From the Executive Director's Desk: ATE PI Conference Alludes to Emerging Technologies as Agents of Change

FLATE is part of a national network of National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Centers of Excellence in Advanced
Technological Education (ATE). Last month in October, in Washington DC, over 800 educators and administrators of two year technician education programs participated in the NSF annual ATE Conference. The NSF ATE PI meeting is an annual event. FLATE was one of nine Centers that participated in a conference session focused on emerging technologies. The nine, six-minute presentations provided a “what’s coming next” preview of new technologies that mesmerized the audience. These near future technologies cover everything from manned space exploration and commerce, 5G communication speeds, smart sensors, “IoT” (Internet of Things), trends in nuclear power industry, integrated photonics, virtual and augmented reality and more. For what’s new in manufacturing, FLATE focused the audience on the implication of new technologies for manufacturing enterprises. From manufacturing’s perspective there are two important points to emphasize.
  • First, if new technologies are to make an impact, manufacturers have to ultimately make these new technologies to support their adoption in high volume production, or create the actual technology-driven product to meet an expected commercial, or consumer demand.
  • Second, manufacturers have to innovate and design how, and then adapt to where new technologies can improve their existing highly automated and high speed manufacturing facilities. Integration of new technologies must eventually meet the top line goal of bigger profit margins, so they must make products even faster (more quantity) and better (higher quality) to remove rework and/or recall situations.
To emphasize these points, I offered two examples that are related to FLATE manufacturing partners in Florida. These companies, Qorvo and Tampa Armature Works, provided products that support consumer products as well as manufacturing processes. These companies also need each other’s technologies to improve their production.

Qorvo was selected because it has manufacturing facilities in Florida and other states, is a member of the

ManufacturingUSA Institute, PowerAmeria, as well as an employer of University of South Florida engineering graduates (USF’s Engineering College is FLATE’s engineering college partner). The company is also dealing with the technician skills gap issue. Thus, FLATE is involved in all phases of technical education for this product sector. Tampa Armature Works was included for two reasons. It is a nationally known Florida-based company that has electric motor product options that are of interest to a national customer base. It represents a company that will use new technology to produce process final control elements (products) that directly impact manufacturing processes.   


Qorvo is an industry leader in the design and development of high performance RF solutions and products that support the operation of current and next-generation mobile devices. Their partnership with PowerAmerica (Watch the PowerAmerican YouTube Video) involves developing and implementing the best technology to safely provide more power in smaller circuit packages for communication, “IoT,” and other commercial and industrial applications. The coming global 5G network will require faster, more efficient, and  low power management circuits not just for “smart” consumer applications like cable TV, mobile devices, smart homes, but also for important military and defense applications, satellites and space explorations, automotive, optical networks and more.  All of these applications require devices with state-of-the-art wide band gap technologies that can be manufactured to meet specific customer expectations.  You can find out more on the Qorvo, and PowerAmerica websites.

Tampa Armature Works (TAW) is a commercial motor producer that will take full advantage of new technology interface
circuits. TAW is looking at the new and emerging device developments for smarter interactions with motors (also known as final control elements responsible for mechanical energy insertion into a manufacturing process).  Implementation of more direct drive motors provides significantly more variable power options to the process without requiring a gearbox. These motors are more efficient and eliminate friction from belts, chains and mechanical connections. (Fewer moving parts mean lower maintenance and less vibration, and therefore, less down time and fewer required noise abatement subsystems). As TAW uses Qorvo’s  newer, faster, higher band-width devices to add communication and intelligence to its direct drive and stepper motors  (pick and place applications), more manufacturing processes will take advantage of  higher torque at low rpms; lower inertia which translate to faster response to sensors; and no process hysteresis motor control systems.  All these reasons lead to the thing about tomorrow’s technologies (smaller, faster, quieter, cooler, longer-life equipment for automated processes) that is really exciting for today’s manufacturer.

