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The Future of Work: What is the Impact on Engineering Technicians?

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: Workforce Development (ATE)

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NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Marilyn Barger Florida Advanced Technological Education Center

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Dr. Marilyn Barger is the Principal Investigator and Executive Director of FLATE, the Florida Regional Center of Excellence for Advanced Technological Education, funded by the National Science Foundation and housed at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida since 2004. FLATE serves the state of Florida as its region and is involved in outreach and recruitment of students into technical career pathways; has produced award winning curriculum design and reform for secondary and post-secondary Career and Technical Education programs; and provides a variety of professional development for SETM and technology secondary and post-secondary educators focused on advanced technologies. She earned a B.A. in Chemistry at Agnes Scott College and both a B.S. in Engineering Science and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering (Environmental) from the University of South Florida, where her research focused on membrane separation science and technologies for water purification. She has over 20 years of experience in developing curricula for engineering and engineering technology for elementary, middle, high school, and post secondary institutions, including colleges of engineering. Dr. Barger has presented at many national conferences including American Association of Engineering Education, National Career Pathways Network, High Impact Technology Exchange, ACTE Vision, League of Innovation and others. Dr. Barger serves on several national panels and advisory boards for technical programs, curriculum and workforce initiatives, including the National Association of Manufacturers Educators‘Council. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Engineering Education, a member of Tau Beta Pi and Epsilon Pi Tau honor societies. She is a charter member of both the National Academy and the University of South Florida‘s Academy of Inventors. Dr. Barger holds a licensed patent and is a licensed Professional Engineer in Florida.

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Richard Gilbert University of South Florida

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Richard Gilbert is a Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at the University of South Florida's College of Engineering . Richard is a Co-PI of a NSF project, DUE 1839567, (ATE 2.0 Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work), supported by the Advanced Technological Education Program. Richard is also the Co-PI for the grant that supports the NSF designated Center of Excellence for Advanced Technological Education in Florida, FLATE. FLATE, now in its 15 year of operation, addresses curriculum, professional development, and outreach issues to support the creation of Florida's technical workforce. Richard has over 30 years of experience working with the K-14 education community. Other funded efforts include projects for the NIH and the US Department of Education. The latter was for the development of an engineering curriculum for elementary school applications. The former is for development of electric field mediated drug and gene applicators and protocols. This effort has generated over 25 patents as well as licensed cancer treatment protocols that have completed Phase II trials.

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Two-year associate degrees in Engineering Technology, ET, will be significantly impacted by Future of Work issues that are arising rapidly. The question is how? This presentation will address the challenges that should be addressed within the two year ET programs from a national perspective. Typically, ET degree programs focus on the demands of industries within the college's service area. This is to be expected and is actually a valuable element of an ET associate degree program. Another essential characteristic is that these programs provide pathway options for completing the B.S. Engineering Technology typically in the same region. However, it is also important that the ET degree curriculum provides students with knowledge and skills that address the national need and interest. This requirement to have ET programs cognizant of national priorities is very relevant to the United States industry today because the rapid inclusion of new technologies into the workplace is directly impacting industry performance and product quality. The robotic and automated nature of complex manufacturing environments, Industry 4.0, virtual realities, smart sensors, and digital twins are just some of the examples of new technology disrupting the technical workplace of engineers and technicians. Implicit impacts include the increased need for large data sets to assure correct operations.

The presentation will explore the changes in ET content and education practices to bring new graduates into this evolving workspace. The STEM (technical0 skills affected by the use of data knowledge and analysis, advanced digital literacy, as well as process and operation knowledge, will be the central focus which will include emerging results of a current NSF grant that is probing industry and educators for details about the new technologies are coming into industries, how fast, and how they are now, and will be dealing with the many workforce issues arising from the introduction of new technologies at the current record pace.

Barger, M., & Gilbert, R. (2020, June), The Future of Work: What is the Impact on Engineering Technicians? Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35324

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