Nominations Open for 2020 FLATE Manufacturing Awards!

For the New Year the Florida-based National Science Foundation Regional Center of Excellence (FLATE) and FloridaMakes, are working together to coordinate the 2020 FLATE Awards and recognition program. This will be our 13th year of recognizing educators as well as industry and community partners who support the advanced manufacturing industry in Florida. Seventy-five outstanding, dedicated educators and manufacturing professional from all over the state have been recognized to date.

FLATE Awards are geared to recognize secondary and postsecondary educators and industry professionals for their outstanding contributions to promote and support technology education and careers awareness in manufacturing. Awardees are recognized under three separate categories and includes individuals in any manufacturing area including economic development, industry, education and administration.

FLATE Award winners are selected from nominations submitted from all across the state. Nominees are judged by an Awards Committee made up of industry representative(s), FAITE board member(s), past awardee(s), and member(s) of the FloridaMakes Workforce Leadership Committee.

Awards Categories

2020 FLATE Distinguished Manufacturing Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award
The FLATE Distinguished Manufacturing Secondary Educator of the year award recognizes a high school educator for outstanding contributions to manufacturing and/or engineering technology education. Recipients of this award must have made significant contributions toward innovative, unique and novel programs and have shown a professional commitment towards manufacturing industry. To learn more about this award criteria click here.

2020 FLATE Distinguished Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award
The FLATE Distinguished Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award recognizes a community college or technical school educator for outstanding contributions to manufacturing and/or engineering technology education and training of today’s advanced manufacturing workforce. Nominees for the award must have demonstrated an impact on technology education at the local, state, and/or national level. To learn more about this award criteria click here.

2020 FLATE Distinguished Manufacturing Partner Service Award
The FLATE Distinguished Manufacturing Partner Service Award recognizes key personnel for outstanding contributions to promote technology education and career awareness in support of manufacturing. This award includes nominees working in any manufacturing area such as economic development, industry, education, and administration. Awardees must have demonstrated an impact on technology education at the local, state, and/or national level. The award represents FLATE’s commitment to recognize colleagues who made significant contributions to the outreach, education, and training of today’s advanced manufacturing workforce. To learn more about this award criteria click here.

Nominees should demonstrate exceptional devotion of time, effort, thought, and action toward furthering FLATE’s mission.


  • January 10, 2020 – Criteria published at Online nominations
  • January 27 - Nomination form I. To be completed by nominators.
  • February 10 - Nomination form II. To be completed by nominees.
  • February 26 - Award selections reviews completed.
  • February 28 - Award recipients and principal nominators receive notifications.
  • May 29 - Award winners recognition at the MakeMore Manufacturing Summit

Location: JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes. 4040 Central Florida Pkwy
Orlando, FL.   

Location: Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld, 6677 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL.
Event will be hosted by the Florida Association for Industrial and Technical Educators (FAITE).

Awards Sponsors

To submit a nomination visit the FLATE Awards page at View the FLATE Awards flyer by clicking here. You can also contact Executive Director of FLATE, Dr. Marilyn Barger at

Made in Florida Manufacturing Day & Month Survey Data Analysis

As time passes we can’t help but notice that technology is advancing at a rapid pace, but what some individuals are unaware of is that advancements in technology correlates with the advancement of the processes it takes to make said new technology. Adults and children continue to have misconceptions of manufacturing, believing that the working environment is subpar, doesn’t pay well, and “requires you to be a master in STEM subjects”. Due to those very same misconceptions, manufacturers began to suffer from the lack of high skilled workers, which is why “Made in Florida” industry tours came into fruition. By opening their doors to students and teachers during Manufacturing Day and Month, Manufacturers can address the myths that the new generation has grown up believing by showing real life examples of manufacturing taking place!

