From the Executive Director's Desk

Permit me to introduce all of you (if you do not know her) to Jodi Sutton, our FLATE Curriculum Coordinator. This introduction is a bit belated since Jodi has been a key part of our team for at least 3 years. However, as is always the case when someone is leaving, their impact on those staying becomes focused.

Jodi is a member of a military family and the new orders will have them living in Virginia by the middle of June. She always helped the rest of us look good by dressing up and professionalizing our “strut-our-stuff” materials. She is a great advocate for technical educational pathways, and is one of FLATE’s most adamant fans. If you know FLATE, you know we thrive on humor as each of us blends our own style into the mix. If you know Jodi, you know her verbal and visual humor is top notch. We all marvel at the way she makes us smile, and brings her personal style to design and refine FLATE’s products.

So now we must find a new a curriculum coordinator, but we only have to look at Jodi’s attributes to determine what a curriculum coordinator should do. One of Jodi’s main areas of focus has been to coordinate our FLATE industry learning challenges. She works with subject matter experts to develop meaningful STEM challenges for middle and high school students based on real Florida manufacturing and high technology companies. You can find those challenges available for download, and on our wiki at But that is just the beginning of what Jodi does for us. We pay a lot of attention to her work behind the scenes because it transforms many of our FLATE, Made in Florida, sTEm-at-WORK, Engineering Technology Degree, Robotics camps, FLATER messages, video products and presentations into visual treats.

As Curriculum Coordinator, Jodi also provides presentations to teachers and students promoting STEM, manufacturing careers and workshops on how to use the materials on the wiki. She produced a short informational video about our teacher resources and a CD containing targeted resources for career exploration for teachers and students alike. From content to packaging, Jodi is also the keeper of FLATE’s world famous Toothpick Factory. Our next curriculum coordinator will be welcomed, but his/her work will be a bit easier because Jodi has laid down the standard for this position.

We will all miss Jodi! Even though we selfishly do not want her to go, we wish her well in her new VA digs, and will be eager to learn about new professional directions that life makes available to her.

As you join us in congratulating Jodi, please take a moment to read the articles in this month’s Focus. Our industry spotlight focuses on Vulcan Machines—a local manufacturer based in Tampa. You can also read about two industrial biotech workshops that we’re hosting for teachers over the summer, or learn how robotics is helping elementary students develop a passion for STEM education.

Time is running out—don’t forget to send in your nominations for the FLATE awards (, and register for the upcoming HI-TEC conference ( in July, in Orlando!

We hope you enjoy reading these and many more articles in this edition of the Focus.

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