Defining Differences: Engineering and Engineering Technology

In the educational world, there is an ongoing conversation about engineering and engineering technology. The history is laid out in a recent focused issue of the Journal of Engineering Technology, Spring 2012 edition ( You are encouraged to read the collection of articles which includes a reprint of one from a 1985 publication on the current state of the issue at that time. Typically, the distinctions include differences based on academic courses students take in a 4-year college program.
• Engineering programs demand a lot of calculus and math. Engineering technology programs do not.

• Engineering programs include a lot of theory.

• Engineering technology programs require a lot of hands-on.

• Both programs can be accredited by ABET (Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology).

• B.S. Engineering program graduates can become licensed professional engineers. B.S. Engineering Technology grads cannot.

• “Engineering Technology” is and has been labeled, “engineering light”; applied engineering; “hands-on” engineering etc. in an effort to distinguish it from “Engineering” as academic disciplines.

However, from the survey results reported in the article referenced above, “7 out of 10 companies make no distinctions between graduates (of BS ET degree versus BS E degree) when hiring into engineering positions, nor do they make significant distinctions in assigning functions and responsibilities, nor do they note important differences in capabilities of either group while on the job.” The article goes on to analyze some specific questions that the captures information from over 200 company respondents that also provides additional statistics and anecdotal comments that strengthen the “no distinction” response I have reported here. (The whole of the survey instrument and tallied results can be found on the Engineering Technology Division National Forum website:

Academic institutions continue to segregate the two disciplines, and during the last decades have housed them in different “departments” and/or “schools”. Students have to choose early in their secondary or post secondary education which path they will pursue, while companies that do not directly service the public sector hire baccalaureate graduates from these two discipline areas, make little distinction when hiring into “engineering” positions. This situation is very confusing to students wanting to enter an engineering profession and to parents who do not understand the options and opportunities. They need to know that in the current scheme, students can get many of the same good jobs, good pay and have great careers as “engineers” no matter which path they take. Although the survey provided additional information supporting the single statistic mentioned above, one point of distinction between graduates is the eligibility to become professionally licensed in engineering fields and positions which have that requirement.

Bringing the ”no distinction” home to Florida, FLATE, and our Engineering Technology Degree College Network, is Margi Lee, Mechanical Engineer, new Program Manager and Professor at Florida Gateway College in Lake City. She succinctly states “this poses a really crisp value proposition for earning an AS ET at a Florida State or Community college, then articulating it into the BS ET at Daytona State College.” These degrees provide opportunity for every hands-on oriented student willing to focus their time and talent to accomplish that goal. Look to your local state or community college to get a great start in an engineering career and feel free to contact me if you have additional questions or comments at

Hard to believe that it’s November already and that the holidays and the end of the fall semester are just around the corner. Nonetheless, please take a few moments to catch up on our FLATE Industrial Advisory Committee, FAST Conference, Recruiting Girls Workshop, industry tours, Best Practice guide, and our infamous STEM Puzzle challenge.

WANTED: Girls for STEM Careers

Women in today’s U.S. economy fill up more than 57 percent of the workforce but there is less than 25 percent who are in STEM related jobs. There is currently a stigma that girls can’t “naturally” be driven in the demanding disciplines of mathematics therefore girls think that STEM related careers are not the path for them. The College of Central Florida (CF) says the exact opposite. CF received a Progress Energy Foundation Grant, which allows them to offer energy and engineering related workshops for secondary and post-secondary teacher and faculty. The October workshop, with a turnout of over 40 attendees, focused on recruiting women and minorities interested in the STEM fields as well as writing grants to help achieve these goals.

The Florida Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence (FLATE) presented at the workshop with a productive PowerPoint presentation. FLATE’s presentation was all about recruiting girls. One part of the presentation was to show how to help girls identify their interests and help them translate their interests into a career. Another section of the PowerPoint showed skills like writing, critical thinking, and mathematics are skills that can help students achieve their goals in the STEM field. Another part showed current STEM role models and how they ended up today. Dr. Betty Hackmyer, who worked with FLATE this past summer for the Ocala FLATE robotics camps, gave a mini-grant workshop focusing on writing grants for STEM education that are accessible for teachers. We hope to hear soon that one of the attendees was able to submit a successful grant mini-proposal.

