A Look Back on Engineering Technology Graduates--Part II

Last month we brought you a story about graduates from the Engineering Technology program outlining their educational and career pathways.  Continuing on this trajectory, we have a few more updates on two more students who earned their A.S degree in Engineering Technology (A.S.E.T) not too long ago.

When Mercedes Ramirez Cruz first started her foray into the world of manufacturing she did not know much about it at all. Cruz's initial interest in manufacturing sparked when her daughter attended the FLATE's robotics camp. Thereon she enrolled into the two year A.S.E.T program at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) and earned her degree in 2013. Cruz's story speaks of a relevant concept that FLATE has promoted for a number of years Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-related careers in high-tech manufacturing and more importantly igniting Girls'/Women's interest in manufacturing.

"Manufacturing is ideal for anyone who is innovative, looking to take on new challenges and enjoys working in a fast-paced environment" says Cruz. She is currently working as a purchasing and logistics agent at Heat Pipe Technology in Tampa, FL. Cruz says manufacturing has experienced immense growth in Florida which also means manufacturers and employees have to consistently work to improve products and technologies to remain competitive in a global marketplace. To that effect, the classes/courses that she took as part of the A.S.E.T degree at HCC gave Cruz the edge to excel at her current job. She credits the classes she took at HCC in setting the base, and giving her the confidence in working with "production control, inventory and safety" in her current job at Heat Pipe Technology.

Cruz has been intricately involved with FLATE on many levels both as a student and now a professional in promoting manufacturing to current/future students. She is one of the students featured in FLATE's Made in Florida outreach campaign designed to promote manufacturing-related careers and educational pathways. As a student Cruz served as the assistant for FLATE's summer robotics camps serving a vital role in keeping tab on daily administrative tasks and working closely with camp instructors and students in working through daily challenges. In 2018 she served as one of the panelists for FLATE's Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) credential workshop that was targeted to provide local manufacturers' first-hand perspective about the importance of integrating MSSC concepts into their everyday workplace standards.  Helping in the development of new products and technologies to make a better and more efficient world is very satisfying" Cruz said.

Alejandro Rojas is another rising star among past engineering technology graduates. Rojas earned
his A.S degree in engineering technology from HCC in June 2016. Son of a migrant worker, Rojas' story speaks of immense (quiet) strength, determination and success that came from sheer hard work. Today he works as a Level 1 Apprentice at APG Electric in Clearwater, Florida. On any given day his job is challenging, but fun. "Learning new things, how to pipe conduit, read schematics, wire and splice different things" are some of the things that he loves doing at his current job. A large part of what he currently does at work involves real-world applications of what he learned as part his degree at HCC. Rojas credits the courses in giving him the background knowledge required for most of the jobs in manufacturing. For example, the motors and controls courses gave him a better understanding about the wiring done for lights, and the AutoCAD classes helped him read the schematics used to build and assemble. Further down the road, Rojas plans to earn a Bachelors and Masters degree in mechanical engineering. We wish him continued success!

Neil O’Malley entered the world of manufacturing after a 25 year career in voice, video and data networking. At the time he was looking to transition to enter a field/pursue a second career that involved robotics and where he could transfer his previous skills/experience. “What I like about manufacturing is the diversity of applied technologies, problem-solving as well as the creativity required to make things work the way they do” O’Malley said. After speaking to Dr. Alessandro Anzalone, who at the time was the director of the Engineering Technology program he chose to enroll into the A.S.E.T degree at HCC. The rest, as they say is history.

Today Neil works as a part-time technician and adjunct occupational non-credit instructor at HCC. “There are several things I enjoy about my job, especially the personal relationship with the students” said O’Malley. Having graduated from the program, O’Malley believes he brings first-hand knowledge and experience about the program into the classroom which he hopes will help dispel misconceptions about the way things work, and also help students understand the concepts and the curriculum better. In addition, O’Malley received a 2019 Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce Student Excellence Award in recognition of his outstanding perseverance, leadership and academic achievement in his pursuit of a career in advanced technology and manufacturing.

The Engineering Technology degree program was developed by the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE) with community colleges and industries across the state and in close partnership with the Florida Department of Education Division of Adult and Career Education. The Degree helps to address a growing need in supplying manufacturers and high-technology industries with qualified, highly- skilled workers in the foreseeable future. The program is a cohesive, comprehensive framework that focuses on a set of core classes that cover introductory computer aided drafting, electronics, instrumentation and testing, processes and materials, quality and safety. These core skills align with the national Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician Certification. The ET Core coupled with a second year degree specialization prepares students for many jobs in manufacturing and many other high-technology industries.

For a full list of state and community colleges currently offering the A.S.E.T degree in Florida visit http://madeinflorida.org/engineering-technology-degree, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org/813.259.6578. To join a consortium of engineering technology graduates across Florida connect with us on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/et-degree-community.

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