Technology Student Association Leadership

The Technology Student Association (TSA) is a national career and technical student organization (CTSO), supported by the Department of Education, with focus on the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) career cluster. The organization’s mission is to “enhance personal development, leadership, and career opportunities” in those areas. This is accomplished both in and out of schools with a mix of curriculum resources, competitions, and other programs.

Something unique about TSA is their focus on supporting teachers as well as the student members. TSA is supported by educators, parents, and business leaders who believe in the need for a technologically literate society. Together, TSA chapter members are committed to a national service project and work on competitive events, learn and apply leadership skills, and may attend conferences and competitions at the state, regional, and national levels. To learn how to start a TSA chapter join TSA.

TSA high school competitions and middle school competitions are categorized by careers in Architecture and Construction Technology, Communications Technology, Computer Science and Information Technology, Leadership, Manufacturing and Transportation Technology, STEM (General), STEM and the Arts, and Technology and Research. TSA competitions are offered in a traditional format in the classroom and virtually.

Florida support at the 2021 National TSA Conference

More than 5000 middle school and high school Technology Student Association (TSA) members from across the country participated in the 2021 National TSA Conference on October 4-8, 2021.  According to Ebrahim (Ebe) Randeree, Associate Dean at Florida State University College of Communication and Information, board member of TSA and the Florida Association of Industry and Technical Educators (FAITE), and longtime FLATE partner, 

“Having our college students engaged in developing the next generation of tech leaders, mentoring middle and high school, and practicing their leadership and communication skills is important for the success of our college students. The link with TSA is very important to our outreach efforts in the State and our goal to recruit more STEM students. These students are very talented, and they will drive Florida’s economy as they graduate and launch businesses and create jobs. It is our job to mentor them and to keep them here in Florida, in Florida universities, and launching Florida businesses.

Five college students from FSU under Ebe’s mentorship, attended and presented their best practices at the 2021 conference in Orlando.

It is part of FLATE's mission and goals to engage and support students and educators to be the best in their advanced technology and/or STEM careers. Students not only develop leadership qualities through TSA participation, but also their specific technical skills, professionalism, and teamwork skills as demonstrated in the local, regional, state national and international competitions.

The Technology Student Association (TSA) and other student organizations, like Skills USA, need subject matter experts and judges for their regional, state and national competitions.  Please save the dates of the upcoming state competitions that need your help!

TSA State Conference and Competition dates: FEB 23 – 26, 2022 in Orlando

Conference and competition dates: April 18 – 21, 2022 in Jacksonville

To learn more about student organizations and how you can help, visit 

Unraveling Florida Credentials & Certificates

According to a ManpowerGroup survey, talent shortages in the U.S. have more than tripled in the last ten years, with 69% of employers struggling to fill positions, up from just 14% in 2010.  As organizations across all sectors transform, the top hardest to fill roles in the U.S. are changing fast with technology skills being now the second hardest to find. In a post-COVID economy, we can expect emphasis on healthcare, advanced manufacturing, IT, and Florida’s other “essential” sectors (Florida Chamber, 2030).

Essential technical skills can be attained in a short and efficient way by educating and training the next generation of skilled high-tech workers via industry recognized certification and stackable certificates.

Understanding Credentials

A credential is official documented credit that verifies an individual's qualification or competency in a specific skill. Credentials are earned and awarded by completing a course of study, successfully passing an assessment or meeting specified skills requirements that verify competency. The term credential includes non-degree certificates, certifications, and licenses designed around a specific occupation or discrete set of skills. See the table below for quick facts about certifications and certificates.




Awarded by

Industry or professional association, test publisher or business Usually an educational institution, but also some professional associations



Vary – like degrees, earned on completion of a defined curriculum




Established skill standard

Always – the basis of the certification exam Rarely, though expected learning outcomes may be set out
Certifications are awarded based on an individual demonstrating, through an examination process, that the individual has acquired the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform a specific occupation or job. DOE Industry Recognized Credentials: The Florida Career and Professional Education (CAPE) Act was created in 2007 to provide a statewide planning partnership between the business and education communities to attract, expand and retain targeted, high‐value industry and to sustain a strong, knowledge‐based economy. The CAPE funding list includes industry recognized certification attainment by secondary and postsecondary students. The table below provides types and descriptions of CAPE certifications, certificates and courses available for secondary students. Click here for Florida CAPE Industry Certification for Manufacturing.

