All posts by Donna Smith

New program offers rewarding job – fast

two medical device and networking students look at a laptop

St. Petersburg College is offering a new certificate that will quickly get students jobs in a fast-growing, well-paying field. The 23-credit-hour Medical Device Networking and Cybersecurity Certificate, which can be completed in less than a year, was created at the request of local healthcare organization and medical device companies who urgently need skilled professionals who can prevent the tide of data breaches and hacking of complex medical equipment.

Engineering Dean Natavia Middleton said the job can be very rewarding.

“If you’re someone who likes working with computers and troubleshooting, and if you would like to work in a field that helps people, this would be a great career choice,” Middleton said.

Since medical device security not only impacts healthcare facilities, but can also impact the delivery of patient care, this certificate teaches students the latest technology and tools necessary to provide a strong line of defense for critical and life-saving medical equipment that is at risk of increasing cyberattacks.

“It often involves setting up networks of medical equipment, monitoring network traffic, managing networked devices through cybersecurity software, and troubleshooting medical devices that are not communicating properly,” said Program Coordinator Brian Bell. “It is an extremely fast-growing field where you get to learn new things all the time and it is a constant challenge”

Middleton said there are many career options available in this field, including cybersecurity analyst, medical device specialist, and network security analyst.

“This field is growing so quickly, she said. We’re looking at a projected 31 percent increase in jobs in this area over the next eight years.”

Not only are the jobs there, but Bell says the pay is very enticing.

“For a position as a true cybersecurity person in the healthcare system – the pay is amazing,” Bell said. Many start out as a tech and work their way up.” 

Learn more about this career and how you can get into the program here.

Make a Difference with the Biomedical Engineering Technology Degree

person works on IV monitor

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, health care careers have meant sure and steady employment. But some may not realize that caring for patients doesn’t necessarily mean direct patient care. St. Petersburg College’s Associate in Science degree in Biomedical Engineering Technology (BMET) marries health care and electronics, preparing students for the opportunity to work on equipment in an environment where they can make a difference in someone’s life.

James Ruggiero, Director of Biomedical Sales and Services at Mercury Medical, said that, just like the patient caregivers, Biomedical Engineering Techs (BMETs) have worked continuously throughout the pandemic, as clients need their services 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

“I think that the masses are beginning to have a better idea of the important role BMETs play,” Ruggiero said. “A respiratory therapist is only as good as the patient ventilator that they’re connecting to treat their patient, and an anesthesiologist is only as good as the equipment they use to anesthetize their patients.”

Developed with the guidance and support of an Advisory Committee comprised of field experts and industry leaders, SPC’s program includes industry tours, professional association meetings and technical workshops. It also crosses the curriculum with classes in computer networking, cybersecurity, and biology.

Tracy Steinberg was a small business owner when she enrolled in SPC’s program in 2011. She liked that it appealed to her entrepreneurial spirit and would allow her to explore her mechanical aptitude as well as her love of science. She was pleasantly surprised by the responses she got after sending her resume out after graduation, and accepted a position as a Field Service Engineer at Spacelabs Healthcare, a well-known medical equipment manufacturer.

“Thanks to SPC, I was prepared to enter the field of Biomedical Engineering Technology,” Steinberg said. “I’m excited about the future and my new adventure.”

Learn more about SPC’s Biomedical Technology program.

SPC Student Addresses Line Worker Safety

line worker safety

Being a utility line worker is one of the most dangerous jobs out there, as there are many things that can go wrong up on an electrical pole. That means that line worker safety is the priority, and Michael Scanlon, a St. Petersburg College Student and Work Methods Specialist for Duke Energy, has come up with a new way to keep line workers safe.

Line workers are tethered to the electrical pole with a safety belt that wraps around the pole and clips to the worker’s harness. Workers also have a secondary safety line, but it is vulnerable and could be cut. After hearing about an electrical worker who fell to his death when he accidentally cut his safety line with a chainsaw, Scanlon began exploring ways to eliminate that possibility altogether.

“I started looking at the chainsaw chaps that arborists wear as a possibility for the material,” he said, “and I wanted to use that to make a sleeve to go over the safety line.”

