Eastern Florida State Center for Innovative Technology Education Will Meet Needs of the Space Coast
By Space Coast Daily // June 23, 2022
Brevard ranks first in Florida and sixth in the U.S. for the most highly concentrated, high-tech workforce
Brevard County ranks first in Florida and sixth in the U.S. for the most highly concentrated, high-tech workforce. According to the Space Coast Economic Development Commission, Brevard County ranks in first place for the most concentrated high technology economy, and 1st Place for the largest share of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) employment in Florida.
THE SPACE COAST, USA – Brevard County, home to Florida’s unique and precious Space Coast, is known as a high-tech powerhouse and is one of the keys to keeping technology giants like L3HARRIS Corporation, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman in the great State of Florida.
According to the Space Coast Economic Development Commission, Brevard County ranks in first place for the most concentrated high technology economy, and first place for the largest share of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) employment in Florida.
Furthermore, Brevard County ranks first in Florida and sixth in the U.S. for the most highly concentrated, high-tech workforce.
While the State of Florida and the public and private university systems do outstanding work providing the number of engineering graduates needed for these essential companies, Florida is not meeting the needs for the critical technical support staff needed to assist the engineering and manufacturing processes.
Company executives can frequently be heard saying that for every engineer they hire, they must hire 4 to 5 support technicians. While companies can often attract and recruit engineers from across the state, and even the nation, with high-paying positions, they are finding it much more challenging to satisfy their needs for technical support staff.
Salary levels for support staff are typically half that of engineers, which makes national recruitment difficult if not impossible. Corporate CEOs and CPOs advise that the majority of these vacancies must be filled by persons coming from the regional area.
Although Florida’s Space Coast is the epicenter of highly technical industries in our state, including aerospace and other highly technical fields, their personnel needs are not being met to satisfy their need to grow and compete in today’s highly competitive world market.
If Florida does not take seriously this personnel shortfall of a trained and educated technical workforce, major companies will have no choice other than to leave our state in search of areas with better human resource opportunities.
In addition to the concerns that come with losing key companies, it is more than likely that Brevard County and the State of Florida will lose the opportunity to attract new and desirable businesses to our area because of those same limitations.
Brevard County has an outstanding public school system and has thousands of students poised and willing to assume these high-paying technical support positions if training and education are made possible.
As a result, Florida’s Space Coast has both the students and the employment opportunities; the only thing lacking is the proper facilities to provide the needed training and education.
Major National and International Cargo Hub; New Era of Human Spaceflight
In addition to the 550 manufacturers in our region, Brevard County is also becoming a major national and international cargo hub with the construction of the Titusville Logistics Center Class A warehouse space, which is assuring Port Canaveral competes as a “premier maritime gateway.”
Port Canaveral transportation and logistics initiatives are expected to result in 400 to 500 new jobs in the county. Additionally, port officials are seeking to establish a rail link between US 1 and the port cargo area, further enhancing the port’s cargo business.
A new era of human spaceflight has begun from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center with the launch of astronauts to the International Space Station in the first crewed flights since the space shuttle program ended in 2011.
This program is driven by rapidly growing commercial companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, and others that will fly the crews, and which are also building rocket and satellite manufacturing facilities at KSC – with more planned – that are dependent on a highly-skilled workforce.
The flights to the space station are expected to lead to human missions back to the Moon and eventually Mars in the 2020s, fueling more business expansion and economic growth in Florida.
Those are among the factors that make it imperative that Eastern Florida State College receive the necessary A&E funding to provide the educational facilities Florida’s Space Coast both needs and deserves.
Easter Florida State Center for Innovative Technology Education
Eastern Florida State College is well-positioned to play an important role in creating a talent pipeline of space workers for the new wave of exploration and the global leadership that will go with it.
Eastern Florida State College is keenly aware of the local business and industry demand to meet the ever-changing technology education and training needs. The college plays a significant role in preparing a workforce for technical and transportation companies. EFSC consistently ranks as one of the leading U.S. degree producers.
In the Top 100 Associate Degree Producers 2016, the College ranked 35 for overall associate degrees and 28 for STEM degrees. To meet the present and future demands of corporations for a technologically competent workforce requiring minimal training after hire, EFSC proposes to establish the “Center for Innovative Technology Education” (CITE).
