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FLATE’s Executive Director Reviews 2011 Workforce Education Mandates

Every year, the Florida legislature passes legislation that affects workforce education. At the Engineering Technology Forum that took place at Florida Gateway College in Lake City (FGC) last week, Eric Owens, state supervisor of the Manufacturing and Transportation Career Clusters provided an overview of how the 2011 education mandates, related to career and technical education, will be implemented in our state in the coming years. Here are a few that will have significant impact.

House Bill 1255 (School District Accountability) now requires: Districts’ 5 Year Strategic Plan include “regional workforce boards” and “economic development agencies” as partners; development of virtual education for middle school students, and mandates an objective review of CAPE courses and their industry certifications for student success and employment. There is also a new requirement that hopes to improve passage rates for industry certification exams if below 50%, implementing CAPE academy models with industry certification in the division of juvenile justice.

Other mandates move Florida Ready to Work from FLDOE to Workforce agencies and remove it as a criterion for CAPE academies. CAPE academies have to develop a sustainability plan. All districts will be required to implement one MS CAPE academy in 2012-2013 that aligns with an existing secondary academy. School grades for middle schools will include performance of its students in dual enrolled high school classes. House Bill 2120 (K-12 education funding) requires weighted funding formulas for CAPE academies with industry certifications based on both rigor and employment value for high school and middle schools, where applicable. HB 2150 (post-Secondary Education Funding) requires school districts and colleges to charge a standard fee for adult basic education, and redefines “adult” student. Previously, courses to achieve a GED were offered at no charge.

House Bill 7151 (post-secondary education) mandates that district workforce education funding, steering committee funding models must be recognized, secondary and post-secondary programs must be aligned with K-12 workforce education programs including CAPE academies, and that workforce education data must be consistent for college system and the school districts. This bill also requires that the Higher Education Coordinating Committee (HECC, www.highereducation.org) to provide a comprehensive report by December 2011 to the governor, the Board of Governors, and others on the enrollments and completion rates in all higher education degrees and certificates.

Despite the unsettling nature of ongoing changes in Florida’s education systems, change is (most often), a good thing.The evolving emphasis on accountability and the focus on job preparation at all post-secondary programs are giving us important and sometimes painful perspectives on our education systems. To redefine the education for the 21st century, and for the student who will enter the highly integrated 21st century world, we need to understand both the successes and failures of the old and existing systems, and the new opportunities that can be implemented to create a new framework for all educational levels.

The October edition of the Focus is packed with interesting stories. Join me in recognizing our 2011 FLATE Awardees, take a stab at this month’s STEM puzzle, and read how the FLATE-created statewide engineering technology degree meets a presidential directive in aligning workforce training with industry recognized credentials. The FLATE-Iberian Partnership for Technician Excellence is also well underway. You can read about FLATE’s ongoing student recruitment efforts for technician training in Spain next summer, and expand your knowledge about the workforce development initiatives of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

FLATE Offers International Technician Training for Students Throughout Florida


FLATE-led initiative to support high quality, international educational experience to Florida’s community college students and educators is well underway. This National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE)-supported, FLATE interaction with TKNIKA—an innovation Institute for vocational training established by the Vice Ministry of Education of the Basque government in Spain— is one of eight pilot projects awarded to NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Centers, and poised to create an outstanding educational experience for educators and students enrolled in the FLATE-created two year, statewide A.S. degree in engineering technology.

The project has been conceived in two phases. The first, or the exploratory phase, was completed in July 2011 when a delegation of industry, educators and administrators from four Florida community colleges (Hillsborough Community College, State College of Florida, University of South Florida, and Brevard Community College) went on a week-long trip to Spain. Executive Director of FLATE, Dr. Marilyn Barger who masterminded and spearheaded the project says “the goal is to expand partnership between the two government-supported technical programs, assess opportunities for curriculum creation, and provide professional development for technical college faculty and students.” To assess technician education and training including classroom and laboratory equipment, the delegation visited various sites which share close semblance to the FLATE program. According to Barger, the site visit helped create a better understanding of vocational program structures in the Basque region, and provided technical learning experience that can be propagated throughout Florida colleges.

The second phase, or student recruitment and training program, scheduled for May 12-June 2, 2012, is currently underway. The deadline to submit applications to FLATE is Jan. 20, 2012. To qualify and participate in the structured technical education and training experience at a IEFPS Usurbil GLBH, a technical college in Spain, students need to be enrolled in the Engineering Technology (E.T.) A.S. degree program from any of the ten colleges in the Florida State and community college system. Student applicants are expected to be in the second year of their degree program preferably having completed at least 23 credits of technical courses (not including general education) before the trip. Applicants are also required to have an average GPA of 3.0 or higher, have the endorsement from an E.T. degree faculty, complete the training application form, and provide a 500 word summary of their intention to participate in the project.