As for your near future exciting interaction with technology, please take the time to direct and deliver the appropriate amount of energy required to engage the “click” final control element of your choice that selects each of the other interesting items in this issue of FLATE Focus. As always send in your thoughts/comments at news@fl-ate.org. You can also jot down your thoughts on our social networking platforms on Facebook, LinkedIn and on Twitter @Made_InFlorida #FLMFGMonth16

Made in Florida Industry Tours for MFG Month Inspires Next Generation of Engineers

Manufacturing Day/Month was celebrated and observed on a wide scale basis across Florida as manufacturers across the state once
again braced for one of the biggest events of the year that defines the strength of American Manufacturing. FLATE, the Florida-based National Science Foundation Regional Center of Excellence, together with its network of statewide industry partners, FloridaMakes, and Hillsborough Manufacturing Alliance worked cohesively to coordinate industry tours and events across the state. RMA’s that partnered with FLATE included Bay Area Manufacturers Association, Upper Tampa Bay Manufacturers Association, Manufacturers Association of Central Florida, Mid-Florida Regional Manufacturers Association, Sarasota Manatee Manufacturers Association, and Southwest Regional Manufacturers Association. Other organizations that partnered and took an active role in organizing MFG Day/Month events included: Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council, Florida TRADE at Pasco Hernando College, AMSkills, Career Pathways at Polk State College, Atlantic Technical Center, Hoerbiger Corporation, and Goodwill Industries. Additionally school districts across Florida that worked closely with FLATE and its network of industry partners to coordinate tours and arrange transportation for students, chaperones and educators to and from industry sites. These included School District of Hillsborough County, Pinellas School District, Orange County Public Schools, Brevard County Schools, Lake County Schools, Osceola County Schools, Marion Schools, Sarasota County Schools & Career and Technical Education, Manatee County Schools, and Lee Schools.

FLATE’s commitment and rationale behind MFG Day/Month initiative is crystallized in a broader perspective. In that it involves an
inclusive strategy to build, support and empower each of its stakeholders to champion causes that are geared to sustain a long-term commitment to MFG Day initiative, position manufacturing industry as a vital part of the economic engine, and attract the next generation of high-tech workers to consider manufacturing as viable and lucrative career pathway. This year MFG Day in Florida was eclipsed to a certain extent by the effect of hurricane Matthew which hurled through the state at the kick off of MFG Day/Month. Then too, there was widespread participation and interest from school districts and industry partners alike to participate in MFG Day with a number of industry tours and events taking place in Florida throughout October, into November, December, and some even scheduled for January 2017. In looking at the preliminary numbers from statewide industry tours, as of October 2016 over 4700 middle and high school students, 55 parents/chaperones and teachers across Florida participated in approximately 160 Made in Florida industry tours to 115 high-tech industries. Counties and cities across Florida issued proclamations acknowledging October 7 as the official kick off to MFG Day and October as MFG Month.

A cornerstone of FLATE’s MFG Day initiative lies in its strategy to survey ALL industry tour participants to include students,
teachers/chaperones and industry hosts. The surveys serve as a yardstick for measuring the impact and effect of the industry tours, and gauging opportunities for improvement for next MFG Day. Of the 451 student surveys received so far, there was a  77.5% increase in consideration of careers in advanced manufacturing. Nearly 97.6% of the students who responded stated the tour helped them understand how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is put to work in advanced manufacturing industries. Approximately 94.5% of those surveyed also stated they would recommend that other students have the opportunity to go on a similar tour. Nearly 96% also agreed the tour gave them new information about careers in advanced manufacturing. In looking at gender-based demographics, 59% of the students were girls compared to 40% boys. 

In addition to the student surveys, industry hosts also regarded the tours as a valuable investment of their time and
resources. Of the industry tour host surveys received so far, 100% stated the tour was a good use of company time and resources. “It was an opportunity for us to share what our company is about and to show the kids that manufacturing is and can be a great career choice” stated one of the respondents to the survey. Another industry tour host also stated that the tour was a “nice way to show future generations the type of equipment that many manufacturers use for quality control. Most of the students didn't know anything about the equipment and were excited to see it in action.

FLATE also surveyed educators/chaperones and parents to gauge their response to the tours and the curriculum. Of the surveys
received by FLATE from educators/chaperone, 100% of the respondents stated they would recommend other students have the opportunity to participate in a Made in Florida industry tour. Nearly 95% of educators and parents stated they found the tour helpful in understanding Florida high-tech jobs and career opportunities. As in previous years, FLATE also designed and distributed MFG Day T-shirts to statewide stakeholders participating in an industry tour, and designed a MFG Day poster and curriculum that educators could use as part their everyday curriculum. FLATE will compile additional/remaining surveys and tabulate results and report on the impact of remaining tours in subsequent editions of the FLATE Focus. 

