Aligning Education for the Life Sciences Domain to Support Digitalization and Industry 4.0

Catal, C.; Tekinerdogan, B.


Emerging technologies like Internet of Things, Data Science, Deep Learning, Augmented Reality, Edge Computing, and Digital Twins are bringing new opportunities, challenges, and solutions for many domains including agriculture, plant sciences, animal sciences, food sciences, and social sciences. These disruptive technologies are at the center of the fourth industrial revolution, but are we ready yet to educate and prepare new generations to help society, science, and humanity adapt them? How can we change the current curriculum to reflect these technological innovations? How can we help the new generation to develop not only left-brain skills but also right-brain skills? The Netherlands is the second largest food exporter in the world after the United States and the agricultural related exports generated €45 Billion in 2018 for the economy. R&D in Dutch companies and innovation in universities in the Netherlands play an important and active role in this context. In this paper, we provide a general framework for supporting education in the context of Industry 4.0. We adopt the case study of Wageningen University at which we were actively involved in designing and customizing academic courses related to Industry 4.0. Wageningen University, which has the highest rank in the field of Agriculture & Forestry according to influential university rankings and has a rank 59 according to Times Higher Education, is traditionally a life science university but has taken also an active strategy for aligning with the developments in IT and Artificial Intelligence. Apart from the content-wise shift, skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving are addressed by applying project-based evaluations. We discuss the lessons learned and address the issues related to Industry 4.0 and education.