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Report sheds light on value of two-year engineering technology degree


A recent national report by the National Academy of Engineering’s Committee on Engineering Technology Education in the United States asserts that U.S. innovation will require the production and retention of workers skilled in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Mel Cossette, executive director and principal investigator of the National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education (MatEdU)

“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.”

For more information about Edmonds CC’s degrees, go to

Other members of the Committee on Engineering Technology Education in the U.S. include: Co-chair Katharine G. Frase, IBM Corporation; Co-Chair Ronald M. Latanision, Exponent, Inc.; Walter Buchanan, Texas A&M University; Werner Eikenbusch, BMW Group; Christopher Fox, Howard County Public Schools; Joyce Gleason, educational consultant; Daniel Hull, National Center for Optics and Photonics Education; Sharon Levin, University of Missouri; Jeffrey Ray, Western Carolina University; Michael Richey, The Boeing Company; Melvin Roberts, Camden County College; James L. Stone, National Research Center for Career and Technical Education at the Southern Regional Education Board; and Will Tyson, University of South Florida.

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