FLATE-led initiative to support high quality, international educational experience to Florida’s community college students and educators is well underway. This National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE)-supported, FLATE interaction with TKNIKA—an innovation Institute for vocational training established by the Vice Ministry of Education of the Basque government in Spain— is one of eight pilot projects awarded to NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Centers, and poised to create an outstanding educational experience for educators and students enrolled in the FLATE-created two year, statewide A.S. degree in engineering technology.
The project has been conceived in two phases. The first, or the exploratory phase, was completed in July 2011 when a delegation of industry, educators and administrators from four Florida community colleges (Hillsborough Community College, State College of Florida, University of South Florida, and Brevard Community College) went on a week-long trip to Spain. Executive Director of FLATE, Dr. Marilyn Barger who masterminded and spearheaded the project says “the goal is to expand partnership between the two government-supported technical programs, assess opportunities for curriculum creation, and provide professional development for technical college faculty and students.” To assess technician education and training including classroom and laboratory equipment, the delegation visited various sites which share close semblance to the FLATE program. According to Barger, the site visit helped create a better understanding of vocational program structures in the Basque region, and provided technical learning experience that can be propagated throughout Florida colleges.
The second phase, or student recruitment and training program, scheduled for May 12-June 2, 2012, is currently underway. The deadline to submit applications to FLATE is Jan. 20, 2012. To qualify and participate in the structured technical education and training experience at a IEFPS Usurbil GLBH, a technical college in Spain, students need to be enrolled in the Engineering Technology (E.T.) A.S. degree program from any of the ten colleges in the Florida State and community college system. Student applicants are expected to be in the second year of their degree program preferably having completed at least 23 credits of technical courses (not including general education) before the trip. Applicants are also required to have an average GPA of 3.0 or higher, have the endorsement from an E.T. degree faculty, complete the training application form, and provide a 500 word summary of their intention to participate in the project.
Once applicants are preselected they are required to:
Sign a “commitment agreement,” outlined by FLATE, by Jan. 27, 2012. This includes, but not limited to: completing at least 90% of scheduled training, submitting a final project, preparing a final presentation, participating in dissemination conferences, contributing to develop and improve the ET Florida curriculum (based on their learning experience).
Be enrolled in summer 2012 term in a 3 credit hours “special topic” course in Modern Manufacturing, ETI 1931, at HCC (covered by FLATE).
Have a valid passport by March 12, 2012, with permission to leave and enter the US with the ability to travel to Spain in May 2012 for a period of 3 weeks (covered by FLATE).
Have medical insurance during the training period (covered by FLATE).
The goal is to provide outstanding learning experience for all participants. Areas of training include alternative energy and control of automated energy systems. At the conclusion of the trip, students will contribute content and skills assessment for developing tangible tools and solutions to improve ET-related curriculum and instruction materials within the Florida educational system. In addition to technical knowledge, this extraordinary experience is expected to “expand students’ appreciation for cultural differences, and create awareness of new economically and socially viable corporate structures” Barger said.
The State of Florida has the third largest population in country, with an official 2010 estimate of 19 million persons and approximately 50% of the population is in the civilian labor force (9,000,000).
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FLATE’s administrative core is a partnership between St.Petersburg College, the College of Engineering at the University of South Florida and Hillsborough Community College. The Center is housed at Hillsborough Community College on its Brandon Campus under the leadership of Campus President, Dr. Nancee Sorenson. It occupies 1500 square feet of office space and shares the laboratory resources of the manufacturing /engineering technology program.
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