Around the Country in 30 Days: Updates from the Executive Director on STEM Events

There is no shortage of focus on Workforce Education around the country and within the NSF ATE community. Not only have we been busy here in Florida attending and presenting at the ET Forum, the grand opening of the Manufacturing Alliance of Hillsborough County, regional scholarship golf tournaments and meetings hosted by Regional Manufacturers Associations, SkillsUSA Florida (see article) and the Florida Engineering Education Conference, but we have been busy across the country. Take a walk through my April out-of-state events where I found some best practices to bring home to Florida and shared many of our own best practices with others.

MODEX EXPO 4/7-8 Atlanta

FLATE visited MODEX, referred to as “"the Greatest Supply Chain Show on Earth" held at the 

Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. MODEX Student Days is hosted by several well-known supply chain, material movement associations and their foundations to expose students to the careers and opportunities in this growing field that is increasingly using more mechatronics systems like we have already seen growing in manufacturing and production companies. After one day in the massive exhibit hall and listening to speakers, the students toured several nearby facilities to see implementations first-hand. 

Educators were bused to tour of the Norfolk Southern Training Center on the outskirts of the Atlanta metro area. The training center was amazing in size and scope. Training programs (apprentice like) for various railroad technical employees takes place at the facility from engineers, conductors, mechanics, and more. All office personnel and administrators also learn how to put the giant train engines together and make minor repairs. It was a fascinating experience as we learned a lot about running a railroad, the job opportunities, and training programs, as well as the company’s philosophy and investment in its future workforce.

Early in April, FLATE partners participated in a panel discussion at the American Association of

Community Colleges (AACC) in Chicago, IL. The conference is “the go-to place” for college administrators and educators at all levels involved in all aspects of community colleges, including workforce education. Dr. Barger, FLATE Executive Director and P.I was joined by Dr. Nancee Sorenson, President of the HCC Brandon Campus (host of FLATE Center), Terry Iverson, President of Iverson & Company, FLATE’s National Visiting Committee (NVC) chairperson and Dr. Celeste Carter, Program Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education program.

The Panel “NSF Support for Community Colleges - Community College Leaders Address the Benefits and Challenges of Leading STEM Technician Efforts” focused on some tough questions on: the value to colleges for hosting national and regional efforts when their missions are more local; funding high cost technical programs; engaging students in high-technology technician career pathways, and building and sustaining partnership with industry.

AMTEC and CARCAM NVC meetings 4/13-15 Hammond, IN; Lincoln, AL
AACC was followed by participation in two National Visiting Committee meeting. The AMTEC 
NVC meeting was hosted by the Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation (CIVS) at Purdue Northwest. CIVS is developing a training simulation for AMTEC that aligns to their automotive manufacturing curriculum modules and equipment. We got to explore the many worlds of virtual and augmented reality and its uses for education and training as well as research. 

Just a day later during the CARCAM NVC, we toured the new Honda Engine plant in Lincoln, AL. This amazing place is filled wall to wall with nearly 100 robots building and assembling Honda engines. The bright, clean and new facility is now producing all the engines for the vehicles produced there in Lincoln, AL. Along with the review meeting at both NVC’s these visits with partners help tell the stories of the NSF ATE Centers in ways words cannot. I wish I could share a photo of the Honda Engine Plant.

NWFMC member meeting 4/20 Pensacola
FLATE presented an overview of FLATE center activities and project at the Northwest Florida 

Manufacturing Council (NWFMC) member meeting on April 20 at Pensacola State College. Also presenting at this meeting were FLATE education and outreach partners: Leo Reddy, Chairman and CEO of MSSC, Kevin Carr, President of FloridaMakes, and Ted Norman, State Supervisor for Engineering & Technology Education. Over fifty attendees also heard from the Japanese Consulate, regional updates of educational activities and met students in the new manufacturing high school programs. The highlight of the meeting was the tour of Pensacola State College’s machining labs where the high school students were introduced to the amazing capabilities of multi-axis CNC machines, by Mike Cannon, Machining instructor at Pensacola State.

CCTA Webinar 4/28 “Highlights of Resources of NSF ATE Manufacturing Centers”
On April 28, as the host/organizer of a CCTA (Collaborative Centers for Technical Assistance) webinar, FLATE assembled six manufacturing focused ATE regional and support centers to participate in this lightning round presentation about our leading resources. It was fun to collaborate on this fast-paced, and well-received webinar. You can access the slide deck and recording on the ATE Centers website and at

Manufacturing Summit 3.0 at Virginia Western Community College 4/29 Roanoke
I closed the month with the Mechatronics program at VWCC, participating in a career coach

workshop and their growing annual Manufacturing Summit 3.0. This annual event is the brainstorm of Dan Horine, mechatronics faculty at VWCC and P.I. of an NSF ATE grant to grow that program by building strong connections with industry and the regional high schools. Approximately 75 attendees heard updates about the VWCC program, engaged in shared discussions and toured both the mechatronics lab and program’s new FabLab that are used to engage students before, during and after they technical degrees. Find out more about this state-of-the-art program at

