skip to main content

Title: Education in a Remote World: Focus on Workforce Readiness
Bucks County Community College (Bucks) in collaboration with Drexel University (Drexel) is committed to increasing the number of workforce ready engineers and engineering technicians and to creating a blueprint for 2+2 engineering education programs nationally. Recently, educational reform took an unexpected turn to remote teaching due to the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic. Within our NSF ATE grant to enhance our present engineering technology curriculum we modified and enhanced instructional and student engagement methods to assure workforce readiness of our students in a remote world. Curriculum enhancements within the engineering technology (ET) occupational major at Bucks and the B.S. in ET degree program at Drexel, modifications to delivery of workforce development certification programs through the Bucks Center for Workforce Development (CWD), and college-wide student engagement strategies were implemented to assure quality education and student engagement. Modifications to credit courses included asynchronous online courses, synchronous remote courses, and hybrid courses, which combined remote and on campus laboratory instruction. Our CWD implemented hybrid instruction that included necessary resources for students such as tool kits and borrowed laptop computers. In addition, a college wide program called Bucks+ was implemented through the Bucks Business and Innovation Department to increase enrollment, retention, and workforce readiness of students. more » The Bucks+ program focuses on student engagement through competition within curriculum, and extracurricular endeavors that prepare students for industry. We will share our successes and challenges within our call to action to engage students in a remote world and to enhance their educational experience through innovative instructional techniques. « less
; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Bucks County Community College (Bucks) is aware of the growing and urgent need for workforce ready technicians to fill numerous industry positions. Our NSF ATE grant #1902075 entitled, "Increasing the Number of Workforce Ready Engineering Technicians in Southeastern PA” is a collaboration between Bucks credit and non-credit sides of the college, and Drexel University as our four-year partner. This grant focuses on workforce readiness of engineering technicians to prepare them for the workforce of the future. We are accomplishing this by including our Center for Workforce Development (CWD) certifications as additional pathways into our occupational engineering technology (ET) major, enhancing manufacturing experiences within the major, and embedding soft skills training and career exploration throughout our ET program. We have restructured our ET major to make it more cross-curricular to accommodate diverse industry needs, and to require a greater business aspect. Within this restructuring, we have created courses in different modalities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are committed to increasing awareness of STEM education to underrepresented groups through K-12 STEM-related outreach initiatives, and are in the process of establishing a plan to recruit such groups into our technician education programs. In addition to the services already in place atmore »Bucks, development of our recruitment plan includes professional development sessions of faculty and staff, discussion sessions at national conferences, Professional Learning Communities, special convenings of students, and outreach initiatives to school districts with a higher percentage of underrepresented groups. We expect that fulfillment of the goals of this grant will increase the number of engineering technicians in our region, and become a blueprint for community colleges nationwide.« less
  2. Our community college will utilize funds from an NSF ATE grant to develop and integrate and innovative teaching model designed to prepare future technicians for industry by incorporating soft skills training, career exploration, and entrepreneurship. This collaborative model will formally connect our Center for Workforce Development (CWD) sector with our for-credit engineering technology program, our Business and Innovation Department and with our educational partners. This innovative project will enable our college to strengthen our technician education programs, formalize connections with CWD and our Business and Innovation Department, and prepare students for industry jobs through shadowing opportunities, employment, entrepreneurship, internships, and real-world, collaborative outreach. Our community college will collaborate with our Industry Advisory Board (IAB), CWD, and educational partners to (a) integrate an innovative teaching model for technician education that includes a formalized shadowing and internship program and connects students to opportunities in business and entrepreneurship; (b) require students to take a manufacturing laboratory course to introduce hands-on industry-related experiences; (c) include certifications that award digital badges, military training, and industry experience in our engineering technology program. It is our intention that this model for an enhanced educational experience designed to increase workforce readiness of students will become a blueprint formore »other programs and institutions.« less
  3. Despite national efforts in increasing representation of minority students in STEM disciplines, disparities prevail. Hispanics account for 17.4% of the U.S. population, and nearly 20% of the youth population (21 years and below) in the U.S. is Hispanic, yet they account for just 7% of the STEM workforce. To tackle these challenges, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has granted a 5-year project – ASSURE-US, that seeks to improve undergraduate education in Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) at California State University, Fullerton. The project seeks to advance student success during the first two years of college for ECS students. Towards that goal, the project incorporates a very diverse set of approaches, such as socio-cultural and academic interventions. Multiple strategies including developing early intervention strategies in gateway STEM courses, creating a nurturing faculty-student interaction and collaborative learning environment, providing relevant, contextual-based learning experiences, integrating project-based learning with engineering design in lower-division courses, exposing lower-division students to research to sustain student interests, and helping students develop career-readiness skills. The project also seeks to develop an understanding of the personal, social, cognitive, and contextual factors contributing to student persistence in STEM learning that can be used by STEM faculty to improve their pedagogical andmore »student-interaction approaches. This paper summarizes the major approaches the ASSURE-US project plans to implement to reduce the achievement gap and motivate ECS students to remain in the program. Preliminary findings from the first-year implementation of the project including pre- and post- data were collected and analyzed from about one hundred freshmen and sophomore ECS students regarding their academic experience in lower-division classes and their feedback for various social support events held by the ASSURE-US project during the academic year 2018-19. The preliminary results obtained during the first year of ASSURE-US project suggests that among the different ASSURE-US activities implemented in the first year, both the informal faculty-student interactions and summer research experiences helped students commit more to their major during their lower-division years. The pre-post surveys also show improvements in terms of awareness among ASSURE-US students for obtaining academic support services, understanding career options and pathways, and obtaining personal counseling services.« less
