to market and complex product development processes require effective management of development process, as well as the managing of processes in product innovation. As environmental protection and production of products with comply with environmental demands become more and more important, it can be concluded that production of such products can provide a competitive edge. Three aspects of IPD – systems, methods and processes – are influenced and constantly changed.
Thus it can be stated that stated that, beside education in engineering subjects, for effective IPD and achieving of innovation, it is necessary to provide interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary education in areas such as Management in Product Development and Innovations management (MPD&IM) and Eco-product development (EPD).
Transition from planned economy to the market orientated economy in RS and BA has led to collapse of their economy due to low competiveness on a global level. Production facilities are primarily oriented towards simple production with low profit margins due to obsolete and uncompetitive product portfolios. Obsolete and uncompetitive product portfolio is the consequence of shutting down of sectors for IPD as the most expensive sector in companies. According to the research results, the percentage of engineers involved in IPD is about 10% of all employed in the production industry, while that percentage in developed EU countries is greater than 40 %. Regional companies are not capable to answer to current market demands mainly because their already weakened IPD structures don’t have appropriate knowledge and management skills necessary for modern IPD, as well as the management abilities necessary for operating on the global level. Furthermore, regional Industrial enterprises are dissatisfied with competence profile of development engineers educated by PC universities. Development engineers possess excellent professional and methodical competences but their creativity, elaboration potential and social competences are on a low level. Such state is mainly the consequence of inappropriate and obsolete education in the fields of MPD&IM, EPD and IPD.
Thus, the problem of inadequate IPD structures is, as already stated above, one of the biggest problems of regional industrial capacities. As industry represents the driving motor of society development, this problem should have priority among other society problems and be addressed as soon as possible.
The main economic priority of RS and BA governments is incensement of economy competiveness trough innovation and creation of national innovation systems. As essential part of national innovation systems, PC universities must improve their education in IPD areas as a basic prerequisite for creation of innovative products..
The IPD education at RS and BA universities currently exists only in a form of education in basic engineering domains at university level. Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary studies in above noted crucial areas such as MPD&IM and EPD currently don’t exist at noted universities. From all universities in WBC region only UNI modernized its education in IPD through DAAD projects in the frame of Stability pact of South Eastern Europe. Furthermore, there are no continuous education courses in IPD areas at PC countries. Lack of such courses prohibits the upgrade of competence profile (low creativity and elaboration potential and social competences) of human resources engaged in IPD, and thus limits their innovation potential. Furthermore, almost 10000 unemployed engineering graduates in RS and BA cannot upgrade their inappropriate competence profile due to lack of above mentioned continuous education courses. Such situation limits their employment possibilities due to previously noted industry dissatisfaction. Another great problem in PC higher education is a fact that IPD education is almost non-existent at Colleges of applied sciences as they have a significant place in PC education system due to number students which is almost as equal to number of students at universities.
In view of the facts noted above, the main objective of this Project is to enhance the competitiveness of the economy in the region trough improving the education in the field of industrial product development. The wider goal of the project will be achieved through completion of set of specific objectives:
- Establishment of new curriculums in the field of MPD&IM, EPD and modernisation of existing curriculums in IPD at master/specialist and doctoral level
- Establishment of continuous education courses in the field of IPD
- Harmonization and modernization of education in the field of IPD through training of teachers at colleges of applied sciences
Based on previous analysis the project target groups can also be defined:
- Students of academic studies in technical or economical fields
- Young professionals (age 27 - 40) within the companies,
- Future engineering executives in development or product management,
- Unemployed persons interested in career path in IPD areas,
- Professors and teaching assistants from colleges of applied sciences.