|Title||LEAP: Lean and Agile Practices linking Engineering Higher Education to Industry|
|Duration||2016 – 2018|
Higher education prepares learners for their future role as professionals and active citizens in multiple ways: it builds field specific knowledge; it builds learning-to-learn capacity that empowers students to develop knowledge in life-long learning contexts throughout their careers in a constantly evolving job market; it prepares students to effectively transition from the educational environment into the professional world, to become effectively integrated into the professionally community, and to dapt to market-driven processes.
According to the Modernization Agenda for Higher Education, the sector faces multiple challenges in its quest to build critically thinking, creative, and adaptable adults (Vassiliou A.); these include the economic crisis, youth unemployment, integration of new technologies and modes of working, and more. On the other hand, the Communication on Opening-up Education highlights the need to stimulate innovative ways of teaching and learning through new technologies and digital content, to alleviate the “new digital divide” which has led to 50-80% of students never using digital content,and to exploit the opportunities of the digital revolution in educational contexts.
In engineering principles, the knowledge students build while enrolled in higher education may become to a large degree irrelevant a few years after graduation as a result of the fast evolution of technology in innovation related sectors. In this context, the capacity to think critically and to learn-to-learn are as important, if not more, as the base knowledge developed through formal curricula. In addition, to facilitate an effective transition to the professional world higher education must expose students to industry practices and processes rather than be limited to the development of core knowledge. This exposure may be achieved to a certain degree through specific courses; more
effectively, it may be achieved through the integration of industry processes into curricula thus enabling students to use new skills and competencies in a learning environment that simulates the way industry deploys knowledge.
LEAP aims at building experience and knowledge among higher education students on emerging lean and agile industry practices empowering them to effectively transition into the professional world, focusing on engineering disciplines. The project further aims at closing the new digital divide by promoting the development of high quality digital content for higher education linked to both academic and industry needs. Lean practices encourage students to design solutions that meet needs while minimizing the deployment of resources. Agile practices expose students to industry cycles in which design is integrated throughout production processes, as opposed to only in the early
stages of production, ensuring that the final product effectively addresses consumer needs.