40th Engineering Technology forum looks for Innovation – Industry 4.0 in Technology Education

The Engineering Technology Forum provides an excellent opportunity for industries and educators across the state to meet each year at different college locations to discuss common interests and issues surrounding the education of tomorrow’s advanced manufacturing workforce. FLATE works with the Forum to strengthen the consortium, share its administrative activities and projects, provide professional development, bring industry and academia together, and engage in statewide curriculum reform. Over the years, it has become a true engineering technology community of practice. The Forum meets twice a year; and since 1996 has convened forty times at over 22 different Florida colleges.
The 2018 Spring Forum on Engineering Technology (ET Forum) was held at South Florida State College (SFSC) in Avon Park, Florida. The Forum was well attended with 50 representatives from 17 state and community colleges, the University of South Florida, the Department of Education, technical education sales representatives, and local industry.

In keeping with the theme of the Forum, Innovation in Engineering Technology, the Forum included discussion about new projects, new technical trends in education, curriculum and industry certification updates, course numbering issues, articulations, accreditations by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), PathTech LIFE updates updates, benefits of Smart Factory/Industry 4.0, Florida Department of Education (FL DOE) program updates and registered apprenticeships which include how these work in the state of Florida.

Industry 4.0 involves the use of advancements in communication and information technology to increase the degree of automation and digitization of production, manufacturing and industrial processes. The ultimate goal is to manage the entire value chain process, by improving efficiencies in the production process and coming up with products and services that are of superior quality. 

An update on the PathTech LIFE, (Learning, Interests, Family, and Employment) National Science Foundation (NSF) survey, showed that 1872 students from 62 community colleges from around the country have participated in this survey. The survey is still open with 700 students participating at an additional 20 community colleges.
Regarding FL DOE program updates at the secondary level; these include Advanced Manufacturing Technology and Electronic Systems Technology as new programs. The new programs in PSAV are the Advanced Manufacturing & Production Technology and Electronic Systems Technology.

As is the case with all ET Forums, participants are surveyed for effectiveness to ensure that the Forum continues to meet attendee needs. Overall presentation and forum format were rated as very good (16%, n=4) and excellent (84%, n=21). Two events at this Forum ranked highest with overall ratings of 4.9 out of a possible 5 (Excellent). Those included updates provided by Richard “Ted” Norman who serves as Apprenticeship Program Director at FL DOE. The other was the Industry 4.0 presentations by the vendors. 100% of survey responders reported they intended to use information presented at the ET Forum and that they will recommend this Forum to others.

 The Florida Engineering Technology Leadership Council and the Engineering Technology Forum was established in April 1997 at Seminole Community College (now Seminole State College). Membership includes department heads and the leaders of the Technology programs in the State of Florida.  Since 2009, the ET Forum has served over 400 participants at this bi-annual statewide meeting where Engineering Technology college faculty, program managers, workforce and economic development personnel, the Florida Department of Education (FL DOE) and related college technology educators and administrators can bring common issues to the table for discussion, share resources, and learn.

Currently more than half of Florida’s community and state colleges (17 out of 28) regularly attend these meetings, making them a nexus, not only for raising awareness, but for mobilizing discussions into actions. The ET Forum also provides a venue for collecting information about ET students. FLATE conducts surveys, collects data and compiles information that it shares with Forum members who are interested in recruiting new students and/or capture how ET students have used their degree to augment professional aspirations.

The 2018 Fall ET Forum will be traveling for the first time to Pasco-Hernando State College at New Port Richey on October 18th and 19th.

For more information on the Forum and/or A.S.E.T degree visit http://fl-ate.org/projects/et-forum.html.

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