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High Tech Summer Camps: A hands-on exploration in science, technology, engineering and mathematics

Summer camps are an excellent mechanism for students to gain first-hand knowledge about science and technology, and its applications in modern manufacturing operations. They lay a firm groundwork for students to explore career and educational opportunities in advanced manufacturing, and enable students to hone skills needed to perform in today’s global marketplace.

FLATE recognizes the importance of career and technical education and is supporting several colleges throughout Florida to offer STEM-related camps for middle and high school students. The initiative is part of FLATE’s outreach efforts targeted to enhance science, mathematics, engineering and technology (STEM) education, and help students cultivate technical, leadership, professional and team-building skills.

FLATE-sponsored camps
This summer FLATE is partnering with Hillsborough County School District and Hillsborough Community College to host three robotics camps for middle (introductory and advanced) and high school (introductory) students. The camps are targeted to introduce students to the concepts of robotics technology, and provide a platform where they can explore its applications in industrial as well as everyday settings. The middle school camps are scheduled for July 13-17, and Aug. 3-7. The high school camp is scheduled July 20-24. Each of the camps will be offered at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Applications are due before May 15. The total cost is $75.

Camps at other community colleges
Brevard Community College is also offering two workshops for high school and community college educators. The workshop for high school educators is scheduled for June 1-11, while the second one for community college educators will be offered in Fall 2009. The focus of the workshops will be on composites and engineering technology, and will include two groups of 20 students.

Another similar offering are the camps offered by Tallahassee Community College. The focus once again is on composite materials and composite manufacturing careers. TCC is hosting two, 5-day composite camps for students from July 13-17 and July 27-31; and a one 3-day camp for science teachers from June 23-25. Each of these camps will be held at TCC, and are made possible through the FSU CEAM grant. It involves 24 high school students, 16 secondary science and mathematics teachers.

Florida Community College at Jacksonville is also hosting two “industrial, manufacturing and machining” camps for middle and high school students. The camps will be held at FCCJ’s Advanced Technology Center during June and July, and represent a partnership between educators and industry professionals alike. During the camp students will manufacture individual key chains using manual/ automated machining equipment and manufacturing simulators. Students will also have the opportunity to visit four manufacturing companies, and receive guidance about specific training needed for each of the jobs showcased during the tours.

Guidance counselors, enrollment coordinators together with FCCJ staff/faculty will provide information about the college’s manufacturing training programs, and work with students to identify courses they can take in high school to progress towards manufacturing careers. They will present additional career planning strategies/tools, admissions/financial aid, and provide parents with proactive strategies to improve their child’s manufacturing career readiness.

On a similar token, Manatee Community College also hosted several camps during Spring 2009. The first was the “Girls Engineering Abilities Realized” camp which was a week-long exploration, focused on electrical and mechanical engineering. The camps were held in several locations (North Port High School, Sarasota County Technical Institute and Central Community Redevelopment Agency). They provided hands-on experience in motorized simple and compound machines, and reinforced core middle school mathematics and science concepts. MCC also ran a parallel marine science camp in April for middle school boys at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota. This week-long event offered students a prime opportunity to learn about Mote Marine history, its current and future research efforts, marine invertebrates and technological tools used to conduct oceanic research. The camp was offered free-of-charge, and co-sponsored by MMLA, MCC and several organizations affiliated to the college.

In addition to offering students an exciting opportunity to experience the different facets of modern technologies, each of these events involve solving modern manufacturing and technology problems, building and programming computer controlled mechanics, explaining the finer points of the program, their mechanical features, and are geared to sharpen participants’ ability to solve real manufacturing problems. They aim at educating students about the basic principles of mathematics, physics, manufacturing processes, automation and machines using conveyors, pulley systems and cranes using hands-on learning approaches.

For more information visit www.fl-ate.org, or contact Dave Gula at 813.259.6581, gula@fl-ate.org.

From the Executive Director's Desk

FLATE is fortunate to have a team with many talents and a work ethic that would “knock your socks off”. Although you many not know these individuals, you certainly have seen and /or experienced their high quality work. This “From the Executive Director” is focused on our media group. A view of our other talents is coming next issue but now it is time to look at the people that help give us our look.