One other speaker at the workshop was a University of Florida (UF) graduate who is currently an electrical engineer in Ocala, Florida and spoke to the attendees about how she got to where she is today. She is not only in graduate school at UF but is also an engineer for a startup company. She is from a small town in China and talked about her journey of breaking barriers to be a female engineer. Dr. Kevin Cooper, Director of Advanced Technology at Indian River State College, talked about how to get students interested in math and other STEM areas and translate that into a career. Diana Scroggie, the College of Central Florida Progress Energy Grant Coordinator and workshop organizer, wanted the workshop “to provide the type of programming that helps us better prepare incoming students for CF and other institutions. It helps us prepare teachers who prepare the students and in return help students make good choices choosing degree programs that will grow and create diverse population for careers down the road.”

There was great feedback on the event. Many attendees thought that the material at the workshop was useful and willing to use in their own program. Some of indicated that they will be using the FLATE website as a resource. Several attendees stated that they would like Dr. Barger and Dr. Cooper to address their students. Survey results show that the attendees’ wanting to spend more time to encourage students to seek their interest in mathematics shows the workshop’s impact. Scroggie said, “At the end of the day, these students have heard all the speakers and fabulous ideas about recruiting and STEM, that Dr. Barger and Dr. Hackmyer showed them how to pay for it.”

To check out FLATE's Presentation click here.

YES! to Industry Tour Impact

FLATE outreach initiatives regularly engage middle and high school students in tours to high tech industries using three primary models: the multisite “Industry Day” model described in the September FOCUS, FLATE’s traditional “Made in Florida” Industry Tours for middle and high school students where student groups are transported by bus to participating partner industries, and tours for private and home schools where parents provide the transportation. In 2012, FLATE increased both the number of events and participants in tours to advanced manufacturing facilities. Several factors added to this upturn: FLATE increasing the number of its Industry Day multi-site model tour offerings, a partnership with Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA) and county school districts offering a new STEM Goes to Work tour model (described in the Oct. FOCUS), expansion of tours into south Florida (Hendry County), an increase in the number of FLATE summer camps (tours are offered as part of the camp experience), and more requests for tours were received from middle and high school teachers. The positive change in both number of events and participants is reflected in the graph below showing a five year trend.

But, are these tours having a positive impact on the way students view advanced manufacturing careers? The data shows an unequivocal YES! FLATE compares strongly agree and agree student responses to two survey questions in order to consider the impact of the tour:

10.) I was considering a career in manufacturing before the tour.

13.) I am now considering a career in manufacturing or related technical industries.

Cumulative data (2005-2012) for collected surveys shows a 36% positive change in agree responses toward consideration of a career in a high tech manufacturing after the tour

(n = 2,292). 2012 survey data collected to-date through October shows a 43% (7% increase) in positive change for agree responses toward manufacturing career interest (n = 335). This percentage indicates a definite increase in tour impact on student perceptions of advanced manufacturing careers. Future plans to raise the impact of tours include: Work more closely with teachers prior to tours to ensure that they are aware of and know how to use the FLATE pre-tour lesson plan and activities; survey teachers and parents accompanying students on the tours for feedback; continue to share best practice tour models and grow outreach through collaboration with partners; work with Regional Manufacturing Associations to extend scope of tours; initiatives with Dream It! Do It! Florida; Continue incorporating tours into other events such as summer STEM and robotics camps to increase scope; explore strategies to better connect tour experiences to college and career pathways. These are exciting times for manufacturing. Tours to Florida high tech industries expose not only students, but their parents and teachers to the positive aspects of advanced manufacturing careers, and the education needed to obtain these careers.

