Technical Education and Industrial Development 

(excerpts from campus lectures)


Chart No. 1


The manufacturing industry.  I will not deal with all aspects of the industrial environment and instead focus on the manufacturing industry (or the manufacture of finished products), which is the most dynamic and significant segment of the industrial sector.

The manufacturing industry plays a key, leading role in industrial development.  This has been clearly demonstrated by the the so-called “tiger states” in Asia.  These countries focused their effort and investment on the establishment of a strong industrial base (and an export-oriented economy) and can serve as an excellent model for policy development.

Why is manufacturing of finished products critical to industrial development?  Let me explain the reason with the use of charts:

Chart No. 2

The chart above shows the tremendous increase in added value on aluminum products in progressive stages of processing.  It also shows the increasing amount of profit as well as the number and qualification of workers as production progresses from raw material to manufactured finished products.

Chart No. 3

The premises of the previous chart also apply to other industries like crude oil, timber, minerals and so on and so forth.  The chart above also shows the advantage of going into the manufacture of finished products.

Manufacturing is the basic strength of any industrialized nation.  Although more people may be employed in the service sector, much of a nation’s wealth is produced  by the manufacturing industry.

The “second revolution.”  The manufacturing industry is in constant change due to its normal progression, but the change was rather dramatic during the last few decades.  It was even called the “second revolution”, in reference to Henry Ford’s introduction of the assembly line at the beginning of the last century.

I will not discuss the subject in length and instead refer to three significant book titles which may very well reflect on what has happened.

Chart No. 4

These are in fact books for insiders but all of them have been on the New York Times’ bestseller list, attesting to their wide circulation and the interest they have generated.

All these books refer to the same topic:  the most urgent need for improving the industrial performance of the U.S. manufacturers that were, at that time,  apparently losing their competitiveness to their Asian counterparts.

The book entitled “The Machine That Changed The World” is based on an extensive study of Asian manufacturers which was made by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  It describes the existence of a new production philosophy which became known as “lean production.”

As shown by the study, the success of these Asian companies was not only due to the application of state-of-the-art technologies but also to the application of optimized business practices.

The big surprise was not so much of new ideas, as there were not much new ideas, but rather the uncompromising application of existing ideas.  The new production concept is described as:  lean production, lean management and total quality management.   

The need for upgrading industrial performance.  Why were these books written?  Obviously, the authors thought that there was a serious threat to the U.S. economy.  In fact there was, and the threat applied not only to the U.S. but to all the industrialized countries in the west as well.  Let me describe the two principal reasons for this threat.

The first reason is clearly visible.  After many years of relentless attempts, the emerging Asian countries have finally managed to succeed with their export industry, even in industries that were considered the domain of industrial states.  The Asian products were not only cheap, they had very attractive design and good quality.

The second reason is even more important as it refers to the future.  The world is rapidly moving in the direction of  a totally free trade economy.

In this regard, some of the important trade agreements in the world today are NAFTA, MERCOSUR, GATT, ASEAN, EU, and there are many other trade agreements that are presently under negotiation by the concerned parties.

Chart No. 5

Regional trade agreements provide a healthy environment for globalization, reducing trade barriers.  On the other hand, the competition posed by high quality but low-priced goods originating from the more industrialized member countries will be a disadvantage for the less developed member countries.

Sooner or later, trade barriers will disappear and the domestic market of a disadvantaged country will encounter problems in productivity and in keeping pace with international price levels.

The free trade world.  The underlying characteristic of free trade is it is a chance and a challenge at the same time.  It can give access to foreign markets, but it will also open up the home market to foreign competition and a protected home market will disappear.  The result is unlimited competition amongst the best producers in the world and trade barriers replaced by quality barriers.

Let’s take a look at the “chance”:

Chart No. 6

The market for competitive sub-suppliers has grown tremendously over the years due to the increasing rate of outsourcing activities by multinational companies.  The chart above shows dramatic increase in the outsourcing activities of the automotive giants in the world beginning in the mid ’80s.

This development, which occured in other industries as well, represents business opportunities for producer of competitive, quality products worldwide.

Let us now examine the “challenge”:

Chart No. 7

In the past, sub-suppliers could sell rather simple goods like screws and semi-finished products.  But since the ’90s, the new purchasing strategies adopted by international buyers require complex and semi-assembled products, with very high demand on quality and short delivery time.

Chart No. 8

Taking again the example of the automotive industry, the chart above shows the importance of quality in explicit terms.  It shows that many years ago a sub-supplier was accepted when he could deliver 99% zero-defect-goods.  In 1995 the required quality increased to 99.98%.  Since then the rate is 100%.

This means that a supplier who maintains a quality level less than 100% zero-defect would lose the contract to a better supplier.

