Technician Training That Transcends International Borders


Automation may have changed manufacturing operations, but globalization has changed the economics of “doing” manufacturing. Today’s global marketplace is comprised of the next generation of high-tech, high-skilled workforce that can work effectively across multicultural lines. FLATE is aware of this requirement in technical education, and is working with TKNIKA, an Innovation Institute for vocational training established by the Vice Ministry of Education of the Basque government, to help create best education practices for Florida’s A.S. degree programs. The initiative culminated out of a FLATE proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE), and is one of eight pilot projects awarded to NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Centers to support high quality international educational experience to community college students.

Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE hopes the initial OISE-supported, FLATE interaction with TKNIKA and its partner colleges in the Basque country will mature into a long term student and faculty partnership between colleges supported by the Basque and Florida governments. As part of the effort, students enrolled in the Engineering Technology (E.T.) A.S. degree program as well as appropriate faculty mentors from any of the ten colleges in the Florida state and community college system will participate in a structured technical education and training experience at a technical college in Spain. Student applicants are expected to be in the 2nd year of their degree program, have the endorsement from an E.T. degree faculty, and provide a summary of their intention to participate in the project.

The project is poised to provide outstanding learning experience for all participants. Faculty and students will be engaged in intense technical education and training experience to acquire direct technical knowledge and practice of skills in the area of renewable energies such as solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, and wind energy, electronic and mechatronics, industrial design and maintenance of industrial equipment. Training and education for instructors begin in July 2011; for students in May 2012, and will be take place at MH Elgoibar, IEFPS Usurbil GLBHI, Tknika in the Basque region of Spain.

Working directly with faculty and instructors in hands-on exercises students will participate in a 10 day training at each institution for approximately six hours a day. Faculty and students will work on state-of-the-art manufacturing related projects as dictated by TKNIKA—an ISO 9001:2000 certified Innovation Institute for vocational training. These sessions will incorporate a curriculum creation component that requires students to evaluate what they are learning in Spain to what should also be taught in Florida, their expectations for this new material, and how that content can be blended into their courses in Florida. Their training experience will conclude with short presentations on one aspect of their work and studies with the Spanish teams they worked with.

In terms of professional development, mentoring faculty from Florida will be attending instructional workshops. They will meet frequently with students to discuss status of projects and review content that has been presented. At the conclusion of the trip, the entire delegation to Spain will be expected to contribute content and skills assessment for developing tangible tools and solutions to improve ET-related curriculum and instruction materials within the Florida educational system. For information on the Iberian Partnership for Technician Excellence, and the award-winning, two-year A.S. degree in engineering technology contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at 813.259.6578/barger@fl-ate.org, or visit www.madeinflorida.org/engineering-technology-degree. For information on TKNIKA visit http://www.tknika.net/.