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What's Next? The Future of Work for Manufacturing Technicians

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Manufacturing Division - Workforce Development and Curricular Innovations

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Paper Authors


Marilyn Barger P.E. FLATE, Florida Advanced Technological Education Center

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Dr. Marilyn Barger is the Director of FLATE, the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center a part of the FloridaMakes Network, and previously funded by the National Science Foundation. 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 STEM 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 the 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 the Co-PI for an NSF grant that supports FLATE, Advanced Technological Education in Florida ,the the NSF Center of Excellence, which was founded through substantial funding from NSF. FLATE, now funded by the NIST MEP program and the Florida Department of Education, 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 20 patents and cancer treatment protocols completing FDA Phase III trials.

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Phil Centonze FloridaMakes


Sam Ajlani College of Central Florida

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Master's degree in Industrial Systems Engineering from the University of Florida. 30 Years of Experience in Manufacturing as a technician, Maintenance Manager, Plant Engineer, Division Engineer, and Corporate Project Engineer. 17 years teaching Engineering Technology in the Two-year College System of Georgia and the Florida College System.

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There is much talk about the Future of Work and future workspaces. What will the job look like and how will people work in these spaces? But was does that look like for manufacturing when we focus on the production floor? What does it mean to the future of work for engineering technicians working in these facilities? This paper explores the data collected in Florida from 2-year college engineering technician educators and manufacturers. Four Industry 4.0 (I-4.0) technology areas that directly impact the technicians on Industry 4.0 technologies and the skills needed to set up, operate, troubleshoot, and maintain the equipment related to these emerging technologies in the next 5 years. The paper identifies the four identified technologies that will be specifically important for technicians are: autonomous robots, simulation, Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) and Fabrication (Additive and Subtractive) and Advanced Materials. The questionnaire results reveal a few significant gaps between educators and manufacturers; some skills that neither group thought would be important, as well as skills that all agreed, would be important for technicians in the near future. This paper reports on the aggregated data results from both groups and the identified priorities. It will also report on the National Science Foundation-funded Caucus of manufacturers and educators held to better understand the identified Future of Work technician skills and what they mean in the workplace. The caucus will also review and prioritize the needed skills identified and make recommendations for the shrinking the defined gaps with additional content and activities for educational programs designed with both educators and industry partners.

Barger, M., & Gilbert, R., & Centonze, P., & Ajlani, S. (2021, July), What's Next? The Future of Work for Manufacturing Technicians Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38053

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