Designing Academic Research Facilities for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Combining Engineering, Biology, and Computational Disciplines into Collaborative Environments That Support Tomorrow’s Science

Published 7-17-2019

The term “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (4IR) was coined in 2016 by Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, to describe the exponential transformation society and commerce are experiencing due to converging breakthroughs in numerous fields, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, the internet of things (IoT), and quantum computing. While this latest advancement is to some degree an extension of the third revolution (aka: The Digital Revolution), 4IR is considered a new era because of the unprecedented speed, scope, and systems impact of the coming changes. It is evolving at an exponential rate rather than a linear one and is expected to disrupt entire systems of production, management, transportation, and governance on a global scale. In response, a new breed of interdisciplinary research facility is emerging, as academic institutions try to anticipate training students for the unforeseen demands of the 4IR.