New Engineering Technology Professor at PHSC Brings Real World Expertise & Knowledge into the Classroom

In keeping with our miniseries about engineering technology faculty in Florida state and community colleges, we travel to Pasco Hernando State College (PHSC) where another female educator has just embarked upon a teaching career. “I'm still very, very new to the academic world” says Professor Jessica Bennett who recently transitioned from industry into academia. Bennett has a B.S in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida and an M.S in biomedical engineering from the University of South Florida. Currently she is an instructor for engineering technology at PHSC teaching all the ET curriculum courses.

The ET program at PHSC is extremely new as it was opened to students earlier this Fall. 

Bennett’s industry background in research and development adds a positive dimension to students’ learning experience This has not only given her the opportunity to inject her professional experience into the classroom and curriculum, but she brings with her the added advantage of being fully conversant with latest technologies that are currently being used and integrated in the real world, high-tech industries. “I love engineering, solving problems, and creating new things.” She brings her experience and expertise from industry right into the classroom, where many of her students are directed study students. “I try to give my students real-world examples that I have experienced, or know others who have, to solve, discuss and contribute towards projects” says Bennett. 

As an educator she introduces innovative strategies to keep curriculum relevant and students engaged in the program. To that end, Bennett remains strongly connected with area manufacturers which has enabled her to set-up field trips for her students. For instance, she recently had students enrolled in the Safety class visit a manufacturer in Brooksville to perform a safety audit which gave them an opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge about safety regulations into practice in a real-world setting. She hopes the courses prepare students to be successful out in the real world be it as technicians, or as future engineers. Since the course material is something she is passionate about, it’s easy for her to stay excited and enthusiastic about the subject matter at hand, which in turn she says, greatly helps while trying to get students involved in the classroom. “I encourage discussions in the classroom, and the students teach me a lot about current technologies from their niche interests and try to incorporate their interests in relevant examples” Bennett said.

Echoing the sentiments of educators across the board, Bennett points to some common factors

for students to be successful in ET related courses and programs. Besides staying motivated and involved in the courses, she stresses the importance of networking among peers right even within the classroom. “Students should show up on time, be organized and able to present thoughts and work in a comprehensible and professional manner.” Critical thinking and the ability to solve problems are some other skills that all students, especially those in the STEM based fields need to embody, Bennett said. For more information on Professor Jessica Bennett write to her at bennetj@phsc.edu, or visit http://phsc.edu/node/75436.  For information on FLATE’s statewide, award winning A.S degree in engineering technology visit http://madeinflorida.org/engineering-technology-degree, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org.