CITE will be the place where the current and next-generation workforce is trained and educated. CITE will be inclusive and accessible to the citizens of Brevard County and the State of Florida. It will serve as a catalyst in the creation of a globally competitive 21st-century workforce.
CITE will support programs that prepare students for one-fourth of the occupations listed on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Regional Demand High Skill, High Wage Jobs List 2016-2017, as well as other occupations in the fields of STEM.
CITE Allows EFSC to be Responsive to Corporate and Business Needs
The $19.74 million, 36,557 square-foot building will be constructed to the LEED Silver Standard certification level on Eastern Florida’s main campus located in Melbourne, Florida. CITE will allow EFSC to be more responsive to corporate and business needs by providing multi-purpose laboratories and flexible learning systems to meet their individual needs.
The CITE environment will strengthen existing relationships with local businesses and employers by encouraging industry-educational partnerships to develop the technical workforce critical to Florida’s Space Coast and all of Florida. With cutting-edge equipment, curricula and students working in teams, the facility will simulate working environments and industry best practices.
The facility will allow EFSC to deliver workforce education that will be timely, market-responsive, and flexible in delivery mechanisms with a laser focus on giving students the skills they need to gain employment in high-paying technical professions.
EFSC has the support of local employers for this project, as stated by Gary Sulski, Operations Coordinator for the Space Coast Tech Council, “We have witnessed Eastern Florida State College’s continual growth to become an integral part of the technology community here on the Space Coast.
With the increase in re-shoring by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) in the area, it’s imperative that we have an educational institution that can forge relationships between academia, government, and industry to provide the necessary curriculum, and also provide optimum candidates for the many new positions becoming available by local employers. We are excited to be working with EFSC and this Technology Education Center as it serves to support the whole community.”
Cloud technology will ensure that each laboratory has access to multiple software programs used by a variety of employers in different industries, a capacity unavailable in the current sole-use laboratories. Cost-effective CITE laboratories will be easily re-configured to provide students with access to software used by Florida high-tech employers.
Additionally, industry testing and nationally recognized certification assessments will be available at CITE, providing employers with access to an approved testing facility. One example includes training and testing for CATIA.
High-End 3D Design Software
This high-end 3D design software is the benchmark for many aerospace, aviation and automotive companies. Industry leaders such as Embraer, Boeing, Tesla Motors, Honda, Toyota, and Ford utilize the software in their design process.
EFSC and the CITE will be one of only ten CATIA-approved Accredited Certification Centers in all of North America. Utilizing CITE as the workforce testing and training center will allow employees to obtain and maintain professional certifications to remain competitive.
Designed to adapt to the current and future needs of employers, CITE will initially support the computer science, aviation/aerospace, manufacturing, transportation, and logistics industries with the ability to serve other industries in response to economic changes in the state and county.
CITE will create innovative synergy by bringing employers together with faculty, staff, and students from disciplines such as Data Science, Geographic Information Systems, Computer Science, Business, Transportation and Logistics, and EFSC Corporate Services. Areas of the facility will be dedicated to allowing students to network with future employers and facilitate internships.
Corporations considering moving to Florida and current Brevard employers will benefit from these features of CITE:
■ Traditional A.S. and B.A.S. course offerings in high wage, high demand occupational programs
The CITE facility will be able to serve up to 200-250 new students enrolled in courses focusing on business and technology skill sets needed immediately in the county to satisfy local workforce needs.
■ Customized noncredit corporate training for incumbent workers
Enhanced corporate training will be possible due to the ability of CITE to reconfigure labs for short-term courses requiring specialized software, and to offer hands-on training to seasoned engineers.
■ Professional licensing and certification training
To address some of the fastest-growing industries in Brevard County, this CITE facility will host state-approved, pre-licensing and continuing education training programs for contractors, and insurance and securities professionals.
■ Graduates from EFSC certificate and associate degree programs trained in software used by area companies
Expected EFSC programs accessing CITE include among others: Cyber Security, Computer Science, Geographic Information Systems, Transportation and Logistics, and Business with specializations in Human Resource Management, Industrial Management, and Leadership. Advanced drafting and design software training currently not available to support major employers such as Embraer and Harris will also be offered at CITE.
■ Part-time trade training in short-term programs to meet immediate needs
All major employers have an ongoing need for logistics and supply chain management trained professionals. Brevard County is uniquely positioned for meaningful collaboration with both industry and government operations. With access to Cape Canaveral, Kennedy Space Center, U.S. Air Force, and multiple large industry leaders, CITE would house a nationally recognized SCM/Logistics Training program.
