Updating Florida's Engineering Technology Career Pathways

Florida’s Statewide Course Numbering (SCNS) is a key component of Florida’s K-20 seamless system of articulation. The system provides an online database of postsecondary courses at public vocational-technical centers, community and state colleges, universities and participating nonpublic institutions. The assigned numbers describe course content to improve research, assist program planning, and facilitate the transfer of students.

For several years, FLATE, a National Science Foundation Center and part of the FloridaMakes network, has been working on updating the AS degree in Engineering Technology (ASET) pathways. Working collaboratively with the Florida Department of Education and state/community colleges across Florida, FLATE has now developed a comprehensive ET Course Database that provides a list of all eleven ASET degree specializations and the courses currently offered at 23 colleges for those specializations. At this time, the database focuses on the technical specialization tracks only which include computer-aided design, introduction to electronics, manufacturing material and process, mechanical measurements & instrumentation, quality and safety. The technical ASET core courses will be added in 2024. 

“FLATE will be conducting a review of the ASET curriculum framework later this year,” said Dr. Marilyn Barger, senior education advisor for FLATE. The state-mandated tri-annual review requires employers and educators to review and update the standards and benchmarks for each technical program in Florida. However, these curriculum frameworks do not provide guidance for which statewide courses should be used to meet the standards and benchmarks. Over the years, colleges have independently developed and adopted courses to fulfill the same standard. The ET Course Database will facilitate the process of the colleges selecting the courses that make up their program/specialization, working with other colleges who offer the same specialization.

For example, the colleges who offer the Advanced Manufacturing Specialization and require the Motors and Controls course could collaborate to better align their courses with the framework. Other examples and opportunities for alignment include the AC/DC circuits courses at Broward College, Northwest Florida State College, Palm Beach State College, and Pensacola State College.

Barger says the SCNS together with the new ET Course Database offers an effective way for colleges to adopt the same courses across the state. The goal is that one or two courses become the preferred courses to meet particular state standards and benchmarks; and that all colleges will adopt these as they go through regularly scheduled curriculum reviews. This alignment will also support students by simplifying transfers between colleges for the ASET degree and its related shorter-term College Credit Certificates (CCC). Transfers to BSET degrees should also be simplified. The ASET degree program has three major components:

  • General Education requirements
  • ET technical core
  • Specialization tracts that address regional industry sector needs
To date 18 of the 23 colleges offering ASET specializations have provided revisions and updates to the ET Course Database. The plan is to add the general education courses (15 credit hours) and the ET Technical core courses (18 credit hours) in 2024. Several opportunities for better alignment are outlined in the ET Course Database.

Click here to review the technical coursework offered under each of the colleges.

The ET Course Database has a separate tab for each specialization of the ASET degree. Each college that offers that specialization is listed alphabetically across the top (each college has its column). Every course that the colleges use in the specialization is listed in a row with prefix, number, and course title. The number of credit hours assigned to courses offered as an elective are in the blue color font. Courses with the number of credits hours in black font are required courses to complete the specialization.

The courses are grouped by topic. For example, there are several courses for teaching about motors and controls and those are grouped for easy comparisons. Faculty will need to review the SCNS descriptions and college syllabi for the details about what and how the topic is covered. Faculty offering these courses might review these together and determine the advantages and disadvantages of the different courses on the same topic and the same course might not be the best choice for all programs.

To send edits reach out to Dr. Marilyn Barger (marilyn.barger@flate.org) and Danielly Orozco-Cole (danielly.orozco-cole@flate.org).

Visit the FLATE ET Career Pathways page for more information.

FLATE Announces the Hiring of Regional Education Ambassadors in Orlando, Sarasota and the Panhandle

FLATE and FloridaMakes have created three new Regional Education Ambassador (REA) positions. These REAs are critical to advancing FLATE's mission throughout regions of Florida. The REAs are manufacturing education champions, knowledge exchange facilitators, and passionate advocates for highlighting careers in manufacturing for students, parents, teachers, and industry. The three positions are located in the Panhandle, Orlando, and Sarasota. Kayla Martin covers the Panhandle, Mariellen Batchelor covers Orlando, and Lordana Guillaume covers the Sarasota region.

The Regional Education Ambassadors will help build awareness of FLATE's and FloridaMakes resources and programs among the region's educators, students, and community stakeholders. They will organize and participate in workshops, conferences, and outreach events to share FLATE's expertise and initiatives. They will develop relationships with key education, industry leaders, and community partners in their region, create Manufacturing Month activities, host Speed Networking events, and organize industry tours. They will also connect students with opportunities to explore their interests in manufacturing through FLATE's programs and resources. Most importantly, they will mentor and encourage students to pursue careers in manufacturing.

If you are in the Panhandle, Orlando, or Sarasota, don't hesitate to contact your Regional Education Ambassador and let me know about existing engagement opportunities or ideas for creating new ones.

