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Research and Education in Product Development for 2040

Project leader(s): 
Claudia Eckert


Industry is going through a period of tumultuous change due to rapid advances in technology, such as industry 4.0, nano engineering, artificial intelligence and additive manufacturing. Other new technologies are already on the horizon and will have a major impact on industry in the next 20 years.

Aim and objectives

To identify industrial trends to 2040, and establish the responses required by academia and the OU specifically to equip students for the new world. From this a road map for OU teaching in engineering and design can be derived.

Relevance to the OU

The relevance to the Open University lies in the input to long strategic planning of engineering and design courses and qualifications. The benefit to students lies in up-to-date and relevant courses.

Due to the long life of Open University courses, and the effort put into course preparation it is critical that the courses will remain relevant in the long term. A road map of trends and skills can become a valuable input to planning the content and schedule of updates for the Open University courses. The anticipated mix of skills required by engineers might also open up new opportunities for qualifications that can be marketed to potential students and their employers

The OU usually conducts its market research in a highly structured way with traditional OU employers asking them. This type of trend analysis can be used to triangulate marketing findings.

This project can act as a test case for long term research led trend prediction as an additional input to curriculum planning.