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Who is Going to Teach the Skills Needed by the IoT Field Technician?

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Technology and Manufacturing

Tagged Division

Two-Year College

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Paper Authors


Gary J. Mullett Springfield Technical Community College

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Gary J. Mullett, a Professor of Electronics Technology and Co-Department Chair, presently teaches in the Electronics Group at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) located in Springfield, MA. A long time faculty member and consultant to local business and industry, Mullett has provided leadership and initiated numerous curriculum reforms as either the Chair or Co-Department Chair of the four technology degree programs that constitute the Electronics Group. Since the mid-1990s, he has been active in the NSF’s ATE and CCLI programs as a knowledge leader in the wireless telecommunications field. A co-founder of the long running National Center for Telecommunications Technologies (then the ICT Center) located at STCC, Mullett also played a principle role in the development of the innovative and long running Verizon NextStep employee training program. The author of two text books, Basic Telecommunications – The Physical Layer and Wireless Telecommunications Systems and Networks, Mullett did both his undergraduate and graduate work (in Remote Sensing) in the ECE Department at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where he also taught the undergraduate sequence of courses in electromagnetics. He has presented at numerous local, regional, and national conferences and also internationally on telecommunications and wireless topics and on the status of the education of electronics technicians at the two-year college level. His current interests are: the development of novel and innovative systems-level approaches to the education of technicians, applications of the emerging field of wired and wireless networked embedded controllers and sensor/actuator networks, and cyber-physical system applications in the context of the Internet of Things (IoT).

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If one watches recent TV commercials or reads white papers from IBM, Cisco, AT&T, Samsung, Apple, Goggle, Microsoft, and other leading companies in the technology fields, it is apparent that these entities believe that their future is dependent upon a newly emerging technology paradigm – that of the Internet of Things (IoT). Furthermore, specific economy sectors have even coined new terms to indicate their willingness to embrace this new technology and the anticipated benefits that its application to their area will bring. Advanced manufacturing touts Industry 4.0 and the industrial IoT or IIoT. e-healthcare is the future of medicine in both clinical settings and in the home. The automobile industry is rapidly introducing new vehicle safety features that are based on cyber-physical systems with the ultimate goal being the production of extremely safe autonomous vehicles. The transportation sector now uses the term - the Internet of moving vehicles or IoMV. Plus, the power industry likes to talk about the potential energy savings and efficiency of the smart-gird. The enabling technologies of IoT applications, namely, embedded controllers, sophisticated sensors and actuators, and wired and wireless networks are not commonly taught to the technical workforce of the industry sectors mentioned above. These technologies are truly inter-disciplinary in nature and not typically considered to be core skills for technicians in these fields. In fact, they are not usually taught in a single STEM field but are the purview of a combination of electronics/computer/networking type traditional technical programs. Many of the companies mentioned above have launched educational web sites about IoT technologies and Cisco, through its proprietary world-wide networking academy program, has started to develop low-level introductory web-based courses about IoT applications. However, to develop the workforce needed to deal with these emerging, multi-tens of trillions of dollars economic engines, will require a more focused endeavor. If an effort is made to supply technicians with the skill sets needed to install, evaluate, maintain, and up-grade these advanced IoT application systems (i.e. an IoT field technician), it will most likely need to be done through the development of add-on certificates to existing, in-place, electronics/computer/networking programs at the two-year college level that bring the student up-to-date on the base technology and then address the enabling technologies’ role in the deployment of specific IoT systems or, alternatively, through add-on courses that give the graduate from a particular technical area expertise in the enabling technologies. This paper will examine the pros and cons of these methods and look at possible curricula models that will attempt to achieve the desired results.

Mullett, G. J. (2019, June), Who is Going to Teach the Skills Needed by the IoT Field Technician? Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33558

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