44th Forum on Engineering Technology Goes Virtual

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact our way of life and work with “stay at home” orders, education at all levels has turned to remote and online learning. The sudden change has forced an incredibly active innovation “studio” in the homes of every faculty and instructor across the country, but particularly for those who teach CTE technical programs.  With the semester winding down and grades due soon, it will be interesting to see what ideas are “carried forward” to the fall semester of 2020.  The Florida Forum on Engineering Technology (ET) has been a place where Engineering Technology educators and stakeholders can share their curriculum, labs, ideas, special projects, resources, structural issues and new pedagogy in a collaborative environment. FLATE found
it important to continue providing this outlet to the community and, by corresponding with the “stat at home” orders, has offered the event on a remote meeting platform. Two 2-hour virtual sessions were offered in lieu of the traditional 1 ½ day event hosted at a Florida State or Community College. We thank FloridaMakes for hosting these two important sessions.

Virtual E.T. forum sessions could be the beginning of a shift for more accessible ways to:

Continue strengthening and growing the ET community
Share issues, activities and projects
Provide professional development
Bring industry and education together
Engage faculty and administrators in statewide curriculum reform

The ET Forum has convened forty-four times since 1996 at over 23 different Florida colleges with the average attendance at recent Forums being 60 participants (80% college educators, 20% educational technology vendors and Industry partners). Currently more than half of Florida’s 28 public community and state colleges regularly attend these meetings. This strong attendance and broad representation makes the Forum events a nexus, not only for raising awareness, but also for mobilizing discussions into actions. In addition, the ET Forum provides an opportunity for documenting our program successes and status. FLATE regularly collects information on ET programs and students, new partnerships and collaborations, and college program updates. The data collected by FLATE is shared with ET Forum members who are interested in recruiting new students and/or capturing how ET students have used their degree to augment professional aspirations.

The 2020 spring ET Forum virtual sessions I and II, held on April 17 and 24 from 9:00-11:00 am, represent a milestone in the history of the Forum with a record attendance of 88 representatives from 19 state and community colleges, four Universities, the Department of Education, FloridaMakes, local industry and technical education sales representatives around Florida. These virtual sessions have proven to be an important vehicle in bringing together the diverse and geographically dispersed colleges’ representatives. Overall the number of participants represents an impressive 46% increase in attendance. 

Virtual sessions of the spring 2020 ET Forum began with discussions on the “Future of FLATE 2.0” presented by Henry Mack, FLDOE Chancellor Division of Career and Adult Education. Henry provided an overview of the CTE audit, future of workforce education and educator resources (including FACTE and FLATE resources). Kevin Carr, CEO of FloridaMakes, discussed FloridaMakes’ goals and objectives along with their next steps to formalize the relationship with FLDOE, and develop a three-year operating plan with FLATE. During the presentation, FloridaMakes announced the FLDOE approval of its statewide Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship registered program. The program will provide a hybrid-training model that addresses entry-level skills gaps and provides foundational manufacturing knowledge regardless of the specific occupation.

The ET Forum Session continued with the FLDOE updates presented by Robert (Bob) Blevins, FLDOE State Supervisor for Manufacturing. The presentation included updates on the ET AS Degree program, frameworks reviews, Perkins, and CAPE. New ET frameworks for the 2020-21 school year are the Supply Chain Automation specialization, and Medical Device Design and Manufacturing CCC (28 credits) which is under 0615040108 Biomedical Equipment Technician A.S. degree.
The major suppliers for technical educational training equipment had the opportunity to share their latest online curriculum updates and educational resources available for virtual classrooms. In addition, the suppliers also reported on some of the requests they have heard from teachers around the country that are struggling to continue courses during the stay at home order.
At the conclusion of ET Forum Session I, the roundtable for college updates began and participants had a major focus on requesting strategies for online labs and assessments. Participants also confirmed that all programs have transitioned classes to an online platform, but courses that require face-to-face or equipment interaction have either been postponed (until late summer), conducted with take-home kits, or are being held on campus in very small groups at a time with a single instructor or lab supervisor.

Project updates

FSU & Chipola College AM Pathways Project

The Florida State University (FSU) and Chipola College Advanced Manufacturing (AM) Pathways Project is a three year NSF Advanced Technical Education full-scale research and development project, in collaboration and advice from FLATE, that is designed to study and document the school-to-career pathways enabled by the Advanced Manufacturing programs at Chipola and collaborating colleges in rural Northwest (NW) Florida. Other partners include Pensacola State College, Gulf Coast State College, Tallahassee Community College, Northwest Florida State College, and the Northwest Florida Manufacturing Consortium. The goals of the project are to 1) investigate the role AM program pathways have in meeting the needs of employers and new professionals who are employed in the region; 2) expand the research base and curriculum content recommendations for entrepreneur and entrepreneur education; 3) build regional capacity for AM program assessment and improvement by replicating, refining, and disseminating study approaches through research and engagement with the AM employer and education community. Margie Lee, ET faculty at Chipola College, summarized that what employers want are technician training programs that develop knowledge and skills that lie in the cognitive domain’s synthesis and evaluation learning levels combined with psychomotor domain’s adaptation and origination learning levels from Bloom’s Taxonomy. These levels include cognitive (knowledge-based): knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation; affective (emotion-based): receiving, responding, valuing, organizing, characterizing; psychomotor (action-based): perception, set, guided response, mechanism, complex overt response, adaptation. Results show that non-traditional students struggled initially with analysis and synthesis learning objectives, but “got the hang of it” and never moved beyond significant instructor collaboration at these learning levels. Margie concluded her presentation stating, “Failure to provide explicit and intentional instruction in affective domain learning is what’s wrong with all education today”. For more information about the project, contact Margie Lee at leem@chipola.edu.