From a visual perspective I am sure that Hank Williams would have really be singing “Hey good looking, you really do have something cooking”. Our website designs are spectacular thanks to the imagination and dedication of our contract webmaster, Colin Miller (One Graphic, Inc). Colin takes seed ideas from us and makes them come alive on both www.fl-ate.org and www.madeinflorida.org.

Other visual impacts and icons have been the creation of local artists and graphic designers Jim Wordes, Chiara Brandon and Wayne Chin. Among other graphic designs Jim Wordes developed the first version of our FLATE logo in 2002. Jim, Chiara and Wayne have all created graphic display panels, banners, posters and various FLATE and Made in Florida, Engineering Technology Degree and Toothpick Factory branded icons for us. Jim Wordes is also the author of our original “Made in Florida” video. The Spanish version and its revision to be released this summer are the product of Keith Thomas and Constantine Stephanakos, respectively.

All of these great people work hard to make us “look good” in the public eye – and we appreciate their efforts. Consistently looking good brands our dissemination products and facilitates us executing our mission to offer a manufacturing educational delivery to meet the workforce capacity and high performance skill needs of the manufacturing sectors in Florida.

But, looks are not everything. FLATE’s Media Specialist, Janice Mukhia complements the visual branding with the rest of the FLATE stories. She is the point person for our quarterly FLATE Focus newsletter; FLATE’s Manufacturing Monthlies (brief industry and educational updates from around the state); regular press releases; frequent news articles for MAF (Manufacturers Association of Florida) and other statewide venues; and keeps the News Tab on the fl-ate.org website updated. Janice also drives special media projects including our recent development and distribution of a series of “Made in Florida” public service announcements and development of the Engineering Technology Degree marketing materials, and our ongoing efforts to make Made in Florida a special “go-to” place in social networking venues.

Our media team has been constantly dynamic and hard working. However, life is a process with many changes and offering opportunities for all of us. I now anticipate that many unimaginable opportunities will be coming to Janice in the near future with her recently-awarded Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications—Public Relations from the University of South Florida securely in hand. Janice will continue to be an important part of our team, at least until the day she is lured away by one of these new opportunities. I want to wish Janice a very warm congratulation on her new professional credentials and say “thank you” to her for all the hard work she has given to FLATE over the past two and one half years!

The Engineering Technology Degree: Expanding its frontiers beyond the sunshine state

FLATE-created Engineering Technology (ET) degree has struck a positive chord and gained additional ground within the engineering and technical education community. The ET degree curriculum frameworks was duplicated/modeled as part of the TechReadySC™ program in Fall 2008, and is currently being offered as part of a common curriculum by a consortium of colleges (Spartanburg Community College, Greenville, Piedmont, Tri-County and York Technical colleges) in upstate South Carolina. The new program combines elements of electronics, pneumatics, hydraulics, mechanics, information technology, computers and robotics.

David Just, vice president of corporate and community education at SCC said they adopted the FLATE-created engineering technology degree model with the MSSC skill standards embedded into its curriculum framework. “We looked at your program/curriculum model, and basically duplicated that. We’re using Amatrol and ToolingU as the web-based component to deliver the MSSC program."

About TechReadySC
The TechReadySCTM program is currently offering two certificates under the program umbrella. One is a basic Mechatronics Technology I Certificate that gives current high school students and/or recent high school graduates an opportunity to enroll under a dual enrollment program. The second is an Advanced Mechatronics Technology II Certificate for incumbent workers who already have experience in a manufacturing environment.

Similarities with the ET Degree
Similar to the FLATE-created ET Degree program, students in these certificate programs can earn up to 9 credits that can be applied towards an Associate degree in mechatronics. When these certificates are coupled with other related classes, a student can receive an Associate Degree in Occupational Technology with a major in Mechatronics Technology. The entire program is made up of 70 credits. Level I comprises of a total of 31 credits; while Level II comprises of a total of 26 credits.

Another similarity between the FLATE-created ET degree and the Mechatronics program is the use of a common curriculum and use of same equipment in each of the five colleges. Students can transfer credits between all five colleges without any problems, at the same time use similar equipment so that “a student in Greenville Tech is going to have the same kind of instruction, lab experience at another college”.

