NSF ATE PI Conference

The annual NSF ATE Principal Investigator’s Conference, organized by the American Association of Community College (AACC), was held in Washington DC in the Omni Shoreham Hotel.  The conference had two showcasing events during which all projects were required to share their work in a visual display. There are currently over twenty funded NSF ATE Projects in Florida and all were in attendance. The conference provides a great venue for learning collaborations among projects as well as opportunities for the NSF program officers who oversee the various projects to review progress directly with the PI’s and project personnel.

FLATE congratulates all the Florida projects (22) P.I.’s and their teams at 14 Florida Educational Institutions for stepping forward to meet their own local technician education challenges with innovated solutions. Florida Colleges showcasing and/or presenting include those in the list below.

In addition to the showcasing sessions, the conference had a variety of session types including demonstrations, synergy sessions, forums, and discussions.  There were also inspiring keynote speakers, student poster sessions and a special program of events for alumni and students of ATE programs. Typically, over 60 students from across the country attend the annual meeting (sponsored by both AACC and the ATE College program that they attend) and are recognized by the leaders of the National Science Foundation.

In addition to its popular annual showcase, this year FLATE organized a session on advanced manufacturing, process control and instrumentation. As industries become more automated, quality gets integrated into production, and artificial intelligence creeps into all manufacturing operations, discrete industry sectors are using more and more of the same technologies in their production processes.  Joined by experts from ATE projects at Central College (NE), South Arkansas Community College (AK), and Florida State College at Jacksonville (FL) and nearly 100 conference attendees, FLATE’s panel explored the new and emerging needs of the broad chemical processing industry technician workforce. You can find the slide from the panel posted on FLATE’s wiki.

FLATE also participated in its partner’s sessions including a synergy session for Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work which focused on how we can engage technician education regional forums around emerging skills; PathTech LISTEN’s discussion session which is tackling the issue of tracking students after graduation to learn more about what kinds of career positions they move into; and the early morning Round Tables for Integrating Necessary Skills into our education process and Needed Math to define the skills needed and how to make math a more integrated and holistic part of the technician education.

Overall, the NSF ATE Principal Investigator’s Conference showcases the edge of advanced technician education, inspires and energizes all attendees, and provides promising practices for the ongoing improvement of technician education supporting emerging industry needs across the United States.

For more information about the conference and posted presentations, please visit the AACC website. For more information about the NSF ATE projects in Florida, visit FLATE’s website.

Orange Technical College Awarded Grant for Mechatronics Program

Congratulations from the FLATE Team to Orange County Technical College Mechatronics Program!  Duke Energy and the OCPS Foundation recently awarded Steve Bowman, Instructor at Orange Technical College Mid Florida Campus a $5000 to help support after school programs in robotics.  Outside of the traditional program, Steve runs robotics teams for underprivileged, at-risk, and under-represented students who would not have this opportunity at their home school.  These students work with him, as well as other industry representatives, to build competitive robots based on their education and skill levels to compete at regional, state, and international competitions.  The money will be used to buy some of the materials needed for middle school and high school teams.  All students on these teams are allowed to participate no matter their socio-economic status and they rely on corporate donations like this to cover the cost of tools, materials, and travel to events.

Reposted from MACF Weekly Updates

Round-Up of Manufacturing Day Industry Tours in Pasco-Hernando Counties

Manufacturing Day/Month just concluded on a high note with hundreds of students and educators across Florida touring high-tech manufacturing production facilities to learn about STEM-related educational and career pathways in manufacturing. In Pasco-Hernando counties, Manufacturing Day has historically drawn significant participation. FLATE’s manufacturing day strategy for organizing industry tours for students, engaging educators, the school districts, manufacturers and the community at large has paid rewarding dividends. In that, over the years this strategy has enabled regional manufacturing day teams like the one in Pasco and Hernando counties to take lead in formulating their own manufacturing day strategy that is customized to build inroads between manufacturers, community organizations, school districts including educators and students. To that effect Pasco-Hernando counties has been successful in using FLATE’s initial model for industry tours for Manufacturing Day to create its own sustainable ecosystem.

Windell Krimm Technical High School touring GETS USA
Today Pasco-Hernando counties have taken the lead in reaching out to local manufacturers and school districts to organize industry tours for students across the two counties.  “Our goal is to enhance the awareness of job opportunities and the impact of manufacturing in our counties” said Kelly Castro, youth coordinator for Pasco-Hernando chapter of CareerSource who has spearheaded the Manufacturing Day initiative in Pasco-Hernando counties since 2016. This year was no different.  On October 4, students across the two counties participated in national Manufacturing Day tours and activities. Approximately 370 students and 24 educators from 13 schools (12 high schools and 1 college) toured 13 manufacturing facilities in Pasco County.
Participating schools in Pasco County included River Ridge High School, Cypress Creek High School, Wendell Krinn Technical High School, Pasco High School, Zephyrhills High School, Hudson High School, Sunlake High School and Land O’Lakes High School. Other schools included WC Auto, Marchman Technical College and Pasco Hernando State College. Manufacturers and local organizations that hosted a tour included Facts Engineering, GETS USA, Leggett & Platt, Metler Toledo, Monster Transmission, Nestle Waters, Old Caste, Pall Aeropower Corp, PharmaWorks, SeaWay Plastics, TRU Simulation and Training Inc., Welbilt and AMSkills.

