2024 Spring Forum on Engineering Technology

The 52nd state-wide Forum on Engineering Technology was held on April 4-5, 2024.  Thank you to the State College of Florida (SCF) in Bradenton, FL for hosting! The forum was well attended with 66 participants, including 36 from 17 Florida state and community colleges and two universities as well as representatives from Florida manufacturers and other partner organizations.

The Forum on Engineering Technology (ET Forum) has served as an important vehicle for bringing together Florida’s diverse and geographically dispersed community with common issues and challenges. With the support of the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), FLATE works with the ET Forum network to strengthen the consortium, share its administrative activities and projects, provide professional development, bring industry and academia together, and engage in statewide FDOE curriculum frameworks review and reform. Over the years, it has become a true community of practice.

The Forum meets twice a year and has convened fifty-two times, at 25 different Florida colleges. The ET Forum, with FLATE guidance and leadership, continues to grow strong by recruiting interested colleges, hosting industry professionals from companies near the host institution, providing professional development for emerging and relevant technologies, participating in FDOE statewide curriculum frameworks reform and change related to ET disciplines, and providing extensive networking and opportunities for sharing and collaboration amongst colleges.

The Spring ET Forum included two days filled with key topics, discussions, and updates. At SCF, the participants were greeted by  Pepper, the SCF Coding Robot.  On the first day, topics included:
  • Roundtable discussion on recruiting faculty, adjuncts, and students, best practices for advisory committees, and faculty loads
  • Update on SETIAB – the State Engineering Technology Industry Advisory Board
  • Education vendor Roundtable discussion on current technical education trends
  • Engineering Technology college program updates
  • Industry/Economic/Workforce Panel on work-based learning, industry certification and connecting with educators
  • Tour of the SCF Engineering Technology facilities and labs
  • Update on FloridaMakes and the State of Manufacturing in Florida
  • FDOE reported on new program developments including the updated CPalms.org site - the State of Florida's official online toolbox source for standards information, curriculum modules, and course descriptions
  • Associate of Science in Engineering Technology core standards - suggestions and potential revisions were reviewed/discussed.
The SETIAB (Statewide Engineering Technology Industry Advisory Board) met following the ET Forum.  Attendance included 15 industry voting members and 16 educational partner non-voting members. The Board discussed and approved the new ASET "Advanced Automation" Specialization standards.  A full report will be included in the May FLATE Focus.

The 2nd day of the forum continued with the discussion of classroom technology, followed by NSF Grant updates (including a discussion on updating Florida’s ET pathways), and college program updates.  Also on day 2, distinguished guest speakers and key relevant topics included:
  • Operation K-12 Cyber Florida, University of South Florida
  • University of North Florida’s BS in Advanced Manufacturing
  • AmSkills Articulations
The Florida Engineering Technology Forum serves as a model organization for other disciplines and career clusters in Florida as well as technical disciplines in other states. Presentation and recordings are available at ET Forum Google Drive and FLATE.PBWorks/Presentations.

Of the 16 evaluation survey responses received (13 in-person and 3 virtual attendees), nearly 80% (13) of respondents agreed that the Forum offered excellent overall professional development and networking value and 100% of the survey responders (16) would recommend the Forum to others.

Special thanks to our Sponsors!  The ET Forum could not happen without our educational vendors: 
  • Technical Training Aids
  • SMC International Training
  • Bluegrass Educational Technologies, LLC
  • D.C. Jaeger Corporation
  • Southern Educational Systems
  • Learning Labs
For more information on the Forum and/or ASET degree visit https://fl-ate.org/programs/e-t-forum/

The Fall 2024 ET Forum will be held September 26-27, 2024 at Palm Beach State College.

Mechatronics 101 Workshop

On March 1, 2024, thirteen (13) high school and community college educators attended the all-day FLATE Mechatronics 101 workshop at St. Petersburg College Clearwater Campus.  This workshop uses the Independent Mechatronics Education Curriculum (iMEC)2.0 and the Independent Remote Experiment Automation Lab (iREAL) trainers designed and developed over ten years ago by Mr. Doug Laven of the Mechatronics Department of South Central College (SSC) in Mankato, MN. The Florida educators assembled their own trainer from the ground up, assembling and wiring components to demonstrate simple logic circuits with several input and output devices. At the end of the day, all attendees took home their built iREAL trainers, small assembly tools, and the various input and output devices. Many of the attendees had never wired electronic components and were excited to have the well guided instruction. In a post-workshop survey, attendees gave the workshop high praise for the all-day hands-on, step by step instruction.

This was the second Mechatronics 101 workshop supported by FLATE and its NSF award, 2148138, which is enhancing the state’s AS Engineering Technology degree with industry 4.0 skills. Dr. Barger says, “it’s very important to provide rigorous, hands-on educator professional development in conjunction with curriculum changes so they can, in turn, share the new technologies with students in their classrooms. The next steps for the attendees of this workshop will be at least two (2) virtual sessions with more advanced challenges and a shared folder with the advanced activities and videos.

Mr. Laven developed the iMEC2 and iREAL trainers originally to meet the needs of industry in his region with a small, compact, affordable, and flexible training platform that students could borrow from the college to do the required hands-on labs for the mechatronics courses. This effort was funded by the National Science Foundation through grant 1304835. A more recent NSF SSC award, 2037491, expanded the use of the iREAL electronic trainers and added three additional mechatronics-related trainers, Programable Logic Controllers (PLC), Sensors, and Process Control to support dual enrollment programs in Minnesota and Nebraska.

Florida Manufacturing Days in Tallahassee

Florida Manufacturing Days in Tallahassee took place on February 13-14, 2024. Coordinated by the Florida Manufacturing & Supply Chain Advocacy Council, this annual event brings together manufacturing champions from across the state. The Council, composed of representatives from various associations, including FLATE and the regional manufacturers associations from across the state, works to strengthen local relationships and implement grassroots campaigns.

Florida Manufacturing Days is a time for manufacturers and other industry stakeholders to meet with legislators and statewide partners to discuss and advocate for manufacturing-related issues and to learn more about the legislative process. The events and meetings hosted during Florida Manufacturing Days allow participants to network and lend their voice in shaping Florida's manufacturing business environment. This year, more than 45 attendees actively engaged in over 50 meetings with legislative offices.

FLATE was represented at Florida Manufacturing Days by Ernie Friend, Executive Director of FLATE, along with educational partners Shera Gill from Northwest Florida State College, and Alan Harris and Stephen Stagon from the University of North Florida's School of Engineering. All ET Forum schools were represented in an exhibit with college posters around the rotunda of the Capital, allowing all state representatives to see manufacturing education programs in their districts.

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.