Type of Certification/Certificate/Course


CAPE Digital Tool Certificates

Grades: Elementary & Middle School

Assessments of digital skills
in the following areas: word processing; spreadsheets; sound, motion, and color presentations; digital arts; cybersecurity.

CAPE Industry Certifications

Grades: 6-12

Industry certification that either do not articulate for college credit or do articulate for up to 14 college credits based on a statewide articulation agreement.

CAPE Acceleration Industry Certifications

Industry certification that articulates for 15 or more college credits based on a statewide articulation agreement.

CAPE Innovation Courses

Courses combine academic and career performance outcomes that will result in embedded industry certification and college credit attainment.

College Credit Certificates (CCC) Include a series of college credit courses that prepares students for entry-level employment in specific career fields or for career advancement. These certificates can be completed in six months to a 1 year because these programs focus on one discipline and lack the general education studies required by degree programs. Upon completion, students generally receive a certificate of completion or certificate of achievement, not a degree or diploma. Candidates may be able to transfer college certificate credits to degree programs at other colleges, depending on the institution and degree program. CCC must be part of an AS or AAS degree. Click here for the list of 2021-22 DOE career certificates programs under manufacturing cluster.

Career Certificates consist of a series of vocational courses that prepare students for entry level employment in specific career fields. The programs vary in length from 40 hours to more than 1,500 hours. Career Certificates are primarily offered at Florida’s technical colleges. For the FDOE full list of career certificate programs click here.

PathTech LISTEN Releases Research Briefs

As the need for a skilled technology workforce continues to grow, understanding pathways to and from technician education programs and the technology workforce is vital to sustain workforce development, improve student/worker life chances and stabilize local economies. The goal of the PathTech LISTEN project is to track advanced technology degree students' post-enrollment outcomes and how programs facilitate technician education experiences and transitions into the workforce.

FLATE has partnered with PathTech for more than 10 years of research on educational and employment pathways into advanced technology degree programs and careers. All three PathTech projects have been led by Principal Investigator Dr. Will Tyson from the University of South Florida (USF) Department of Sociology and Co-Principal Investigators, Dr. Lakshmi Jayaram from Inquiry Research Group and Dr. Marilyn Barger from FLATE.  Other FLATE team members involved in PathTech projects include Danielly Orozco-Cole, Dr. Marie Boyette and Teresa Potter.

PathTech TampaBay (2011-2015) examined pathways into high school and community college engineering technology (ET) programs, and to and from the local workforce through interviews with 175 students, teachers and employers from high schools, community colleges and industry. 

PathTech LIFE (2015-2019) was a national survey of students enrolled in community college advanced technology programs, including 3,216 students from 96 colleges in 38 states and 3 U.S. territories. 

PathTech LISTEN (2018-2022) is a mixed method longitudinal investigation using a diverse sample of PathTech LIFE survey participants. To track students' post-enrollment outcomes over time, two in-depth surveys were planned for 2019 and 2020 with a final survey to be designed based on knowledge gained from the interviews. With the global pandemic beginning in March 2020, an additional COVID-19 interview was added to the project. 

The first round of interviews (Wave 1) for PathTech LISTEN were completed in 2019, the COVID-19 interviews (Wave 2) were completed in 2020, and the final round of interviews (Wave 3) are in progress now. Analysis of the data collected in these interviews is ongoing. Preliminary analysis from the PathTech LISTEN research team is being released through a series of one-page Research Briefs. The first set, which includes preliminary findings from both Wave 1 and Wave 2 interviews, are available now through the PathTech website:
  • Perspectives from the Field: Industry Pilot Survey Results
  • Preliminary Results: Technical Programs Lead to STEM Careers
  • Wave 1 Preliminary Findings Yield Several Interesting Themes
  • Work-Based Learning in Technician Programs
  • Job Search Pathways
  • Developing Strategies for Tracking Community College Alumni
  • Covid-19 Pandemic Impact on LISTEN Participants
  • Perspectives from the Field: Wave 2 Vignettes

Additional research briefs on all three waves of the project will continue to be released over the coming months. Once the Wave 3 interviews are complete, the final survey will be developed using information from the three interviews and will be sent to participants in 2022. For more information, please contact Lakshmi Jayaram at