Plan Now for PD Opportunities for 2019

As we approach the holiday season and the beginning of a new year, it’s time to both look forward to where we want to go and who we want to be, and back to see where we have come. However, right now let's focus on professional development ("PD") and the future. What do we want to learn more about? What do we still want to learn? How can we better help our students?

What is Professional Development? One official definition is “the process of improving and increasing capabilities of staff through access to education and training opportunities in the workplace, through outside organization, or through watching others perform the job. Certainly, "PD" is one way that educators keep current with their academic and technical disciplines as well as teaching and learning strategies. 
However, "PD" helps build and maintain morale and is thought to help attract higher quality people to an organization”. Additionally, “PD” can provide educators with innovative tools and helps them to develop skills to use these new tools effectively to affect a direct impact on student achievement. When educators feel empowered and confident in bringing something new to their instruction, they can reach students they may not have been able to with traditional teaching methods. Innovative technology and teaching tools in the classroom can allow for diverse and interesting lessons that will engage learners in new ways.

FLATE has always and continues to focus on helping Florida manufacturing and technical educators find and participate in a wide variety of professional development opportunities all year. This month FLATE is posting a variety of upcoming 2019 workshops, webinars, conferences and other events. (Check the attached flyer or go to the FLATE wiki and take a look behind the “Professional Development” button for the most current information.) We think you will find some events that you won’t want to miss.  If you don’t see something that you want to learn or need to know about, please let us know and we will try to find some opportunities for you.

FLATE, in partnership with the Central Florida College will conduct a 4.5-day Industrial Robot workshop in June. Registration and educator travel and lodging support is covered by our partner FACTE through a Perkins grant.  FLATE will also host a MSSC CPT/CPT+ workshop this spring (dates and location will be finalized early in January). For the post-secondary Engineering Technology crowd, the spring ET Forum will be hosted for the first time by our colleagues at Sarasota Technical College (STC) on March 28-29.

We encourage everyone to take advantage of some free local events that focus on new and emerging technologies. Two great candidates are the Synapse Innovation event in February in Tampa and the Florida HAAS Machining Educator Day hosted by Palm Beach State College Lake Worth Campus on May 2. Another good deal is the $25 Tech Tour pre-conference day hosted by FAITE and FLATE in conjunction with the Annual FACTE conference each July.

Florida educators can also sign up for free FACTE (Florida Association of Career and Technical Education) online courses. FACTE typically publishes a calendar of courses a month or two before each semester. If you are interested in strategies for integrating problem based learning or new technologies into your courses or want to know more about teaching students with disabilities or working with standards, FACTE courses can help.

Have a wonderful break from classes and we will be back with the first 2019 edition of the FLATE Focus! 

Future Technician Preparation (Agriculture)

Continuing our initial discussion of our “Work to do for Future Technician Preparation theme", the National Science Foundation is extremely interested in what technician education should "look-like" because new and near future advancements in science, engineering, and technology are changing American industry.   (A reader might wonder why Mathematics was not listed.  Math is the heart and soul of STEM.  It is imbedded in every significant achievement in science, engineering, and technology.  

However, our position is not that mathematics has new and future advances rather mathematics' impact increases as our understanding of its complicated nuances becomes secured.  This is especially the situation related to the subtle use of Boolean and matrix algebra operators.)  The National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF-ATE) program involves partnerships between academic institutions and industry to promote and execute improvement in the education of technicians.  The ATE program's focus includes, but is not limited to, advanced manufacturing technologies, agricultural and bio-technologies, energy and environmental technologies, engineering technologies, information technologies, micro- and nanotechnologies, security technologies, geospatial technologies, and applied research on technician education.

The "agriculture" part of NSF-ATE agricultural and bio-technologies technician education mission is an outstanding example of what specific contributions from science, technology and engineering combined with some great new applications of mathematics has and continues to do.  However, other than perhaps some people noticing that farm equipment is getting bigger and perhaps more "fancy" there is very little outward sign of what new innovations are doing in this sector and why or what it has to do with technician education. Like the manufacturing sector discussed in last month's FLATE Focus, technical education in agriculture has an interesting double edge quality and corresponding challenge.

There is a classic observation that dates back to the beginning of the industrial revolution in America:  If your industry needs to create a skilled worker start with a farmer.  A farmer is already trained (often self-trained) to deal with the technical issues on the farm.  The farmer integrates the technology of a farm and the actual "farming" into a single daily fluid motion life style that accomplishes the goal (everything done well enough and on time to have a crop heading to market). This ingenuity means that a farmer is always a good candidate employee for any technical related industry.  It also means that when the agro-industry sectors are targets for an A.S. degree technician preparation program "Future of Work" issues, those issues have a double edged challenge to be dealt with.  Is the new technology to be introduced into the A.S. degree focused on the perspective of a farmer that has to use it or a worker that is expected to manufacture, trouble shoot, and/or maintain it?

"The Future of Work" reality generates an interesting question. Is the impact on a farmer satisfied if the new equipment has a diagnostic display to identify a problem and someone else fixes that problem?  If so the agro-industry, technician programs will only need to address the other sectors of that industry.  These programs will most likely be a blend of “Future of Work” generated new skill and knowledge subsets that will also be introduced in other A.S. degree programs.  The actual farmer will just become a consumer of the technologies being installed on the farm (much like our own interactions with the new technologies in our home). 

A blend of new skills from other technician programs in the agro-industry sectors except the "farmer" sector is the most likely approach to "Future of Work" impacted technician education. Today's farmer will still need to act in a timely manner when an "on the spot" technology driven interaction stops the farmer’s daily flow of tasks. Thus, what and how we create, blend, and implement "Future of Work" skills and technical knowledge into the farmer/technician world "back on the farm" is a good discussion initiation point because it is the most complication scenario for A.S. agro-based programs to address.When is the farmer the technician and the technician the farmer? 

In summary, it's time to repeat our mantra. "The work to do starts with you."  What do you think the farmer-technician interface will look like on a farm recognizing: that all of today's farm will have to use new technologies: that today's farm range from a classic "Mom and Pop" through a co-op to a large corporate operation?  Please let us know what you think with an email to Dr. Richard Gilbert,