It is now customary for the automotive industry (as well as for many other industries) to control with minute exactness the quality record of every sub supplier and all of them must comply with the required 100% zero-defect standard.  Otherwise they will be eliminated from the list of qualified suppliers.

Chart No. 9

The challenge and the “entrance ticket” to the free trade world, therefore, is the ability to meet two main demands of the international market:  quality (100% zero-defect) and reliable delivery (just-in-time delivery).  The ability to manufacture and deliver faultless products on time form the basis for competing effectively in the global market.

Meeting the required 100% zero-defect and just-in-time delivery cannot be achieved by the conventional method of manufacturing.  It requires a completely different form of manufacturing and production philosophy.

Modern manufacturing technology:  the gateway to competitivenessWith the advent of modern information technology and the tremendous progress in computing power, manufacturing methods worldwide have constantly improved during the past decades, increasing productivity up to levels undreamed of as a direct result of a number of computer-related innovations in manufacturing processes.

Computer numerically-controlled machine tools (CNCs), computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and computer integrated manufacturing (CIM) are among such innovations that drastically changed the way products are manufactured today.

Chart No. 10

The use of CNCs has spread so rapidly during the last four decades that today over 90% of machine tools in modern manufacturing industries are computer-controlled.

Products can now be made better, faster and cheaper, and no manufacturer can afford to operate without the new technology or he might soon find himself unable to compete in a market that gets global by the day.

The need for teaching high-end technologies.  The application of computerized technologies in manufacturing is apparent and inevitable.  Along with this development, it became evident that immediate response should be given to the growing demand for highly educated professionals and highly skilled workers in manufacturing technologies. 


Chart No. 11 

The chart above shows the correspondence between technical education and industrial development.  As experienced by the industrialized economies of the world, the number of workers and their required qualifications corespondingly increase with the growth in Gross National Product (GNP).

Any plan for industrial and economic development must have a corresponding plan for education.  Such a plan must contain clear goals and objectives that must be worked out in close cooperation among the government, industry and education sector.

Certain growth rates in industrial output require not only more people but people with higher qualifications.

Curriculum development.  The last few decades witnessed technological and scientific breakthroughs in ever increasing and shortening regularity.  As the industry requires more people with updated skill and qualification, so must the education sector keep pace with the demand of the job market.

These rapid developments in science and technology lead to frequent modifications of teaching curricula and training modules in shortening regularity.

Chart No. 12

Curriculum modifications must also be enhanced with modern teaching instrumentations.  Gone are the days when chalk and blackboard were the principal teaching aids.

For decades now,  it has been proved here and abroad that the use of modern training equipment and didactic materials enhances the delivery of quality education.  Such teaching aids facilitate and maximize both the teaching and learning aspects of education through hands-on conduct of experiments and practical exercises.

Good teaching instrumentations also account in part for the disparity in the quality of graduates produced by well-equipped and ill-equipped schools.

Good curriculum/training module and teaching instrumentation, alone, cannot guarantee the delivery of quality education.  Faculty staff development and periodic upgrading are as equally important and needed in ensuring good quality of graduates.

Conclusion.  Improved industrial efficiency and productivity are important topics of a country’s development strategy.  To achieve these, the government,  industry, and education sector must work together and develop an industrial system with a modern technological base and a world class workforce.

Bilateral and regional trade agreements may eventually be rendered pointless, with protective trade barriers eroded by unlimited and unregulated global competition.  In a situation like that, a less developed country like the Philippines will encounter great difficulties competing against highly industrialized countries.

For the Philippines to have more than even chances of flourishing in the global market place, it must dramatically improve its industrial performance and quality of technical education.

Author: Rene “RC” Catacutan
Published 10 July 2009



Photos of various types of CNC Machine Tools

Small CNC Toolroom Lathe

Small CNC Turning Center

Big CNC Turning Center

Small CNC Toolroom Milling Machine

Small Vertical Machining Center

Big Vertical Machining Center

Small Horizontal Machining Center

Big Horizontal Machining Center

 CNC Surface Grinding Machine

 CNC Cylindrical Grinding Machine

CNC EDM (Electric Discharge Machine)

CNC EDM Wire Cut Machine

 CNC Hydraulic Shearing Machine 

CNC Hydraulic Press Brake

CNC Turret Punch Press

CNC Laser Cutting Machine 

A sampling of training equipment/teaching instrumentations

Small CNC Lathe trainer 

Bigger CNC Lathe trainer

Small CNC Mill trainer

Bigger CNC Mill trainer

Training equipment in robotic

CNC technology courseware

CNC programming trainer

Computer-assisted desktop laboratory in electrical and electronics

Computer-assisted physics experiment

Basic computer training kit