2018 Manufacturing Day/Month – SAVE THE DATE!

October 5 marks the official kick off for Manufacturing (MFG) Day with industry tours, open houses, career fairs and other miscellaneous events being planned in Florida and across the country.

This year FloridaMakes, FLATE and the network of Regional Manufacturers Associations across the state are taking the lead in organizing statewide industry tours and events that kick starts on MFG Day/Month. Counties and cities across Florida are set to issue proclamations marking October as MFG Month. Thousands of students and educators from schools across Florida are also anxious to participate in industry tours that are geared to showcase products that are “Made in Florida” as well as get an up-close and in-depth look at high-skilled, high-wage careers that the industry offers. Manufacturing Day is expected to be celebrated across Florida, and there are a number of ways to be involved in this nationwide event that focuses on the strength of American Manufacturing.

For more information and Florida's MFG Day/Month educational resources, please visit these online sites.

For information on MFG Day/Month in Florida visit FLATE, www.mfgday-fl.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.

Manufacturers Endorse A.S. Engineering Technology Degree Competencies

In 2016, Polk State College engaged with the Lumina Foundation’s Beta Credential Framework project.  Polk State included the A.S. Engineering Technology degree with its Advanced Manufacturing (mechatronics) specialization.  Competencies were defined for each course in the program and subsequently assigned a level indicator according to the Lumina Credential Framework. Level indicators were defined from knowledge to high-level problem solving, troubleshooting and creative thinking skills.  More details on this aspect of the project for the ASET Advanced Manufacturing specialization will be covered in a separate article and can also b found on the Lumina Foundation website (search for Beta Credential Framework).

The resulting list of ASET competencies were grouped and condensed to 40 survey items that would be put to employers that hire ASET graduates in the form of an online survey. The forty items included 20 items each for (a) knowledge and specialized technical skills and (b) personal and social skills.  Industry participants were asked to provide two responses to the first 20 knowledge and technical competencies.  First, they were asked to rank the importance of each item in their facility using a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the most important.  The second response for each of these items was an estimate of the frequency of use.  Choices for the second response were never, sometimes and always.  If the frequency of a competency was determined to be “never”, respondents were asked to select 1 (not important) for its importance level.  The second twenty items, covering the social and personal skills, required only a single response to assign an importance level on the same 1 to 5 scale used for the technical knowledge and specialized skills. The industry survey personal and social skill items did not have an indicator level. 

What did industry say?  A total of 88 responses were captured during the two weeks the survey was open.  Responses came in from 26 of Florida’s 67 counties and most were from the Interstate-4 corridor in central Florida and the northwest region. Overall, industry strongly endorsed the technical knowledge and specialized skills as well as the social and personal skills. The endorsement can be interpreted from the significant number of “important and very important” responses (14 of 20 items; 70%).  Also within this knowledge and skills that are important or very important, half of them (7 items) had been assigned a level indicator of 7 or 8 indicating that these items require very high-level creative thinking, problem-solving and troubleshooting skills. Fewer than 20% of the industry responded “never” to any of the items in this list indicating that all of the knowledge and skills in the survey were sometimes or always needed by technicians in the manufacturing field.

For the personal and social skills, the lowest weighted average of the importance scale (1 to 5) was 4.1. These results indicate all of these items were very important to the respondents. Five (20%) of the competency personal and social items have level indicators of 6, 7 or 8, indicating that they require the higher level thinking skills.

These responses generally say that the ET degree is providing much of what industry currently needs and endorses a need for the higher level thinking skills with significant responses of the high importance of items rated with high-level indicators. There are also many more pieces to the workforce education process and system.  Assessment of the knowledge and skills need to be determined to be strong indicators of successful knowledge and skill attainment. Also, in Florida, colleges need to be sure that the knowledge and skills taught in a particular degree program align with the corresponding Florida Department of Education Curriculum Framework (www.fldoe.org).  Workforce education is a dynamic process with many ongoing opportunities for continuous improvement in content, delivery, pedagogy, and assessment. We are always monitoring for new ways best prepare our students for the current manufacturing jobs and those of the future.

