A recent national report co-authored by Edmonds Community College’s Mel Cossette asserts that U.S. innovation will require the production and retention of workers skilled in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
“The purpose of this report was to shed light on the relatively underappreciated roles and contributions of engineering technicians and technologists,” said Mel Cossette, executive director and principal investigator of the National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education (MatEdU) and coauthor of the report, “Engineering Technology Education in the United States.” MatEdU, a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education funded center, is housed at Edmonds Community College.
The report presents and analyzes the findings and recommendations in four areas: the nature of engineering technology education, supply and demand, educational and employment pathways, and data collection and analysis.
According to Cossette, the focus has been on four-year degrees in engineering; however, two-year community and technical colleges are graduating “excellent” technicians in engineering technology.
The report makes the following comparison: If engineers are viewed as being responsible for designing the nation’s technological systems, then engineering technicians and technologists are the ones who help build and keep those systems running.
“The demand for trained engineering technicians is high because it takes a support team with many technicians to support one engineer,” Cossette said.
Edmonds CC offers Engineering Technology associate degrees in Materials Science Technology, Manufacturing and Materials Science Technology, and Robotics and Electronics, and certificates in Aircraft Electronics Technician and Basic Electronics.
“Many potential technician students are not aware of interesting and rewarding careers as engineering technicians,” Cossette wrote in “Educational Pathways for Engineering Technicians,” an article for the National Academy of Engineering’s publication “The Bridge” (Summer 2017 edition) and co-authored with colleague Daniel Hull.
“They may not also know that U.S. two-year colleges offer relatively low tuition and strong opportunities for technician graduates to enter the workforce at annual starting salaries exceeding $50,000.”