How Siemens is getting students geared up for Industry 4.0

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Are today's students Industry 4.0-ready?

By U2B Staff 

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As the world steps into Industry 4.0, an era characterised by automation, cloud technology and cyber-physical systems, firms are getting increasingly worried about the lack of human talent capable of filling key business processes.

Automation may bring with it the promise of scale and growth, but neither will be possible if businesses are unable to find the right hires with the right expertise, knowledge and experience to manage these systems well.

Even the most sophisticated machines need a human operator. But how prepared are today’s graduates?

Instead of waiting around to find out, technology giant Siemens is getting proactive in its talent search. 

The firm has launched a new undergraduate sponsorship programme tailored specifically to nurture the next generation of engineering and technology giant. And to find these raw talents, the firm has gone straight to the source: universities.


According to a press release, Siemens has struck a partnership with the University of Sheffield and the University of Newcastle, in addition to 15 other universities for the Digital Academy programme.

The programme will pay selected students £3,000 a year from the second year of university, as well as up to 12-weeks paid summer placement throughout the duration of their studies within a Siemens business.

At the end of their degree, the students will be given the opportunity to join the firm’s Graduate Scheme.

The purpose? To offer students a “practical, collaborative space” to explore Industry 4.0 technologies and apply their university learnings in a real-world setting.

Considering how much value businesses today put in hiring students with industry experience, the programme is a great stepping stone to launch young careers.

“The Digital Academy is another ground-breaking example of how Siemens and our higher education partners are working together to encourage young people to pursue careers in engineering and technology,” Brian Holliday, Siemens Digital Industries Managing Director, said.

“This programme gives undergraduates applied and up-to-date experience to bolster their academic learning.

“By strengthening links between business and our world-leading universities, we can inspire and nurture talent to support the UK’s leading role Industry 4.0.”


Six students from EEE (electrical and electronic engineering) and computer science departments have already been selected to pilot the programme this summer.

These include Nikhil Patel and Miles Moran from the University of Newcastle, Thomas Edwards from the University of Sheffield, Diana Crintea from the University of Southampton, Maryem Khan from the University of Loughborough and Ariana Escobar Chalen from the University of Manchester were unveiled at a launch event at Siemens Digital Factory in Congleton.

Siemens students Industry 4.0 programme
Six students have been selected to pilot the Siemens Digital Academy programme. Source: Siemens

The undergraduates were selected from the inaugural Sir William Siemens Challenge, a two-day hackathon-style event held at the University of Sheffield that involved 84 promising engineering students from partner universities.

During the challenge, dubbed ‘Mindsphere Live’, the students were put into 12 hybrid, multidisciplinary teams and were asked to invent a unique device powered by data.

“We really want to develop the next generation of engineers who can create and develop new exciting things,” explained Ian Donald, Head of R&D at Siemens Digital Factory in Congleton.

“The inaugural Mindsphere Live was a great way of bringing multi-disciplinary teams together to collaborate to bring data to life in a meaningful way.

“These real-life problems gave students the opportunity to experience things that they may encounter in a business environment and insight into what life could be like at Siemens.”

Donald added that the Digital Academy will seek to augment these experiences, using the power of engineering to blend real and virtual worlds and harnessing data to create real value.

Working in real-world settings, students will get to witness, first-hand, the impact of Industry 4.0 technologies, and learn its applications and use cases. 

“It’s not just about sitting at a computer… it’s about interaction, working in teams to solve actual problems – which is what this pilot cohort will be doing this summer.” 


Commenting on the partnership, Professor Mike Hounslow, Vice-President and Head of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield, said: 

“We are focused on bridging the Industry 4.0 skills gap by equipping students with the skills for the new digital economy.

“Following a longstanding strategic partnership with Siemens, the University of Sheffield is delighted to be collaborating on the Digital Academy.

“Our students will benefit immensely from working with such a pioneering and transformational technology company.”

Applications for the next Digital Academy batch will open this month.