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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. 


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