Tampa Technical High School Welding Students at SMT - MFG Day 2019
During the 2019 Manufacturing Day and Month, manufacturers offered 146 tours to 111 schools from
14 Florida counties. Approximately 102 manufacturing companies from the 14 Florida counties that participated opened its doors to 247 teachers, 3,683 students, 90 parents and chaperones! In addition to middle school and high school students, Pasco County allowed 25 college students to participate in Manufacturing Day by touring SeaWay Plastics. Of the tours that occurred, one was a virtual tour coordinated by Hillsborough Community College and stemCONNECT which provided 100 students a virtual tour of Hillsborough Community College’s Engineering Technology and Manufacturing Lab! This is a significant decrease compared to the 2018 Manufacturing Day and Month participation which had 5,075 students, 392 teachers, 129 parents and chaperones that went on 178 tours. However, 2019 Manufacturing Day and Month received more surveys than last year with 1,313 students giving their feedback on their experiences. In addition, several manufacturers, individuals from school districts and manufacturing associations stood up to the plate ensuring Manufacturing Day and Month’s success for 2019! In celebration to their generous contributions and hard work, FLATE would like to recognize them as “The 2019 Florida Heroes of Manufacturing Day and Month”.

Before diving into the student’s responses, there should be a quick understanding of the demographics of the students that answered the post-tour surveys to further help understand the impact of “Made in Florida” industry tours. Of the 1,313 surveys that were received, 909 were males, 361 were females, and 43 did not identify as either gender. There were 327 students who were in middle school, 882 students who were in high school, and 104 students who chose not to specify their grade. Table 1. shows the overall surveyed student’s ethnicity with 57 students choosing not to respond. Based on the information, there seems to be a higher representation of males, high school students and students, in general, who are ethnically White and/or Hispanic attending Manufacturing Day Tours.

Table 1. Student Ethnicity

So what did the students have to say about their experience? Well, in 2019, 81.4% of students had an increased interest in considering a career in advanced manufacturing after the tour, which is an overall increase of 4.3% from 2018’s impact on students. Looking at the data in more detail, females showed a 95.4% increase in interest in advanced manufacturing careers after the tours compared to the boys who showed a 73.6% increased interest. In addition, 96% of students responded that they were able to learn about the careers and the advanced technologies used in manufacturing industries despite 80% of students saying that their teachers have already talked about advanced manufacturing before. 91% of students also mentioned that the tour helped them understand how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subjects are used in the industry. When asked what they liked most about the tour, the majority of students mentioned “Learning about machines and how they work” and “Learning about advanced technology, testing, quality, and precision.” Both females, males, and miscellaneous favored “Learning about machines and how they work” over the rest of the categories mentioned (see Table 2).

Table 2. Category popularity based on gender.

In the end, 96% of students agreed that they would recommend that other students have the opportunity to go on Manufacturing Day and Month industry tours. Below are some of our favorite statements from students about one thing they have learned about manufacturing that they didn’t know before!

  1. “When titanium impacts the ground, it takes that energy and shoots the titanium back up. (When titanium is in shape of ball)”
  2. “I learned how there is much more to manufacturing then just machines. There are people who have to design the products, handle financing, work in human resources. There is alot that goes into making a single product.”
  3. “There is a lot of responsibility that come with manufacturing; tolerance and precision is extremely important, inspection is necessary in order to keep others safe and it must be a certain temperature.”
  4. “I've learned that SMT can help you with a program that last 2 years and teaches you all about manufacturing. I also learned that in manufacturing, building a product depends on the worker”

Atlantic Tech High School "Meet an Engineer" - MFG Day 2019
The overall impact on the student’s perspective is tremendous, despite 80% of them being introduced to advanced manufacturing by their teachers, students are still learning more about the technologies and careers when attending Manufacturing Day tours. This could correlate with the fact that majority of students enjoyed learning about machines and how they work when attending a Manufacturing Day Tour. Manufacturing Day tours allows students to get first-hand knowledge from the professionals and witness the workers in action while they produce a product. In addition, even though there were fewer females who reported feedback, it seems that the Manufacturing Day and Month industry tours are having a greater impact on their perspective than the males.

Using the Manufacturing Day and Month industry tours as an opportunity to learn and outreach, students are also taking action in applying for jobs at the companies they have toured! For instance, Southern Manufacturing Technologies, located in Tampa, has received five resumes from students and has already hired their first 14-year old into their apprenticeship program due to the “Made in Florida” Industry Tours they offered during Manufacturing Day and Month!

