From the Golden State to the Sunshine State: Can MOOCs be Applied to the ET Degree?

On January 27, the California State University System announced a pilot program that will offer lower division online courses at one of its campuses for the ultra low cost of $150 per 3-credit course. Gov. Jerry Brown approved the project for San Jose State University (SJSU) to partner with Udacity ( to provide lower-division and remedial classes in algebra and statistics as MOOCs (massively open online courses) that are developed in partnership with university professors. Students at SJSU, local community colleges and high schools will make up the 300 student pilot group.

The trial offers a potential solution to many issues in higher education around the country, including the high and rising cost of higher education; the mediocre completion rates; and the large number of remedial courses needed to prepare students for college level courses. At SJSU and many institutions around the country, approximately half of incoming freshmen require at least one remedial course.

MOOCs exploded after a Stanford University professor offered a course on artificial intelligence as a MOOC just 2 years ago. In just a few days, over 160,000 people from around the world had enrolled in the course. Typically, MOOCs are open to anyone and anywhere and are free. The courses are not unlike more traditional online courses that have online assessments built into the course structure. However, the MOOCs are on platforms that will support very large number of users. Students enrolled do not earn credit towards a degree like on-line courses offered by educational institutions, but can earn a certificate of mastery, or successful completion if they participate in a defined portion of the course and course assessments. The SJSU pilot is a blend of MOOCs and traditional online courses. Students will get college credit from SJSU if they pay the modest cost and pass specific MOOC courses.

There are a few small trials of college students using online programs, MOOCs that suggest that these courses may show higher retention and completion than traditional face-to-face courses. Other data highlights the high percentage of MOOC participants that do not finish or even start the free courses. MOOCs offer the opportunity to collect data on student performance as well as behavior during a course for a large sample size, which could provide better information on what works and what does not. MOOCs also align with the new reality that the internet provides information about everything for everyone at many levels, and it’s been shown that new business models can and do work for these enterprises. All this opportunity sits at the doorsteps of higher education institutions that are struggling with budget issues, completion rates, faculty disengagement, and remediation. Maybe MOOCs will provide some answers.

We could be watching the beginning of a new education model whose time has come. As this new model matures, the impact on those of us working in the current system is speculative. We can, however, speculate about what public and private educational institutions of all levels will “look like” in the future.

For our Florida engineering technology degree, MOOCs could offer an opportunity that FLATE and its partner colleges have been waiting for since its inception: a vehicle to offer an open online version of the engineering technology core course that students from around the state could enroll in. Using MOOCs, we could accelerate time to completion, grow the program enrollments, lower degree costs for our students and strengthen our community of practice. We hope to be working with our college partners’ faculty and institutions to develop our own MOOC pilot.

FLATE is proud and pleased to host its National Visiting Committee (NVC) this month. We will be opening our meeting with the premiere of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Science Nation’s multi-media story about our program. We are very proud to have been selected as an exemplary ATE center to be nationally highlighted. This month we also welcome Desh Bagley to our FLATE team as our new Outreach Manager. Desh has worked tirelessly with FLATE for several years promoting robotics for student at all levels, we welcome her talent and passion to get and keep students and parents engaged in STEM-focused problem based learning. So, take a few moments to read about a very successful FESC professional development day at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC); the 4-year degree opportunities our A.S. ET graduates are seamlessly transferring into, and the unique “Science Saturday” program offered at the Institute of Human and Machine Cognition. For all you STEM puzzlers, the answer to puzzle 32 awaits you!

Answer to sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #32: Performance Test for Surgical Robot Arm

Puzzle 32 (Published in Jan 2013 edition of the FLATE Focus)

At first glance at this puzzle the student might declare that the puzzle is not fair because it has a complicated trigonometry based equation associated with the plotted data. It is certainly true that an engineering technician has to be comfortable with algebra and trigonometry concepts. Thus, the puzzle can be used as a segway into review of the sine function and the idea of a repetitive signal. However, this puzzle just required command of the fundamental graphic reading skills that these puzzles keep emphasizing as well as the sine function value at zero.

In this case, the plot indicated that the initial rest position voltage value should be 2 volts. However, if zero seconds is inserted into the equation that describes the plot, it is very clear that the equation says that one volt is the required signal to bring the arm to its rest position so that the operational test can be initiated. The role of a change order can also be expanded upon. In this case, the technician knew the graphic was not correct and understood that the process was not to just change the graph, but to initiate a change order which will send the document back through the system to make sure that the correct change is made in this and connected documents.

