New Program Integrity Regulations Could Bring Changes Down the Postsecondary Education Pipeline

This year the United States Department of Education (US DOE) has rolled out new Program Integrity Regulations that will impact all public and private colleges across the nation. As we have come to expect, when it comes to important issues like this, Jim Simpson at Florida State College at Jacksonville is on top, if not ahead of this issue. He has developed a comprehensive review of these new rules as well as an implementation guide for Florida institutions.

The extensive rule changes by US DOE were put into play after comprehensive investigations and research that involved both public and private institutions on their current practices in these areas. The full suite of new regulations can be thought of as a “consumer” protection plan for students. Only time will tell if the new regulations significantly change the working landscape of post-secondary educational institutions, more importantly provide students with straightforward information that can help them make good decisions and investments for their futures. In the mean time, there is much ado and much to do, and it is useful for all of us to be aware of upcoming changes in the institutional frameworks at the post-secondary level.

The new rules cover : (1) state authorization (definition of various institutions and distance learning) (2) incentive compensation (3) credit hour definitions (including credit hour alignment to clock hours, and the relationship of credit hours to financial aid eligibility) (4) misrepresentation to students and others about graduate employability, nature of programs, and program costs (5) gainful employment reporting and disclosing (6) high school diploma validity determination (6) agreements between institutions that offer portions of a single program  (7) structure and consistency of determining academic progress and (8) definition of full time enrollment to include repeated courses. There are also five rule changes and clarifications regarding Title IV programs/students. The full regulatory language can be found in the Federal Register and is posted at A summary of Jim's comprehensive review of these new rules as well as an implementation guide for Florida institutions can be found at:, or by emailing Jim Simpson at

Please enjoy this issue of the FLATE Focus. But first, I’d like to call your attention to summer activities for students and teachers and faculty including our first engineering technology summer institute, as well as our robotics camps for middle and high school (new) students. We are also developing an energy-focused summer camp for teachers, summer sTEm conferences, and beginning our special project with Tknika in Spain. As always try your hand at this month's puzzle, read the spotlight article on Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne—one of FLATE’s strategic industry partners in south Florida, and learn about Tri-IT an NSF-funded project geared to increase the number of girls and women in IT and STEM.

If you have a special project or event you would like highlighted, please let us know.

Technician Training That Transcends International Borders

Automation may have changed manufacturing operations, but globalization has changed the economics of “doing” manufacturing. Today’s global marketplace is comprised of the next generation of high-tech, high-skilled workforce that can work effectively across multicultural lines. FLATE is aware of this requirement in technical education, and is working with TKNIKA, an Innovation Institute for vocational training established by the Vice Ministry of Education of the Basque government, to help create best education practices for Florida’s A.S. degree programs. The initiative culminated out of a FLATE proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE), and is one of eight pilot projects awarded to NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Centers to support high quality international educational experience to community college students.

Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE hopes the initial OISE-supported, FLATE interaction with TKNIKA and its partner colleges in the Basque country will mature into a long term student and faculty partnership between colleges supported by the Basque and Florida governments. As part of the effort, students enrolled in the Engineering Technology (E.T.) A.S. degree program as well as appropriate faculty mentors from any of the ten colleges in the Florida state and community college system will participate in a structured technical education and training experience at a technical college in Spain. Student applicants are expected to be in the 2nd year of their degree program, have the endorsement from an E.T. degree faculty, and provide a summary of their intention to participate in the project.

The project is poised to provide outstanding learning experience for all participants. Faculty and students will be engaged in intense technical education and training experience to acquire direct technical knowledge and practice of skills in the area of renewable energies such as solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, and wind energy, electronic and mechatronics, industrial design and maintenance of industrial equipment. Training and education for instructors begin in July 2011; for students in May 2012, and will be take place at MH Elgoibar, IEFPS Usurbil GLBHI, Tknika in the Basque region of Spain.

Working directly with faculty and instructors in hands-on exercises students will participate in a 10 day training at each institution for approximately six hours a day. Faculty and students will work on state-of-the-art manufacturing related projects as dictated by TKNIKA—an ISO 9001:2000 certified Innovation Institute for vocational training. These sessions will incorporate a curriculum creation component that requires students to evaluate what they are learning in Spain to what should also be taught in Florida, their expectations for this new material, and how that content can be blended into their courses in Florida. Their training experience will conclude with short presentations on one aspect of their work and studies with the Spanish teams they worked with.