To learn more about tours to advanced manufacturing industries, contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

FOCUS on the IAC

FLATE’s Industry Advisory Committee (IAC), meets tri-annually to promote and provide sustainability for a strong industry connection with the Engineering Technology (ET) Degree Program. An industry tour for IAC participants at the host’s advanced manufacturing site is the usual opening to the meeting, and provides a firsthand look at the operations and machinery in use. After the tour, participants meet in a typical conference or meeting room with an additional online connection provided via Adobe Connect and facilitated by FLATE for those who are participating from a distance. News, updates and feedback includes Regional Manufacturers Association (RMA) reports on the activities and plans of RMAs. The collaborative nature of the IAC helps FLATE and others identify ways to help. For example, FLATE provided a complete “outreach pack” to RMAs for use in 2012 which included ready-to-use presentations, the Made in Florida video, and a wealth of print and online collateral materials ready for student outreach. IAC is an important way in which FLATE receives feedback, resulting in the newly remodeled FLATE website with its updated industry page. FLATE’s external evaluator provides a formal presentation at each meeting reflecting on different aspects of FLATE’s industry endorsed Baldrige Sterling evaluation and objectives. IAC group activities have involved the group in feedback for new FLATE Goals, a STEM Survey, Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) curriculum frameworks review of standards and benchmarks, and Nanotechnology inventory among others, providing the necessary and valuable feedback required as go forward in these projects.

The value of the industry certifications and what that brings to local industry provides a forum for a good discussion. The topic of certificates and training covers a wide range of areas. The benefits of the industry certifications including the MSSC, the value of these industry certifications, and the employment outlook for the local region and the state are all variables in the equation. The MSSC in many areas is now a preferred characteristic for employment, but to promote specific technical expertise, industry support and collaboration is needed.

Industry trends and the educational connection are always important topics for IAC discussion, with the education connection for workforce pipeline development emphasized. Discussions target the ways and means of interaction with industry partners and outreach for local educational institutions (especially high school students and their parents). Since manufacturing forms a viable part of the community, it’s important to support and grow that connection’s positive visibility, and IAC input helps with that. Industry trend discussions include participant’s’ experiences working with the local workforce boards and the economic development council to provide a pipeline of technical talent needed not only for the host’s and participants’ businesses, but for the state of Florida. Hearing from students is important in order to evaluate the education-to-industry connection from a student’s perspective. At the September 2012 meeting, three current HCC Engineering Technology students shared the many benefits of the ET degree: applying the MSSC toward 15 college credit hours, the appropriateness of the degree to prepare for promotion at students’ current place of employment, potential to continue on to a more advanced degree after receiving the A.S., and the ability to use the skill set they acquired in the military.

Overall, the IAC provides an opportunity for FLATE, educators, industry partners, and state level workforce partners to meet, partner, collaborate and achieve. Sharing is an effective enabler for avoiding duplication of effort and for forwarding initiatives in research, resources, and knowledge sharing. IAC feedback helps insure that the Engineering Technology program continues to support the needs of Florida industry. Contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at to become involved.

FLATE Presents at the Annual Florida Association of Science Teachers (FAST) Conference in St. Pete. Beach

FLATE’s Nina Stokes, and Mark Dick, an instructor at Tallahassee Community College, gave a presentation at last week’s Florida Association of Science Teachers (FAST) conference at the beautiful Tradewinds Resort on St. Petersburg Beach. The Florida Association of Science Teachers (FAST) is the state's largest non-profit professional organization dedicated to improving science education at all levels, pre-school through college. The association's membership includes science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, representatives of business and industry, and others interested in science education.

Their presentation, titled “Energy Camps that are Energizing”, highlighted energy camps and teacher energy workshops held at Hillsborough and Tallahassee Community Colleges as a part of the National Science Foundation-funded Energy systems Technology Technicians (EST2) Project. The EST2 Project Team also comprises individuals from Brevard Community College and Florida State College at Jacksonville. Energy camps and teacher workshops were offered simultaneously at all four institutes last summer.