MFG Day also stirred media attention across the state. This year FLATE worked closely with the Manufacturing Alliance of Hillsborough County and FloridaMakes on several pres-related initiatives that created quite a buzz. You can read the news stories in the side bar of this edition of the FLATE Focus. The curtain may be drawn on MFG Day in rest of the country, but here in the sunshine state there are still MFG Day/Month industry tours scheduled November through January 2017. Stay tuned for updates about these tours across FLATE's social networking platforms, or tweet us @Made_InFlorida #FLMFGMonth16.  


For now FLATE would like to thank ALL its statewide partners and its staff for their part in making MFG Day/Month a success in Florida. For more information on FLATE’s statewide strategy for manufacturing day/month visit www.mfgday-fl.com. You can also contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org, or at 813.259.6578. 

Engineering Technology Grads from Florida Offer Insights on the NSF ATE PI Conference

The National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program is geared to
improve the education and training of technicians who work in high-technology fields that drive the nation’s economy. ATE grants support a variety of programs that strengthen STEM education and promotes two-year technician programs at the undergraduate and secondary school level. There are currently 42 ATE Centers across the nation that support a variety of activities that include developing and testing innovative materials, courses, curricula, teaching methods, and/or analyzing workforce/educational needs in different technical fields, and designing programs and pathways to match current industry needs. This diverse community of NSF-funded ATE Centers convenes every year in Washington DC for the NSF ATE PI Conference. The Conference serves as a hotspot for ATE Centers from across the nation to share ideas and best practices, and features sessions, workshops and keynote addresses and best practices for advanced technological education.

Every year FLATE sponsors current and/or past graduate students from the consortium of state and
community colleges offering the A.S degree in Engineering Technology to attend the NSF ATE PI Conference. This year Ryan Alexander Horton and Alejandro Rojas, both engineering technology graduates from Hillsborough Community College, were selected to attend the Conference in Washington D.C. “My reason for going to DC was to learn about what ATE does and how they help community colleges” said Alejandro Rojas who is currently pursuing an A.S degree in Engineering Technology and working at Adams Air & Hydraulics, Inc. in Tampa. “Being invited to the ATE Conference in Washington, D.C. was one of the greatest opportunities I’ve been able to receive throughout my life” said Ryan Horton who is currently pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Central Florida.

The three day conference provided diverse opportunities for both students. “One of the best aspects was
networking with numerous company representatives and leaders, and being able to hear what they look for in prospective employees and introspectively making sure I can live up to those standards” said Ryan. Their foray into the Conference began with an informal ‘meet and greet,’ and an exploration of Washington DC. At the Student Alumni Breakfast both Alejandro and Ryan along with other students from across the nation were formally, recognized by Dr. Celeste Carter and David Campbell from the National Science Foundation, for their achievements in the ATE recognized programs. Alejandro and Ryan also participated in the ‘Industry Speed Networking’ session for ATE students. The session was designed to facilitate introductions with business/industry representatives and student participants, and provided students an opportunity to meet business professionals from a variety of background and companies.

Alejandro and Ryan’s student showcase session featured NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium
Engineering Challenge 2016 projects in robotics, rocketry, and weather balloon research, and also engineering technologies laboratory projects in electromechanical, hydraulics and pneumatics, robotics, CAD, motors and controls, programmable logic controller (PLC), and automated process control. “My experience was amazing” said Alejandro, as he learned and drew comparisons from various projects that other schools had worked on. What caught Alejandro’s interest was an app being developed to build proteins/elements for future class courses, and also drones and how they are being used to map and follow people, or objects for better information and tracking.

To round off their educationally and professionally stimulating experience, the American Association for Community Colleges (AACC) offered a complimentary tour, to ATE students and alumni, of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, the White House, Washington Monument, U.S. Capitol amongst other important landmarks around Washington, DC. “Alejandro & Ryan did a great job promoting HCC ET program and engineering club showing a variety of projects and hands-on application related to the ET program” said Danielly Orozco, Associate Director for FLATE, who took a leading role in organizing the trip for the students.

