New Engineering Technology Faculty Spotlight: LSSC Professor Enhances Student Engagement & Learning through His Passion for Engineering Technology

Educators be it at the secondary, or post-secondary level, leave a deep imprint and impact on a student’s academic journey. They serve as the guiding light for their students as they maneuver to secure targeted academic goals and achieve success along the way. Last month we brought you two stories focusing on women in STEM education.  We continue this endeavor this month, with a spotlight on Bob Frank, associate professor of engineering technology at Lake Sumter State College.

Frank’s educational credentials include a B.S. degree in industrial engineering technology from Kent State University, an M.S. in Industrial Engineering Technology from Youngstown State University and is currently a Ph.D. candidate for education at Walden University.  His foray into teaching started a long time ago. He grew up in Pennsylvania where he was the first in his family to ever seek a degree, or attend college. Frank brings a wealth of academic as well as real-world expertise in the classroom, as he’s spent most of his career working as an engineer in the steel industry for the last 20 years, 13 of which have directly been related to education.

Frank has always been fascinated with engineering technology, specifically the applied side of
engineering. His teaching career started in 2005 when he moved to Florida and started teaching at Central Florida College. At CFC he climbed the ranks from a faculty member to program director for the engineering technology-quality specialization degree at CFC, where he was an integral part of the curriculum development team in the engineering programs. Thereafter he switched gears to work on the ‘Open Entry/Exit’ initiative at Polk State College where he developed company-based curriculum for the engineering core courses, and courses in the advanced manufacturing track in engineering technology. “I enjoy starting new programs and the development, design and implementation of new processes” said Frank which brought him to Lake Sumter State College (LSSC) in Sumterville, FL to build a Power Relay Technology program with an engineering technology foundation. Course offering for the new program started this Fall, and have 20 students enrolled in the first semester. “I am really excited about this new program and am looking forward to see this first group of students through graduation” Frank said.

Frank’s passion in the classroom stems a great deal from the experiences he’s had as an engineer. “Everyone looks at engineering as a field that is too complicated, or too difficult.” He is teaching four online quality specialization courses at College of Central Florida, and has taught all the advanced manufacturing courses and quality specialization courses as well. At LSSC he currently teaches six core courses of the engineering technology program at LSSC. “These courses prepare students for the workforce through hands-on labs and application research” said Frank. The curriculum in these courses are a direct reflection of the advisory group’s recommendation and requests as well as integration with the Florida Department of Education learning outcome requirements. “Engineering is not easy, but it is obtainable with the right combination of skills sets” said Frank. To that end, he states a student that embarks on an engineering technology as his/her chosen career path must be dedicated and willing to be a hard worker. Students also need to have excellent study skills and be detail oriented, which as Frank states is “the key to being a successful engineer.”

Frank’s teaching philosophy is heavily based on students and their learning styles/strengths. “Striving
to relate to every students is the first and foremost responsibility of a teacher.” He searches for a common ground of understanding that “opens a channel of communication” that both he and his students are comfortable with.  Being an educator, he says is a very demanding position. “I rely heavily on our advisory groups and corporate partners” as educators are constantly challenged to keep abreast with new technologies and practices in industry, and to ensure what they are teaching is accurate and relevant. To that end, Frank makes effort to discuss educational goals at a personal level and establishes a relation with each student by sharing his continuous learning experiences and how he’s mastered subjects through continuous learning.  He entices students with technologies of the future while training them in the technologies that will help them obtain gainful employment. “I use these incentives to help students better their lives through education” and emphasize how putting in the time and effort will help them succeed academically to become a better person.

Engineering Technology is a very fascinating field, and anyone who decides to become an engineer can develop the necessary skills to do so. “I love the field I chose to work in” says Frank. He summarizes his role as an educator in being able to take his experiences, knowledge and education to help someone else achieve similar goals. Doing so, he says, has been very rewarding.

For more information on Bob Frank and his professional portfolio and endeavors, and the courses he teaches at LSSC write to him at FrankR@lssc.edu, or contact him at 352.568.0001 ext. 1024. For information on the two year, A. S degree in engineering technology at LSSC visit www.lssc.edu/academics/degrees/Pages/et.aspx. For information on the statewide engineering technology degree at community and state colleges across Florida visit http://madeinflorida.org/engineering-technology-degree, or email Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org/813.259.6578.