A busy Spring has heralded another challenging and fun summer for us at FLATE. I invite you to read the rest the May edition of the FLATE Focus which highlights additional stories about events that are coming up later this summer. Our summer camp season is already upon us. For those of you in the Tampa Bay area and in Florida who have middle and high school students in your family, sign them up for one of our camps! April was also that time of the year when the Manufacturing Institute recognizes women in STEM across the country. Skim through this year's list of awardees in Florida and stay tuned for follow-up stories on these amazing women who continue to make their mark in STEM education and training. We also have several updates from SkillsUSA Conference, the STEM professional event at Middleton High School in Tampa and a summary of insightful recommendations from Leo Reddy, Chairman and CEO of the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council, for Florida manufacturers.

We also want to extend warm congratulations to all the engineering technology graduates across Florida. As you step our into the world, may you twirl up to the stars on the wings of success. This and many more stories in this edition of the FLATE Focus. Send us your thoughts and comments via email (, or connect with us socially on Facebook, Linkedin, or Tweet us @Made_InFlorida using the hastag of the month #ETGrads. 

Robotics Camp Season is Here! Sign up Now for a Summer of STEMultimate Challenges

Summer is almost here, and it’s the perfect time to enroll into one of FLATE’s robotics camps.
The five day camps are a fun and challenging way to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and its applications through hands-on activities. The Camps will be held at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon. Cost for the intro and intermediate camp is $175 per week; cost for the high school engineering and technology camp is $200 a week. This year’s schedule and list of camp offerings include:

June 20-24: Introductory EV3 Robotics Camp for Middle School GIRLS ONLY!
June 27-July 1: Introductory EV3 Robotics Camp for ALL Middle School students
July 11-15: Intermediate EV3 Robotics Camp for ALL Middle School students
July 25-29: Engineering Technology Camp for High School Students

Scholarships are available for Girl campers with preference given to girls enrolled in the All Girls camp. The Suncoast Credit Union Foundation is once again partnering with FLATE to

provide scholarships for girls from low-income families to attend the All Girls camp. To qualify for the scholarship as well as apply for any of the camps throughout this summer, please fill out the registration forms that are currently posted on the FLATE Camps page. Thanks to a grant from Hillsborough County, scholarships are also available for students interested in enrolling in the high school camp. Students from low income families, and/or those participating in a free and reduced lunch program are eligible to apply for the high school camp scholarship. More information on the high school camps, applications and scholarship are posted online on the FLATE Camps website. Thanks also to the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers for contributing $500 to FLATE robotics camps.

In addition to the robotics camp in Tampa, FLATE is hosting camps at St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, FL, and at Marion Technical Institute in Ocala. Contact Daley Toney at for more information. The Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) is hosting camps at Pensacola and Ocala, and the Peterson Academy in Jacksonville is also hosting robotics camps modeled after the FLATE robotics camps.  

Don't forget to check out FLATE's NEW Robotics Camp Curriculum and Camp Best Practice guide. This year FLATE has formalized its curriculum for its summer introductory and intermediate camps. Visit the FLATE Wiki to download this incredible and free resource. For more information on FLATE’s 2016 Robotics and High School Technology camps visit, and You can also contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at, and/or Janice Mukhia (, FLATE Communications Manager with questions about the camp/registration. 

Middleton High School in Tampa Leverages Business Partnerships to Streamline STEM Programs

Middleton High School is a pre-collegiate STEM Academy, and is one of nine schools in the
nation to be STEM certified by AdvancED, the “largest community of education professionals in the world.” Middleton was also conferred the “Prime School” distinction by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers for its “ability to be a leading educational institution in the areas of advanced manufacturing and STEM Education.” Most recently the school was one of two Hillsborough County Public Schools to receive the Magnet School of Excellence Award from the Magnet Schools of America. Indeed, Middleton has an array of accolades under its belt, the immediate impact and benefit can be reaped by its students.

Success, firstly of its student body, and secondly as an institution wasn’t an overnight phenomenon. Middleton prides its success on a multi-tiered strategy, one that has enabled the school to establish a revered reputation as a STEM academy in Florida. A core part of Middleton’s success also lies in its outreach and engagement with the community, more specifically business and educational leaders who have worked cohesively with the School to formulate programs and curriculum that is geared towards success of its students.

The STEM Professional Association is a prime example of how Middleton High School has

leveraged its business connections to streamline STEM programs. It is an annual event that brings Middleton’s business partners and stakeholders from across Tampa bay to share/discuss the breadth and scope of Middleton’s STEM programs, and how it can be modeled to match the current needs of its stakeholders. LeShea Serrano, Assistant Vice Principal for Magnet Curriculum at Middleton states the event is a “culmination and meeting of all our stakeholders with whom we’re reaching out and building crosswalks between industry, our programs and most importantly our students.” Indeed partnerships play a central role whereby many, like Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE are members of the School’s Advisory Board, who have helped spearhead potential opportunities for students, and helped Middleton’s programs remain cutting edge and relevant.

