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Hamburg launches digital education strategy for aviation

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Partners in Hamburg's aviation cluster launch innovative and federally funded education and training network to develop specialist personnel for SMEs

Small to medium-sized suppliers, universities, education and training institutions and public administration have joined forces in Hamburg to systematically adapt the qualification process for specialist personnel in the world's third-largest aviation region to the demands of the future. Between now and 2021, the partners in Hamburg's aviation cluster will be working together in the new Digital Learning Network - DigiNet.Air - to develop digital education and training programmes, training methods using new technologoies such as virtual reality, and new fields of business. The focus of DigiNet.Air is primarily on education and training providers and SMEs, as these groups face special challenges as digitalisation increases.  The network project is being led by the Hamburg Centre of Aviation Training-Lab (HCAT+ e.V). Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is providing almost five million euros in funding for DigiNet.Air.

The essential goal of DigiNet.Air is to support suppliers as they undertake digital transformation; this is done with new formats and content that combine to create a sustainable exchange of knowledge and technology between the education/training and commercial spheres. Virtual project laboratories, a training workshop, "Work and Learning 4.0", and a physical "TechShop 4.0" allow companies and their employees to try out digital processes.

Time is pressing. Already today, almost every passenger boarding an aircraft has a smartphone in his or her pocket. Mobile boarding passes, internet above the clouds, customer support via WhatsApp... Digitalisation has already fundamentally transformed aviation, and now it is transforming the industry in the same way. The manufacture and operation of aircraft is being irreversibly changed with networked delivery chains, automated production and systematic communication between people, machines and components. These developments, collectively known as "Industry 4.0", present immense challenges for the experts and leaders of SMEs as well as vocational schools and universities.

The Hamburg Centre of Aviation Training - Lab (HCAT+ e.V), as leader of the consortium, is implementing DigiNet.Air subprojects, as are the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg), the Hanse-Aerospace and HECAS associations, the Hamburg Institute for Vocational Education and Training (HIBB), nordbildung (the training network for the metal and electrical industry) and the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH).

Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is providing almost five million euros in funding for DigiNet.Air.

Senator Frank Horch, Minister for Economic Affairs, Transport and Innovation: "The Hamburg Centre of Aviation Training Lab is the catalyst for all training topics in our aviation industry. I am especially thrilled that DigiNet.Air has succeeded in achieving a lasting integration of our SMEs with the universities and training institutions for such an important topic as digitalisation."

Alkiavidis Thomas, President of Hanse-Aerospace: "The digitalised working world of tomorrow will present us with many new challenges. This makes it particularly important to prepare our education and training programmes at the small and medium-sized enterprise level - the heart of Germany's economy - for the future. DigiNet.Air is the right project at the right time."

Prof. Dr. Monika Bessenrodt-Weberpals, Vice President for Academics & Teaching, E-Learning, Career Service and Equal Opportunities at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences: "As a University of Applied Sciences, we have a breadth of experience to offer in terms of cooperation with companies and engineering service providers. Extending this cooperation, taking it from a pure research focus to incorporate qualification, the Hamburg Centre of Aviation Training Lab network project is long overdue. Innovation in aviation depends fundamentally on well-trained, creative people in this field. I am delighted that we can address the important issue of qualification for the digital job market together in the project network."

Joerg Manthey, Chairman of HECAS Hanseatic Engineering & Consulting Association: "The DigiNet.Air project presents HECAS with a great opportunity to play a defining role in the development of digital training modules for the engineering of the future. Our member companies can raise the qualification level for their employees, enhancing their competitiveness. At the same time, there is the opportunity to develop new business models and service offerings relating to Industry 4.0 and Work 4.0."

Dr Sandra Garbade, Managing Director of Hamburg Institute for Vocational Education and Training (HIBB): "Within the framework of the existing HCAT cooperation, DigiNet.Air is a pioneering element, a building block that fits very well with HIBB's efforts to expand digital training. We are very happy to contribute our experience, our expertise and our competence in the fields of training and aviation, driving digital learning in aviation forward as we work together with the partners in the DigiNet.Air pilot project."

Peter Golinski, Managing Director nordbildung network for training in the metal and electrical industry: "Within the DigiNet.Air framework, we and the businesses operating in the metal and electrical industry are laying an important foundation for the development of practical learning structures throughout the entire supplier industry."

Prof. Dr. Soenke Knutzen, Vice President for Teaching at the Hamburg University of Technology: "This era is characterised by rapid digital transformation. This is making excellent academic and vocational education opportunities more important. The synergy of cooperation between all education providers in the aviation industry within the DigiNet.Air project will result in the development of a training and education spectrum that is so innovative that it further strengthens Hamburg as a centre of aviation."