You can find the results of the survey, the survey instrument, and the competency list for the ASET Advanced Manufacturing degree program on FLATE’s wiki. Click on the “Modules for Advanced Technological Education” and click on the last item in the middle column. If you have additional questions, please contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org or Mori Toosi at Polk State College (mtoosi@polk.edu).

40th Engineering Technology forum looks for Innovation – Industry 4.0 in Technology Education

The Engineering Technology Forum provides an excellent opportunity for industries and educators across the state to meet each year at different college locations to discuss common interests and issues surrounding the education of tomorrow’s advanced manufacturing workforce. FLATE works with the Forum to strengthen the consortium, share its administrative activities and projects, provide professional development, bring industry and academia together, and engage in statewide curriculum reform. Over the years, it has become a true engineering technology community of practice. The Forum meets twice a year; and since 1996 has convened forty times at over 22 different Florida colleges.
The 2018 Spring Forum on Engineering Technology (ET Forum) was held at South Florida State College (SFSC) in Avon Park, Florida. The Forum was well attended with 50 representatives from 17 state and community colleges, the University of South Florida, the Department of Education, technical education sales representatives, and local industry.

In keeping with the theme of the Forum, Innovation in Engineering Technology, the Forum included discussion about new projects, new technical trends in education, curriculum and industry certification updates, course numbering issues, articulations, accreditations by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), PathTech LIFE updates updates, benefits of Smart Factory/Industry 4.0, Florida Department of Education (FL DOE) program updates and registered apprenticeships which include how these work in the state of Florida.

Industry 4.0 involves the use of advancements in communication and information technology to increase the degree of automation and digitization of production, manufacturing and industrial processes. The ultimate goal is to manage the entire value chain process, by improving efficiencies in the production process and coming up with products and services that are of superior quality. 

An update on the PathTech LIFE, (Learning, Interests, Family, and Employment) National Science Foundation (NSF) survey, showed that 1872 students from 62 community colleges from around the country have participated in this survey. The survey is still open with 700 students participating at an additional 20 community colleges.
Regarding FL DOE program updates at the secondary level; these include Advanced Manufacturing Technology and Electronic Systems Technology as new programs. The new programs in PSAV are the Advanced Manufacturing & Production Technology and Electronic Systems Technology.

As is the case with all ET Forums, participants are surveyed for effectiveness to ensure that the Forum continues to meet attendee needs. Overall presentation and forum format were rated as very good (16%, n=4) and excellent (84%, n=21). Two events at this Forum ranked highest with overall ratings of 4.9 out of a possible 5 (Excellent). Those included updates provided by Richard “Ted” Norman who serves as Apprenticeship Program Director at FL DOE. The other was the Industry 4.0 presentations by the vendors. 100% of survey responders reported they intended to use information presented at the ET Forum and that they will recommend this Forum to others.

 The Florida Engineering Technology Leadership Council and the Engineering Technology Forum was established in April 1997 at Seminole Community College (now Seminole State College). Membership includes department heads and the leaders of the Technology programs in the State of Florida.  Since 2009, the ET Forum has served over 400 participants at this bi-annual statewide meeting where Engineering Technology college faculty, program managers, workforce and economic development personnel, the Florida Department of Education (FL DOE) and related college technology educators and administrators can bring common issues to the table for discussion, share resources, and learn.

Currently more than half of Florida’s community and state colleges (17 out of 28) regularly attend these meetings, making them a nexus, not only for raising awareness, but for mobilizing discussions into actions. The ET Forum also provides a venue for collecting information about ET students. FLATE conducts surveys, collects data and compiles information that it shares with Forum members who are interested in recruiting new students and/or capture how ET students have used their degree to augment professional aspirations.

The 2018 Fall ET Forum will be traveling for the first time to Pasco-Hernando State College at New Port Richey on October 18th and 19th.

For more information on the Forum and/or A.S.E.T degree visit http://fl-ate.org/projects/et-forum.html.