ET and AS Engineering Frameworks Project

The ET and AS engineering frameworks project is led by Dr. Ron Eaglin, Chair of the School of Engineering Technology at Daytona State College, who commented that flexible framework allows students to articulate to Engineering or ET program; allows implementation that can ensure pre-requisites for Engineering programs are met; and supplies basic skills necessary for functioning in ET Environment. In addition, Ron will be making revisions of some standards based on national priorities of ET which include the Professional Engineering (PE) licensure of ET graduates; emphasis on ABET accreditation at BS level; and courses allowing students to pass FE exams. This program will be submitted to the FLDOE in 2020 and will ultimately provide a better pathway to 4-year Engineering degrees from Community Colleges not just in Florida but across the country.  For more information about this topic, contact Dr. Ron Eaglin at eaglinr@daytonastate.edu.

FAME AM Project

Dante Leon, Associate Vice President of Advanced Technology at Daytona State College (DSC), is coordinating the FAME Advanced Manufacturing Program at DSC. Dante reported that The Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) is a nationally recognized program based on Toyota’s Advanced Manufacturing Technician program. The earn-while-you-learn model provides students the pathway to earn an industry-recognized degree while gaining valuable experience at a sponsoring company. Currently students enrolled in an AS technical program are interviewed and sponsored by a local company, they work three days per week and attend class two days per week, progress as a cohort over 5 terms, and should meet academic and attendance expectations. For more information about this project, contact Dante Leon at Dante.Leon@daytonastate.edu.

PathTech LIFE and LISTEN Research Project

Dr. Lakshmi Jayaran, Co-PI and research associate at the Sociology Department at the University of South Florida, reported on the analysis of student characteristics and experiences in technician education programs. PathTech LIFE seeks to understand how learning, interests, family, and employment (LIFE) experiences of two-year college students’ impact their decisions to enroll, return for further coursework, and/or pursue a certificate or degree. Data shows that technician students are a diverse group (N=3216; 96 Colleges). Sample includes about 20% women, 30% racial-ethnic minorities, 10% reporting disabilities, and age range of 18 to 65+. Technician students are also “non-traditional” in higher education settings due to their life experiences, with the majority simultaneously juggling school, work, and family.

PathTech LISTEN is a longitudinal study that samples students from the PathTech LIFE study who completed their programs to gather data on transition to workforce. Students were in ET, AM, micro- and nanotechnology, and energy and environmental technology programs. Wave 1 included 96 in-depth interviews in 2019. Wave 2 data collection, during spring and fall 2020, includes COVID-19 interviews and data analysis. Post COVID-19 interviews will be scheduled for spring 2021. For more information on this research project, contact Lakshmi Jayaran at ljayaram@usf.edu.

ET Forum Virtual Sessions Impact

The 49 attendees that returned post ET Forum virtual sessions I and II surveys rated their overall professional development value at 4.5 on a 5.0 scale. The interaction with NSF proved to be the highlight of the pre-ET Forum workshop as reflected by combined participant satisfaction score of 4.5 out of 5.0. Of the returned surveys, 100% stated they have learned something new during the presentations, they would use the information presented during the sessions and would recommend them to others. “Attending the ET Forum provided a good way to network with others for further discussions,” shared an attendee. 94% of responses would like to have future virtual sessions.

Some comments from participants:

“I enjoyed the presentation to see the potential growth of ET in the state of Florida and more specifically in the Tampa Bay area. I am excited to take the tips and suggestions to grow my program to the size and depth of my fellow ET programs around the state”

“I really liked the sharing of online techniques and the fact the vendors all have helped during this crisis”

“Sense of community, support and sharing was great.”

FLATE utilizes the Forum to strengthen its Technology Consortium; share its activities and projects; provide professional development; bring industry and academics together; engage faculty and administrators in statewide curriculum reform; and keep in touch with new and ongoing college program issues and concerns.

School districts and colleges should continue working directly with their local county health departments to establish protocols to control the spread of COVID-19 and educate the public on prevention. The USDOE launched a COVID-19 (Coronavirus) information and resources web page for schools and school personnel at https://www.ed.gov/coronavirus.

Special thanks to our ET educational and training vendors for their prompt support during this challenging time providing valuable resources and technical support to our colleges.
Presentation, handouts, and a list with all the free online resources from our technology educational training equipment partners are available at the Google Drive Folder-Engineering Technology Shared Folder.

Recordings of the spring 2020 Engineering Technology Forum Sessions are now available on YouTube.

ET Forum Session I: https://youtu.be/B-h9zq8P9zU
ET Forum Session II: https://youtu.be/ouAmJudeiJg

For more information on the Forum and/or AS ET degree visit http://fl-ate.org/projects/et-forum.html or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger (barger@fl-ate.org) and Brad Jenkins (jenkinsbm79@gmail.com)

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