Open Systems and Advanced Manufacturing Technologies- QAN 603/2970/1

Purpose Statement

This qualification, though not explicit in the title and construction, is designed to be a truly cross-curricular qualification.  The main focus is on manufacturing, but it is broad ranging and covers science, design and ethics, so can be carried out in many subject areas as part of existing courses, without overlapping.  The main candidates would be students studying science and design technology, especially physics, since there is physics in varying degrees in most of the criteria.  However, the qualification could be taken by students studying a range of qualifications and the units can be interchanged so that students taking other qualifications with a similar unit value can interchange for existing units.  It is part of the widely recognised 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) promoted by the government.

Who is the qualification for?

This qualification is designed for 14-16 year old students who are interested in the engineering and social dimensions of modern, high-tech manufacture.  All of the units explore the very latest technological advances in devices, both on earth, and out in space.  These devices are pushing the boundaries of philosophical and political issues about what it is to be a human being or what information do we really need and why.  The devices can be used for research, but also for war, so there is plenty for students to discuss and consider.  Many of the topics are changing daily, so students can participate in their own way to the ongoing debates and add their own perspectives.  Students studying this qualification will either need to be aware as citizens of the impact and strengths and weaknesses of these devices, or as engineers, they will need to know how to design them as a career in advanced engineering.

Who might be interested in taking this course?

All students who like gadgets and technology would be interested in this course, but also humanities students who are interested in the technology that dominates the 21st Century experience.  Robotics is increasingly replacing all levels of employment and students can explore what impact something like this will have on their planned future.

In terms of career options, the qualification will be suitable for a range of the government’s recognised pathways:


1. Engineering and Manufacturing


learners will learn how to design and make a variety of modern devices such as unmanned vehicles and microsatellites. They will learn how to use devices such as 3D printers.


2. Creative and Design


They will explore how to use CAD/CAM in order to bring their ideas to life.


3. Health and Science


They will explore the use of AI and robotics in PharmaTech.


4. Agriculture, Environmental and Animal Care


They will explore and analyse the use of microsatellite data for crop and environmental analysis as well as the use of unmanned vehicles for agriculture.


5. Digital


They will use simulation software to launch and develop rockets and unmanned vehicles and use other digital tools for design work and control functions.


6. Social Care


They will investigate the use of robotics and AI for health and social care. Will robots replace people for caring professions in the future?


7. transport and Logistics


They will explore the increasing turn towards unmanned vehicles for logistics such as cars and trucks.


All of these areas of study require different ways of using skills, knowledge and understanding, but all have a common theme of requiring the learner to be effective and efficient. This qualification works towards achieving that goal.


The skills include numeracy, literacy, engineering, design, creative arts, science and embedded software development.


What will the student study as part of this qualification?

The students will study the science, design, manufacture and social issues related to some of the latest technologies around us.  The units of study are:

Credits TQT Notes
The Understanding of Rocket Design and Manufacture
3 30 hours This unit explores the forces and elements that play a part in understanding the engineering obstacles required to launch a rocket.  The unit looks at materials for construction and flight, as well as the testing required for success.  The unit also looks at the uses and possible future uses of this technology.
The Understanding of Microsatellite Design and Manufacture
3 30 hours This unit explores the highly competitive industry of microsatellite construction and deployment. Candidates will explore some of the uses of the technology and investigate and test the materials and tools used to make the devices.  They will investigate how these tools and materials help in the journey to space, as well as the time in space.  They will investigate the social implications of so much space hardware.
The Exploration of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
3 30 hours This unit explores what AI is and could be.  It explores the application of AI through robotics by creating simple control programs and using pre-made robots and robotic devices for testing and evaluation.  Candidates will explore robotics and assess its wider usage in society.
Working with and Understanding Unmanned Vehicles (UV)
3 30 hours This unit allows candidates to explore the creation and use of unmanned vehicles in different industries and environments.  As with the other units, they will explore the ideal materials and tools for manufacture and development and issues related to deployment in different situations.  They will also explore the social implications of these devices, especially in military settings.

This qualification is made up of mandatory units. You will study a range of areas from robots to rockets, but with an underlying thread relating to their manufacture using the latest advanced in materials.


Undertaking a range of projects will expose and develop skills to work with design and advanced manufacturing processes, iteration and development, in order to give you a practical taste of the skills and competencies that underpin a range of careers and industries related to contemporary advanced manufacture. These include numeracy, literacy, engineering, design, creative arts, science and embedded software development.


Solutions address issues of energy consumption, food and materials scarcity, social and online connectedness in an internet age. Sustainability is an embedded theme. A range of appropriate tasks follow the journey of the product including:


  • analyse and interpret product design briefs

  • gather information and research to support design briefs

  • research and develop creative product concepts

  • use CAD visualization to communicate exterior product concepts

  • use CAD to carry out digital simulation such as FEA, technical feasibility, and initial review against brief

  • use CAD to develop 3D Models suitable for production using additive manufacturing technology

  • use and integrate smart-electronic modules to create functional prototypes

  • analyse product life cycle including strategies to reduce carbon footprint, whether through the function of the product itself or through minimising waste from the products manufacture process.

  • study of interdisciplinary teams.

The units of study prepare learners for a controlled assessment and an external examination for grading purposes.

Students will learn how to use common IT tools efficiently, safely and effectively as these underpin the learning process. They will demonstrate competence in real practical tasks involving the use of text, graphics and numbers with an emphasis on generic principles that can transfer between contexts. They will apply basic engineering and manufacturing techniques in a range of areas and use both real and simulated environments.  Increasingly higher level study depends on digital skills whether it is to publish work, search for information or re-use other people's work. There is no other subject that would not benefit from the learning that this qualification provides and the generic knowledge and understanding needed for it is essential for further study in any digital technologies and manufacturing subjects.  It will also equip students for the rapid technological changes occurring in these industries and more widely in society.

Which subjects will complement this course?

Focusing on practical applications of technology, the course complements some of the more academic subjects by demonstrating the application of theory in realistic context driven projects.


This qualification is complementary to any other academic or technical subject as it involves a broad understanding of what society wants and needs and the technical considerations to meet those needs. Meaningful links can be made with all Ebacc subjects. For example, a more detailed investigation into the science of flight might be developed in conjunction with the science department, as well as more detailed investigations involving maths and design of the materials used.


Discussions about the ethics and morality of robotics and AI could be incorporated into English or PSRE. The use of unmanned vehicles is increasingly affecting all areas of the modern economy so could be discussed in geography, PE, MFL or social science.


While the course is clearly focussed on engineering, the construction of the units is such that it allows a broad scope of study. There is a scientific underpinning of the advanced technologies being studied, but there is also a humanities focus in what these technologies might mean for the wider society. Learners taking this course would have a good grounding in engineering principles, but could equally enter a social science based qualification as they will have explored the human dimension to advanced manufacturing devices.


A Level 2 version of this course can be undertaken and a L3 version, or similar, will follow shortly to enable progression in this qualification post-16.  The L3 Smart Product Design and Manufacture can be used for progression.


The following organisations have endorsed this qualification.

Trade Body

OpenUK-Logo-V1-WhiteBG-500x200OpenUK Endorsement

nmi-parent-logo-complete-lo NMI Support letter




AxelspaceAxelspace Endorsement (translation to follow)

embecosm-logo Letter of support

Print Friendly, PDF & Email