Applying principles of project management in a Russian-German research-and-educational project "BSTU-FESTO".
In terms of management a contemporary university is one of the most complicated objects. The most problematic aspect of the university functioning is its structuring. The right solution of this issue is of great importance for the rational correlation among all groups of staff and faculty members at the university, which is resulted in the proper amounts of employees, friendly atmosphere at the departments and high efficiency of the university as a whole.
The university top managers should give serious attention to solving this task; even at the universities with a stable system of management there is always a necessity of its improvement. Emergence of new specialities very often also requires changing the structure. Difficult obstacles in implementing new programs causes the necessity of realizing academic traditions, such as elections of the heads of educational departments, lack of educational premises and service rooms, lack of funds (at the initial stage) for establishing a proper structural unit, certain conservatism of the faculty and staff members at the university. From the other side, at the initial stage it's not always possible to identify the degree of usefulness and the prospects of a certain department or structural unit. Sometimes, after making a decision on establishing a new unit its expedience is not always confirmed. In this case the mechanism of its liquidating is also very complicated and the university has great losses--both, material and moral ones.
Applying elements of project management in educational sphere could solve or at least mitigate the above difficulties (Kerzner, 2009).
In a general case an educational project unlike other types of activities possesses four main characteristics:
* innovative character of the project (Lewis, 2007);
* being directed at achieving certain goals. In a specific case the goal of the project is approbation of an innovative educational program before its introducing in the university structure.
* having the limited time frames (3-6 years). This period should include time for working out a curriculum, enrolling applicants, period of training, graduating and the first assessment of the quality of the graduates' knowledge and their being demanded at the labour market.
* coordinated implementation of interconnected activities. In this case these are coordinated activities on creating the scientific, educational and methodical basis, developing the project facilities, organizing the educational process and research activities within the frameworks of the project.
2. HISTORY AND PURPOSE OF THE PROJECT
Since June, 2005 Baltic State Technical University "VOENMEKH" has been applying the above approaches in implementing an innovative Russian-German research and educational program jointly with FESTO, one of the leading European corporations in the field of designing and manufacturing elemental basis for mechatronic systems and automated production facilities.
FESTO for many years has been purposefully working on promoting its high-quality products onto the Russian market. Many enterprises in Russia have already been successfully using elements of pneumatic and electric-and-pneumatic automation and industrial controllers. But the shortage of specialists, skillful in using and maintaining this elemental basis, hinders from further developing the market of Russian consumers. It was the reason for developing and implementing a scientific and educational project on training specialists in the field of mechatronic systems and automation of industrial enterprises.
As a result of the long-term collaboration on December 15, 2004 BSTU "VOENMEKH" and FESTO signed a protocol of intentions, aimed at further developing of the educational process in BSTU and promoting technological achievements and products of the international concern FESTO onto the Russian market. The parties agreed about the following:
* BSTU will start the implementation of educational programs in the field of mechatronics, robotics, automated systems of information processing and controlling. Besides, BSTU will provide premises for educational and research purposes, as well as for administrative offices;
* FESTO will provide educational equipment for educational premises and research laboratories, funds for repairing the premises and methodical assistance in developing the required curricula.
The main goal was to train specialists, capable to work effectively under the new economic conditions and based on the knowledge, obtained when studying with applying the most advanced didactic equipment.
On June 15, 2005 BSTU "VOENMEKH" and concern FESTO signed an Agreement, according to which the parties would establish a joint educational project, aimed at training highly-skilled specialists, educated in a number of spheres:
* general engineering;
* engineering speciality "Mechatronics and Robotics";
* business management;
* two foreign languages.
3. SOLVABLE TASKS
In order to do this it was necessary to solve the following tasks:
* to provide educational support and make arrangements for the project;
* to finalize educational and methodical materials for the speciality "Mechatronics";
* to obtain necessary facilities for the project.
For organizing the process of education the administrative staff members were hired, they were given the rights of the dean's office, so they have been arranging all the work with the students.
At the moment the main source of financing the project is the tuition fees, paid by the contractual students. Consulting services and seminars for representatives, working in this industry also are provided on fee-paying basis. Nevertheless, FESTO being interested in developing the project additionally provides its equipment. In future it is planned to obtain finances for making research and project developments.
In order to implement the idea of training universal specialists in the field of automatic production within the frameworks of "Mechatronics" department, a specialization "Mechatronics and International Business" was introduced.
The specific features of its curriculum are the following:
* the general educational cycle of disciplines is added with practical classes and laboratory works;
* extended training in the field of economics and management;
* extended training in the first and second foreign languages.
Within the frameworks of the project on the territory of BSTU the following premises for educational purposes were established a laboratories of a pneumatic automation, hydraulic automation, electromechanical drives, mechatronics and a computer class.
