Statewide Course Numbering System offers seamless transition for students in Florida

The Statewide Course Numbering System (SCNS) is an integral piece in Florida's K-20 system of articulation. This seamless system of articulation has been in place since the 1960s, and provides a database of post-secondary vocational courses at technical centers, community colleges, universities, and participating nonpublic institutions. Central to the system is its effort to assign numbers, describe course content to improve research, assist program planning, and facilitate seamless transition of courses for students transferring among various colleges. (Source: www.scns.fldoe.org).

In Florida, the effort to better align, classify and define existing courses as well as new discipline areas of engineering technology began in Fall 2007. According to FLATE’s Executive Director, Dr. Marilyn Barger, “FLATE’s efforts to develop the new A.S. degree in engineering technology served as a strong impetus for this reform activity at the state level, and continues to play an important role in the processes.” FLATE’s objective is to make engineering technology education through the state college system unified in all aspects so it is easy for all stakeholders (students, employers, educators). The review and reorganization of the SCNS ET disciplines is just one activity FLATE has undertaken to reach this goal.

Participants at the ET Forum

 In a special ongoing effort since early 2008, the division in the department of education that oversees state post-secondary courses/course numbers began a comprehensive look at several discipline areas including engineering technology education. The objective of the project was to move courses to discipline areas that better define them; consolidate redundant courses, review and update discipline area descriptions/definitions, and reorganize the discipline areas which are subsets of another. The new definition for the engineering technology discipline area and thereafter all courses associated with applied engineering focuses on the practical aspects of the specific technical disciplines preparing students to do one or more of the following: analyze, assemble, design, fabricate, install, operate, troubleshoot, maintain, and manage engineering and related systems.

FLATE, together with the ET Forum, played a crucial part in working with the state to redefine the discipline definition, rewrite all ET course prefix definitions and reclassify them in a more organized manner. Brad Jenkins, program manager for the engineering technology degree at St. Petersburg College and one of the SCNS state coordinators for aligning the numbering for the EET, EST and ETI courses under the engineering technology discipline says the initiative is a leap in the right direction as “it gives all colleges that have adopted the ET degree a chance to change their numbers and align it with the new course numbering system.”

Jenkins points to several benefits the reorganization will have students, educators and employers. The biggest advantage for educators, he says, is not reinventing the wheel, rather “adding specialties and aligning them within the frameworks of the ET degree.” It makes a nice fit for students as well. In that the articulation will be straightforward, and students won’t lose credits while transferring between colleges. “We also hope the reorganized and redefined system will simplify recruiting for our industry partners who employ our students” Jenkins said.

The proposed changes were approved by SCNS and the Florida Department of Education in April 2010, and will be implemented in Aug. 2011. For more information visit http://scns.fldoe.org, or contact Brad Jenkins at jenkinsb@spcollege.edu and Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.