Florida’s Engineering Technology Community Begins the Process of Updating their ET Curriculum Frameworks

Last Thursday and Friday, representatives from 17 of the 28 Florida State and Community Colleges attended the Florida Forum on Engineering Technology.  Several colleges had multiple representatives and these college faculty and administrators were joined by several industry partners; regional workforce development professionals; technology vendors (who also provide food and beverages) and, for the first time, representatives from 2 Florida Technical Colleges (the public institutions that offer post-secondary training programs).  
Thursday’s 63 attendees participated in the college roundtable updates; heard the latest results from the NSF ATE PathTech LIFE project which is working to define the characteristics of students enrolled in a variety of engineering technology programs across the nation and in Florida as a specific subset. The Fall 2019 ET Forum was the 41st “ET Forum” held since its beginning in the late 1990’s that grew out of a need to respond to new state legislation regarding statewide articulation of associate of science degrees. The Forum has grown to become an important vehicle of change, for unprecedented sharing, camaraderie, unity, fun, professional development and growth. All 17 of the colleges in attendance plus 6 others (not able to come) offer a program of study under the Engineering Technology A.S. Degree. This could be the A.S. degree itself with any of its 10 specialized tracks or one of over 20 shorter term College Credit Certificates (Florida’s defined CCCs). More information about this degree can be found our websites: FL-ATE.org and MadeInFlorida.org or by contacting Dr. Barger (barger@fl-ate.org).

Of special note, this 41st meeting provided dedicated time for the college attendees to begin the review of the current Florida state curriculum frameworks for Engineering Technology and the 10 specializations.  Starting in mid-afternoon, college representatives worked through dinner until 7:30 pm focused on the frameworks of the ET core. Standards for the ET Core are shown in Table 1.  Many of the benchmarks under these standards were updated, deleted, combined, and several new were added.

Table 1. Curriculum Framework Standards for Engineering Technology Core
01.0   Demonstrate an understanding of industrial processes and material properties.
02.0   Generate and interpret computer-aided drawings.
03.0   Demonstrate a fundamental understanding of electricity and electronics.
04.0   Demonstrate an understanding of industrial safety, health, and environmental requirements.
05.0   Demonstrate proficiently using quality assurance methods and quality control concepts.
06.0   Demonstrate proficiency in using tools, instruments and testing devices.
07.0   Demonstrate basic troubleshooting skills.
08.0   Demonstrate appropriate communication skills.
09.0   Demonstrate appropriate math skills.
10.0   Demonstrate an understanding of modern business practices and strategies.
11.0       Demonstrate employability skills.

The exercise continued on Friday as smaller groups worked their way through many of the curriculum framework standards for the ten specializations.

State supervisor for Manufacturing, Bob Blevins and the FLDOE Director of Apprenticeship, Ted Norman facilitated this first step of the tri-annual review process. The FLDOE will compile the suggested changes in the coming months. Once compiled, those documents will be sent to the colleges for approval to be sure all changes are captured. Once those updates have been captured, the draft curriculum frameworks will be sent back to the colleges which must review these updates with their industry partners.  Each college is expected to do this either by email or face-to-face during one of their scheduled advisory committee meetings in the spring of 2019. It is during this phase, that new benchmarks that related to new technologies and/or processes that industry has recently implemented will be added. This process, which keeps the Florida Career and Technical Education programs current and responsive to the industry’s workforce needs, is conducted on a 3-year cycle and is mandated by the Florida legislature.

Figure 1. FLDOE Curriculum Framework Review Process

It was an awesome experience working with so many enthusiastic college representatives to refine and update their programs. The work has additional facets and is ongoing. In addition to Framework review, colleges continually review alignments to industry standards and credentials, as well as to the academic courses and content that are used to address/teach the revised standards and benchmarks.  If you'd like to learn more about Florida's Curriulum Framework review process, please contact Dr. Marilyn Barger (barger@fl-ate.org) or check out the Florida Department of Education website, www.fldoe.org.

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