  4. This research evaluates the impact of switching college engineering courses from in-person instruction to emergency remote learning among engineering students at a university in the Midwest. The study aimed to answer the question: What were the concerns and perceived challenges students faced when traditional in-person engineering courses suddenly transitioned to remote learning? The goal of this study is to uncover the challenges students were facing in engineering online courses and to understand students’ concerns. Our findings can help improve teaching instruction to provide students with previously unavailable educational assistance for online engineering courses. We collected online survey responses during weeks 8 and 9 of the academic semester, shortly after the COVID-19 shutdown and emergency transition to remote learning in Spring 2020. The survey included two open-ended questions which inquired about students’ feedback about moving the class online, and one two-item scale which assessed students’ confidence in online engineering learning. Data analysis for the open-ended questions was guided by the theoretical framework - Social Cognitive Career Theory [1] that explores how context, person factors and social cognitions contribute to career goals, interests and actions. A phenomenological approach [2] was conducted to understand the experience of these students. Open coding and axialmore »coding [2] methods were used to create initial categories then themes related to students' concerns and challenges. Data from the two-item scale was evaluated using descriptive statistics: means, standard deviations, and ranges. Four main themes with separate sub-categories emerged from the student responses: 1) Instructor’s ability to teach course online (Instructional limitations, Seeking help, Increased Workload), 2) Student’s ability to learn online (Time Management, Lower engagement and motivation, Harder to absorb material, Hard to focus, Worry about performance), 3) Difficulties outside of class (Technology issues), and 4) No concerns. Students seemed more concerned about their ability to learn the material (48% of responses) than the instructor’s ability to teach the material (36% of responses). The instructional limitations or lack of instructional support (22% of responses) and time management (12% of responses) were among the major concerns in the sub-categories. The results from two-item scale indicated participants' s confidence in their ability to master their classroom knowledge was at an intermediate level via online instruction (6/10), and participants' confidence in the instructor's ability to teach knowledge in online classes is moderate to high (7/10). The results align with the open-ended question response in which students were somewhat more concerned about their ability to learn than the instructor’s ability to teach. The themes and analysis will be a valuable tool to help institutions and instructors improve student learning experiences.« less
  5. International collaborations for community colleges are important for students who will be competing for employment yet are often overlooked due to the perception that international means expensive. The International Education Initiative (IEI) provides opportunities for international collaboration among community college faculty and students. The IEI is a multi-tiered program that allows different levels of participation and cost for faculty and students through funding from the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Program and the French Embassy in the United States. While the main focus is engineering and technology courses, partners have also included business and communications classes, creating a truly interdisciplinary program. Students participating in these programs can expect to have greater cross-cultural maturity and awareness of the wider world, increased confidence in finding future success in the global workforce, and increased ability to deploy 21st Century skills such as technology and teamwork. Faculty participating in the program can expect to have increased confidence and skills in faculty to support students in achieving 21st century skills; increased ability to co-teach and work effectively with and overseas partner, and more motivation and readiness to sustain overseas partnerships and help grow the international program. The Connecticut Collaborative Learning for International Capabilities andmore »Knowledge (CT CLICKs) provides the opportunity for students to receive a global experience as part of a course they are already taking. During the first year of the program, Faculty from Connecticut community colleges partnered with faculty from French Insitituts universitaires de technologie (IUTs), French equivalent of community colleges, to co-teach curriculum modules to their participating classes. The second year added the option of co-facilitating a project between the two classes. All teaching, assignments, and projects were completed through virtual platforms. Several travel opportunities have been provided for student and faculty participants. These have either been through the attendance of international technology bootcamps that were organized by the French Embassy or a partner IUT or through a travel program organized by the IEI. Both travel options include experiences that provide an overview of French engineering and technology education, industry, history, and culture. A faculty recruitment and preparation model has been created to continuously onboard new faculty for the IEI program. The model includes a program overview workshop, partner matching, and curriculum design workshop that all take place virtually. The CT CLICKs program has built steadily and quickly. The number of teachers participating grew from 6 to 29 in the first three years with more than 6 teachers repeating or developing new modules. A total of 334 students have participated in the CT CLICKs program since fall 2017. The number of Connecticut campuses grew from 1 to 8 and overseas partner campuses grew from 2 to 5. Participant survey data shows that the program is continuously improving in helping students gain a better worldview and how to collaborate cross-culturally and helping faculty incorporate international collaboration into their courses.« less