Invitation from FLATE’s Executive Director to Attend the 34th Engineering Technology Forum

Many Engineering Technology (ET) educators in Florida would never miss an ET Forum if at all
possible, neither should you!  The ET Forum has met at 18 of the 28 states and community colleges in Florida. The past 33 meetings have typically had representatives from 12-16 colleges attend. This spring we will be adding Florida Keys Community College as the newest college to the list of ET Forum hosts. We were excited to welcome Florida Keys faculty at the spring 2013 Forum, who at that time, immediately appreciated the value of the meeting and worked with us to host our upcoming spring 2015 Forum at their college on Stock Island from April 8-10. With special support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the 34th ET Forum will include an additional day of “pre-Forum” workshops on Wednesday April 8, 2015. 

With this extra support from NSF and the pre-forum workshops, for the first (and, most likely, the only time) the ET Forum will have an official online registration for logistics of holding the hotel rooms, headcounts, etc. Florida engineering technology educators are eligible for lodging support on a reimbursement basis, but we welcome anyone from anywhere to our meeting if you are interested in engineering technology education.  The 34th ET Forum and workshops agenda is posted with links to both the Forum and hotel registration at http://fl-ate.org/projects/et-forum.html. We look forward to working with you all there!

The ET Forum in Florida is a group of tightly connected educators and other stakeholders interested
in engineering technology education in Florida.  Although an effective community of practice, the group is loosely knit unofficially with no official officers, no dues, no membership, no official registration and no bylaws.  However, its attendees soon become tightly knit friends and colleagues that are extremely passionate about the value of this semi-annual meeting. The group meets twice per year and does have a “permanent Chair” and a temporary co-Chair, with the co-Chair slot temporarily filled by someone from the institution that is hosting the upcoming meeting.

What is the ET Forum? Back in the mid 1990’s the faculty, program managers, and deans working in electronics and related technologies got together to work on one of the first Florida statewide articulation agreements for Associate of Science (A.S) degrees. The small group of interested and concerned stakeholders was excited about the prospect of transferability of what was then, a “non-transferable degree.” That articulation agreement was implemented and has now been superseded by the Florida legislation that made all A.S degrees transferable with “2+2” alignments to Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degrees. Curriculum has continued to evolve as have the definitions of different degrees in our state, but the core group of educators who met at the then “crisis,” continue to meet. This was the genesis of the “Forum on Engineering Technology”—better known today as the Florida “ET Forum”.

Since 2004, FLATE has facilitated this meeting to increase the impact and effectiveness of the event.
Today, the Forum is an important professional event with news and updates pertinent to the participants from the Department of Education, Career and Technical Education division. Current workforce issues and industry practices are brought to the Forum via an industry and economic development panel that works closely with the host college. The host college also enjoys the opportunity to “show off” its facilities via a tour, and update the Forum on technology and/or related programs, including corporate and customized training initiatives. 

A vendor showcase and vendor-led discussion are also permanent items on the agenda as well as
updates and outcomes from related grant projects. The remainder of the half to two-day Forum is exactly that – a Forum with issues and topics submitted to the Chairs with the expectation that the submitter will lead that discussion. There are occasional formal presentations, but they are not the norm. The host college provides space and technology support. Our regional equipment and education vendors generously cover meals during the Forum in exchange for displaying their products and services. 

Over the years, our Forum has matured and evolved to become more focused on action items and outcomes. We have closer interactions with the DOE and other organizations. It has become a strong voice for Engineering Technology Education in Florida, and a place and a space where ET educators can find help, support and be informed about anything from recommended equipment and curriculum, course loads, scheduling, and even sticky administrative issues that arise from time to time at all institutions. So, if you are interested in how a technical education Forum “works” this spring, then the 34th Engineering Technology Forum and Workshop event at Florida Keys Community College might be the perfect time and place to see the Florida ET Forum in action.

Now for the rest of the stories in this February edition of the FLATE Focus—I encourage you to read the stories, but more importantly watch the new Made in Florida video. Also this month we debut a new series that tracks some of our past FLATE awardees and what they’ve been up to. Chime in your thoughts about the new STEM puzzle, and jot down a thank you, a welcome, or a congratulatory note as we acknowledge important milestone of some of our colleagues. Last but not the least, tune in to our story about past and upcoming workshops on programming a NAO humanoid robot. This and much more in this edition of the Focus! Happy Valentine’s Day!