Engineering Technology Degree Lays Pathway for High School Students to Get Industry Certified

Industry certifications occupy an important role in validating relevant skills-set of employees across various industries. The Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) is an industry-led, training, assessment and certification system focused on core skills and knowledge needed by the nation’s front-line production workers (Source: MSSC USA). FLATE recognizes the importance of industry aligned programs, and has embedded the MSSC Certified Production Technician (CPT) certification as part of the technical core for the two year A.S./A.A.S degree in engineering technology (ET).

The FLATE-created ET degree has served as a vehicle for students as well as incumbent workers across Florida to get industry certified. Since the implementation of the ET degree in 2007, 461 high school and technical school students, as well as community college and incumbent workers have been MSSC certified. Additionally, between 2011-2012, ninety three students at Lakewood Ranch High School (LRHS) in Bradenton, FL, took at least one of the modules of the MSSC Certification test. Out of the 93 students, 79 students earned at least one certification in either safety, or manufacturing; 64 students earned at least one certification in safety and manufacturing; 64 students earned at least two certifications in safety and manufacturing. Thirteen students took all four tests, passed it and earned their CPT certification.

Michelle Todoroff, career advisor and industry certification coordinator at LRHS says “industry certifications not only help prepare students for careers,” but also add an additional skill set to a student’s resume which ultimately makes him/her more marketable. To date 30 LRHS students have taken all four MSSC modules. Out of these, 15 (two in 2011; 13 in 2012) have earned their CPT certification.

Marion Technical Institute (MTI) in Ocala, FL is yet another high school that offers MSSC CPT to its
 students. To date, 150 students enrolled in the Production Design Academy have attempted at least one module of the MSSC CPT certification. Most have passed the safety module, with four earning their MSSC CPT certification in 2011-2012, and five more students expected to earn their CPT next year. Dale Toney, production and design teacher at MTI says “these certifications are huge for secondary students as it puts them in a really advantageous position of having college credits right out of high school.”

Other high schools in Florida that have taken the lead on getting students industry certified include Manatee Technical Institute in Bradenton (MATI), East Lake High School (ELHS) in Tarpon Springs, and Treasure Coast High (TCHS) School in Port St. Lucie. To date, 91 students from MATI, 29 from TCHS and 13 from ELHS have earned their MSSC CPT certification. Given the considerable edge it gives to high school students, the MSSC certification has the potential to certify millions of production workers with industry recognized standards/credentials. Under this system, new and incumbent workers who pass the four manufacturing-related modules (manufacturing processes and production; quality assurance; maintenance awareness, and safety) can be awarded the CPT certification.

The MSSC CPT certification is also embedded into the FLATE-created engineering technology A.S./A.A.S technical core that allows students to earn 18 credit hours that can be applied towards a four year degree in engineering technology. The certification combined with FLATE’s ET degree and Automation Production Technician program for high school students ensures Florida has a high-skilled workforce prepared to work in advanced manufacturing and high-tech industries. For more information on MSSC certification and/or FLATE’s ET degree contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at 813.259.6578/barger@fl-ate.org. You can also visit http://fl-ate.org/projects/mssc.html, and http://madeinflorida.org/engineering-technology-degree.