Organizations invited to the most recent STEM Professional Event included a diverse group of

businesses and associations involved in STEM, including FLATE and Hillsborough Community College’s Engineering Technology program. The Event which has been in its 6th year was attended by approximately 100 people this year, and according to Serrano has culminated in mentorship and internships for Middleton High School Students. “Administratively we couldn’t be more proud of our students and teachers” noted Serrano, who said the parents were equally in awe of what the students were doing and learning at school.

There were many takeaways for hosts and attendees alike from the event. For school administrators and STEM educators it provided a platform to showcase some of their hallmark

programs like the electrathon racing and the robotics program, what students are learning through these projects and/or in the classroom, and how they are acquiring hands-on engineering skills that they can use once they enter the workforce. Other takeaways from the event included the possibilities for new partnerships, or strengthening existing ties like the one Middleton shares with FLATE and Hillsborough Community College. In addition to FLATE facilitating student tours to the engineering technology lab, manufacturing day tours, guitar building workshops, “I would love to explore partnerships opportunities with FLATE and chart out a path to build a sustainable partnership whereby students can access FLATE resources to augment their STEM career and educational aspirations” said Serrano. On a bigger scale, the event validated the need for STEM careers and also reinforced “the importance of the curricula provided at Middleton as a pre-collegiate STEM Academy.”

For more information on Middleton’s STEM programs visit, or contact LeShea Serrano, Assistant Vice Principal at For information on FLATE’s curriculum for middle and high school students visit

Leo Reddy Chairman of MSSC Provides Recommendations for Florida Manufacturers

Asked for guidance on how Florida manufacturers could secure a durable future pipeline of
CPT-credentialed job applicants, Leo Reddy, Chairman and CEO of the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council provided a summary of his meetings to FLATE and several regional Florida Manufacturing Associations. These included: Mid-Florida Manufacturers Association, South Florida Manufacturers Association, Bay Area Manufacturers Association, and Northwest Florida Manufacturers Association. Reddy shared that this “opportunity and warm reception helps explain why Florida now ranks second among the forty-nine states in which MSSC offers its training and credentialing services.”
  • Most Florida manufacturers are concerned over their ability to secure a reliable pipeline of higher skilled, strongly motivated production workers to deal with higher turnover rates and the growing number of retirees.
  • Most see the value of MSSC-certified job applicants as a recruitment screening tool.
  • Most would offer a paid summer internship program for students who pass at least one or two of the four CPT Modules (Safety; Quality & Measurement; Manufacturing Processes & Production; and Maintenance Awareness).
  • Some are using CPT also as a basic training and benchmarking tool for incumbent workers.
In addition to providing the insights outlined above, Reddy also addressed FLATE’s National Visiting Committee members and educators at the Florida Engineering Technology Forum. As a leading organization promoting technician training and education in Florida, FLATE has been invited to present to the MSSC Executive Briefing on June 16 in Atlanta, GA, to present Florida’s MSSC strategy. The briefing is a free event that seeks to engage industry and education policy decision-makers in the Southeast. Other Florida organizations that will be attending the Briefing include Tallahassee Community College which will be sharing information about its prison training program. MSSC looks forward to deepening its productive collaboration with the impressive group of Florida Regional Manufacturing Associations who are doing so much to keep manufacturing in the forefront of the state's economic growth and development. 

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FLATE has embedded the MSSC Skills Standards into the Engineering Technology A.S./A.A.S technical core. The ET Core consists of 18 credit hours and covers the following 6 areas: CADD, Electronics, Measurements, Processes, Quality, Safety. Once completing these courses. students in the ET Degree program can earn an 18 credit hour college certificate. They will also be prepared to take the MSSC skills tests, so can earn the national certification as well. Additionally, FLATE crafted the statewide articulation agreement that provides articulation of 15 credits of the ET Core (Electronics, Measurements, and Processes, Quality, and Safety) to the A.S./A.A.S. Engineering Technology Degree anywhere in the state. For more information visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

Answer to sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #52: Process Pressure Disturbance

The concepts associated with process control are important for technicians that work with high tech processes.  When equipment is replaced or repaired it has to be "tuned" to respond to unexpected variations (disturbances) that change the operating conditions.  For technicians this also means adjusting the control system to accommodate replaced or repaired equipment.  Although the "tuning" process is usually a set of simple operations, the skills involved in recognizing that the new settings are correct require a STEM  knowledge base.  A primary principle is the expectation that the equipment will return the process variable (temperature for example) to the value it had before the disturbance occurred.  Fortunately, today's technicians will be able to see the results of their efforts on a laptop or other small display.  For this puzzle the only task was to select which of the 3 possible setting options would accomplish that task.  Clearly, the tech would not pick option 3.  Next month's puzzle will explore this situation further and the lessons that students can learn about evaluating this data. 

The technician selected the setting that provided the graphic
 response shown as graph number 3. YES or NO

Answer: NO