Recounting A Year of ET Degree Growth and Recognitions

We are very proud of the 2012 milestones related to our curriculum work around the A.S. Engineering Technology Degree including Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Hilda Solis recognizing FLATE and the work with the ET Degree and its community of practice as foundational to the DOL award to SPC of a $15M DOL TAACCCT grant in September. The state’s ET Core curriculum frameworks were reviewed by an industry and education committee, and the committee endorsed most of the existing standards and benchmarks, adding several benchmarks related to sustainability in the workplace and deleting several benchmarks noted to be obsolete. The committee reworded some benchmarks and standards for clarity. In 2013, the ET degree community and its industry partners will review the specializations to complete this review cycle.

There was a lot of “ET activity” at all of the partner colleges. St. Petersburg College, the College of Central Florida and the State College of Florida opened new laboratory facilities in support of their growing Engineering Technology degree programs. Hillsborough Community College added significant new equipment to support its niche in process controls and automation. Florida Gateway College hired Margi Lee, who holds an MS in mechanical engineering to re-start the ET program in Lake City. Brevard Community College now offers its ET degree programs on two campuses, Palm Bay and Cocoa. Tallahassee Community College was awarded a grant from NSF to develop a strong dual enrollment program with its local high schools and Polk State was awarded NSF funding to transition their ET Degree program to an “open entry / open exit” modular and competency based structure.

FSCJ was busy developing new certificate and specialization frameworks to tie their work on a 2011 TAACCCT grant to the ET degree. In addition, Pensacola State College acquired impressive multi axis machining equipment, significantly upgrading its course offerings. It is also working closely with FLATE and other colleges to restructure the college certificates related to that technology. Finally, FLATE completed its own ET degree core equipment grant program in July 2012. Since 2009, over $210,000 was awarded to ET Degree Colleges to purchase tools and equipment to support the engineering technology core courses.

The ET Degree community grew to 14 state and community colleges in Florida in 2012. The degree is now offered at 50% of all Florida colleges and 56% of those colleges offering any related technology A.S. degree. Broward College (BC), Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC), and Gulf Coast State College (GCSC) all adopted the degree. NWFSC and BC are already offering ET programs and GCSC will be start offering ET Degree courses in 2013.

In addition to new colleges, new labs, and framework revisions, FLATE worked with several colleges to develop frameworks and justifications for two new specializations which will be approved by the FLDOE in March 2013. The new specializations are Industrial Energy Efficiency Technology (developed in partnership with the NSF EST2 Grant project that involves BCC, TCC and FSCJ), and Digital Manufacturing, which is a blend of 3D modeling, prototyping and machining. Together with the 30 credit hour Mechatronics Certificate mentioned above, five brand new frameworks were developed in 2012 to address industry needs in various regions of our state. We look forward to following the growth of these new programs.

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In the nitty-gritty world of curriculum alignment of the academic standards to the MSSC standards, FLATE  completed its work with the colleges to develop a set of student outcomes for the ET Core courses aligned to both the frameworks and MSSC standards that each college agreed to adopt. Courses can have additional student outcomes, but this set will help to ensure that students will be well prepared to successfully take the MSSC skills certification tests. These ET Core student outcomes and recommended MSSC testing sequence is now published on the ET degree pages of the FLATE website (http://fl-ate.org/projects/Stackable-Credentials-Aligned-Certificates.html). Finally, we continue to validate the MSSC alignment to the core with testing of students enrolled in academic courses.

Colleges in other states and other disciplines have adopted and implemented the ET degree structure and continue to do so. The degree’s groundbreaking statewide articulation of the MSSC credential to the ET Degree core, its numerous ramps between the workplace and education, and the several opportunities for accelerated degree achievement have been identified as working best practices. Recognition for the work we have accomplished together in Florida over the past five years has come from around the country and around the world from those interested and working in some aspect of workforce education.

FLATE frequently gets calls from colleges, economic development officials, and workforce education professionals about how the ET Degree “works” and how we were able to implement the program throughout the state. I would be remiss without taking this opportunity to share praise and recognition with our community of stakeholders, without whose work and support the ET degree would not even exist. After long conversations about how it works, and how we implemented it, I always find myself closing with comments that it cannot happen without a “friendly” working community in which all stakeholders participate. I think we have successfully built such a community in Florida around our ET degree and I hope we can continue to work to keep it growing and strengthening.

So, continue the good work in 2013 and remember that FLATE is here to help. For more information visit the Made in Florida, ET Degree webpage, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.