In 2017, St. Johns River State College (SJRSC) secured a Florida Job Growth Grant of $1.38 million from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to establish an Engineering Technology program.  With resources from local business associations, employers such as Georgia Pacific (GP), FLATE, and regional educators, the multi-year funding supported the hiring of personnel and purchase of equipment.  In the fall of 2018, the program began with 31 students, mostly from Georgia Pacific, at the college’s Palatka campus.  In January 2020, it moved to a newly constructed lab on the Orange Park Campus.

In December 2019, with a schedule designed to accommodate their shifts, and running throughout the calendar year, fifteen (15) individuals from the original GP cohort earned the Engineering Technology Support Specialist College Credit Certificate (CCC).  Generally, the students took two technical courses per semester.  It’s anticipated that eight (8) members of this group will earn their A.S. degree after the summer 2021 semester.   

Tim Gilboy, ET Instructor working with students in SJRSC ET Lab
SJRSC ET faculty, Tim Gilboy, works with students in SJRSC new ET lab facility. 

In the summer of 2019, the college entered into an agreement with Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) to offer a portion of the related instruction for their registered apprenticeship programs.  FRCSE performs maintenance, repair, and overhaul of aircraft at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.  Apprentices are hired into a trade as part of the program and spend two semesters in full-time attendance at the college as paid employees.  Their tuition and other expenses are covered by FRCSE. The students enroll in Engineering Technology Support Specialist CCC classes along with additional coursework in math and English.  To date, more than 150 apprentices have participated in the program, with more than 90 having earned the Engineering Technology Support Specialist CCC. 

With advisory board members from entities such as Vac Con, Fleet Readiness Center Southeast, JAXUSA, Clay County Career & Technical Education, Clay County Economic Development, Georgia Pacific, Northrop Grumman, CareerSource, and the First Coast Manufacturers Association there is an ongoing effort to recruit students broadly from the public  We anticipate having 20-30 students in the general pathway by the fall of 2021 and currently have three full-time faculty and a lab coordinator delivering course content. 


For more information about SJRSC Engineering Technology Degree, college certificates, and apprenticeships, contact Jay Paterson, Dean of Workforce Education & Technical Education, or visit the program website. 



Engineering Technology Forum logo

The Forum on Engineering Technology provides an excellent opportunity for industries and educators across the state to meet each year at different locations to discuss common interests and issues surrounding the education of tomorrow’s advanced manufacturing workforce. Since the inception of the Forum, FLATE has been working closely to strengthen the consortium, share its administrative activities and projects, provide professional development, and bring industry and academia together to engage in statewide curriculum reform. 


The Spring Forum was held in two virtual sessions on March 19 and March 26 and kicked off with college updates on enrollment, equipment, and programsOf particular interest to ET Forum members, was the panel discussion on industry/college best practiceand the effect of Advisory Committees/Boards on industry and education partnerships.  


The Industry Panelists included: Michelle Hintz, Human Resources Manager of TSE Industries; Orathai Northern, Vice President of Workforce Education & Economic Development of Polk State College, Kon Champavannarath, CIO of PalletOne, Inc.; and Peter Cirak, Quality Assurance Director of Seal Dynamics. The session was moderated by Mori Toosi of Polk State College. Panelists engaged in a Q and A session where they were asked about their experiences serving on an advisory board, its rewards and challenges, what they gained from the experience, the relevance of serving oan advisory board in the context of the Perkins Grant, and their thoughts on launching a statewide industrial advisory board for the Engineering Technology Programs in Florida. 


In terms of the impact, panelists collectively agreed that serving on an industry advisory board was positive experience and a way to give back to the educational community. Additionally, it also served as a mechanism for businesses to leverage influence in framing curriculum that had real-world applications and implications on industry skillset requirements. “From building a sustainable talent development perspective, we look at our industry partners to provide strategic feedback so we can tweak our programs to meet the skillset demands of the local industry,” noted Orathai Northern. When asked what the panelists each hoped to gain from serving on an advisory board, Hintz stated the relationship had to be strategic “win-win” for all involved stakeholders. For Kon Champavannarath and Peter Cirak, it was not only a way to give back, but the partnership needed to be clearly defined and streamlined, as well as ensure that the person serving in the advisory role was best suited for the role. 

Screen shot of Industry panel slide and some participants

Industry participation on advisory boards is also significant through the lens of the Perkins GrantOrathai Northern defined the importance of being engaged in an industrial advisory board for Perkins Grant applicantsShe outlined the difference between the Perkins IV and Perkins V grants; its emphasis on special populations (nontraditional students, children from foster care, military, etc.); and how money is allocated to secondary and postsecondary CTE programs.  In terms of the connection between Perkins Grant and industrial advisory boards, Orathai clarified even though the term is not used exactly, feedback from local industry is a critical aspect of Perkins applications. “It is mandatory to include how colleges and universities collaborate with stakeholders to include industry leaders” noted OrathaiIn terms of a statewide strategy for industry-education advisory boards, the panelists viewed establishing a statewide advisory board as an opportunity to foster collaboration between different organizations across the state, and open up the possibilities for sharing best practicestapping into the industry, and geo-based recruitment and talent development strategies. Statewide student networking and competitions would be facilitated by a statewide board.  


The Fall 2021 ET Forum is tentatively scheduled for September 30 and October 1, 2021, at Eastern Florida State College. Read more about the Spring 2021 ET Forum session online and review the recordings or presentations online. Links available on the ET Forum webpage) and in the ET Share Google drive.