You can read more about Southern Manufacturing Technologies’ contribution to Manufacturing Day and Month by reading their article in the National Tool and Molding Association’s Magazine “The Report”

Want to share your experience and contribution to 2019’s Manufacturing Day and Month? Then, send your article or information to Elizabeth Duran ( and Marilyn Barger (!

Visit and FLATE's "Made In Florida" Industry Tour Resources to review the full 2019 Manufacturing Day and Month report or view some of our resources to help prepare for 2020’s Manufacturing Day and Month!

A Look Back on Engineering Technology Graduates--Part II

Last month we brought you a story about graduates from the Engineering Technology program outlining their educational and career pathways.  Continuing on this trajectory, we have a few more updates on two more students who earned their A.S degree in Engineering Technology (A.S.E.T) not too long ago.

When Mercedes Ramirez Cruz first started her foray into the world of manufacturing she did not know much about it at all. Cruz's initial interest in manufacturing sparked when her daughter attended the FLATE's robotics camp. Thereon she enrolled into the two year A.S.E.T program at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) and earned her degree in 2013. Cruz's story speaks of a relevant concept that FLATE has promoted for a number of years Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-related careers in high-tech manufacturing and more importantly igniting Girls'/Women's interest in manufacturing.

"Manufacturing is ideal for anyone who is innovative, looking to take on new challenges and enjoys working in a fast-paced environment" says Cruz. She is currently working as a purchasing and logistics agent at Heat Pipe Technology in Tampa, FL. Cruz says manufacturing has experienced immense growth in Florida which also means manufacturers and employees have to consistently work to improve products and technologies to remain competitive in a global marketplace. To that effect, the classes/courses that she took as part of the A.S.E.T degree at HCC gave Cruz the edge to excel at her current job. She credits the classes she took at HCC in setting the base, and giving her the confidence in working with "production control, inventory and safety" in her current job at Heat Pipe Technology.

Cruz has been intricately involved with FLATE on many levels both as a student and now a professional in promoting manufacturing to current/future students. She is one of the students featured in FLATE's Made in Florida outreach campaign designed to promote manufacturing-related careers and educational pathways. As a student Cruz served as the assistant for FLATE's summer robotics camps serving a vital role in keeping tab on daily administrative tasks and working closely with camp instructors and students in working through daily challenges. In 2018 she served as one of the panelists for FLATE's Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) credential workshop that was targeted to provide local manufacturers' first-hand perspective about the importance of integrating MSSC concepts into their everyday workplace standards.  Helping in the development of new products and technologies to make a better and more efficient world is very satisfying" Cruz said.

Alejandro Rojas is another rising star among past engineering technology graduates. Rojas earned
his A.S degree in engineering technology from HCC in June 2016. Son of a migrant worker, Rojas' story speaks of immense (quiet) strength, determination and success that came from sheer hard work. Today he works as a Level 1 Apprentice at APG Electric in Clearwater, Florida. On any given day his job is challenging, but fun. "Learning new things, how to pipe conduit, read schematics, wire and splice different things" are some of the things that he loves doing at his current job. A large part of what he currently does at work involves real-world applications of what he learned as part his degree at HCC. Rojas credits the courses in giving him the background knowledge required for most of the jobs in manufacturing. For example, the motors and controls courses gave him a better understanding about the wiring done for lights, and the AutoCAD classes helped him read the schematics used to build and assemble. Further down the road, Rojas plans to earn a Bachelors and Masters degree in mechanical engineering. We wish him continued success!

Neil O’Malley entered the world of manufacturing after a 25 year career in voice, video and data networking. At the time he was looking to transition to enter a field/pursue a second career that involved robotics and where he could transfer his previous skills/experience. “What I like about manufacturing is the diversity of applied technologies, problem-solving as well as the creativity required to make things work the way they do” O’Malley said. After speaking to Dr. Alessandro Anzalone, who at the time was the director of the Engineering Technology program he chose to enroll into the A.S.E.T degree at HCC. The rest, as they say is history.