The FAST annual conference for science educators emphasizes excellence and highlights outstanding programs, innovative teaching techniques, research findings, as well as new materials and equipment. Make-and-take workshops and interactive, hands-on sessions are a major component too. Nina and Mark’s presentation dovetailed perfectly with the conference’s focus. Their presentation concentrated on providing participants with all the resources necessary to design, organize and host their own energy camp (or energy teacher workshop). Logistics, partners, funding, content, activities, equipment needed, transportation and food were just a few of the areas covered. Lessons learned from their experiences were shared, along with ways they planned to enhance their camps next year, based on suggestions and requests obtained from student and teacher evaluations.
As the production of renewable energy continues to grow, professional development opportunities like the FAST conference and, on a smaller scale, teacher energy workshops, will be essential to provide teachers with the tools they need to educate tomorrow’s citizens about issues that will directly impact their lives in the future. Kids’ camps like the ones described in Nina and Mark’s presentation can spark students’ interest and “hook” them into STEM subjects - get them excited about learning concepts that they might have once thought were “way too hard”. They also serve to introduce them to the growing number of high tech energy-related careers available.

In an effort to increase “Green” Professional Development activities, FLATE, in partnership with the Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC) and the Florida Solar Energy (FSEC) Center in Cocoa, will be hosting an Energy Workshop for Community College and High School instructors on January 25, 2013. The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) was created by the Florida Legislature in 1975 to serve as the state’s energy research institute. The main responsibilities of the center are to conduct research, test and certify solar systems and develop education programs. Penny Hall of FSEC gave a super presentation about solar cookers and how to build them, to a packed audience at the FAST conference. The January workshop will be held at the FSEC facility and will include a make-and-take professional development activity, as well as a tour. For more information about FSEC, please visit and to learn more about the workshop, or for a copy of the presentation, please contact Nina Stokes, FESC Project Manager, at

A STEM Based Professional Development Success Story

Borrowing and slightly modifying the popular closing line from “The A Team” – “it’s always great when a professional development plan comes together”. In this case, the plan involved; a major manufacturer of plasma etching equipment as well as key deposition technologies for the specialty microelectronics industry, Plasma-Therm; the Florida Chapter of the AVS, the professional society composed of research scientists, engineers, and technicians from university, industry, department of defense, and national laboratories as well as major manufacturers of specific micro to nano scale devices; the School District of Hillsborough County, the 8th largest school district in the country; and the National Science Foundation through its regional Center of Excellence, FLATE. The plan was simple. Develop a partnership among these entities to support the two day Science Educators Workshop presented by the AVS Education Committee so that over a dozen teachers from all over Florida could participate in this professional development event.

To retreat a bit to fill in the pieces, the AVS has conducted their Science Educators Workshop (SEW) at their International Symposium since 1989. The workshop provides an intense exposure to vacuum technology and the leading edge technologies that require a below atmospheric pressure controlled environment. Since the workshop’s inception, nearly 500 teachers from all over the country have attended. In additional to lectures that connect small scale device research, metrology, and manufacturing technologies to the high school teachers’ STEM mission, the AVS provides the schools of attending teachers a complete two stage vacuum pump with the supporting items that permit the teachers to integrate what they have learned into their own class room.

This year, this international conference with its corresponding SEW was held in Tampa Florida. FLATE took full advantage of this opportunity to maximize the number of teachers from Florida attending the workshop. Working in partnership the Florida Chapter of the AVS (FLAVS), funds were secured to bring teachers from schools all over the state to the workshop. This attendance package included hotel and travel expenses provided through the FLAVS and FLATE as well as a full conference registration provided by the AVS Education Committee to attend all conference activates. One highlight activity included a guided tour through the conference exhibit, which is the largest conference exhibition of vacuum related equipment and technologies in the world.