In keeping with the ET degree’s emphasis on industry alignment and the embedding of the MSSC skill standards as part of the ET degree frameworks, the mechatronics program is projected to be offered under the dislocated worker programs as part of the economic stimulus program. To get the ball rolling, the consortium has established a partnership with BMW—a major manufacturer in the area—to offer training/certification of their current employees in the supply/manufacturing chain. “We have about 1900 job opportunities coming to the area and we’ve gotten all the suppliers and manufacturers to agree that if a person earns that Production Technician certification they will at least be guaranteed a job interview”. Indeed it has been a “really good selling point” and is an avenue for area manufacturers to improve the skill set of their production workers. “That’s the whole part that we saw down in FLATE and we wanted to duplicate a way of creating a feeder system into this mechatronics program” Just added.

Crunching the numbers
The program made its debut in Fall 2008 as a “General Technology” degree, and is currently in the process of being approved as a stand-alone A.A.S degree. Since its inception the program has experienced significant growth. To put the numbers into perspective, there were approximately 130 students enrolled in the old industrial maintenance program last spring. Since the transition/reformatting to the new program, that number rose to 160 students in the Fall, and to 271 this spring which is more than double within a period of one year. To that effect Just added “Once we get the MSSC certification in place at the other career centers this coming Fall, that’s going to create a better link and a better feeder system than what we have right here. I’m certain there is going to be added interest”.

For more information about the Mechatronics program at Spartanburg Community College please contact David Just at JustD@sccsc.edu/ 864.592.4805, or visit www.techreadysc.com. For information on the ET degree created by FLATE, please contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org/813.259.6578, or visit www.madeinflorida.org/ ET_Degree.

Made in Florida Learning Challenges: An “educational best-practices” model for middle and high school teachers

The Made in Florida Learning Challenges are state-of-the-art classroom materials that bring an innovative dimension into the classroom. These challenges provide middle and high school teachers with lesson plans, activities and assessments that are designed to enrich science, technology, engineering and mathematics classes. Each challenge provides a real-world scenario using Florida-based companies (Tropicana, Featherlite Luxury Coaches, Black Diamond Guitar Strings) to highlight the different phases (Innovate, Design, Fabricate, Test, Market, and Distribute) in the manufacturing process.

Since its implementation in 2006, the MIF challenges have been presented to over 200 teachers and educators across the nation. It has served as an “educational best-practices” model in several conferences, and generated interest among middle and high school students/educators alike.

Most recently, Jodi Sutton, FLATE curriculum coordinator made a presentation of the “Featherlite” challenge at the Florida Engineering Education Conference at the University of Central Florida. The challenge highlights the “design” phase of the production/manufacturing cycle. It underlines the importance of the “Dream it! Draw it! Build it!” mantra, and uses computer-aided design technology to design the interior layout of a luxury motor coach from start to finish. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE said “Connecting the classroom learning activities directory to a local industry makes a lasting impression on students. The Featherlite Learning Challenge coupled with the “Made in Florida” tour of the same facility exemplifies the relevance of rigor and relevance in modern manufacturing operations/education.”

The presentation generated tremendous momentum/interest among educators. Following the conference, Mia Conlon, science teacher at Rock Lake Middle School in Longwood, Florida, took her students on a “Made in Florida” tour of the Featherlite Coaches manufacturing facilities. Conlon’s students also designed a brochure capturing the finer details of the blue print. “My students are very excited and enjoyed the field trip. They also enjoyed using the challenge” Conlon said.

The MIF Challenges for modern manufacturing are aligned with Florida’s Sunshine State Standards for Science, Mathematics and the curriculum framework for technology education. For more information about the challenges please contact Jodi Sutton at 813.259.6575/sutton@fl-ate.org, or visit http://www.fl-ate.org/projects/learning-challenges.html, http://flate.pbwiki.com/FrontPage.

The 3rd Annual Florida Medical Device Symposium: A Confluence of Medical Manufacturers

The Biomolecular Identification and Targeted Therapeutics (BITT) initiative is one of five centers of excellence in the state of Florida. The Center’s primary goal is to develop state-of-the-art biotechnology and biomedical technologies that support targeted therapeutics. In addition, BITT partners with FLATE to support workforce development needed to transfer BITT technologies into their manufacturing stages, increase biotechnology awareness within the public school system, and promote the establishment of a firm biotechnology market base in Florida. Since this BITT/FLATE partnership’s inception in fall 2008, FLATE has launched a series of initiatives dedicated to gauge educational and training needs of the biotech industry in Florida, and to initiate curriculum development that matches BITT’s technology workforce needs.