Solution Answer: YES. There is a flaw in this expected performance graphic and the change order is required.

2013 FLATE Awards Announcement & Timeline

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Manufacturing Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award - Sponsored by ConMed Linvatec

The Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award recognizes a high school educator for outstanding contributions to manufacturing and/or engineering technology education. Nominees for the award must have had a demonstrated impact on technology education at the local, state, and/or national level. This award represents FLATE’s commitment to support and recognize secondary faculty who make significant contributions to the education and training of today’s advanced manufacturing workforce.

Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award - Sponsored by Mileo & Associates
The Post-Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award recognizes a community college or technical school educator for outstanding contributions to manufacturing and/or engineering technology education. Nominees for the award must have had a demonstrated impact on technology education at the local, state, and/or national level. This award represents FLATE’s commitment to support and recognize post-secondary faculty who make significant contributions to the education and training of today’s advanced manufacturing workforce.

FLATE Industry Distinguished Service Award - Sponsored by Jaeger Corp.
The FLATE Industry Recognition Award recognizes key industry personnel for outstanding contributions to promote technology education and career awareness in support of manufacturing. Nominees for the award must have had a demonstrated impact on technology education at the local, state, and/or national level. The award represents FLATE’s commitment to recognize industry colleagues who make significant contributions to the outreach, education, and training of today’s advanced manufacturing workforce.

Nominees will have exhibited exceptional devotion of time, effort, thought, and action toward furthering FLATE’s mission. Nominations should be submitted via the online application located at: or by requesting a nomination form from and returning it to Dr. Marilyn Barger, 813.259.6578,, or by visiting

Stepping Higher on the Engineering Technology Ladder: Four-Year Degree Options for Engineering Technology Students in Florida

Students choosing an engineering-related educational pathway in two year colleges across Florida have a number of options as they contemplate on joining the workforce, or consider pursuing a bachelors in engineering/engineering technology related fields. The two options offered at Florida State Colleges are: the Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.); and the Bachelors of Science in Engineering Technology (B.S.E.T.). All A.S. degrees in Florida articulate to B.A.S degrees that offer a number of options that range from supervisory management, to nursing, to technical management etc., and serve as good options/opportunities for A.S. Engineering Technology (A.S.E.T) grads wanting more education. (A comprehensive B.A.S. degree matrix can be found on the FL DOE site.) The A.S.E.T. degree, on the other hand, serves as a gateway to technical baccalaureate degrees in engineering technology (B.S.E.T.). B.S.E.T. degrees generally require additional general education course credits, and have technical prerequisite courses that may require an additional semester to complete (beyond a typical four year B.S. program).

In Florida, the program at Daytona State College offers two options and a seamless transition for students wishing to earn a B.S.E.T degree. Ron Eaglin, associate vice president at the College of Technology at DSC says the program is designed “so that every A.S. program in engineering technology would have 44 hours of transferable technical credit, and 15-18 hours of transferable general education program.” In essence, students can transfer 59-62 hours towards a B.S.E.T degree at DSC. The Bachelors of Science in Engineering Technology-Industrial Systems Program prepares graduates for technical positions in industrial operations, mechanical design, and construction design. The program has a strong commitment to maintain standards of excellence in content and to continuously upgrade curriculum to meet industry needs. The B.S.E.T—industrial systems program uses a 2 + 2 model requiring completion of an Associate’s degree for entry into the program. The B.S.E.T at Daytona was first offered in the fall of 2010. Dr. Eaglin anticipates the degree will receive its ABET (Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology) accreditation this year.

Community & State Colleges currently offering
Engineering Technology Degree
To qualify for admission to the B.S.E.T. program at DSC, students must either have earned an A.S., an A.A.S, or an A.A degree with an overall grade point average of 2.5, or higher. A.A degree holders who have completed all core general education courses are required to complete a total of 18 credits in appropriate technical prerequisite courses. “We've had excellent placement of graduates in the program” said Eaglin. The program is offered online and “has proven extremely popular” among students looking for certain degree of flexibility, or those from different locations around the state. Recent A.S.E.T. grads from Hillsborough Community College, State College of Florida and Brevard Community College and others are now enrolled in the B.S.E.T. online program at Daytona State. Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE who took a leading role in designing and implementing the engineering technology degree throughout Florida is confident “these future B.S.E.T graduates will complement the growing numbers of A.S.E.T. students and graduates who are already, or soon will be, strong members of our manufacturing workforce in Florida.”