■ Assistance to startup companies
Newly established companies in combination with companies that are expanding into new areas of expertise will have access to talented students and potential employees through the use of student internships and service-learning opportunities.
Advanced students in the area of data management specialization will have the opportunity to assist small business owners in analyzing data to aid in critical decision-making. Eastern Florida’s business students can further assist regional companies with designing and developing social media marketing and market research plans to help companies operate and strategize more intelligently with the goal of enhancing profitability and competitiveness.
■ Assistance with identification of potential employees
The EFSC Career Center will be located in the CITE building to serve as an effective liaison between students and potential employers. The EFSC Office of Internship and Experiential Learning will also be housed in the CITE building to provide both student and potential employers the opportunity for professional networking and mentoring relationships.
■ Future and current employees trained in teamwork with a high level of soft skills
Brevard employers express concern regarding incoming employees’ lack of soft skills. This lack of workforce readiness is prevalent nationwide; more than 44% of employers surveyed by the staffing company Adecco identified soft skills such as communication and teamwork as a problem. CITE curricula will support the students’ acquisition of soft skills, which has been strongly encouraged by corporate leaders.
■ Increased capability in STEM educational opportunities
A large portion of this new facility will be dedicated to the enhancement and improvement of STEM education. There is a direct relationship between STEM education and technical certification training, which will be made possible by this facility. Individuals seeking AS or BS degrees in science are among those same students who will be highly recruited for supplemental training certifications and employment by high-tech companies.
EFSC students – the future workforce of Brevard County – will benefit from enhanced employability due to programmatic upgrades made possible by increased software availability in CITE laboratories and a curriculum that integrates the acquisition of soft skills and applied technical expertise. CITE will establish capstone projects that require students to work on teams to prepare them for the social aspects of employment assisting in their likelihood of success.
Multi-disciplinary teams including representatives from Accounting, Transportation and Logistics, Geographic Information Systems, Business, and Data Sciences will assist small business owners in positive problem-solving. Through the creation and utilization of CITE, numerous new partnerships with area businesses will lead to guaranteed internships and jobs for students.
EFSC officials have received approximately 70 letters of support for this project from many of our nation’s finest space-related companies and agencies (i.e., NASA, Blue Origin, Harris Corp, Collins Aerospace, One Web Satellites, Lockheed Martin, etc.) because of its importance to the Space Coast with some of their comments detailed below.
Even agencies such as NASA have endorsed the project, which is unusual because they typically do not get involved in state projects, but this project is so important to the Space Coast, they see this as an exception.
“NASA will be working with secondary students in Brevard County and beyond and can now direct many of those students to Eastern Florida State College with the knowledge that they will be able to have a world-class educational experience at the CITE facility.”
– Loy W. Trevino, Industry Partners Manager, NASA
“With this CITE project, we are increasing job opportunities for traditional and non-traditional students. We will retain more talent in the state and attract more talent to come.”
– Kai Schmidt, HR Director, OneWeb Satellites
“We see an important need for the proposed CITE project to extend current training and job opportunities that benefit traditional and non-traditional students while serving as a pipeline for aerospace, aviation, welding, industrial technology maintenance, engineering technology, and computer science industries. We believe this will contribute to providing much needed highly-advanced, technical workforce skills for our central region.”
– Joe Mayer, Director, Government Relations – Florida, Lockheed Martin Space
“As we continue to expand our Florida manufacturing, test, and operations footprint, we are interested in how our internship and full-time opportunities align with CITE qualified candidates. We also look forward to exploring opportunities for curriculum development and sharing subject matter expertise.”
– Scott Henderson, Vice President, Test and Flight Operations, Blue Origin
“Artemis IT offers its full support to Eastern Florida State College for the construction of a new Center for Innovative Technology Education. ”
– Travis Proctor, CEO, Artemis
“For more than two decades, EFSC has worked extensively with Brevard Public Schools to develop a collaboration that has significantly impacted our students, curriculum, faculty and staff. BPS works with many community organizations, but few can be called partnerships that share a common vision and resources to meet such critical and diverse community needs. Therefore, it is without reservation that I provide this letter of support to EFSC for the CITE project.”
– Mark W. Mullins, Ed.D., Superintendent, Brevard Public Schools