From the Executive Director’s Desk: Manufacturing the Future. Picture It!

From the White House communications on the website, the goal of the 40 plus manufacturing institutes to be created over the next ten years is to enable U.S. industry and academia to solve the "scale-up" challenges that are relevant to industry.  This National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) is and will be working to create competitive, effective, and sustainable ‘manufacturing research-to-manufacturing infrastructure’ quickly moving research to plant floors as innovative products and production processes.

To date, six Manufacturing Innovation Institutes have been awarded with several more in the pipeline to be announced and funded in the near future. The specific technology foci of the current institutes are defined in the table below. The most recently funded institute will be housed in Rochester, NY, and led by the Research Foundation for the State University of New York and is focused on photonics.

At the recent HI-TEC conference ( in Portland Oregon, FLATE assembled a panel with representatives and information from some of the NNMI institutes to share their overall missions and goals. One of the key intent of this HI-TEC session was to bring the NNMI mission to the attention of ATE centers so members of the NSF ATE community could start thinking about how to participate in their workforce development strategies. Dennis Thompson from the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), University of Illinois Lab in Chicago, IL, and Major General Nick Justice from the Power America Innovation Institute (located at North Caroline State University in Raleigh, NC) gave overviews of their specific missions and goals including their workforce foci. There were many questions and lively discussions with the HI-TEC audience who were particularly interested in the institutes’ plans for workforce development and the visions that these two had for the future innovations of their focus technologies. The current and planned manufacturing innovation institutes are required to have workforce plans in their portfolios and NSF ATE centers and projects were recommended as potential partners for this aspect of the institutes.

Workforce preparation means a lot of different things depending on the level of workforce an organization is interested in. Certainly
workforce development is at the heart of two-year associate level technical programs in Florida and across the country.   Collectively, FLATE and several other ATE centers focused on manufacturing have been working for over 20 years on developing state-of-the art technical programs to support our industry partners and building amazingly robust academic and industry partnerships. We have engaged many industry partners, reviewed innumerable skills lists, defined how best to assess them, and incorporated validated and valued industry credentials. Through this joint effort we have developed many innovative, accelerated pathways into technical education credentials, designed secure pathways to advanced degrees, educated thousands of secondary and post-secondary educators in new and emerging technologies tightly aligned to our associate programs, and encouraged hundreds of thousands of students via workshops, summer camps, school visits etc. to consider careers in advanced technologies.

It is crystal clear that the ATE community has the expertise and experience to build new best practices, strategies, and innovations for technician education that the NNMI will need, and we hope to be partnering with the institutes in the very near future to help all of us
reach our goals of developing the next American workforce. FLATE and its manufacturing ATE Center partners are beginning to explore the avenues to move forward with new NNMII partnerships and we will keep the ATE community apprised of our activates with the expectation that our Community of Practice will drive us to better interactions with the nation's NNMIIs as they develop the future technologies that strengthen American manufacturing global position.

I now invite you to read the rest of the stories in this edition of the FLATE Focus. Camp season ended on a high note, and in this edition we bring you stories that capture some of the highlights of camp season including the staff who worked behind the scenes to make this another successful endeavor. The next big, exciting news dawning in the horizon is Manufacturing Day 2015. We have outlined some of our strategies and provided leads on how industry, educators, community organizations, regional manufacturers across Florida, or the community at large can be engaged in this national movement to celebrate Manufacturing and American Innovation. We have sTEm puzzle 50 to keep you thinking and keep the fun alive. These and many more stories in this edition of the FLATE Focus.

As always we look forward to your comments. Drop us a line below the blog posts, or email us at, or connect with us socially on Facebook, LinkedIn, or tweet us @Made_InFlorida on Twitter. Welcome back & have a great back to school month!

Mark Your Calendar for Manufacturing Day 2015

Manufacturing Day is on October 2, 2015, and FLATE in partnership with its industry partners and regional manufacturers
associations are committed to making Manufacturing Day another successful event—one that has already placed Florida on top of the chart, on a national level. This year FLATE is once again taking the lead in organizing 2015 Manufacturing Day events across Florida. Manufacturing Day celebrations will kick start on October 2, but like many states across the country, Manufacturing Day industry tours and celebrations will continue through till the end of October to maximize impact and outreach across the state. Through this statewide effort and in cohesive partnership with industry and regional manufacturers across the state, FLATE is committed to increasing awareness of high-tech, high-skilled, high-paying jobs that are available in Florida.

