Post graduating from Ecole Centrale de Lille as an industrial engineer, Xavier Fouger, Senior Director, Global Academia Programs at Dassault Systèmes commenced his career in 1986, with the French Embassy in Austria where he served as Attaché for Science and Technology. Following which, Fouger joined Dassault Systèmes to develop customers in German speaking countries.
His strong inclination towards the educational universe led to the establishment of Dassault Systèmes’ Academy in 2003 and since then there has been no turning back. The core idea behind it is to encourage and facilitate educational innovation and skill development in regards to the use of company’s software.
- 1. What drove you to promote Dassault Systèmes Academy and when? What are its primary objectives? Please elaborate on its distinguishing/innovative features and what it has on offer.
The primary objective behind Dassault Systèmes Academy is to encourage skilled workforce, producing educational innovation and encouraging transformative learning initiatives related to the use of the company’s software. Our focus is on facilitating multidisciplinary learning, industry cooperation and international activities. With the aim to build educators skills in Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), we have initiated competency centres in India, China, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentine, Kenya, Ivory Coast, South Africa and Vietnam.
The main objective of Dassault Systemes’ academic program is satisfy the continuous need of companies using our platform, to find highly employable graduates. Such graduates should be high performing learners and aware of the transformational nature of the new digital practices required by the fourth industrial revolution.
- Give details of Dassault Systèmes’ initiatives for Indian education.
With its considerable young population, India has two challenges:
First, the country need to improve its technical education system. The impulse of the Make in India national initiative gives this objective a paramount importance. Second, the country has to structure the emergence and development of domains of excellence, relevant to the economy, world class and exercising a systemic role in crystalizing a culture of industrial excellence. There are multiple difficulties in this journey but the country has also two major advantages to build upon: it can rely on its digital industry, which is pivotal to the economy of the future and its population, unlike in most more advanced economies, is mobilized by a profound hunger for learning. For these reasons we undertake two types of initiatives:
- Systemic improvement.
Instructive achievement is the key determinant for a decent future, yet most of the Indian workforce isn’t work prepared when they graduate. This is perceived by the National Skill Development Corporation as an obstruction to monetary advance. For PM’s ambitious dream of India becoming the world’s largest provider of skilled workforce to come true, it is imperative to achieve the target of educating 400 million people. It has been analyzed by the World bank and multiple other bodies that the alarming recurrence of studies concluding that 80% of Indian graduates are unemployable and that this low employability roots in the education style and methods of educators. To tackle this issue we undertook several initiatives including:
- A strong support of the Indo Universal Collaboration on Engineering Education (IUCEE). This initiative is principally animated by a group of Professors from the Indian diaspora and focuses on the very root of the solution: faculty development. It operates through educator’s education and we will soon gather for their annual meeting in Greater Noida and Madurai early January. These meetings will gather all educators interested in modernizing technical curricula. They truly constitute the pioneers leading the educational transformation of the country.
- We operate country wide teacher’s education programs such as the FEAT program, an intensive learning week where educators are immersed in new industry methods. We run a demanded yearly series of webinars, the TECHTALKS, which gathers thousands of educators for first hand briefings on emerging industry practices.
- With SOLIDWORKS, we contribute to the general transition of engineering design from 2D to 3D in India. SOLIDWORKS, owned by Dassault Systèmes, develops software tools that help customers, including engineering college students to create, simulate, publish and manage data. Over 850 engineering institutions use its computer-aided design (CAD) software as part of curriculum.
- Excellence Initiatives
Developing excellence hot spots is essential if we want to establish global competitiveness of the educational instruments needed to anchor globally competitive industrial manufacturingsectors. Examples of our activity towards such endeavor abound. One could mention:
- We have contributed to India’s mission of skill development to generate more job opportunities for the youth through our CoE setup in Karnataka. The CoE in Aerospace and Defense will ensure that the competitive advantage of Karnataka as the Aerospace hub is retained and strengthened further. It provides a holistic Aerospace design & development exposure essential for potential career opportunities in the industry.The first two batches with 50 students in total, have been given a one month training and the CoE further plans to start the third batch of the foundation course shortly. We also plan to start the advanced course in the last quarter of this year itself.
