Executive Director’s Desk: A Look at Engineering Technology and Related Program Student Enrollment and Completion in Florida

Every year FLATE makes a formal request to the Florida Department of Education (FL DOE) for
enrollment and completion data for the A.S. degree in Engineering Technology (A.S.E.T). After filtering, sorting, and categorizing, FLATE produces an annual “Enrollment and Completion Report.” Annual improvements have included new data requests and building in our own comparatives with other related technical programs. This data-intense document provides a five-year look at enrollment and completion for the ET degree as well as the 20 college credit certificates which are associated with the degree. The data includes overall trends as well as breakdowns by college and by program, and also includes ethnicity and gender analysis for degree and college credit certificate enrollment and completion. For comparison, the tool also provides the same data elements for enrollment in other technology-focused A.S. degrees in Florida that support manufacturing industries. 

FLATE ET Degree College Network
To help us better understand the pipeline from secondary programs, we also request data for the high school programs that best align with the A.S.E.T degree and support manufacturing. Many of these are aligned to the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council Certified Production Technician (MSSC CPT) credential and takes advantage of the statewide articulation using that MSSC CPT to acquire 15 credits towards the ET Degree. The secondary program portion of the report also includes ethnicity and gender.  

A few data bytes will hopefully entice you to take a look at the full report which you can download at: http://madeinflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/2009-2014-FLDOE-Student-Enrollment-Completion-Trend-Study.pdf. Statewide enrollment in ET continues to build and now tops 1,500 students. The ET degree currently (2013-14) represents 32% of total Florida technology A.S. degree enrollments. The new ET Bachelor Degree program (BSET) has grown from 204 in 2010 to 675 enrollments this year. College program administrators and faculty may find the statewide, college and demographics breakouts useful for various reporting requirements, targeted recruiting and program reviews.

In 2014, Seminole State College (SSC) became the 15th Florida College to adopt the ET degree,
starting with the Alternative Energy Systems Technology certificate, and will add additional ET offerings in 2015. FLATE is currently working with four additional colleges for ET adoption in 2015 or 2016.  Several colleges added new specializations and/or certificates. Information about specializations offered at individual colleges is provided on our webpages http://fl-ate.org/projects/Stackable-Credentials-Aligned-Certificates.html and http://madeinflorida.org/engineering-technology-degree/e-t-overview/ .

Other activity around the ET Degree includes a new certificate under the Mechanical Design and Fabrication specialization with additional clarification in the three existing certificates. The new certificate brings the total number of college credit certificates under the ET Degree to 20. The best place to access these certificates and all current ET degree program frameworks is the FL DOE Curriculum Framework website (http://fldoe.org/academics/career-adult-edu/career-tech-edu/curriculum-frameworks/2013-14-frameworks/manufacturing.stml). Additionally, a small group of offering colleges and their industry partners reviewed and updated the Electronics specialization curriculum as required by the FL DOE.

With new 2014 MSSC standards, the alignment of the ET Core to the MSSC CPT was also reviewed by all colleges offering the degree to determine if there should be a change in the number of credits articulated for that certification. After much discussion, the ET degree offering colleges voted via a survey mandating the number of credits they believed should be granted for the MSSC CPT.  The survey did not indicate a clear majority for changing the number of articulated credits at this time.  Although the articulation is based on a mapping of the ET core frameworks to the MSSC standards, the articulation agreement does not specify which credits a college must give an incoming CPT holder. Each college can still make that individualized decision and many have opted to make one of the articulated courses one of the program electives. Most colleges also felt they could adjust their programs to address any local concerns for the articulation.

We look for a year of continued growth in the ET Degree with some new programs, new faculty, and, of course, new students. As we close out the year, I also urge you to read rest of the articles in this edition of the Focus where we have a guest contributor from Tallahassee Community College providing an Analysis of Industry & Education needs in Engineering. The spotlight is also on one of our regional manufacturing partners and their efforts to build awareness about manufacturing in Volusia and Flagler counties. December is also time for us to hit the pause button to recognize 2014 FLATE Awardees. Be sure to congratulate Aubri Hanson, recipient of the 2014 Post Secondary Educator Award. The FLATE team wishes everyone a very happy holiday season and restful winter break. Don’t miss this month’s special holiday edition of the sTEm-at-Work puzzle; I have a feeling it will be jolly! 