Given its popularity, the number of A.S.E.T and B.S.E.T degree offerings and enrollment across the state is growing rapidly. According to annual enrollment and completion data compiled by FLATE, A.S.E.T degree enrollments across Florida rose from 603 in 2011, to 703 in 2012, with number of colleges adopting the E.T. degree doubling (from 7 to 14) between 2008-2012. A five-year analysis at A.S.E.T. enrollment and completion data shows an upward trend in engineering technology and related college credit certificate completions, with a total of 529 completions in 2012 vs. 461 in the previous academic year. At DSC, total B.S.E.T program enrollment with specialization in industrial systems rose from 204 in 2011 to 306 in 2012.

For more information on FLATE’s award winning, statewide engineering technology degree visit and, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at For information on the B.S.E.T degree program at Daytona State College visit, or contact Ron Eaglin at

Energy Workshop Provides Educators & Industry Perspective on Retooling Future Workforce

As the energy debate heats up and quest for alternative energy sources are on the rise, a key question on everybody’s mind is a growing need for skilled workers. As is the case with any technology, education and training are keys to successfully using and integrating emerging technologies as part of everyday industrial operations. Renewable and alternative energy development, although, not a brand new concept, is one such area where there is vast need not only for skilled workers, but also qualified educators.

Given this rising demand, FLATE, the National Science Foundation Center of Excellence at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) in Brandon, partnered with Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC) to offer an energy-based workshop for community college educators and incumbent industry professionals. The workshop was held at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) in Cocoa, FL, and offered a platform for educators and industry from across Florida to work together, share current and future workforce needs, and generate ideas on developing curriculum to meet industry needs. Attendees also toured FSEC’s state-of-the-art facility, lauded as “"the world's most energy efficient building" replete with solar panels, solar water heaters and a solar panel testing laboratory.

The workshop presentations were highly informational. Industry experts and educators from across Florida discussed various energy related topics that educators could use and integrate as part of their everyday curriculum. Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE and Dr. Tim Anderson, director of the Florida Energy System Consortium at the University of Florida talked about current, energy related projects, strategic research thrusts, and ongoing education and outreach initiatives throughout the state. Similarly Jay Matteson from Palm Beach College and Rob Raesemann from Raesemann Enterprises updated attendees with information on opportunities for SmartGrid workforce education training. Kathryn Frederick from the Florida Department of Education gave an in-depth overview of energy-related programs at middle & high schools in the region, academic alignment/integration, as well as available industry certifications. Other presenters included the EST2 project team who reported on their curriculum development efforts; while Bruce Hesher and Adrienne Gould-Choquette, from Brevard Community College (BCC) and State College of Florida, provided attendees with key energy-related updates.

Given the importance of “connecting content with real-world applications” attendees also got an opportunity to engage in a hands-on professional development activity. During this activity attendees got a first hand-look at the physical and electrical aspects of different PV arrays working with FSEC panel modules. Working in teams, attendees took measurements using voltmeters, ammeters, handheld IR thermometers and irradiance meters.

The purpose of the activity and the entire workshop was two-fold says Nina Stokes, project manager for the FLATE-led FESC effort at HCC-Brandon. For teachers, the workshop provided an opportunity “to engage in hands-on exercises that they could take back to their classroom.” It also connected them with industry experts who “provided expert content knowledge to help tailor curriculum to fit industry needs.” For industry professionals, the workshop served as a platform to gauge ongoing training and educational efforts, and provide perspective in formulating strategies to help educators tailor curriculum to mirror required skills/knowledge in current/future employees.