Planning for various industry tours and events for students, educators and the community at large is already underway. “Here is a day to replace mystery with awe and excitement – to show a whole new generation of kids how cool manufacturing is – and an opportunity to show their parents the exciting kind of work that takes place in manufacturing plants” said Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE. As part of the fourth-annual Manufacturing Day on Oct. 2, an estimated 2,000 events is set to take place in factories and plants across the country. Here in Florida, FLATE will coordinate Made in Florida Industry tours across the state on Manufacturing Day and throughout the month of October.

There are several ways and opportunities for industry, regional manufacturers associations, school districts, educators, students
and the community at large to get involved/engaged in manufacturing day. Companies and regional manufacturers associations can host/coordinate a Made in Florida tour for students and educators. Others can sponsor a luncheon for students who are visiting the industry site, or buy Manufacturing Day in Florida T-shirts that sponsors, industry hosts, educators and students can wear during and after the tour.

FLATE’s ongoing efforts are focused on leveraging the promotion of the national organization and its efforts, and amplify its work nationwide using best practices implemented in Florida, and create a common platform to encourage increased participation in Manufacturing Day 2015. Manufacturing Day 2015 is also targeted to build in-roads between manufacturers, Regional Manufacturers Associations, educators and students, and geared to stir interest and/or change perceptions about manufacturing on a national level. Through cohesive partnerships with industry, educators, regional manufacturers associations and the community at large, FLATE hopes to drive a spike in the number of “Made in Florida” industry tours for students and once again position Florida as the national leader in hosting manufacturing day events and industry tours. 

FLATE invites anyone interested in inspiring others to ’Join the Movement’ and engage manufacturing stakeholders in Florida and across the country to celebrate Manufacturing Day. For information on regionally coordinated Manufacturing Day 2015 news and events, visit the Made In Florida page at To sign up for the tours, or request information fill out the information request form at information on national manufacturing day events/news visit You can also email Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at  

Survey Data from MFG Day 2014 Reflects Tremendous Scope & Impact of "Made in Florida" Industry Tours

Last year, FLATE worked with industry partners and regional manufacturers associations across the state to implement a statewide
strategy for manufacturing day/month. The event was deemed highly successful and did much to place Florida firmly on the national manufacturing map. Following the tours, we brought you a story in April that highlighted the impact Manufacturing Day 2014 had on statewide participants, and the feedback FLATE received through post event surveys. In this edition we dig deeper and highlight additional data and details.

In 2014 more than 3,000 students from 39 counties toured 88 facilities across Florida participated in Manufacturing Day. Following the tours, surveys were completed by almost 1,500 students. Data collected included anecdotal evidence based on feedback from students, industry hosts, staff, and teachers as well as aggregated survey results from eight years of student tours of manufacturing facilities. Survey data collected from 2014 Manufacturing Day including emerging themes were compiled and analyzed, and were published in the April 2015 edition of the FLATE Focus.  

In addition to what was reported in April, FLATE has compiled further survey comment analysis. Additional findings show a
Heightened Awareness about Careers and Jobs in Manufacturing following the tours. In that, students were exposed to a range of careers available in the industry, from engineers and scientists positions requiring a four-year degree, to CNC technicians and helpers who can enter the workforce straight from high school. Findings overwhelmingly support the importance of showcasing real-world, work environments with real people doing real jobs. (The infographic produced by the Manufacturing Institute (2015) illustrates the level of impact generated by exposure to and familiarity with manufacturing.)

The Made In Florida industry tours offered an effective way to increase participants’ familiarity to industrial settings, and in turn contributed to raising the number of parents and educators encouraging their children/students to explore the world of modern manufacturing and related careers. The surveys also pointed to the importance of classroom-manufacturing industry connections, and the crucial need for educators to tie what students are being taught in the classroom with the real world. To that effect, industry tours were identified as a highly effective tool to achieve this goal.

Survey data also showed significant impact on educators. Educators articulated that the tours gave them a deeper insight about the manufacturing industry and related careers, and helped integrate STEM concepts in their curriculum materials. Educators also stated industry tours aided them in developing a more authentic, application-based curriculum. They recommended a two-pronged outreach strategy that is: 1.Geared to offset negative images of manufacturing; 2. highlight use of fun, high-tech, computer skills that offer well-paying jobs and opportunities for advancement.