Assistant Professor of Technology at GCSC Receives 2014 Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the- year Award

Image Source: News Herald
Last month we highlighted, two of our FLATE awardees (Ken Jurgensmeyer and Russ Henderlite); this month the spotlight is on Aubri Hanson, recipient of the 2014 FLATE Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the- year award. The Award recognizes a community college, or technical school educator for outstanding contributions to manufacturing and/or engineering technology education. Hanson who is the assistant professor of technology at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, FL joins a distinguished array of educators who have received the award. Nominees demonstrate a proven impact on technology education at the local, state, and/or national level, and 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.

Hanson received the Award during the awards luncheon at the Annual Manufacturers' Association of Florida Summit on December 3, 2014 at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin, FL. “Manufacturing is the bedrock of our national economy and there are several reasons I think manufacturing education is important” said Hanson.  Even before being nominated for the Award, Hanson had already made a mark as a dedicated and outstanding educator.

Hanson is an active member of the International Society for Automation, and serves as the technical
program Chair for the International Instrumentation Symposium. Hanson also played a leading role in aligning GCSC’s engineering technology curriculum to the FLATE statewide A.S.E.T model during her first year as full time college faculty, and added Mechatronics certificate at GCSC. During her tenure at GCSC, Hanson has hosted multiple recruitment events, local television spots, tours and events to promote manufacturing education and women in technology. Enrollment into the engineering technology program at GCSC also increased over 400% during her tenure as GCSC ET program manager, and GCSC boasts of 95% job placement for ET graduates.

Hanson is a strong believer in community/industry partnerships and has successfully built in-roads
for industry and educators to build a sustainable partnership. “The USA must be a producer of goods, as well as a consumer in order to maintain our place in the global marketplace” said Hanson. Manufacturing education, she says, bridges the gap between the engineers and the assembly line workers. Given her stance, Hanson has established numerous partnerships with local industry who currently serve as advisors for GCSC students and graduates. “It is vital that we train the next generation to avoid losing those jobs to other parts of the world, to fill the skilled labor positions that are already available, and to lower the national unemployment rate.” She worked directory with Florida TRADE grant to ensure success of common initiatives and established 2+2 partnership with FAMU to allow GCSC graduates to obtain B.S.E.T degrees without having to leave Panama City. “We all must recruit, educate, encourage, and employ the individuals who have always and will continue to form the backbone of our nation's economy” said Hanson.

2014 marks the eighth year of the FLATE awards. Since the implementation of the program in 2006, FLATE has recognized 14 educators at the secondary and post-secondary educational level, and seven industry partners. For more information on Aubri Hanson email her at ahanson@gulfcoast.edu, (850)769.1551 ext. 4868, or visit http://etdegree.org/gulf-coast-state-college

FLATE Awards Ceremony and the Annual MAF Summit

The 2014 FLATE Award winners were recognized last week at the Annual Manufacturers Association of Florida Summit and Global Marketplace held in Destin, FL. Russ Henderlite, from Peterson Academy (Jacksonville), Aubri Hansen, Gulf Coast State College (Panama City) and Ken Jurgenmeyer, Heat Pipe Technologies and MiTEC (Tampa) we sleeked by the FLATE Industrial Advisory Committee Awards Committee.

FLATE Award process includes a 2-3 month nomination time window for anyone to nominate a deserving colleague working in manufacturing education. After then nominations close, FLATE staff sort the nominees into three categories; review individual nominations and applications and submit the nominee package to the Awards committee. The committee members individually reviews and score the nominees using a rubric the committee developed and has refined over the years. A short conference call is the venue for compiling the scores and final discussions and awardee selection. The committee selections are submitted to the FLATE leadership team, who contacts the winners.

Since the implementation of the Awards program in 2006, FLATE has improved the process moving award selection from the FLATE leadership team to our Advisory Committee, streamlining the required nominee documentations, and developing a standard rubric for scoring. FLATE would like to thank this year's Award Committee members: Tina Brudnicki of Baxter and Chairperson of FLATE's IAC; Marika Rogers of Lockheed Martin, and Mark Gaudio of Jaeger Education. “The MAF Summit provided a good venue for the FLATE awardees to network with each other and other Florida manufacturing stakeholders” said Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE.