Cypress Creek High School touring FACTS Engineering
In Hernando County approximately 236 students and 18 educators from 5 educational facilities ( 3 high schools and 2 educational centers) toured six manufacturing facilities. Participating schools and programs included Nature Coast Technical High School, PACE Center for Girls, Central High School, Hernando High School and HVAC. Participating manufacturers included Accuform, Alumni-Guard, Brooksville Airport, Cemex, Interpid and Monster Transmission. Manufacturers in both counties sponsored Manufacturing Day T-Shirts and lunches for all participating in the industry tours.
Regional planning for Manufacturing Day represented a collaborative effort between multiple agencies. This year Castro, who was joined by Wendy Villa from Pasco Hernando State College, served as the lead coordinators to devise an effective strategy for Manufacturing Day in Pasco Hernando counties.  “We want our students to learn about local careers, wages and what it takes to get into manufacturing. We also want our manufacturers to recognize and learn about the skilled talent that is being produced out of our local colleges as well as our high school career academies so that we can continue to pair our manufacturers with up and coming skilled workers” Castro said. Key regional partners included: Pasco Hernando District Career and Technical office, Pasco Hernando Chambers of Commerce, Nature Coast Manufacturers Association and local manufacturers.

Pasco-Hernando Proclamation
In addition to industry tours that served as a first-hand learning experience about high-tech production processes and careers, schools were also given a video created by Nature Coast Television. The video highlighted local heroes in manufacturing. Students were also directed to the Made in Florida Manufacturing Day website to access additional STEM-related resources about educational and career pathways in manufacturing.  Castro and Villa in partnership with the local manufacturing day teams also worked with local government officials to issue proclamations recognizing October 4th as the kick-off of a month-long celebration of manufacturing and manufacturers across the state. There was one proclamation in Pasco and two in Hernando County this year. One of them was issued in September at the Mayor’s office and the other at the end of September at the Chamber breakfast where the proclamation was presented by John Mitten, County Commissioner for District 1.

Indeed the Manufacturing Day initiative in Pasco-Hernando counties is poised for growth and success. According to Castro, the goal each year is to add one, or two additional manufacturing tour sites. This year the outreach was extended to include college students, home school groups and youth from the PACE program as well. Castro also hopes to increase donations to support the event and add 25 new students per county to public tours.  “We want to thank FLATE for its ongoing support. We look forward to planning and growing this event and making it bigger and better year after year” Castro said.

FLATE applauds the steps Castro and her team have taken to lead Manufacturing Day efforts in their regions and would like to thank all its partners for their participation, sponsorship and involvement in making Manufacturing Day a big success. We look forward to continuing this partnership and collaboration with each of our partners to position Florida as a national leader in the Manufacturing arena.

 For more information on FLATE’s statewide strategy for manufacturing day/month, visit www.madeinflorida.org/manufacturing-day and the FLATE Wiki. You can also contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org, or at 813.259.6578

Things and the Internet

The FLATE Focus Future of Work Series has introduced overview connections of Future of Work issues in technology sector headings used by the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education program: advanced manufacturing technology, agricultural and bio-technologies, energy, environmental technology, information technology, micro & nano technologies, geospatial technology, and security technologies.  In the October 2019 blog, we began to think about specific examples of technologies in these specific ATE education sectors.  That practice continues.

When one asks what impact, new technologies will have on technician education the Internet of Things (IoT) is often the first or at least in the initial set of impactful technologies that must be addressed.  This is a broad classification to be sure and the IoT impact on society has already become apparent.  However, what is or will be its influence on technician education?

Bypassing, this month at least, the IoT’s connection to the information technology technician, an immediate connection of IoT and the Future of Work is the access to new sensors that operate using extremely high frequencies.  Not long ago, with specific exceptions such as applications in some 24-GHz industrial fluid-level sensors, the Gigahertz frequency range was not practical because of challenges with sensor required components, materials, layout, and production tolerances.
 Today this is not the case.  Companies such as Texas Instruments are providing sensors that target robotics and automation applications within the 60 GHz (5 mm wavelength) range.  This higher frequency range also means a new generation of frequency analyzers to verify sensor performance as well as the conformation of output response to an edge computing environment or (for consumer applications) the cloud itself.  These new analyzers are certainly not your grandfather’s oscilloscopes nor will current low frequency analyzers satisfy the technician’s IoT related sensor manufacture, installation, connection, and troubleshooting needs.
The continued increase access to more gigahertz sensors and their application in all the ATE related technologies leads to future technician preparation questions.  Are the classic skills taught in RF electronics courses or in standalone modules in other programs for technicians going to be adequate for the technician working in advanced manufacturing or micro & nanotechnologies?   Do new applications that require technicians to be involved in sensors and measurements that integrate significant analog and digital signal-processing capabilities represent the edge of their skill set or just “business as usual”?   If it isn’t going to be “business as usual”, what advanced skills should the new multiple frequency technician have, how are they to be taught, and are faculty prepared to teach them?
As characteristic and to be honest the fun part of this blog series, it is time to shift gears.  Returning to our operating premise:  "The work to do starts with you."  Your views of both present and future skills related to EHF, Extremely High Frequency, technology in your field is EI, Extremely Important!  A nationwide strategy for technician education needs national input.  Industries in various regions of the country will have different EHF skill use expectations for their technicians.  The goal is to identify the core skills that are the foundation for all EHF applications including, of course, IoT.  NSF-ATE is listening and can put its resources into action in response to what it hears so now is the time to speak up.  Think about the skills needed and the optimal time (place) to learn them. Contact us.  Send us your thoughts gilbert@usf.edu.