Indeed the tours proved beneficial for all in facilitating first-hand experiences for students to discover the relevance of STEM 
and its applications in the real world. Students were able to connect with incumbent employees engaged in manufacturing which gave them an accurate picture of what a future job in the industry looks like, and potentially helped them make informed decisions. Planning for Manufacturing Day 2015 is already underway. FLATE together with its regional industry and educational partners are working hard to grow participation as well as increase the impact of tour experiences. “FLATE staff will also be working closely with teachers before the tours to make sure they are comfortable using the pre-tour lesson plans and associated activities provided to them. If parents and teachers don’t have personal experience in today’s manufacturing, they can’t guide their children with accurate opinions and information about manufacturing careers,” said Pat Lee, FMA Public Relations Director and a member of the Rockford, Ill., Chamber of Commerce Manufacturers Council.

To extend the scope and deepen the impact of the tour experience, FLATE will once again encourage teachers to have a post-tour, debriefing discussion with their students, and utilize follow-up lesson plans and activities. Additional efforts will focus on adding new tour locations and increasing student participation through regional organizational partnerships. For in-depth information on this article and survey data from last year’s manufacturing day tours, click on the link to the “What’s New Section” on www.fl-ate.orgor contact Nina Stokes, FLATE project manager at For information on 2015 Manufacturing Day and Made in Florida Industry tours contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at and visit

sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #50: Membrane Technology Decision

A technician with a drug manufacturing company is responsible for the installation and operation of membrane-based separation equipment that performs the last step in the production of a drug the company makes. That purification step uses a membrane to separate the drug from its reaction by-products. The tech understands that the separation is diffusion-driven which means that drug moves from a solution with contaminates on one side of the membrane into a liquid with no contaminates on the other side of the member. Thus, after the tech installs the equipment and it begins to operate she knows there will be no drug in the pure liquid at the instant the equipment is turned on.

The tech also knows that there is a sensor in the pure liquid that only monitors the increase in the number of drug molecules as a function of time. Since (once it is installed) this equipment is expected to operate 24 hours a day, the sensor data collected is used to monitor the equipment’s performance and indicate when there might be maintenance issues as the equipment keeps running.  The tech observed the data shown (in the graph below) immediately after the equipment was turned on for the first time.

Did Tech allow the equipment to keep running? Yes or No. Post your answers below the blog post, or on

Students Learn Entrepreneurial Skills & Applications of 3D Printing at High School Camp

If you have been following industry news, one thing that is repeatedly articulated in news headlines is the need for an educated, well
trained workforce that is prepared to meet the demands of a highly evolved, technologically charged workplace. “Right now the narrative is that most students get a four year degree, but what they lack are the skills to apply some of what they learned in school in real-world settings” said Allen Dyer. Dyer, who is a science and environmental science teacher at the School District of Hillsborough County, echoed what was outlined in a recent news article in USA Today regarding the need for almost 1.2 million technicians by 2034.

Offsetting the skills gap requires numerous strategies that are focused on building a pipeline of talented workers. One of the mechanisms that FLATE has employed over the years, and one that Dyer has been closely involved in, are the summer robotics and engineering camps for high school students. The camps are targeted to showcase real-world applications of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in high-tech manufacturing operations, and are geared to heighten students’ understanding and interest in STEM related topics.

This year’s high school engineering camp, which also marked the last week of FLATE’s summer camp season, took students on an in-depth exploration of some of the hottest technologies currently used in high-tech production environments. Dyer, who played an integral role in formulating the curriculum for this year’s high school engineering camp, stated this year’s camp was critical in “connecting the additive manufacturing/3D printing aspects and integrating it with a robotics component.” “A lot of the challenges that were presented to us were very unique” said Noah Woods. In line with the latest DIY and MakerBot trends, students were
assigned to 3D print parts for astronauts on a space mission and also 3D print parts for a robotic arm using Solidworks. Working in groups of three, students learned how to program an Arduino microprocessor to operate servo motors and used additive manufacturing processes to design a functional robotic arm that represented a prototype of a tool that could be used in space.

In addition to the technical component, this year FLATE partnered with Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs to introduce an entrepreneurial dimension to the high school camp curriculum that required students to design and manufacture a tangible product that could be marketed as well. This objective also matched ongoing efforts of some of the biggest corporate entities, like SpaceX and Made In Space, who are currently using 3D printing technology to make parts of a space engine, and/or exploring the possibility of using source material from another planet to 3D print parts for space shuttles.  Through these challenges “we were able to showcase self-reliant strategies that are not really farfetched,” and could potentially be used to offset manufacturing costs, or “market a product to companies involved in space explorations and futuristic colonization plans in space” Dyer said.

