Executive Director’s Desk: A Look at Engineering Technology and Related Program Student Enrollment and Completion in Florida

Every year FLATE makes a formal request to the Florida Department of Education (FL DOE) for
enrollment and completion data for the A.S. degree in Engineering Technology (A.S.E.T). After filtering, sorting, and categorizing, FLATE produces an annual “Enrollment and Completion Report.” Annual improvements have included new data requests and building in our own comparatives with other related technical programs. This data-intense document provides a five-year look at enrollment and completion for the ET degree as well as the 20 college credit certificates which are associated with the degree. The data includes overall trends as well as breakdowns by college and by program, and also includes ethnicity and gender analysis for degree and college credit certificate enrollment and completion. For comparison, the tool also provides the same data elements for enrollment in other technology-focused A.S. degrees in Florida that support manufacturing industries. 

FLATE ET Degree College Network
To help us better understand the pipeline from secondary programs, we also request data for the high school programs that best align with the A.S.E.T degree and support manufacturing. Many of these are aligned to the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council Certified Production Technician (MSSC CPT) credential and takes advantage of the statewide articulation using that MSSC CPT to acquire 15 credits towards the ET Degree. The secondary program portion of the report also includes ethnicity and gender.  

A few data bytes will hopefully entice you to take a look at the full report which you can download at: http://madeinflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/2009-2014-FLDOE-Student-Enrollment-Completion-Trend-Study.pdf. Statewide enrollment in ET continues to build and now tops 1,500 students. The ET degree currently (2013-14) represents 32% of total Florida technology A.S. degree enrollments. The new ET Bachelor Degree program (BSET) has grown from 204 in 2010 to 675 enrollments this year. College program administrators and faculty may find the statewide, college and demographics breakouts useful for various reporting requirements, targeted recruiting and program reviews.

In 2014, Seminole State College (SSC) became the 15th Florida College to adopt the ET degree,
starting with the Alternative Energy Systems Technology certificate, and will add additional ET offerings in 2015. FLATE is currently working with four additional colleges for ET adoption in 2015 or 2016.  Several colleges added new specializations and/or certificates. Information about specializations offered at individual colleges is provided on our webpages http://fl-ate.org/projects/Stackable-Credentials-Aligned-Certificates.html and http://madeinflorida.org/engineering-technology-degree/e-t-overview/ .

Other activity around the ET Degree includes a new certificate under the Mechanical Design and Fabrication specialization with additional clarification in the three existing certificates. The new certificate brings the total number of college credit certificates under the ET Degree to 20. The best place to access these certificates and all current ET degree program frameworks is the FL DOE Curriculum Framework website (http://fldoe.org/academics/career-adult-edu/career-tech-edu/curriculum-frameworks/2013-14-frameworks/manufacturing.stml). Additionally, a small group of offering colleges and their industry partners reviewed and updated the Electronics specialization curriculum as required by the FL DOE.

With new 2014 MSSC standards, the alignment of the ET Core to the MSSC CPT was also reviewed by all colleges offering the degree to determine if there should be a change in the number of credits articulated for that certification. After much discussion, the ET degree offering colleges voted via a survey mandating the number of credits they believed should be granted for the MSSC CPT.  The survey did not indicate a clear majority for changing the number of articulated credits at this time.  Although the articulation is based on a mapping of the ET core frameworks to the MSSC standards, the articulation agreement does not specify which credits a college must give an incoming CPT holder. Each college can still make that individualized decision and many have opted to make one of the articulated courses one of the program electives. Most colleges also felt they could adjust their programs to address any local concerns for the articulation.

We look for a year of continued growth in the ET Degree with some new programs, new faculty, and, of course, new students. As we close out the year, I also urge you to read rest of the articles in this edition of the Focus where we have a guest contributor from Tallahassee Community College providing an Analysis of Industry & Education needs in Engineering. The spotlight is also on one of our regional manufacturing partners and their efforts to build awareness about manufacturing in Volusia and Flagler counties. December is also time for us to hit the pause button to recognize 2014 FLATE Awardees. Be sure to congratulate Aubri Hanson, recipient of the 2014 Post Secondary Educator Award. The FLATE team wishes everyone a very happy holiday season and restful winter break. Don’t miss this month’s special holiday edition of the sTEm-at-Work puzzle; I have a feeling it will be jolly! 

Assistant Professor of Technology at GCSC Receives 2014 Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the- year Award

Image Source: News Herald
Last month we highlighted, two of our FLATE awardees (Ken Jurgensmeyer and Russ Henderlite); this month the spotlight is on Aubri Hanson, recipient of the 2014 FLATE Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the- year award. The Award recognizes a community college, or technical school educator for outstanding contributions to manufacturing and/or engineering technology education. Hanson who is the assistant professor of technology at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, FL joins a distinguished array of educators who have received the award. Nominees demonstrate a proven impact on technology education at the local, state, and/or national level, and represents FLATE’s commitment to support and recognize post-secondary faculty who make significant contributions to the education and training of today’s advanced manufacturing workforce.