All the laboratories are provided with all the necessary educational equipment and FESTO's products and software, provided by the concern FESTO on the principle of long lease. Classes in "Pneumatics", "Hydraulics", "Electromechanics" and "Mechatronics" are conducted in these laboratories. The laboratory of pneumatic drives is aimed at students' becoming familiar with the fundamentals of designing pneumatic systems and learning the principles of working of pneumatic automation elements. The stands are equipped with the controlling pneumatic devices, execution efforts, spreaders with electrical control, relay-logic units and controllers (Festo, 2008). The stands of the laboratory of hydraulic drives are equipped with elements of controlling discrete and proportional hydraulic gear, executive elements and a number of sensors. The students are given the opportunity of assembling the scale models of industrial plants and of developing programs of control for controllers. The laboratory of electric drives is equipped with electromechanical stands. This laboratory is aimed at learning the fundamentals of controlling the systems of electric drives and learning the characteristics of various motors.
Additionally to the standard stands BSTU-FESTO possesses a specialized equipment, so students can study more profoundly the principles of operating the automated systems, of their designing and controlling. On the basis of this equipment students make researches, term papers and diplomas.
4. INTERNATIONAL PROJECT "SYNERGY"
Since 2006 BSTU-FESTO has been participating in the International project "Synergy" on remote education in the field of Mechatronics (Mogilnikov et al., 2007). 4 state universities have been involved in this project: Baltic State Technical University (Russia), Moscow Electrical Engineering University (Russia), Sevastopol National Technical University (Ukraine) and Omsk State Technical University (Russia). Currently the negotiations are conducted on involving in the "Synergy" project the State Technical University of Karaganda (Kazakhstan) and the Technical University of Vienna (Austria). All the centres have their own laboratories of Mechatronics, as stands they use modular production stations (MPS), produced by the concern FESTO, which simulate different technological processes and consist of real industrial components. With the help of MPS students get familiar with the examples of mechatronic systems, they learn how to automate the production processes on their basis.
Students with the support of the faculty members develop controlling programs of different purposes and they can control the work of the stations. In 2007 jointly with the concern FESTO there was established a system of remote access for the students of each of the Centres via Internet to the equipments of all the other Universities, involved in the "Synergy" project. It's possible to work with the remote equipment from the computer class of the laboratory. In the process of their work students create controlling programs and send them to the educational stands of the other educational Centres. As a feedback they receive television information about the work of the stands and signals from the stands' sensors; these signals allow to make the detailed analysis of the process of controlling.
By now within the frameworks of the "Synergy" project a new system of remote conducting lectures has been introduced. With the help of this system it's possible to connect via Internet to the other educational Centres and conduct on-line conferences (Rogers & Howard, 2009). At that a teacher can deliver lectures in his/her subject to the students of any University, involved in this project. Students, in their turn, in real-time regime can see the teacher, the electronic version of the lecture and their own written texts and drawings. The main advantage of such an approach to giving lectures is the fact, that students have the opportunity to listen to the best in this field lectures of various faculty members from different universities, they can see them and can ask questions in the real-time regime. This system does not require high-speed Internet connection, due to which its introducing in the universities, interested in collaboration, will not cause any difficulties.
The network of educational centers is unique in Eastern Europe. Students received a possibility to get practice with equipment placed in all universities. The cost of such practice is much lower than at the traditional approach, when each university has full set of its own equipment. Besides, the created structure may be supplemented with new equipment and new participants. Further development of this system may give an opportunity to get a full-fledged technical education not only for the university students but for everyone.
Kerzner, H. (2009). Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling, John Wiley and Sons, ISBN 0-47-027870-6, Berlin, Germany
Lewis, J.P. (2007). Fundamentals of project management, Amacom Div American Mgmt Assn, ISBN 0-81-440879-6, New York, USA
Mogilnikov, P.; Bagimov, I.; Klevakin, V. & Mikhailov, M. (2007). International Educational Project "Synergy", Proceedings of the 18th International DAAAM Symposium, Katalinic, B. (Ed.), pp 473-474, ISBN 3-901509-58-5, University of Zadar, Zadar, Croatia, October 2007, DAAAM International Vienna, Vienna
Rogers, P.; Howard, C. (2009). Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Idea Group Inc, ISBN 1-60-566198-8, New York, USA
***Festo (2008). Festo Didactic. Catalogue 2008/2009, Festo Didactic GmbH & Co. KG, Esslingen, Germany
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|Author:||Kopaev, Sergey; Mikhaylov, Maxim; Stazhkov, Sergey|
|Publication:||Annals of DAAAM & Proceedings|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2009|
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