Congratulations again to our 2014 FLATE Awardees who so strongly support manufacturing education and training in our state. We look forward to your nominations next summer for the 2015 FLATE Secondary Educator of the Year; 2015 FLATE Post-Secondary Educator of the Year, and the 2015 FLATE Distinguished Service to Manufacturing Education Award. You can learn more about the FLATE Awards on our website http://fl-ate.org/projects/awards.html.

List of Current & Past Award Recipients

Click on image to enlarge

An Analysis of Industry and Education Needs in Engineering

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the project “Developing an Engineering Technology Workforce to Meet Employers’ Needs” to Tallahassee Community College in partnership with several industry and education partners in 2012. The goal of the Students in Engineering Technology (SET) project is to address employers’ needs by producing highly skilled and educated technicians who are prepared to enter and succeed in the field of Engineering Technology (ET).   

In order to gain insights about engineering industry needs and to develop strategies to address those needs, two surveys were conducted. The first survey asked engineering industry professionals (N=50) to rate the importance of knowledge, skills, and characteristics needed for success in the field as well as share their perceptions including which industry certifications are most important in the field. The second survey asked engineering educators (N=37) to share challenges they face as educators in the field. They were also asked their thoughts on how to better retain students and make science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) more appealing, what hurdles students face in becoming interested in STEM coursework, and what students want from a STEM degree and coursework. Educators also ranked the importance of specific skills in the workplace and the emphasis placed on those skills in their programs. Finally, they were asked to provide their thoughts on how to better attract female students to the field.

The surveys revealed interesting results. Several factors considered by engineering educators to be very important skills in the workplace were considered not to be as emphasized in the program. Examples include:
  • Ability to communicate verbally and in writing - 97.3% of respondents say it is extremely important in the workplace but only 51.35% of educators say it is emphasized as very important in the program. On the industry survey, it received a 4.34 rating on a scale of 1-5 in terms of importance.
  • Ability to plan and manage time - 86.11% of educators say it is very important in the workplace but only 41.67% of respondents say it is emphasized as very important in the program.
  • Ability to work in a team - 80.56% of educators say it is very important in the workplace yet only 55.56% of respondents say it is emphasized as very important in the program.
  • Ability to apply knowledge in practical situations - 83.33% of educators say it is very important in the workplace but only 47.22% of respondents say it is emphasized as very important in the program. 
Engineering industry professionals rated several items very highly that were also rated very highly by engineering educators.
  • Strong work ethic
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computational and math skills
Hands-on experience is critical. Both surveys found that hands-on experience is key. The number one rated response by engineering educators for retaining high school and college students in engineering technology programs is field trips. Hands-on experience was rated extremely important in the industry survey, too, with a rating of 4.42 on a 1-5 scale with regard to career success.

With regard to item 1, engineering educators were asked to indicate the importance in the workplace and the emphasis placed on it in the program for a variety of skills and competencies. An excerpt of the more revealing results appears in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Excerpt from NSF Engineering Educator Survey Results - Question 9
Preliminary data obtained from the Florida TRADE Advanced Manufacturing program support the concept of having more hands-on learning opportunities. Approximately 90 percent of students enrolled in the CNC Machine Operator program successfully completed the courses. Those who did not complete the courses received unsuccessful grades in courses with more lecture-based versus hands-on lab components. In the degree program, the Introduction to Electronics course (more lecture-based) had an average GPA of 3.1 compared to the Motors and Controls course (greater lab content) which had an average GPA of 4.0; both courses are taught by the same instructor.
To illustrate the needs, in the engineering educators survey, respondents were asked, “What are the challenges of an engineering technology instructor (high school and college) to relate concepts to real-world applications, and to incorporate practical contextual teaching for greater student understanding and success?”

The results are ranked in Figure 2 in order of responses:
Figure 2: Excerpt from NSF Engineering Educator Survey Results – Question 3
Many ideas were shared in an open-ended question to about how to better attract female students to the field. Examples of responses include using current female students and female alumni to reach out to potential female students, providing additional mentoring and STEM research opportunities to new and potential students, featuring female engineers in promotional materials, and engaging girls in middle school including with industry professionals and with summer work opportunities. 

A great deal of beneficial information was gathered from the engineering educators survey and the
industry professionals survey including by comparing results. Survey outcomes will be used to inform the development of an instructor guide to help engineering educators better attract and serve students in the engineering technology program and to prepare them for career success. It will also help program administrators make adjustments to their efforts to attract and retain students to the program.