As part of its ongoing efforts to build and promote each of these initiatives, BITT/FLATE attended the 3rd Annual Florida Medical Device Symposium. The Symposium was held April
7-8 at the Tampa Marriott Hotel, and was hosted by the Florida Medical Manufacturers Consortium—an organization dedicated to promote the interests of medical manufacturers throughout Florida. It featured prominent keynote speakers who discussed a wide variety of topics ranging from latest developments in FDA and state regulations; product design and development; and entrepreneurship to issues related to exporting and outsourcing.

The symposium was beneficial to BITT’s mission on several counts. First, it provided an opportunity to showcase some of its programs highlighting the current needs of the biotech industry among key target audiences. Second, it introduced BITT to industry representatives from various parts of the state. Third, it provided opportunities for direct industry feedback on partnership activities that included curriculum development, recruitment/career awareness materials, and verification that the educational effort underway are aligning community college and high school programs to targeted current industry standards. Kimberly Wilson, project manager for BITT at Hillsborough Community College said “The Symposium provided excellent opportunities to network/build strategic partnerships with industry professionals and local biotech companies committed to fostering research and development of biotech products” Moreover, “It also helped raise brand recognition of BITT’s overall goals and missions”.

For more information about BITT’s applied research, or the BITT/FLATE partnership contact Kimberly Wilson at 813.253.7845/wilson@fl-ate.org.

Student Competitions: Empowering students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in a global marketplace

High-tech competitions took center-stage this spring as FLATE helped several middle and high school students participate in statewide competitions. The competitions represent FLATE’s efforts to evoke students’ interest in STEM education, and are geared to evaluate successful integration of modern technologies in solving manufacturing-related challenges.

SkillsUSA
To augment these efforts, FLATE partnered with SkillsUSA and Jaeger Corporation to coordinate two high-tech manufacturing-related competitions at the Florida SkillsUSA State Championships. These three-day competitions were held April 20-22, at Manatee Technical Institute in Bradenton, and involved over 1500 students in all career disciplines from schools across the state.

“Champions at Work - Leadership in Transition”, the theme behind this year’s competition, represented the core values of SkillsUSA’s national program. At the “Automated Manufacturing Technology” competition, teams were evaluated on their usage of computer-aided drafting/design, computer-aided manufacturing, and computer-numerical-controlled machining technologies to manufacture a prototype component. Similarly, the “Robotics and Automation Technology” competition evaluated teams on their use of modern machine control systems, operation of a 5-axis servo-robot, and sensors and motorized devices to solve a simulated production-process challenge by designing and operating a robotic work cell. Teams in both competitions were evaluated on teamwork, academic and employability skills, and the successful usage of each of these technologies to solve manufacturing-related challenges.

State competitions winners
Teams from Treasure Coast High School won first place in both contests with strong competition from Middleton High School in Tampa, and Manatee Technical Institute in Bradenton. Both winning teams are scheduled to compete at the SkillsUSA national leadership and skills conference in Kansas City from June 21-26. Jaeger Corporation, a provider of learning products and services for the K-20 educational market, provided Denford Mills and Pegasus Robots, equipment and simulation software along with technical services to support both events. Paul Beyers, employee at Sun Hydraulics in Sarasota Florida, who served as an event judge said “SkillsUSA is a great way to motivate students to work hard and learn in school, and then have a way to apply what they’ve learned. Hopefully, they can take these skills to the next level and apply them at high-tech firms in Florida.”

FLorida TSA State Conference
FLATE also helped with another effort aimed at promoting technical education on a statewide basis. At the Florida TSA State Conference, David Gula, FLATE outreach manager served as one of the judges for the System Control Technology I & II competitions. The event was held May 1 in Orlando, and involved 27 teams comprising of 60 students across the state.
During the competition, middle school participants worked in a simulated environment and designed a prototype mechanism that could regulate a household’s water usage—various various amounts on various days—based on the severity of a local drought. High school students, on the other hand, designed and built a device that would exercise the fingers of a paralyzed individual when actuated by the weight of the hand and for a variety of movement cycles. Both groups used computers, developed the software, built the models and operated them autonomously.

