SUMMARY: Our main educational objective is to support the new, multi-faceted, dynamically changing learning experiences that real life imposes on us and on our students. We have to recognize that traditional, mass produced, highly controlled static and rigid educational methods cannot cope with the increased amount of information, knowledge and inferencing requirements of this rapidly changing world. The life cycle of critical design and manufacturing technologies is contracting. Concepts such as time-to-market, total quality management, local design, global manufacture, concurrent or simultaneous engineering, parallel design and manufacturing, intelligent design and intelligent manufacturing systems are widely accepted. These new technologies require multi-skilled and well-educated engineers and managers as well as flexible and feedback-controlled manufacturing technologies, such as cellular manufacture, computer-integrated manufacturing, concurrent engineering and flexible manufacturing system. It is important to recognize that we are living in an era when the customers, not the designers or salesmen, are the kings. Customers require increasingly better products at a lower cost. In other words, products require continuous improvement and change, therefore flexible design and manufacture and the appropriate level of automation must be provided throughout the life cycle of product development. In the education business the customers are the learners, i.e. students entering access courses, college and university courses, mature students who are prepared to study in the evenings at home, at the university, or in open learning centres. Furthermore, there are a large number of continuing education students and other professionals seeking new focused knowledge in this rapidly changing and extremely competitive world.
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