Engineering educators should use this information to help them better serve students. Bruce Batton, project director, says that the key to success is to move more to contextual learning including having discussions in a lab environment instead of in a classroom environment. “We have good content and excellent partnership with industry, but more of that discussion needs to be standing beside the equipment. Then it feels a lot less like theory and more like application.”

Both surveys were conducted and analyzed by NSF evaluator Gabrielle K. Gabrielli, Ph.D. of Gabrielle Consulting, Inc. Complete survey results can be requested from the evaluator via email at gabrielle@gabrielleconsulting.com. 

sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #44: Santa Workshop special Edition

The answer to lastmonth's puzzle will be discussed next year (And, I know you can all hardly wait). Meantime, here is some breaking news. 

Technicians at the Santa Workshop are, as expected, working overtime for the next couple of weeks.
  One of the tasks is to determine the red light luminescence of a particular reindeer's nose.  The Elf in charge of this measurement presented the data below to Santa for an additional professional opinion.  The light meter used to test the reindeer's "nose glow" is sensitive to all the colors in the rainbow but particularly sensitive to red light at Christmas time. The meter is also battery powered so that the Elf can go into the forest behind the workshop at night to find the reindeer and then make the measurements.  Both Santa and the Elf know that red light has a long wavelength.  Both Santa and the Elf also checked to confirm that Rudolph is in perfect health.   (In addition, both Santa and the Elf made an eye doctor's appointment for Rudolph so he could really play in those reindeer games.) Finally, both Santa and the Elf (as they listened to their favorite Christmas Gene Autry ballad) knew the correct answer for this month's special puzzle question!! 

The battery in the light meter needs to be changed. Yes or No. Submit your answers below the blog post, or on www.fl-ate.org

Great American Teach-In Spurs Interest of Future (ninja) Innovators in STEM & High Tech Manufacturing

Every year, in November, FLATE staff, take a break from their in-house responsibilities and step out
to share their professional knowledge and experience with local students. The effort is part of the Great American Teach-In, a national initiative targeted to offer students, educators and industry professionals across the nation a platform to exchange ideas and best practices on a vast range of topics. Take for example, the story of the elementary school student, who when asked on NPR (National Public Radio) what he wanted to be when he grows up replied “a ninja turtle.” Great American Teach-In is, indeed, targeted to shape the minds of such future (ninja) innovators. The program, according to Great American Teach-In, has helped learners visualize and discuss ideal learning environments leading to the cultivation of innovative thinkers in society.

This year, as in the last few years, FLATE partnered with several schools and industry partners in the
greater Tampa Bay area to give local students an overview of STEM-related careers and its connection to high-tech manufacturing. On November 20, approximately 300 students and teachers from Pinellas and Hillsborough counties visited several regional high-tech hotspots in the greater Tampa Bay area and got an up-close look at careers and educational pathways in high-tech manufacturing. Nina Stokes, project manager for FESC, gave two presentations to approximately 60 students and educators from Philip Shore Elementary School in Ybor City. “The two, all girls classrooms at Philip Shore Elementary School, were very interested and animated” said Stokes. Desh Bagley, outreach manager for FLATE also spoke to 185 second and third grade students  at Sheehy Elementary School and 50 fourth grade students at Cimino Elementary School in Tampa. Students asked meaningful questions said Bagley, and and got to meet with Brandon--the NAO robot.

In another “show and tell” type presentation, Kenneth Jones, from Hillsborough County spoke to 25,
fourth-grade students from Melrose Elementary School in St. Petersburg, FL, about careers and career pathways after high school. Students were given printed copies of the “Manufacturing Heroes Activity” book, and discussed educational requirements and opportunities offered by STEM-based careers. Jones encouraged the students to continue the conversation/discussion with parents, and urged teachers to organize a field trip for students to visit local manufacturing facilities.

Besides taking an active role in student presentations and organizing the tours itself, industry partners sponsored lunch for students and paid for the buses that transported students back and forth from school. Teachers who accompanied the students on tours and presentations also played a vital role. In that they were effective in connecting what students saw and learned back to their classroom, which greatly enhanced students’ learning experience.

“Great American Teach-In was a great collaborative success” said Dr. Marilyn Barger. Barger, principal investigator and executive director of FLATE, said the hope is “to educate and motivate students to explore unique career options in manufacturing,” and bring the world of high-tech manufacturing into the classroom of local schools. To participate in Great American Teach-In next year contact your local school district. For information on FLATE-led local and statewide STEM based projects contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit www.fl-ate.org and www.madeinflorida.org.