The high school engineering camp served as a practical example of how technology can be used to fund a creative idea and/or manufacture a lucrative product. “It is really different from the previous camps that I have attended” said Brandon Buchanan, a 11th grader at Bloomingdale High School. Buchanan, who was one of the many campers who attended FLATE’s robotics camps starting at the intro level, said the camp helped him understand the whole concept of 3D printing better and also gave him a better understanding of what it takes to be an engineer.

To get a first-hand perspective on how some of these 3D printing and additive manufacturing technologies are being used in real-
world settings, students viewed an online presentation from Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. Students also toured Chromalloy Castings, a high-tech global technology company based in Tampa that heavily focused on using 3D printing in its production and/or manufacturing operations. “It is really cool to see how what we learn in the camp is being applied in real-world settings, and how you can problem solve to create new ideas and products” said Randolph Haley, 11th grader at Wesley Chapel High School who also attended FLATE’s robotics camps starting at the intro level. Angela Cigoranelli, who was one of three girls at the camp, also loved what she saw during the industry tour. For her the tour highlighted the importance of 3D printing as an integral part of the design process—one she noted required high degree of precision and accuracy. The tour to Chromalloy also helped Noah make a strong connection with the world of manufacturing. Noah, who aspires to pursue a degree in biological engineering at MIT, or work for MakerBot, met with one of the executives at Chromalloy after the tour and has been offered an internship next summer.  

Through it all the Camp inspired students to explore their creativity and explore the possibility to design products that can be mass
produced through additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping, and marketed to establish a lucrative business venture. The camp also served as an effective medium in not only showcasing applications of STEM in manufacturing and production processes, but positioning what they created into a marketable product. Feedback following the camp showed a remarkable impact. In post-event surveys conducted by FLATE, 92.3% of surveyed students stated they are likely to take an engineering, technology, or robotics related course in school next year. The same percentage also stated programming the robot helped them understand how automated systems are programmed and controlled. Approximately, 96.2% of the surveyed students said learning how to program the robot will help while solving STEM-related problems in school. The same percentage also stated the camp helped them better understand the applications of STEM in industry.

For more information contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at, or visit at, and

FLATE Mentors First Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing Academy Summer Camp

FLATE and the Frank H. Peterson Academy of Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing have been partners since 2011. FLATE staff
mentored and supported teachers and administrators working on developing the new Academy programs prior to its opening. Interestingly FLATE’s 2014 Manufacturing Educator of the Year Award winner was Russ Henderlite, one of the Academy teachers who also attended FLATE’s Advanced Manufacturing Institute earlier last month.

FHP’s overall mission includes providing students with a specialized four-year program tailored to prepare them for post-secondary education and industry certifications. Program graduates will then have a clear path to rewarding careers in automation, manufacturing, or engineering technologies. The purpose of the Academy’s Applied Robotics program is “to provide students with a foundation of knowledge and technically oriented experiences in the study of the principles and applications of robotics engineering and its effect upon our lives and the choosing of an occupation.” 

This Summer marked the start of the Academy Robotics Summer Camp. FLATE mentored the development team by providing a
wealth of resources to help their effort including best practices guides, camp outlines and schedules as well as curriculum and survey templates. Thirty-six Duval middle school students attended the weeklong robotics camp, learning about technology and engineering through exciting and thought-provoking hands on activities and challenges, while at the same time having lots of fun.

The camp highlights the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts and robotics. Students are provided with many, varied opportunities to see real-life applications of the STEM concepts they are learning about in the classroom, come to life through camp hands on activities.

Frank H. Peterson’s assistant principal, Jessica Parrish designed and helped implement the camp and hopes to offer it to students on an annual basis. “When you get them in young, it gives them that spark, that idea that carries with them then through high school and into college,” Parrish said. “And then they’ll be more apt to choose these career paths.”

FLATE staff will continue providing mentoring and support for the Academy’s new after-school robotics club which kicked off at
the camp and which starts officially in the Fall. For more information, visit the Frank H. Peterson Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing Academy web site. We will be bringing additional camp stories in the following months, so stay tuned. If you are interested in starting a summer robotics camp please contact us at FLATE, or contact Executive Director of FLATE, Dr. Marilyn Barger at

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