Faculty, staff earn statewide recognition for best practices

Some Palm Beach State College faculty and staff were recently recognized for launching an innovative three-week engineering program last year for high school students, while others were honored for establishing partnerships with local and national organizations to better assist students preparing for various workforce careers.

BEST summer academy
Students participate in BEST summer academy at the Palm Beach Gardens campus.

These Best Practice Awards were presented during the 2017 Florida Career Pathways Network Symposium Jan. 11-13 in Jupiter. The FCPN assists its members in planning, implementing, evaluating and improving secondary and postsecondary transition programs by pooling the resources of the country’s leading practitioners.

Palm Beach State faculty and staff presented three Best Practice initiatives, which were among a total of 26 Best Practice presentations held during the symposium that drew about 150 attendees. The presenters and awardees were chosen after a statewide call for submissions. PBSC initiatives include:

  • BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) Summer Academy, which the College hosted for the first time in summer 2016 as part of its InnovATE grant from the National Science Foundation. Forty students from 18 high schools in Martin, Palm Beach and Broward counties participated in the inaugural program. Students met with professional engineers, designed and built projects, toured local industry, and participated in team-building and peer leadership activities. Honored for their roles were: Ana Szogi, who served as InnovATE Grant Coordinator, and Oleg Andric, Dr. Ira Rosenthal, Lilian Jordan and Dr. Becky Mercer, who are all professors on the Palm Beach Gardens campus.
  • Necessary Skills Now, a national initiative funded by the National Science Foundation, which Palm Beach State joined last year after partnering with Marilyn Berger, executive director of Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE). FLATE is the go-to organization for manufacturing and advanced technical education, best practices and resources supporting the high performance skilled workforce for Florida’s manufacturing sectors. The initiative brings together educators and employers to develop approaches to infuse six targeted employability skills into existing course lessons and projects using project-based learning. The current focus is on manufacturing and cybersecurity career programs.

Professor Roxana Melendez, who teaches Engineering Technology, said while PBSC’s participation is in its infancy, she wanted to share the information with other academic institutions that might be interested in getting involved. “We wanted to emphasize how important it is for students to work on their soft skills,’’ said Melendez. She and Berger were honored.

  • Multi-dimensional partnerships between CareerSource Palm Beach County and Palm Beach State benefiting students and employers. Staff showcased the series of ways in which the College works with the local workforce board. For example, CareerSource Palm Beach County has been involved in the business advisory boards for the College’s trade programs. It also has provided on-the-job training funds for businesses that hire Palm Beach State graduates. The funds pays the wages of the employees for 90 days while the students complete their education.

Rick Reeder, associate dean of trade and industry programs, said it is an “innovative way for the employer to have a low-risk way of looking at a worker. It helps to promote employment, and it is contributing to the economic development in the county. We work together on a lot of different levels, and we go out of our way to help each other be successful,’’ said Reeder. He and Katherine Bonner, director of client programs for CareerSource Palm Beach County, were honored.

Dr. Roger Yohe, vice president of academic affairs, applauded the work of faculty and staff. “It was an honor to see these PBSC educators receive recognition by this state-wide organization.  We can learn from their work that innovation and collaboration have a significant impact on student completion.”

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