VMA Showcase and History Exhibit Builds Awareness about Manufacturing in Volusia and Flagler Counties

Florida may be a popular destination for vacationers around the globe, but there is much, much more
to the sunshine state than those warm sandy beaches. Florida is emerging as a hotspot for manufacturers and is according to a report compiled by VMA Inc., the Volusia, Flagler and surrounding counties manufacturing alliance, the 12th largest manufacturing state and one of three largest net exporting states in America. Indeed, regional manufacturers associations, like the VMA, serve as a driving force in promoting manufacturing. VMA was founded in 1980 by local manufacturers and is considered a leader in providing information, education and networking opportunities to help manufacturers succeed and expand.
VMA’s programs are geared to promote growth and economic well-being of regional manufacturers.
A core part of VMA’s vision/mission lies in building a cohesive network of partnerships with local manufacturers. The VMA Manufacturers Showcase, for example, is one of its many industry-centric initiatives streamlined to promote and/or build awareness about high-tech manufacturing in Volusia and Flagler counties. The Showcase was held at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University on October 2, 2014. 

Turnout for the Showcase was phenomenal. According to Fifer, approximately 95 exhibitors participated at the VMA manufacturing alliance’s eighth annual 
manufacturers showcase this year, and drew 1,500 people, the largest turnout ever. “Manufacturing is thriving in Florida with average annual wage of $52,000 (up from $48,000 last year) for manufacturing jobs in Volusia County” said Jayne Fifer, VMA president & CEO. This year’s manufacturers’ showcase included a job fair with 26 local employers who were looking to fill more than 300 high skilled positions such as engineering, software designers and production workers. The manufacturers showcase also featured displays by manufacturers throughout Volusia and Flagler counties, a robotics competition that involved six area high school teams and an art show of exhibiting products/artifacts that were created using precision machining tools.

In addition to the Showcase, the VMA developed a Manufacturing History Exhibit for the Halifax Historical Society that chronicled the growth of manufacturing sector in Volusia County, from the 1700s to present. “We want to show the world what manufacturing has contributed to the community over the years” said Fifer who notes Volusia County is home to diverse manufacturers who make anything ranging from sun tan lotions, to boats, medical devices, parachutes and even virtual-reality simulators. The Manufacturing History Exhibit, which ran from July to November,  was the brainchild of Holmes Davis, a historical society board member and former manufacturing industry employee who began his career in manufacturing in the 1950s. Davis, came up with the idea for the project and called upon VMA to help.

The Manufacturers Showcase and History Display were part of VMA’s “We Make it Here!” campaign to raise public awareness about manufacturing in Volusia and Flagler counties. “It’s important for people to know their history and what they should be proud of” said Fifer. For information on VMA and/or manufacturing related initiatives in Volusia County, contact Jayne Fifer at 386.673.0505/jayne.fifer@vmaonline.com. For information on FLATE’s portfolio of statewide manufacturing curriculum, training, professional development tools/resources, contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit www.madeinflorida.org and www.fl-ate.org.

VMA 8th Manufacturers Showcase Video (Source: http://vmaonline.com/) 

SkillsUSA Florida Mechatronics Competition

Steve Cercone, from Bluegrass Educational Technologies, is the new Chair for the Florida SkillsUSA
Mechatronics Competition. Cercone is looking for competitors to register for this year’s SkillsUSA state competition in April. The following is a description of the competition:

SkillsUSA competition requires contestants to understand the new industrial discipline of "mechatronics," the ability to understand complex systems that integrate various elements in the mechanical, fluid power, and controls domain, combined with the ability to work in a team environment with people of different areas of expertise. Mechatronic specialists must therefore have well development skills in pneumatic technology, electrical and electronics systems, mechanical systems and general automation techniques and practices, including systematic troubleshooting methods. This competition consists of three events designed to measure the skills required in the modern automated manufacturing environment. Contestants will be required to assemble, adjust and test an automated machine system, troubleshoot and repair a faulty machine system and take a
comprehensive written test. The contest elements have been designed to be as realistic as possible, closely resembling the tasks and activities of modern automation professionals. High school teams of two will compete in a construction phase and a troubleshooting phase. In addition, there will be an individual oral interview.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact Steve Cercone at  813.413-7836, or scercone@bluegrassET.com