According to a post survey conducted by FLATE, participants overwhelmingly agreed the meeting was worthwhile, and that they would recommend others coming to future events. “They also enjoyed the breadth of information, particularly networking with colleagues about school implementation of energy curricula” Barger said. For more information on the workshop contact Nina Stokes at For information on the FLATE-created two year A.S. degree in engineering technology with specialization in alternative energy systems technology currently offered at BCC, contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at, or visit and For information on current statewide energy related projects visit

Science Saturday Inspires a Sense of Wonder to Future Rock Stars of Science

What happens when science, technology, robots and humans join hands and collaborate? A good place to get a preview is the Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) where the possibilities become endless, as room for innovation is greatly expanded through an intermingling of science, technology, human and artificial intelligence. IHMC, with offices in Ocala and Pensacola, FL, is a not-for-profit research institute of the Florida University System and is affiliated with several Florida universities. Researchers at IHMC pioneer technologies aimed at leveraging and extending human capabilities. Dr.Ursula Schwuttke, development director for the Ocala educational outreach program says the Center’s human-centered approach often results in systems that can be regarded as cognitive, or perceptual prostheses, much as eyeglasses are a sort of ocular prosthesis. “These systems fit the human and machine components together in ways that exploit their respective strengths and mitigate their respective weaknesses.”

Picture from Science Saturday
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Given the Center’s focus on science and technology, IHMC works extensively with industry, government, educators and students to integrate and showcase science and technology as part of our everyday lives. The Center‘s community outreach efforts focus on making science more accessible to people of all ages. Part of this effort is targeted at elementary school students. In 2011-2012, IHMC started a Science Saturdays program at its Ocala location that was modeled after its very successful Science Saturdays program offered at IHMC’s Pensacola location. The emphasis of the program, according to Schwuttke “is to provide hands-on learning experiences where youth interact directly with scientists, doing enjoyable and exciting activities that engage the mind.” In Ocala, from September to May, two free Saturday sessions are offered for Marion County students, grades 3-5. These sessions are typically conducted by one of IHMC’s scientists.

“Basically we are trying to sell the concept of science as cool, and the scientist as a role model equivalent to… say, a rock star” says Schwuttke. One of the ways in which it pursues this goal is through a diverse set of presenters who are also scientists. Schwuttke says in order for students to believe that a career in science might be for them, they should be able to interact with scientists with whom they can relate, and image “being like” when they grow up. IHMC also partnered with FLATE to offer three LEGO MINDSTORMS robotics camps in summer of 2012.

The spring series, just beginning, includes a presentation on “Wind Energy” by Dr. Ursula Schwuttke, program development director at IHMC in Ocala. The presentation scheduled for Feb 2, 2013, is about design, analysis, and the scientific or engineering process, with wind energy serving as the backdrop. Then too, most of the presentations, according to Dr. Schwuttke, aren’t really about the topic. “They are about having fun with science, and giving kids the opportunity to meet real scientists.”

Picture from Science Saturday
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The presentation on wind energy will center on three topics. First, what is wind? What makes it happen, and why is it renewable? Secondly, participants—who are elementary aged students, will watch a brief video about wind energy that explains how the kinetic energy in wind is converted to electricity. The third component includes a hands-on activity that involves designing and building simple wind turbine blades, and testing their designs. “So far, we haven’t had any sessions that I could say were less fun, less successful, or less inspiring than any others. What they have in common is that they are all quite different, and kids keep coming back.” The hook, as Schwuttke puts it, is the hands-on activities, cool videos, inspiring photographs, and also the enthusiasm of the presenters.

“If we believe that the future of our planet is connected to wise stewardship of resources, then clearly knowledge of renewable energy is important.” To that effect, Science Saturdays aren’t really about teaching any of the individual topics that are part of a given series. They are about exposing students to science and scientists, and encouraging natural interest and talent that kids might not otherwise discover to be part of their interest/skill set. “The goal” according to Schwuttke, “is always to encourage natural curiosity and instill a sense of wonder or inspiration that leads to a love of science and math and education in general.”

To measure and gauge success of the program, IHMC regularly conducts parent surveys at the end of each season. The surveys assess the success of the program in terms of positive effect on each child’s view of science, and their performance in school. Schwuttke says, to date, “the results have been encouraging and uniformly positive.” Going forward the Center hopes to work with Marion County School District to formulate tools to assess long-term impact.

For information on Science Saturdays visit, or contact Dr. Ursula Schwuttke at For a follow-up story on Science Saturdays “Rockets & Robots” presentation stay tuned for the May 2013 edition of the FLATE Focus. For information on FLATE’s robotics program, and upcoming 2013 summer robotics camps contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at, or visit and

Hear what Science Saturdays are, first hand

FLATE Celebrates Florida’s Pioneering Women in Manufacturing

FLATE has a great set of manufacturing partners. This is evident to long time readers of the FLATE Focus
and we are proud to add one more data point to their accomplishments list. In 2012, NAM's (National Association of Manufactures) Manufacturing Institute in partnership with Deloitte and the University of Phoenix, initiated an annual recognition award to highlight, nationwide, women in manufacturing. The 2012 STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering, Production) AHEAD award winners have been announced and Florida has done really, really well!!