 Contact Information:

  • Panhandle - Kayla Martin- kayla.martin@flate.org
  • Orlando -     Mariellen Batchelor - mariellen.batchelor@flate.org
  • Sarasota -     Lordana Guillaume - lordana.guillaume@flate.org

STEM Fairs in Florida a Way to Support the Next Generation of Skilled Workforce

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education is critical for fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, which are essential for economic growth and prosperity. Providing students with the tools and resources necessary to inspire them to learn STEM-related subjects with real hands-on projects helps create the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. Every year FLATE supports STEM student competitions throughout Florida. These competitions teach students the real-world application of STEM skills and provide an environment to exercise 21st-century skills – both of which are essential skills in the workforce.

Tampa Bay Area Regional STEM Fairs

The STEM Fair season has begun for 2024 and Danielly Orozco-Cole, Career and Technical Education Program Manager for FLATE, was part of the Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA) team of volunteers who had the opportunity to review, interview, and judge some of the best engineering-manufacturing related K-12 projects. The Pinellas Science and Engineering Fair, held at Countryside High School on February 3rd in Clearwater, and the Hillsborough STEM fair, held at the Tampa Convention Center on February 7th, showcased more than 1,400 elementary, junior, and senior projects. 

During these events, more than 600 STEM professionals around the Tampa Bay area served as regional judges reviewing 1,000+ elementary-senior students’ projects. Winners of these STEM fairs will compete at the State of Florida Science and Engineering Fair of Florida on April 2-4th, 2024 in Lakeland Center, where over $200,000 worth of scholarships and awards will be provided to students.

FLATE thanks the sponsors as well as all judges and volunteers who assisted during the STEM Fair. Winners of the BAMA award will receive a certificate and cash prize at the Annual Awards Banquet on June 20, 2024 at the Bryan Glazier JCC.

Upcoming Events-Become a Subject Matter Expert or Judge

FLATE continues to encourage Florida’s talented students to pursue STEM and manufacturing-related careers. Everyone can help by supporting student STEM events in your area by volunteering as a subject matter expert or mentor and/or as a judge for your county's school district STEM Fair.

FLATE is also recruiting volunteers to serve as subject matter experts and/or mentors in the upcoming statewide student organization events:
  • Technology Student Association (TSA)-State and Competition: February 21-24, 2024
  • SkillsUSA Conference and Competition: April 14-17, 2024

  • FIRST Robotics Orlando Regional, March 20-23, 2024

  • FIRST Robotics Tallahassee Regional at FAMU, March 13-16, 2024

For more information about FLATE and how to become a judge visit FLATE.org/Student-Organziations.

Updates on FLATE’s partnership with Rutgers’ University Education and Employment Research Center (EERC) – Hidden Innovation Infrastructure: Understanding the Economic Development Role of Technician Education in the Changing Future of Work (HII)

Dr. Barger, Senior Educational Advisor for FLATE, has served as a co-principal investigator for an NSF ATE-funded Technician Education Research (NSF 2026262) project since 2020. This project is researching community college technical programs' contributions to and interactions with local and regional economic development organizations. Details about the HII project and other research projects related to community college workforce programs can be found here. (https://sites.rutgers.edu/eerc-hii/).

Over the 2023 Winter break, the HII project released a publication sharing its conceptual model that has evolved during the research phase of this project -- The Community College Role in Economic Development: A Conceptual Model. This new report outlines the role of community colleges in economic development. It defines both model inputs and outputs with examples including inclusive economic development. The report provides some ideas and opportunities for community colleges to begin engaging with their local and regional economic development agencies plus outcomes they can anticipate from these engagements.

Additionally, the Hidden Innovation Infrastructure project has developed 3 interactive data visualization tools that can provide charts or graphs of trends over time of graduates per career and technical education program by name, nationally, by state, or for multiple states. Another of these “data tools” can provide trends over time for jobs by technician occupation. These tools can quickly provide a visualization of these trends that can help community college workforce personnel compare current to past trends and map that information to economic trends and “happenings” for the industry sector of interest. All 3 tools are free to use based on national Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data Systems (IPEDS) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

Read more about these tools and try them out by going to the Data Tools menu item under Products on the Rutgers HII website. To get some ideas on how these tools have been used, there are issue briefs detailing the use of the tools under the Publications link (also under Products on the site).

There are many potential benefits for community colleges to engage with these organizations and some can be gleaned from these reports. Educators can find other reports and case studies from this project including promising practices at some specific colleges that are engaged with their economic development, workforce, and other community organizations.
The Rutgers Education and Employment Research Center has conducted a wealth of research focused on many aspects of Community College workforce programs and initiatives that can support all community colleges working in this space. In the fast-evolving landscape of technical education and training, degrees, certificates, and credentials, it’s a resource not to be overlooked. Please check out the HII project and the many other publications documenting a wide range of topics pertinent to college faculty, administrators, and advocates.