Hanson received the Award during the awards luncheon at the Annual Manufacturers' Association of Florida Summit on December 3, 2014 at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin, FL. “Manufacturing is the bedrock of our national economy and there are several reasons I think manufacturing education is important” said Hanson.  Even before being nominated for the Award, Hanson had already made a mark as a dedicated and outstanding educator.

Hanson is an active member of the International Society for Automation, and serves as the technical
program Chair for the International Instrumentation Symposium. Hanson also played a leading role in aligning GCSC’s engineering technology curriculum to the FLATE statewide A.S.E.T model during her first year as full time college faculty, and added Mechatronics certificate at GCSC. During her tenure at GCSC, Hanson has hosted multiple recruitment events, local television spots, tours and events to promote manufacturing education and women in technology. Enrollment into the engineering technology program at GCSC also increased over 400% during her tenure as GCSC ET program manager, and GCSC boasts of 95% job placement for ET graduates.

Hanson is a strong believer in community/industry partnerships and has successfully built in-roads
for industry and educators to build a sustainable partnership. “The USA must be a producer of goods, as well as a consumer in order to maintain our place in the global marketplace” said Hanson. Manufacturing education, she says, bridges the gap between the engineers and the assembly line workers. Given her stance, Hanson has established numerous partnerships with local industry who currently serve as advisors for GCSC students and graduates. “It is vital that we train the next generation to avoid losing those jobs to other parts of the world, to fill the skilled labor positions that are already available, and to lower the national unemployment rate.” She worked directory with Florida TRADE grant to ensure success of common initiatives and established 2+2 partnership with FAMU to allow GCSC graduates to obtain B.S.E.T degrees without having to leave Panama City. “We all must recruit, educate, encourage, and employ the individuals who have always and will continue to form the backbone of our nation's economy” said Hanson.

2014 marks the eighth year of the FLATE awards. Since the implementation of the program in 2006, FLATE has recognized 14 educators at the secondary and post-secondary educational level, and seven industry partners. For more information on Aubri Hanson email her at ahanson@gulfcoast.edu, (850)769.1551 ext. 4868, or visit http://etdegree.org/gulf-coast-state-college

FLATE Awards Ceremony and the Annual MAF Summit

The 2014 FLATE Award winners were recognized last week at the Annual Manufacturers Association of Florida Summit and Global Marketplace held in Destin, FL. Russ Henderlite, from Peterson Academy (Jacksonville), Aubri Hansen, Gulf Coast State College (Panama City) and Ken Jurgenmeyer, Heat Pipe Technologies and MiTEC (Tampa) we sleeked by the FLATE Industrial Advisory Committee Awards Committee.

FLATE Award process includes a 2-3 month nomination time window for anyone to nominate a deserving colleague working in manufacturing education. After then nominations close, FLATE staff sort the nominees into three categories; review individual nominations and applications and submit the nominee package to the Awards committee. The committee members individually reviews and score the nominees using a rubric the committee developed and has refined over the years. A short conference call is the venue for compiling the scores and final discussions and awardee selection. The committee selections are submitted to the FLATE leadership team, who contacts the winners.

Since the implementation of the Awards program in 2006, FLATE has improved the process moving award selection from the FLATE leadership team to our Advisory Committee, streamlining the required nominee documentations, and developing a standard rubric for scoring. FLATE would like to thank this year's Award Committee members: Tina Brudnicki of Baxter and Chairperson of FLATE's IAC; Marika Rogers of Lockheed Martin, and Mark Gaudio of Jaeger Education. “The MAF Summit provided a good venue for the FLATE awardees to network with each other and other Florida manufacturing stakeholders” said Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE.

Congratulations again to our 2014 FLATE Awardees who so strongly support manufacturing education and training in our state. We look forward to your nominations next summer for the 2015 FLATE Secondary Educator of the Year; 2015 FLATE Post-Secondary Educator of the Year, and the 2015 FLATE Distinguished Service to Manufacturing Education Award. You can learn more about the FLATE Awards on our website http://fl-ate.org/projects/awards.html.

List of Current & Past Award Recipients

Click on image to enlarge

An Analysis of Industry and Education Needs in Engineering

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the project “Developing an Engineering Technology Workforce to Meet Employers’ Needs” to Tallahassee Community College in partnership with several industry and education partners in 2012. The goal of the Students in Engineering Technology (SET) project is to address employers’ needs by producing highly skilled and educated technicians who are prepared to enter and succeed in the field of Engineering Technology (ET).   

In order to gain insights about engineering industry needs and to develop strategies to address those needs, two surveys were conducted. The first survey asked engineering industry professionals (N=50) to rate the importance of knowledge, skills, and characteristics needed for success in the field as well as share their perceptions including which industry certifications are most important in the field. The second survey asked engineering educators (N=37) to share challenges they face as educators in the field. They were also asked their thoughts on how to better retain students and make science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) more appealing, what hurdles students face in becoming interested in STEM coursework, and what students want from a STEM degree and coursework. Educators also ranked the importance of specific skills in the workplace and the emphasis placed on those skills in their programs. Finally, they were asked to provide their thoughts on how to better attract female students to the field.

