Manufacturers Endorse A.S. Engineering Technology Degree Competencies

In 2016, Polk State College engaged with the Lumina Foundation’s Beta Credential Framework project.  Polk State included the A.S. Engineering Technology degree with its Advanced Manufacturing (mechatronics) specialization.  Competencies were defined for each course in the program and subsequently assigned a level indicator according to the Lumina Credential Framework. Level indicators were defined from knowledge to high-level problem solving, troubleshooting and creative thinking skills.  More details on this aspect of the project for the ASET Advanced Manufacturing specialization will be covered in a separate article and can also b found on the Lumina Foundation website (search for Beta Credential Framework).

The resulting list of ASET competencies were grouped and condensed to 40 survey items that would be put to employers that hire ASET graduates in the form of an online survey. The forty items included 20 items each for (a) knowledge and specialized technical skills and (b) personal and social skills.  Industry participants were asked to provide two responses to the first 20 knowledge and technical competencies.  First, they were asked to rank the importance of each item in their facility using a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the most important.  The second response for each of these items was an estimate of the frequency of use.  Choices for the second response were never, sometimes and always.  If the frequency of a competency was determined to be “never”, respondents were asked to select 1 (not important) for its importance level.  The second twenty items, covering the social and personal skills, required only a single response to assign an importance level on the same 1 to 5 scale used for the technical knowledge and specialized skills. The industry survey personal and social skill items did not have an indicator level. 

What did industry say?  A total of 88 responses were captured during the two weeks the survey was open.  Responses came in from 26 of Florida’s 67 counties and most were from the Interstate-4 corridor in central Florida and the northwest region. Overall, industry strongly endorsed the technical knowledge and specialized skills as well as the social and personal skills. The endorsement can be interpreted from the significant number of “important and very important” responses (14 of 20 items; 70%).  Also within this knowledge and skills that are important or very important, half of them (7 items) had been assigned a level indicator of 7 or 8 indicating that these items require very high-level creative thinking, problem-solving and troubleshooting skills. Fewer than 20% of the industry responded “never” to any of the items in this list indicating that all of the knowledge and skills in the survey were sometimes or always needed by technicians in the manufacturing field.

For the personal and social skills, the lowest weighted average of the importance scale (1 to 5) was 4.1. These results indicate all of these items were very important to the respondents. Five (20%) of the competency personal and social items have level indicators of 6, 7 or 8, indicating that they require the higher level thinking skills.

These responses generally say that the ET degree is providing much of what industry currently needs and endorses a need for the higher level thinking skills with significant responses of the high importance of items rated with high-level indicators. There are also many more pieces to the workforce education process and system.  Assessment of the knowledge and skills need to be determined to be strong indicators of successful knowledge and skill attainment. Also, in Florida, colleges need to be sure that the knowledge and skills taught in a particular degree program align with the corresponding Florida Department of Education Curriculum Framework (  Workforce education is a dynamic process with many ongoing opportunities for continuous improvement in content, delivery, pedagogy, and assessment. We are always monitoring for new ways best prepare our students for the current manufacturing jobs and those of the future.

You can find the results of the survey, the survey instrument, and the competency list for the ASET Advanced Manufacturing degree program on FLATE’s wiki. Click on the “Modules for Advanced Technological Education” and click on the last item in the middle column. If you have additional questions, please contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at or Mori Toosi at Polk State College (

No comments :

Post a Comment