Besides being a high-tech endeavor, the event represented FLATE’s commitment to support FLTSA’s mission to enhance “technological literacy, leadership, and problem solving, resulting in personal growth and opportunity.” For more information on these events contact the state winners or visit www.fl-ate.org, www.skillsusa.info, www.floridatsa.com, or www.floridafirstregional.com

In the Spotlight: 2009 Legislative Session Update: Determining future path of workforce education and manufacturing in Florida

With the close of the extended 2009 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature about to take place, several issues important to workforce education and manufacturing have been secured. This session was dominated by the state of the economy and the federal stimulus package. The one remaining task that will still profoundly affect us – the governor's review and approval of the budget– is still in the works. Against that backdrop, outlined below are highlights of some issues that the Manufacturers Association of Florida and Florida Association of Community Colleges have been tracking and the subsequent outcomes.

What Passed
· HB 127 – Enterprise Zones, Authorizes City of Ocala to apply to OTTED for designation of enterprise zone; provides application deadline; provides requirements for area of enterprise zone; requires OTTED to establish effective date of enterprise zone.

· HB 485 – Fast Track Economic Stimulus for Small Businesses, Provides tax credit for new market development. This economic stimulus bill for small businesses revises New Markets Development Program tax credit; providing for a tax credit for making certain qualified equity investments.
· HB 521 - Ad Valorem Tax Assessment Challenges that lowers the burden of proof in property tax challenges

· HB 903 - Workers Compensation, Seeks to hold down workers compensation insurance costs by clarifying attorney's fees in workers' compensation cases. Clarifies requirements for payment of fees & costs under retainer agreement; specifies amount of attorney's fees which claimant is entitled to recover from carrier or employer.

· SB 1616 – Career & Adult Education, renames the Division of Workforce Education within the DOE as the "Division of Career and Adult Education”; revises the membership of the Seaport Security Officer Qualification, Training, and Standards Coordinating Council by replacing the chancellor of the Community College System with the Commissioner of Education; provides an exception for adult high school students regarding certain prerequisites for high school graduation. OPPAGA study comparing public with private program offerings; amendment pending that will take on Senate OPPAGA study with cost to student.
· HB 7031 – Economic Development, Innovative Incentive Program, Alternative and Renewable Energy, & SIC to NAICS Code Conversion, The Innovation Incentive Program is created within the Office of Tourism, Trade, and Economic Development to ensure that sufficient resources are available to allow the state to respond expeditiously to extraordinary economic opportunities and to compete effectively for high-value research and development, and innovation business, and alternative and renewal energy projects.

Defines "Alternative and renewable energy" to mean, “electrical, mechanical, or thermal energy produced from a method that uses one or more of the following fuels or energy sources: ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, biobutanol, biodiesel, biomass, biogas, hydrogen fuel cells, ocean energy, hydrogen, solar, hydro, wind, or geothermal.”

Amends statute so that the rate of taxation on the purchase of such electricity or gas, when purchased by an industrial consumer which uses the electricity or gas directly in industrial manufacturing, processing, compounding, or a production process, is aligned with the five-digit NAICS Industry Major Group rather than the outdated SIC Number.

· SB2682 - Florida College System, Renames the Division of Community Colleges as the Division of Florida Colleges, defines the terms “Florida College” and “community college”, and specifies the counties served by each college. To allay fears that the demise of two-year programs will result with the expansion of the baccalaureate movement, specific language has been included in the bill that re-emphasizes the core mission of the system. Moreover, it specifically states that a college may not terminate its associate degree programs as a result of being authorized to offer one or more baccalaureate programs. All four-year offerings proposed must meet the scrutiny of workforce demand for the degree within the geographic region to be served.

In keeping with the most recent updates from Nancy Stephens, executive director of MAF, when the final appropriations bill is passed, we expect to see $3.3 million for Quick Response Training (a decrease in funding from previous years, but an increase over what was originally proposed), $4 million for Incumbent Worker Training ($2 million from state, $2 million from federal stimulus dollars for an overall increase), and $13.4 million for the Enterprise Florida Closing Fund (a decrease).