Scanlon, who is working on his Associate in Science Degree in Engineering Technology in SPC’s Engineering, Manufacturing and Building Arts department, brought the idea to a group project in Dr. Brian Bell’s Manufacturing Processes and Materials class.

“I already had the basic design in mind,” Scanlon said. “Dr. Bell and two other guys in my group worked with me to figure out the materials needed. It was a great opportunity to make it in class and see if it worked.”

What they came up with was a cover that zips over the safety belt and protects the line, but can be easily moved out of the way, if necessary.

“We made it and tested it and it worked,” Scanlon said. “It stopped the chainsaw and had maneuverability for climbing.”

Scanlon’s idea was adopted by Duke Energy, and is being employed by line workers now. He says he’s not motivated by potential income from the idea.

“I’m really just driven to make sure people are safe while they’re doing their jobs so that they can go home to their families,” he said.  

Engineering Technology Degree offers opportunity

engineering technology

Richard Cole’s life changed when his step-mom picked him up from the airport when he came in from Ohio for a family visit. She was enrolled in St. Petersburg College’s Engineering Technology program, and she needed to run by the lab at SPC before heading home. The things he saw there got him very interested in the program.

“All the cool equipment they have in the lab and talking to students and professors and seeing what they were doing was so exciting,” Cole said. “I was familiar with electronics, but I had no idea how cool it was or how interested I would be.”

Cole packed up and moved to St. Petersburg and began his studies in the fall of 2017.

Program Director Lara Sharp said the Associate in Science degree in Engineering Technology with the electronics subplan, which includes courses in robotics and automation and sensors, is great for a lot of people who may not have considered it before. This degree prepares its graduates for careers in a field with very high demand for workers, and if they begin in Spring of 2021, they may be eligible for a Mechatronics and Electromechanical Technician Training (METT) grant, which would pay for books and technical needs.

“If you tinker with electronics or are detail-oriented, this is a great program for you,” Sharp said. “And it also appeals to veterans, because they often have a background in electronics and it’s a way to capitalize on that skill.”

The Tampa Bay area offers plenty of job opportunities in this field, with many large companies like Jabil, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Honeywell, along with many other smaller businesses, looking to hire.

Cole, who doesn’t graduate until December 2020, has already begun a full-time job in the field.

“Part of the requirements for the degree are a four-credit co-op work experience,” Cole said. “SPC trained us to make resumes and gave us interview tips, and when it was time to get a position last summer, it was kind of a weird time to be looking, because of COVID. But Lara Sharp heard about an opening, and she emailed me on a Tuesday. I was hired within a week.”

Cole waited tables before getting his job at Micross Components, where he tests electronic parts for government contractors. He said the program was very doable, even for someone who was working and had been out of school for more than a decade, and he was offered plenty of support from SPC.

“There were late nights, he said, “But all of the faculty are fantastic. Some who weren’t even my teachers have helped me.

With all the hands-on experience SPC offers, Cole said he hit the ground running at his new job.

“There was a lot of real-world prep,” he said. “Everything I’ve learned in school, I’ve used. It’s never too late to go back to school, there is no reason not to. If someone like me can do it, you can do it.”

Anyone who is interested in the program or would like to learn more about the METT grant can call Lara Sharp at 727-398-8256, or email her at sharp.lara@ spcollege.edu.

Making Time for Community Service

Emily Crkvencic came to SPC’s Early College program in high school, and is working on her associate degree full time before transferring to pursue a higher degree in mechanical engineering. Despite holding down three part-time jobs and her school schedule, Crkvencic still makes time for community service.

Community of Care logo

Crkvencic says that SPC has provided many opportunities for her and others to get involved. She has volunteered in a wide variety of ways, including working with at-risk children and high school students, assisting with park cleanups, and teaching sailing to special-needs kids. She says that all of the community service she’s done through SPC has been meaningful, and not only helped others, but also bolstered her own social skills and fulfilled her need to have a positive influence on others.

“Time is the most valuable resource and, in my opinion, community service is the best way to reach those in need – and not just the easiest group or projects to work with,” Crkvencic said. “SPC doesn’t look for where the easiest involvement is; SPC looks for where involvement is needed.”