In terms of professional development, mentoring faculty from Florida will be attending instructional workshops. They will meet frequently with students to discuss status of projects and review content that has been presented. At the conclusion of the trip, the entire delegation to Spain will be expected to contribute content and skills assessment for developing tangible tools and solutions to improve ET-related curriculum and instruction materials within the Florida educational system. For information on the Iberian Partnership for Technician Excellence, and the award-winning, two-year A.S. degree in engineering technology contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at 813.259.6578/, or visit For information on TKNIKA visit

sTEm–at-Work (Puzzle #17): Pressure Relief Valve Performance Test

A “We-Make-it-All” quality control technician is checking the operation of two identical pressure relief valves, PRV-078 and PRV-321. Each valve is attached to identical fixed volume closed container batch reactors. The valve is supposed to open if the pressure in the container goes above a set value, and close when the pressure drops below that set value. When identical, equal amounts of the same valve test liquid reactants A and B are mixed in each tank, a volatile liquid, molecule C, is created. The reaction is extremely exothermic (gives off a lot of heat). The two valves should behave exactly the same way but they don’t. The technician sends the malfunctioning valve back to manufacturing to be reassembled.

PRV-321 is not working properly. (yes or no) Please submit your answers

Soaring High on the Wings of Success

When it comes to defining aviation excellence, Pratt & Whitney (P&W) is considered “best in class” bar none. P&W, was founded in Hartford, Conn., in 1925 by Frederick Rentschler, and is a world class leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, and space propulsion systems. The company’s 36,000 employees supports more than 11,000 customers in 195 countries, and is the key engine provider for the United States space program, powering over 1,600 launches since the inception of the space program. P&W’s large commercial engines power more than 30 percent of the world’s passenger aircraft fleet. Its broad portfolio of businesses includes industrial gas turbines that light cities and power ships, as well as front line fighters like the F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and F-22 Raptor.

Given the size and scope of its operations, the company is a heavy hitter in developing “game changing” technologies such as the PurePower® PW100G engine and the PureCycle® power system. Christy Leite, operations manager for Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) in West Palm Beach, FL says “PWR’s requirements and customer expectations are to deliver 100% mission success.”PWR's parent company, United Technologies Corp., conducts businesses in more than 180 countries with more than 50,000 suppliers. P&W-Canada has produced more than 60,000 engines that power corporate jets, regional aircraft and helicopters around the globe. Its Global Material Solutions was the first OEM to re-engineer, certify and manufacture both gas-path and life-limited parts for the CFM56-3 engine.

So what is the key behind PWR’s formidable scope of operations? Talented people, great products, a 50 year dependable tradition combined with a commitment to continuous improvement and customer service make PWR a great place to work. Leite says the company prides itself in employing “highly educated, high skilled” employees who drive innovation, product integrity and efficiency through a “culture of continuous improvement and advancing operations.” PWR also operates under the Achieving Competitive Excellence Operating System that combines lean and quality principles supported by use of improvement tools, employee competency, and a culture of continuous improvement. The company takes several measures to ensure superiority of its products as its reputation is tested every time one of its products powers a customer’s launch vehicle into space. Assembly is performed in a class 100,000 cleanroom and engine tests are performed in highly customized test stands. It also holds a best-in-class environmental, health and safety record, and is constantly searching for ways to eliminate hazards to ensure the safety of its employees.

PWR’s reputation has not flown under the radar. In 2009, PWR-West Palm Beach was named "Manufacturer of the Year" by the South Florida Manufacturers Association. It was also a finalist in the Manufacturers Association of Florida competition in 2010. The PWR X-51 First Flight Team was one of four teams that received the P&W 2010 Leadership Award, and the PWR RL10 Derivative Enhanced Software Team was an award recipient in the area of Customer Focus. In March 2011, the X-51A WaveRider Hypersonic Vehicle Team was honored with an Aviation Week Laureate Award in Washington, D.C. PWR was also among seven nominees competing for the prestigious the National Aeronautic Association’s (NAA) Robert J. Collier Trophy.