- Dassault Systèmes partnered with National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE) to collaborate and leverage technology including Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE Platform and Digital Manufacturing suite to achieve higher levels of academic excellence. With this collaboration we focused on providing access to Dassault Systèmes online and offline training material through. Also, we availed NITIE faculty and students in academic projects training conducted through close collaboration and awareness sessions on Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE Platform and customer case study references.
- We have recently started the “Product Inovation Labs” program which establishes in selected partnering colleges, places where educators and sudents access to advanced learning equipment and experiences in relevant industry practices. We help these creations as part of our CSR program and they show profound impact in enabling a hands-on exploration of emerging methods.
- We partnered with Centurion University to offer our first Academic Solution on the Cloud in November 2016. It became the first ever, all-on Cloud to offer virtual design and digital manufacturing programmes in India, by a university. The cloud application for Centurion addresses 86 high end Domain Applications and covers around 19 commercial roles. 3DEXPERIENCE for Academia, is the most advanced software for product and learning innovation, which is now available to all the Indian educators and students. This also helps in overcoming the skill gap which prevails in India.
- What are your future plans?
Our vision is to bring learning to another level through various means:
- The “platformization” of many businesses has already started and will continue. Stackeholders who do not or little interact with each other will soon be connected to provide goods, products and services that will be more meaningful to consumer’s experiences. Our 3DEXPERIENCE has taken the lead and will continue to provide opportunities for new game changing ways of doing business. In such context, the workforce must be ready to adjust and company leadership will have to anticipate better. For education, this translates in programs that will be increasingly interdisciplinary. Engineers will have to better contextualize their work in consumers experiences through more use of virtual or enhanced reality. We will keep connecting disciplines to automate the creation of smart systems.
- As professional mobility will characterize careers, we have recently restructured our educational activities to better support lifelong learning.
- The methods of learning will become more informal and more digital. This is why we keep enhancing our online learning platforms.
- Learning content and knowledge acquisition will become more diverse. This is why we plan to provide a digital infrastructure that will operate as a multi-sourcing knowledge place.
- Learning will have more opportunities to reach their necessary learning from anywhere with more and more content available on mobile devices, including the rich 3D content that is core in product innovation.
- Online knowledge granularity will increase to enable learning of the very subjects needed hence minimizing learning time and cost.
- We will add new learning subjects in the field of smart industry, taking benefit of the co-innovation practices we sustain with our most advanced customers.
- Specifically for India, we will continue our effort in the Karnataka CoE in Aerospace and Defense. The first two batches with 50 students in total, have been given a one month training and the CoE further plans to start the third batch of the foundation course shortly. We also plan to start the advanced course in the last quarter of this year itself.
- We also conduct advanced discussions to establish similar formats in other states.
- How do you see Data scientist and their big bet on Artificial Intelligence and machine learning?
We must distinguish between AI and machine learning to support the learning process and the same techniques to support actual industry activities.
In the learning process, they will help extract meaningful intelligence from data collected in massive or personalized learning. They will also apply in generating meaningful learning progressions based upon these collected data.
It is even more important to prepare students in technical disciplines (engineers, technicians) to apply AI and machine learning in the processes of engineering and manufacturing new products (from shampoo bottles to airplanes), because of their significant economic impact. For instance, using AI today, we are able to provide computers with the characteristics of parts to be produced, especially through additive manufacturing. AI imbedded in design software such as CATIA is then automatically generating the optimal 3D model of the desired part, minimizing material use yet maintaining the robustness of that part within the desired objectives. Designers work will evolve from defining shapes to defining the optimal desired characteristic.
Another industry application of AI and Machine learning will be to have shop floor equipment and production machines learn and automatically execute what they are expected to do, base upon the “knowledge” such machines will capture from their operating environment. For instance, a robot could execute tasks determined by its visual sensor observing its context.
For the competitiveness of the Indian industry, it is absolutely essential that engineering students learn how to use and deploy these techniques in and industrial context.