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Porto's “Teaching and Learning Factories” are preparing to expand professional training activities

16 April 2021
The M-NEST-II is underway, a project that, with the support of INEGI, will meet the demands of the manufacturing industry, reinforcing the skills of students, teachers, researchers and industrial technicians.

The M-NEST-II project follows the success of the pilot projects M-NEST-I and M-NEST-RIS, in which demonstration sessions of new teaching models were implemented which resulted in considerable levels of satisfaction of the participants, whether students, teachers as well as mentors on the industry side.

As explained by Cláudio Santos, researcher at INEGI and coordinator of the M-NEST-I project, "during the course of the pilot projects, we proved that this new teaching paradigm resulted in a greater approximation between industrial needs and the academic and research environment".

During the pilot projects, around 190 participants had the opportunity to explore and contact with varied production and innovation scenarios. And if, on the one hand, trainees were able to explore and have contact with scenarios of production and innovation, on the other hand, companies also won by having professionals better prepared to add value to the business.

In view of the success of the pilot phase, M-NEST II kicks off, now coordinated by FEUP, which aims to "continue to dynamize these training models, which translate the reality of the industry into training activities, and to increase the number of organizations and participants involved”, explains Margarida Machado, INEGI researcher and coordinator of the M-NEST-RIS project.

Building the European industrial community of the future

The M-NEST-I and M-NEST-RIS projects resulted from a joint initiative of the Faculty of Engineering of the U.Porto, INESC TEC and INEGI, meeting the needs of the manufacturing industry, where the accelerated introduction of new technologies brings with it the need to adapt the training of specialists.

The consortium of national institutions formed the European network M-NEST to demonstrate that collaboration between companies and educational and research institutions in the training of professionals is also an effective response at national level.

In Portugal, the "Teaching and Learning Factories" of the M-NEST network were implemented in the laboratories of FEUP, INESC TEC and INEGI. These factories were the stage of various training activities, on topics such as materials composites, multimaterial processing, material bonding processes, cyber-physical systems and digital twins.

These two pilot projects are financed by EIT Manufacturing and, in addition to the national partners (FEUP, INEGI and INESC TEC) common to both projects, they also counted on the participation of ENSAM - Arts et Métiers Paris Tech (France), from Aalto University (Finland) and SUPSI - University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (Switzerland), in the M-NEST-I project, and CTU - Czech Technical University (Czech Republic), University of Tartu (Estonia) and LMS - Laboratory for Manufacturing Systems and Automation of University of Patras (Greece) in the M-NEST-RIS project.