Today Neil works as a part-time technician and adjunct occupational non-credit instructor at HCC. “There are several things I enjoy about my job, especially the personal relationship with the students” said O’Malley. Having graduated from the program, O’Malley believes he brings first-hand knowledge and experience about the program into the classroom which he hopes will help dispel misconceptions about the way things work, and also help students understand the concepts and the curriculum better. In addition, O’Malley received a 2019 Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce Student Excellence Award in recognition of his outstanding perseverance, leadership and academic achievement in his pursuit of a career in advanced technology and manufacturing.

The Engineering Technology degree program was developed by the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE) with community colleges and industries across the state and in close partnership with the Florida Department of Education Division of Adult and Career Education. The Degree helps to address a growing need in supplying manufacturers and high-technology industries with qualified, highly- skilled workers in the foreseeable future. The program is a cohesive, comprehensive framework that focuses on a set of core classes that cover introductory computer aided drafting, electronics, instrumentation and testing, processes and materials, quality and safety. These core skills align with the national Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician Certification. The ET Core coupled with a second year degree specialization prepares students for many jobs in manufacturing and many other high-technology industries.

For a full list of state and community colleges currently offering the A.S.E.T degree in Florida visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at To join a consortium of engineering technology graduates across Florida connect with us on LinkedIn at

Take Advantage of All the Professional Development Possibilities in 2020!

As one year concludes, it is time to look forward to the New Year. For many, that means looking for New Year's resolution ideas and setting new goals. As part of this New Year, FLATE has a list of good suggestions to help you achieve your resolutions.

2019 FLATE-FACTE Robotics & 3D Printing Workshop
First, focus on embracing the activities that will bring you closer to the goal(s). By committing to these activities, you are also creating a behavior/process, which later will turn in a habit that will pay off regardless of the specific goal achieved. Achievement is the by-product of a process, not just the attainment of a goal.
Second, the success of a resolution can be related to the discipline of performance. By setting a daily achievement, you are creating a habit.
Results come from the process and discipline of doing, rather than that of planning and waiting.

Continued professional development and learning are important not only to you as an individual and professional, but also to your organization. The ability to gather more information and different perspectives, and then apply these to your overall business strategy can help you stay up to date on any change or new development within your industry.

In the field of K-12 educational technology, school district guidelines and curriculum standards are constantly changing, making it challenging educators to keep up with trends and best practices in the field. Continuous professional development has benefits for both educators and students, but most importantly, it helps educators become better by enabling them to create relevant and tailored course instructions for today's students and technology. For this reason, it is crucial to have the readiness to learn new skills and adapt to new changes at all times. Whether it be a new technological advancement or adjusting to new leadership, the ability to adapt to new conditions is imperative.

Continuing Education for Career and Technical (CTE) Educators.
FLATE together with the Florida Association for Career and Technical Education (FACTE) have joined efforts to provide a better understanding of career and technical education and encourage technical and professional growth among all educators in the state of Florida.

Introduction to Industry 4.0, is one of several online courses, offered by FLATE in partnership with FACTE, designed to enhance CTE educator’s curriculum, classroom management, and technologies. This course will include the importance of Industry 4.0, which represents the 4th wave of society based on modern automation, Information and Computer Technologies (ICT) and new manufacturing technologies. In addition to the translation of 21st Century careers and the need for transferable skills.  The course will have independent and collaborative sharing requirements.  Click here to register for session 1: March 31-April 21st, from 6:00 pm- 8:00 pm.

FACTE Spring 2020 online Course Catalog, FACTE's variety of online courses are entirely online, usually lasting 4-6 weeks, and require attendance at a live session once a week. Course in-service points vary from 12 to 60 in-service points per course. Not only do the courses provide training for their given topic, they can also help instructors become more familiar with online-course formats and capabilities. Click here to register for classes. For more information about spring 2020 online courses offered by FACTE visit

No matter what field you are in, there are hundreds of new skills you can learn that could benefit your career. Is there one you have been meaning to learn? Set it as one of your work resolutions for the year and get it done.

Take Advantage of the 2020 continued professional development possibilities that FLATE & Partners have to offer.

For more information on FLATE’s 2020 professional development click here or visit You can also contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at