In addition to the workshop and conference participation, the teachers were invited into the manufacturing facility of Plasma-Therm in St. Petersburg Florida. After arriving at Plasma-Therm by a charted bus, the teachers received a warm welcome including souvenirs, an overview of their manufacturing process, and then they suited up in “bunny suits” for a first hand look inside the manufacturing clean room. The group was shown the various production stages for manufacture, assembly, and final product qualification testing for the company’s plasma etch chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) product line. All the educators on the tour commented on how great this tour was. They loved seeing the equipment being “manufactured” – which included many views of what “inside” these automated process machines.

The School District of Hillsborough County (SDHC) is teaming up with FLATE for the final stage of this outstanding teacher professional development experience. The District will support an additional professional development workshop to be conducted by FLATE in the spring of 2013. The main objective of this event will be to reinforce the STEM concepts presented at the SEW as well as coordinate the development of lessons and hands-on experiences based on the equipment sets provided by the AVS. Although this follow up event is targeted at SEW attendees from the SDHC, the other SEW participants from Florida will be invited to attend.

In summary, FLATE wants to extend a warm thank you to all of the individuals within these partners’ organizations that made this great workshop a reality for so many Florida teachers. Although, the next SEW will be at AVS’s 2013 meeting next November in Long Beach California we are confident that this year’s workshop in Tampa will be a benchmark event for all future workshops. We also know that the partnership between FLAVS and FLATE will produce an opportunity for teachers from Florida to attend that workshop in Long Beach. “Wow! This was an incredible workshop – with a great mix of professional development for me, materials for my classroom, terrific mix of teaching styles, and awesome tours and it was so very nice to be treated as a professional side by side with the researchers attending the conference. We all learned so much, and extended our own professional networks”. You can find out more on the AVS website,, under education and Science Educator Workshop.

Best Practice Guide

The Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE) developed a Best Practices Guide to designing strategic communications tools. This guide shows a variety of outlets that FLATE use to reach out and inform key stakeholders, and the media about the Center’s multi-faceted initiatives. The guide includes samples of a press release, a media kit, and a news alert. The communications program reflects FLATE’s vision as a leading educational resource and supports the workforce in the high performance production and manufacturing community.

The FLATE website has many new materials ready to be viewed including a testimony of FLATE’s summer camps, Hillsborough Community College winning the green genome overall award and FLATE’ grant renewal. To learn more about FLATE or to check out our guide, visit us at


The Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE) invited college staff to the first ever
FLATERWEEN-Open House at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) - Brandon Campus. Visitors mustered the courage to tour HCC’s haunted Engineering Technology Laboratory by walking through the “dangerous” Brain Storm Area and experiencing STEAMING tricks and treats. During this event, FLATE staff had the opportunity to explain & demonstrate why FLATE is Florida’s leading resource promoting and supporting advanced technology education. Guests learned about FLATE’s multiple resources such as the “Made in Florida” industry tours, educator resources that include professional development opportunities, lesson plans for middle and high school students, soft skills activity, summer robotic camps, and much more. ‘Tricks and Treats’ included activities such as the “Flatekenstein-robot” experience, which allowed visitors to interact with robots and learn more about the current trend of robotic applications and manufacturing.

For more information about FLATE events please visit 

sTEm-at-work Puzzle 31

Thermodiode voltage response to temperature changes

An advantage of thermodiodes over other types of temperature sensors is their compatibility with computer chip manufacturing procedures. They can be easily manufactured as small scale devices in large quantities and low manufacturing cost per batch and are widely used for automotive and appliance applications. Their down side is the fact that the temperature range where they provide a linear response to temperature changes is subject to the internal characteristic manufactured into the device. Thus, technicians always quality test each batch of devices before they leave the manufacturing facility as well as report when a batch does not meet performance expectations. The Tech knows that for a specific current there is a specific voltage value across the device (the forward bias potential) that is also inversely dependent on the temperature surrounding the device. It is also understood that when the temperature is too high the diode current drops drastically and the device is no longer sensitive to temperature changes in its surroundings. The tech has recorded the performance of three different batches.

1) All three batches of these devices have to be reported as not meeting performance expectations.

Yes or No?