Florida was well represented at the Conference. FLATE had a booth at the Conference showcasing
some of its award-winning innovative curriculum, outreach and professional development programs to support Florida’s manufacturing educational and workforce needs. The showcase session also provided a platform for FLATE to share its expertise and knowledge in developing a manufacturing education Community of Practice including education, government and industry partners. “Seeing all the students driving themselves forward in the numerous fields of STEM gives me pride in knowing that these are the individuals I will be working with in the future to solve the issues our nation and world face in the upcoming years” said Ryan. Alejandro’s biggest takeaway was a personal insight about the need to update and improve skills in a dynamic, technologically evolving environment.

Other Community/State Colleges from Florida that were present at the Conference included Lake Sumter
State College which had a student booth showcasing general electrical generation, transmission and distribution process of electricity as it is supplied on a daily basis, protective relay used in substation for transmission of electrical power and functions. Valencia College and Palm Beach State College also had a student booth displaying different STEM projects. Florida State University’s showcase session featured assessment of information technology educational pathways that promote deployment and use of rural broadband. Student display from Seminole State College’s EMERGE program included their work in establishing effective means to renewable/green energy. One of FLATE’s strategic partners, the USF-PathTech LIFE project based at the University of South Florida also had a booth showcasing its work with the National Survey of Engineering Technology students and its collaboration with FLATE in distributing a student survey to six partner ATE centers.

Other Florida-based showcase sessions included one from Indian River State College’s RCNET program, University of Central Florida’s OP-TEC program, the National Center for Optics and Photonics Education program, SpaceTEC, the National Resource Center for Aerospace Technical Education at Eastern Florida State College, and Daytona State College’s Advanced Cyberforensics Education Consortium. For more information about the NSF ATE projects and centers visit www.atecenters.org. For information on FLATE and other NSF ATE Centers, projects and activities contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit http://fl-ate.org/programs/ate-centers.  

Focus On FLATE Operations – A Closer View: Our Organizational Profile

This series on FLATE Operations began in July and continues this month with a review of an Organizational Profile. FLATE's
Organizational Profile is an implicit element of our Real-time Evaluation Protocol (REP) Implementation Evaluation (September FLATE Focus) element.  Our profile describes FLATE's internal working environment. It also defines the external environment in terms of partners, customers, and stakeholders, as well as the relationships with them. Profile documentation describes organizational strategic challenges and advantages and key factors to achieve success. 

FLATE's Organizational Profile has a table structure to facilitate the groupings of the focus questions and their corresponding responses in two categories: P.1 Organizational Description, P2 Organizational Situation. The first category, P.1, projects a clear indication of its question and answer content. This section describes FLATE’s key organizational characteristic.  However, the second, P.2 Organizational Situations, category's meaning may not be as obvious. This section’s focus is the organization’s strategic situation.

Section P.1 question responses drive FLATE to a self-awareness level that is founded on a declaration of its reason for existence and the assessment of resources it actually has. This includes the recognition of any constraints it has to live with. Section questions are grouped as Organizational Environment and Organizational Relationships. The former group deals with FLATE:
  • product and service offerings
  • Mission, Vision and Values
  • assets
  • regulatory requirements
  • workforce profile
While the latter group, Organizational Relationships, draws FLATE’s attention to the “outside world” with questions that address:
  • organizational structure
  • customers and stakeholders
  • suppliers and partners
Questions within these topics are detailed and designed to sharpen FLATE self-awareness. For example, the last category, Workforce, in Organization Environment, includes probing questions that help FLATE comprehend its workforce composition and skillset needs. Questions also deal with workforce education requirements and skill expectations for members of declared workgroups. Subsystems, drivers that engage the workforce groups to achieve organization objectives that lead to goal successes that support FLATE’s mission are identified.

As declared above, Section P.2 is all about FLATE’s strategic situation. Questions in this part of the Organizational Profile Table (OPT) deal with FLATE’s competitive position, changes, and data. This track is the convolution of all FLATE personals’ awareness of what we are supposed to do with the expectation that organization performance improvement will help us do the best we can. Section P.2 also deals with FLATE’s key strategic content, challenges and advantages.  Additional questions deal with business and professional ethics as well as societal responsibilities. An important component of P.2 includes the characterization of FLATE Performance Improvement System. These OPT entries include the processes in place for evaluation and subsequent improvement of organization projects and processes.

Readers are invited to explore FLATE’s OPT. The table certainly belongs in the “living document” category. It is reviewed periodically as an organizational activity by all members of the FLATE team.  The intent is to capture FLATE’s essence as we grow and change.