SPC Engineering Technology Students Get Industry Tours

engineering technology

St. Petersburg College celebrated Engineering Week Oct. 1-5, 2018, and concluded the week’s activities by giving students behind-the-scenes tours at TSE Industries  and GE Aviation. Both companies are members of the Engineering Technology Advisory Committee.

Based in Clearwater, Fla., TSE Industries is a third generation, family-owned company founded in 1962. The Klingle family’s guiding principle remains the same: Treat our customers and employees as we want to be treated. Their management team and 235 dedicated employees take pride in quality work and being a business partner you can count on and trust.

Advisory member Michelle Hintz-Prange, TSE Industries HR Manager, welcomed us, then Sales VP Gary Reese took us on a tour of the 6,000 square foot facilities. Students got to see up-close customer rubber molding and extrusion; touch real rubber from the rubber tree; and see custom plastic fabrication, CNC Machining, Millathane millable polyurethane rubber, Duro-Glide UHMW-PE Sheets and engineering plastics.

After touring the plant, we visited with the WHK’s Quality Manager, who has decades of experience in all aspects of quality control in the manufacturing field. Our tour ended with a stop by a recent SPC student’s desk. He took a few minutes to share that his time at SPC prepared him to become a valued part of the TSE team.

In the afternoon, we visited GE Aviation. Advisory Committee member Matthew Smith greeted us and took us to the boardroom, where he gave a high-level presentation on GE Aviation. At this location, their focus in on providing commercial and military solutions. As a leading provider of integrated military aircraft systems and technologies, GE Aviation is helping armed forces improve fleet reliability and performance and predict future requirements. Avionics, electrical power systems, structures, and mission equipment are all optimized for military applications and mission needs.

We then divided up into three small groups and went on a one-hour tour, where students witnessed why GE Aviation is a world-class leader in the industry.

Our day ended with cookies and an engaging conversation with the GE senior leadership team. The conversation focused on changes in the industry and how the future workforce needs to be prepared. Students were encouraged to apply for GE Internships and co-op opportunities.

A special thank you to advisory committee members Michelle and Matt for opening their doors and connecting the classroom learning with future careers for SPC students. Also, thanks to SPC Engineering and Manufacturing Dean Natavia Middleton, Program Director Lara Sharp, Career Outreach Specialist Joseph Benavides, Career and Academic Advisor Karen Sommerville, Career Connections DirectorJason Krupp and the 2018-19 Carl D. Perkins Career & Technical Education Grant.

Biomedical Engineering Technology degree added at SPC

Biomedical Technology

The Engineering, Manufacturing and Building Arts community at St. Petersburg College is happy to announce its newly-accredited Biomedical Engineering Technology A.S. degree. The program, which received SACS accreditation in August, is hosting its first official group of students in the Fall 2016 semester.

Careers in Biomedical Engineering Technology

A biomedical engineering technician’s job is to maintain and configure medical equipment and make sure that it is working safely. They may also be responsible for training staff how to use and maintain equipment. Degree-holders have a lot of flexibility when it comes to choosing a workplace. They may find jobs in hospitals, clinics, private sector companies, and the military.

St. Petersburg College’s Biomedical Technology students will complete internships, which gives them valuable work experience and industry connections. The program also offers hours of hands-on practice and interaction with industry professionals.

Program Offers Industry Certifications

Students will also be prepared for the following nationally-recognized industry certifications:

  • CBET (Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician)
  • CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management)
  • CompTIA A+ (Computing Technology Industry Association certification for service technicians)

Strong demand for biomedical equipment technicians

With the prevalence of medical device companies and health care facilities in Florida, there is a rich job market for this field. In fact, According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), national employment opportunities for biomedical equipment technicians is predicted to increase by 30 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than average.

Graduates of the Biomedical Engineering Technology program can find opportunities at health care facilities or with biomedical equipment manufacturers. Program Director Lara Sharp said that the training students will receive in the program is a direct reflection of what they will see in the workplace.

“Biomedical Engineering Technology is an opportunity to enter a growing field with good pay that allows a student to work with technology that can make a person’s life better,” Sharp said.

For more information on the Biomedical Engineering Technology A.S. degree, please contact Lara Sharp at Sharp.lara@spcollege.edu or 727-398-8256 or Dr. Brian Bell at bell.brian@spcollege.edu.