Besides being a world class leader, PWR is also one of FLATE’s key partners in developing strategic relations with manufacturers in South Florida. In January 2011, PWR in West Palm Beach hosted the FLATE National Visiting Committee (NVC) meeting that brought educators/manufacturers from across the nation to discuss strategies for expanding FLATE’s role in promoting manufacturing/technical education in Florida. Leite commends FLATE’s efforts in reaching out to students, educating and encouraging them to pursue high-tech careers and education. She says education is key to being able to work in an exciting industry such as aerospace, and “focusing on STEM and continuing college education will give students a competitive edge in securing next generation, high-tech jobs.”

For more information on PWR contact Christy Leite at 561.796 9125, or For information on FLATE, or to develop partnerships with the NSF Center for Excellence in Manufacturing contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at 813.259.6578, or visit

“TRI-IT” You Might Just Like IT!

At first glance careers/educational pathways in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and information technology (IT) may not appear as a “go to” destination for women. According to a study conducted by the National Science Foundation in 2010, the number of people engaged in Science and Engineering-related professions has grown from 182,000 in 1950, to 5.5 million in 2007. Despite imminent projections for sustained growth in the S&E workforce, women still remain underrepresented. In that “fewer than 33% of students in computer courses are female, and women comprise only 20% of IT professionals and 13% of engineers.”(Source: National Science Foundation). Given this gender disparity, there has been a nationwide push to encourage women/girls to engage girls in information technology and STEM.

The Tri-Regional Information Technology (Tri-IT) grant program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is one such project targeted to increase the number of girls and women in IT and STEM. Tri-IT represents a cohesive partnership between three Florida colleges: Florida State College in Jacksonville (FSCJ), Seminole State College, and Florida A&M University, works with twelve high schools in Duval, Seminole and Leon counties in Florida, and is supported by a $1.5 million, 3-year Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) strategies grant. Through partnerships with local schools, the colleges provide after-school and summer programs in animation, digital media, web design, green living, robotics, CSI forensics, electronics, design and manufacturing, career development, health and wellness, podcasting, mobile devices and GIS/GPS, to 9th and 11th grade high school girls.

Dr. Linda Austin, program manager for Tri-IT at FSCJ states the goals of the program are to increase girls interest, skills and confidence in IT and STEM, so they pursue high school courses, college programs and careers in IT and STEM disciplines. Through engagement in interactive technology experiences, the program cultivates interest, skills and confidence in information technology and STEM-based college programs and careers. Furthermore, the “Girls Only” concept affords a supportive/collaborative learning environment. It fosters active engagement with teachers, project coordinators, fellow students, and encourages students to explore leadership opportunities, as well as a hands-on experience in IT, mathematics, and science. During the summer, all three regional sites have videoconferences to showcase student projects compiled during a week-long summer academy. Participants submit articles for the quarterly Tri-IT newsletter, projects for the website, and attend STEM day and TECH fest activities held at respective partner colleges.

Curriculum design for the project incorporates the four levels of James E. Banks’ Model of Multicultural Integration that bares close focus on diverse ethnic and cultural group perspectives. Curriculum also incorporates modules from other NSF-funded projects such as Enhancing Science and Technology Education and Exploration Mentoring, the TechBridge projects. In terms of its connection with FLATE, both share a common focus on STEM-based careers and educational pathways. Tri-IT has also adapted material from FL-ATE’s “Design a Luxury Coach” activity. Through this exercise, students learned about the six steps of the manufacturing process and applied them to design a model of a luxury coach. They were also able to visualize manufacturing through the videos and field trips of manufacturers in their local regions, and gained a better understanding of design and manufacturing processes, lean manufacturing, and how to work effectively in a team environment.

Indeed, the program has been highly successful. As of December 2010, two hundred and ninety eight students have been recruited into the program of which 236 are currently active. In 2010, the Tri-IT grant program received the Florida Association of Community Colleges (FACC) Equity Commission Exemplary Practice Award for outreach and access programs. Its lesson plans have also served as a valuable teaching tool in planning high school technology, and after-school and summer programs.

For more information on Tri-IT or the ITEST grants contact Dr. Linda Austin at /904.256.6981, or visit For information on FLATE’s virtual tours and industry based educational challenges visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

2011 FLATE Award Nominee Announcement

YOU can do it!  Make your colleagues a winner - nominate someone for a FLATE award!
Submit your nominations at:

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