ASEE Survey Reveals Interesting Nationwide Trends in Two-Year ET Programs

The Engineering Technology Division of the American Association of Engineering Education (ASEE) supports a listserv. Recently the ETD Listserv at Texas A&M University posted a survey about Engineering Technology Education. The results were posted on February 22 and are shared below. The results reveal some interesting nationwide trends in two-year Engineering Technology programs.

A note from Lou Frenzel, department head at Texas A&M University:  Some percentages do not add up to 100% because not all questions were answered and/or multiple choices were given per question. The outcome of the survey is interesting and hopefully this current picture of electronic technology programs will help you improve your own program.

1.     The enrollments in my ET program are:
               a.      Up              28%
               b.      Down            38%
               c.      Flat            28%
* Program closed.  Still teach several electronic courses as part of
other programs.
*  Program has been suspended.

2.     Have you added any new courses or programs recently?
               a.      No              45%
               b.      Yes      55%
Courses/programs added:  Internet of Things, SCADA, process control, mechatronics, alternative energy, PLCs, motor control, avionics, senior project.

3.     What electronic specialties do you teach?
               a.      Computers (PCs)                 45%
               b.      Networking                      34%
               c.      Communications/wireless         45%
               d.      Industrial                      55%
               e.      Other   What?
Specialties taught: Generic electronic tech, PCB fabrication, wind energy, power generation, DAQ.

4.     What approach does your program take?
               a.      Theory/circuit oriented         76%
               b.      System oriented                 21%
               c.      Service and repair              21%
               d.      BSET prep.                      24%
               e.      Other   What?
Other approach:  Minimum theory/low math, maximum hands-on.

5.     Do you teach programming?
               a.      No                              21%
               b.      Yes  What language?             79%

Languages taught:  C/C++ (91%), Assembly (35%), Python (17%), BASIC (13%)

6.     Do you use virtual instruments in the lab?
               a.      Yes             55%
               b.      No              38%

7.     Are jobs currently available for graduates?
               a.      No                      14%
               b.      Yes   What field?       76%
Jobs available:  General electronic tech, mechatronics, PLCs, automation, wind and solar, avionics, drones, industrial service and maintenance, instrumentation.

8.     What is your current greatest need or issue?
*  More students, more and better marketing and outreach.
*  More faculty
*  More space
*  More funds for equipment, software
*  More jobs than interested students.
*  Potential students do not know what electronics is.

9.     How do you fulfill the need for faculty continuing education?
*  Little or no support or funds from the colleges.
*  Faculty must seek it out for themselves.
*  Some use of online courses, conferences, webinars, workshops.

10.    What major technology or employment trend do you see that should be addressed?
*  Growing emphasis on manufacturing, automation, industrial controls and communications, PLCs, Internet of things.
*  Network security issue.
*  Students with programming skills seem to progress quicker in industry.

11.    Do you still use standard textbooks?
               a.      Yes             76%
               b.      No              17%
Comments:  Textbooks have become too expensive.  The trend is to only use class notes, handouts, and online materials.  Texts¹ content often does not match up with courses taught.

12.    Do you offer online courses?
               a.      Yes             45%
               b.      No              55%
Why not?
Comments:  Some have hybrid courses, online plus college-based lab and testing.  Many instructors are not sold on the idea.  There is a problem in implementing the hands-on lab component of most courses. Online courses have a high drop-out rate.

Personal comments and opinion from Lou Frenzel:
  • I was sorry to see the collective 66% down/flat enrollment figure.
  • What is wrong?  Better marketing and recruiting are a must if jobs are to be filled. I was happy to see more programming activity as this is one skill that will take students and graduates beyond the tech level if they are interested.
  • Looks like industry and manufacturing, automation, and PLCs are the healthiest job areas.  Robots were never mentioned but they may be a part of the manufacturing and automation results.
  • I was surprised to see little or no mention of wireless.  It is currently the largest and fastest growing segment in electronics.
  • Cellular is booming with 4G LTE rollout and 5G development including continuous upgrades in Wi-Fi.  New dedicated short range communications (DSRC) systems for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) is coming soon to all cars and trucks.  The Internet of Things movement is a hot growth area. Guess the jobs are not there yet or known about.    
  • No mention of automotive electronics but it is a fast growing segment in electronics because of the development of the advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) like auto braking, lane departure, backup cameras, etc. as well as self-driving and electric cars.  The auto tech of the future will be an electronic tech.
  • Textbook publishers should heed the warnings in this survey as the book prices have gone out of sight and content does not exist for some subjects taught.
  • I am worried that faculty may not be current with the latest technologies, components, methods, test instruments, etc. for lack of continuing education.  Hopefully most faculty members are autodidacts and learn on their own.

A national report from the National Academy of Engineering offers a great deal of data on programming and gives the current status of engineering technology (ET), which practically mirrors the above survey results. According to the report, engineering technology (ET) is “an important, if overlooked segment of the nation’s STEM workforce. Our own survey employers… found that roughly one-third had never heard of the academic field called engineering technology education.” A panel from the National Academy of Engineering concluded that the proportion of black students earning four year degrees in ET “is almost three times the share of students earning four year degrees in engineering,” but women represent just 12 percent of ET degrees. Click here to read the full report.

ET degrees in Florida have been increasingly successful for the past nine years. For more information and to see a graphic detailing key milestones, click here. For more information about FLATE’s ET Degree, please click here. Please contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE, with any questions at

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