The nominees for the “Women in Manufacturing” recognition award were solicited from manufacturers all across the United States with 122 women selected to be inaugural award recipients. Within this impressive group of women manufacturing professionals, there were 10 recipients from Florida. Women in Florida manufacturing operations received more awards than the total number of awardees from all the states in the southeast, including California and New York. FLATE actively supports efforts to increase the number of women in manufacturing, and we are working with the companies of these award winners to restructure technician education in Florida and increase the number of graduates within Florida's career academies and A.S. degree programs that impact the manufacturing workforce.

If you would like to partner with FLATE to empower women and girls to lead the way in becoming STEM and STEP stars contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE—a STEM trailblazer herself—at, or visit, and For more information on the Women in Manufacturing initiative visit

FLATE’s Engineering Technology Degree Featured in Science Nation

Florida Advanced Technological Education Center’s (FLATE) award winning, A.S. degree in engineering  technology was featured in Science Nation as part of a series of special reports from the National Science Foundation. The video which will be released on Feb. 7, 2013, takes a look at the two year degree in engineering technology created by FLATE, and its pioneering role in laying a pathway for students to earn industry-certified credentials that articulate to the degree now offered at half of Florida’s state colleges. The two-year program seamlessly transfers to B.S. and B.A.S. programs throughout colleges in Florida. Principal Investigator and Executive Director of FLATE, Dr. Marilyn Barger says the program is geared to empower students with the knowledge and relevant skills-set that are not only in high demand and highly paid, but are equally transferable across various industry sectors.

The Engineering Technology (ET) associate of science degree and certificate programs conceived, engineered and coordinated by FLATE is the first of its kind to offer a cohesive, comprehensive, fully articulated inter-institutional program. The degree is built on a set of core classes that covers concepts in computer aided drafting, electronics, instrumentation and testing, processes and materials, quality and safety. “These core skills support the Florida workforce, and align with the national Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician (CPT) certification, providing value-added benefits to industry” Barger said. A valid MSSC CPT credential articulates to 15 credit hours of the ET degree’s technical core in any of 14 colleges offering the degree in the state. The MSSC CPT is also one component of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) endorsed Stackable Certification System (SCS). This SCS system aligns industry validated credentials with academic programs and occupations supporting all manufacturing sectors.

FLATE worked closely with community colleges and industries across Florida to develop the program, and partnered with the Florida Department of Education Division of Adult and Career Education and Workforce Florida to address a growing need to supply manufacturers and high technology industries with qualified, highly skilled workers in the foreseeable future. Dr. Celeste Carter, ATE program director for the Division of Undergraduate Education at NSF says “FLATE is providing strong leadership in the vitally important area of advanced manufacturing, and is impacting both regionally and nationally the education of technicians in the fields of advanced manufacturing.” The ET Core coupled with a second year degree specialization prepares students for many jobs in manufacturing and many other high-technology industries.

You can watch the Science Nation video below on FLATER Tube at, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at For information on Science Nation visit  and

Legislators Applaud Educators for Advancing Career & Technical Education in Florida

As part of national Career and Technical Education (CTE) month, legislators around Florida are joining hands to celebrate educators involved in CTE. Chancellor Rod Duckworth from the Division of Career & Technical Education at the Florida Department of Education says “now is the perfect time” to thank teachers for everything “they do year round on behalf of Florida’s Career and Technical Education students.” Duckworth underlines dedication of educators across the state, and hopes the community at large recognizes the valuable role they play in building brighter futures for the next generation.

Next week, during CTE on the Hill, a number of outstanding students will be sharing their knowledge and skills with legislators and government officials. “It is through the positive efforts of people like you that we can be assured that Florida’s students are prepared to take their place in the global economy” Duckworth said. For more information on the national CTE moth contact Chancellor, Rod Duckworth at, or visit For information on local, FLATE-led CTE initiatives email Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at, or visit and

Proclamation Signed by Gov. Rick Scott (Click to view larger image)