Swinburne-Siemens partnership is building workforce of future

Siemens’ suite of product lifecycle management tools and the MindSphere Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) operating system are enabling Swinburne students, academics and industry partners to collaborate and co-create local and global projects.

More than 400 students across higher and vocational education have used these tools, located in Swinburne’s Factory of the Future and accessed throughout the university.

Developing skills for the future

Since 2017, Swinburne and Siemens have been working together to build the skilled, digitally savvy workforce of the future through the Industry 4.0 higher apprenticeship, the Associate Degree of Applied Technologies.

Co-developed by Swinburne, Siemens and the Australian Industry Group, the program bridges the current gap between technical training and university education, integrating trade skills into higher-level qualifications in Industry 4.0 technologies, such as cyber physical systems, Internet of Things, cloud computing, and augmented reality.

It also offers students first-hand work experience at Siemens and other industry partners to ensure development of practical workplace skills.

“The future of work will require a different type of skills base that will be highly digitally literate, with a range of pathways that are very broad,” says Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Pathways and Vocational Education) Lisa Line.

“The Associate Degree program focuses on the practical competencies required by the advanced manufacturing sector in Industry 4.0. It is the only sub-Bachelor degree in Industry 4.0 anywhere in the world.”

The program is designed to develop the skills for the future workforce required for Industry 4.0 and the connectivity and interaction between cyber and physical systems in advanced manufacturing.

The first cohort of graduates of this course were selected through an intensive assessment process to ensure they had the skills required to work collaboratively.

Graduate outcomes

One of those graduates, Callan Halton, now works full-time at Siemens as a software developer on MindSphere.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the Associate Degree,” Mr Halton says. “It was great to learn about industrial technology and then go into the workplace and practise it. One of my personal highlights was spending a month in Huntingwood, NSW where myself and another apprentice got to experience a manufacturing environment in full-swing, at an Asahi bottling plant.”

Since last year, Callan has been teaching a portion of the Industrial Networking class to Swinburne’s first year Associate Degree students, covering cloud computing, databases and IoT, as well as web technologies.

“I try to keep the in-class projects to as closely simulate workplace tasks as possible, and it’s been really rewarding to see the students using some of the things they have learnt in my class when they head back to the workplace,” he says.

Kaye Russell completed the Diploma of Applied Technologies (the first year of the Associate Degree) and is now permanently employed as a service engineer (Controls and Digitalisation) at Siemens Energy.

“Although I was already a mid-level professional, I did not hesitate to start again as an apprentice,” Kaye says.

“Studying the Associate Degree at Swinburne gave me the feeling of getting ahead. The work experience at Siemens was exceptional.

“The manufacturing conventions and the factory visits added value and a closer and bigger image of what the classroom lessons were all about. I treasure everything that I experienced. Not just the technical stuff but also the project presentation and reports.

“This apprenticeship program is the reason I am permanently employed by Siemens Energy now. Having the skills and knowledge gained from this program, I am well-equipped to do any job today and in the future.”

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