The surveys revealed interesting results. Several factors considered by engineering educators to be very important skills in the workplace were considered not to be as emphasized in the program. Examples include:
  • Ability to communicate verbally and in writing - 97.3% of respondents say it is extremely important in the workplace but only 51.35% of educators say it is emphasized as very important in the program. On the industry survey, it received a 4.34 rating on a scale of 1-5 in terms of importance.
  • Ability to plan and manage time - 86.11% of educators say it is very important in the workplace but only 41.67% of respondents say it is emphasized as very important in the program.
  • Ability to work in a team - 80.56% of educators say it is very important in the workplace yet only 55.56% of respondents say it is emphasized as very important in the program.
  • Ability to apply knowledge in practical situations - 83.33% of educators say it is very important in the workplace but only 47.22% of respondents say it is emphasized as very important in the program. 
Engineering industry professionals rated several items very highly that were also rated very highly by engineering educators.
  • Strong work ethic
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computational and math skills
Hands-on experience is critical. Both surveys found that hands-on experience is key. The number one rated response by engineering educators for retaining high school and college students in engineering technology programs is field trips. Hands-on experience was rated extremely important in the industry survey, too, with a rating of 4.42 on a 1-5 scale with regard to career success.

With regard to item 1, engineering educators were asked to indicate the importance in the workplace and the emphasis placed on it in the program for a variety of skills and competencies. An excerpt of the more revealing results appears in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Excerpt from NSF Engineering Educator Survey Results - Question 9
Preliminary data obtained from the Florida TRADE Advanced Manufacturing program support the concept of having more hands-on learning opportunities. Approximately 90 percent of students enrolled in the CNC Machine Operator program successfully completed the courses. Those who did not complete the courses received unsuccessful grades in courses with more lecture-based versus hands-on lab components. In the degree program, the Introduction to Electronics course (more lecture-based) had an average GPA of 3.1 compared to the Motors and Controls course (greater lab content) which had an average GPA of 4.0; both courses are taught by the same instructor.
To illustrate the needs, in the engineering educators survey, respondents were asked, “What are the challenges of an engineering technology instructor (high school and college) to relate concepts to real-world applications, and to incorporate practical contextual teaching for greater student understanding and success?”

The results are ranked in Figure 2 in order of responses:
Figure 2: Excerpt from NSF Engineering Educator Survey Results – Question 3
Many ideas were shared in an open-ended question to about how to better attract female students to the field. Examples of responses include using current female students and female alumni to reach out to potential female students, providing additional mentoring and STEM research opportunities to new and potential students, featuring female engineers in promotional materials, and engaging girls in middle school including with industry professionals and with summer work opportunities. 

A great deal of beneficial information was gathered from the engineering educators survey and the
industry professionals survey including by comparing results. Survey outcomes will be used to inform the development of an instructor guide to help engineering educators better attract and serve students in the engineering technology program and to prepare them for career success. It will also help program administrators make adjustments to their efforts to attract and retain students to the program.

Engineering educators should use this information to help them better serve students. Bruce Batton, project director, says that the key to success is to move more to contextual learning including having discussions in a lab environment instead of in a classroom environment. “We have good content and excellent partnership with industry, but more of that discussion needs to be standing beside the equipment. Then it feels a lot less like theory and more like application.”

Both surveys were conducted and analyzed by NSF evaluator Gabrielle K. Gabrielli, Ph.D. of Gabrielle Consulting, Inc. Complete survey results can be requested from the evaluator via email at gabrielle@gabrielleconsulting.com. 

sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #44: Santa Workshop special Edition

The answer to lastmonth's puzzle will be discussed next year (And, I know you can all hardly wait). Meantime, here is some breaking news. 

Technicians at the Santa Workshop are, as expected, working overtime for the next couple of weeks.
  One of the tasks is to determine the red light luminescence of a particular reindeer's nose.  The Elf in charge of this measurement presented the data below to Santa for an additional professional opinion.  The light meter used to test the reindeer's "nose glow" is sensitive to all the colors in the rainbow but particularly sensitive to red light at Christmas time. The meter is also battery powered so that the Elf can go into the forest behind the workshop at night to find the reindeer and then make the measurements.  Both Santa and the Elf know that red light has a long wavelength.  Both Santa and the Elf also checked to confirm that Rudolph is in perfect health.   (In addition, both Santa and the Elf made an eye doctor's appointment for Rudolph so he could really play in those reindeer games.) Finally, both Santa and the Elf (as they listened to their favorite Christmas Gene Autry ballad) knew the correct answer for this month's special puzzle question!! 

The battery in the light meter needs to be changed. Yes or No. Submit your answers below the blog post, or on www.fl-ate.org