Once applicants are preselected they are required to:
  • Sign a “commitment agreement,” outlined by FLATE, by Jan. 27, 2012. This includes, but not limited to: completing at least 90% of scheduled training, submitting a final project, preparing a final presentation, participating in dissemination conferences, contributing to develop and improve the ET Florida curriculum (based on their learning experience).
  • Be enrolled in summer 2012 term in a 3 credit hours “special topic” course in Modern Manufacturing, ETI 1931, at HCC (covered by FLATE).
  • Have a valid passport by March 12, 2012, with permission to leave and enter the US with the ability to travel to Spain in May 2012 for a period of 3 weeks (covered by FLATE).
  • Have medical insurance during the training period (covered by FLATE).
The goal is to provide outstanding learning experience for all participants. Areas of training include alternative energy and control of automated energy systems. At the conclusion of the trip, students will contribute content and skills assessment for developing tangible tools and solutions to improve ET-related curriculum and instruction materials within the Florida educational system. In addition to technical knowledge, this extraordinary experience is expected to “expand students’ appreciation for cultural differences, and create awareness of new economically and socially viable corporate structures” Barger said.

For more information, or to fill out an application form contact Danielly Orozco, FLATE curriculum coordinator at dorozco2@hccfl.edu/813.259.6575. For information on the Iberian Partnership for Technician Excellence, and the award-winning, two-year A.S. degree in engineering technology contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at 813.259.6578/barger@fl-ate.org, or visit www.madeinflorida.org/engineering-technology-degree.  For information on TKNIKA visit http://www.tknika.net,%20and/ and IEFPS Usurbil GLBHI http://www.ihusurbil.com/.

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Society of Manufacturing Engineers: A Globally Recognized Resource for Manufacturing Knowledge, Education & Networking

Creativity, innovation, and technology are the bedrock of the American knowledge-based economy. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers has been an effective vehicle in fostering technological advancement, and fueling innovation through creativity. SME is considered the “world’s leading professional society advancing manufacturing knowledge, and influencing more than half a million manufacturing practitioners annually.” Headquartered in Michigan, SME currently has members in more than 70 countries, and represents manufacturing practitioners across industries. Through its local chapters, technical communities, publications, expositions and professional development resources, SME ensures a strong manufacturing base, and raises awareness about leading trends and technologies, expertise and skills development.

As an effective vehicle in highlighting workforce development issues, SME has been working with industry,
academic and government partners to support current and future skilled workforce. Tina Brudnicki, member and industry manager for Southeast region at SME says the Society’s overarching mission encompasses a cross section of professionals ranging from college students to seasoned veterans eager to mentor and advance manufacturing. “Whether you are looking for technical solutions in your current industry, or want to diversify your business, SME has the manufacturing connections to help.” (Source: http://www.sme.org/).

From virtual and local member networks, to industry-leading events, SME members enjoy vast array of benefits. SME members are automatically subscribed and receive the Manufacturing Engineering magazine, annual industry yearbooks (Medical Manufacturing, Energy Manufacturing, Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing, and Motorized Vehicle Manufacturing), SME Librarian services, and discounts on our books, videos, conferences, and certifications.

SME’s organizational structure encompasses eight technical communities that focus on specific manufacturing disciplines. Each community consists of "tech groups" where members meet and collaborate both virtually and face-to-face. Communities also produce technical content for SME programs and other industry events, and serve as a pathway to connect with peers, find experts and gather technical knowledge within specific disciplines. “SME’s focus is to support the value of manufacturing by aligning services and products geographically, and by industry to support the needs of manufacturing practitioners” Brudnicki said.

As a firm proponent for manufacturing excellence, SME is committed to positioning “manufacturing as cool.” Brudnicki says the U.S. manufacturing landscape is undergoing the same transformation it underwent back in the 1900 when 40% of U.S. workers were employed in agriculture. Today, she says, less than 2% of Americans are engaged in agriculture, yet we feed 300 million people. Indeed, manufacturing has changed from mass production, which relied on assembly line workers, to advanced manufacturing which is more reliant on technology. Despite negative perceptions surrounding manufacturing that are reiterated by the media, Brudnicki says the manufacturing industry continues to produce as much, if not more, and offers several lucrative opportunities. She points to aerospace, medical, energy, non-auto transportation as pillars of American innovation and manufacturing ingenuity. “Manufacturing jobs start with the idea for something that will improve the way we live, travel, get energy, and receive medical treatment.”

SME’s goal to “acquire and distribute manufacturing knowledge and expertise among its members” has also spilled over to the immediate manufacturing community here in Tampa. FLATE has contributed articles in two issues, one in February 2009 and April 2010, of SME’s Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Tina Brudnicki has also been an integral part of FLATE’s Industrial Advisory Committee (IAC) since 2005, and currently serves as the Committee Chair. Brudnicki points to FLATE as an effective vehicle in “creating positive awareness for manufacturing and advanced technical education within schools and industry in Florida.” She also applauds FLATE for implementing a manufacturing career pathway that unifies the manufacturing two-year degree education system in the state, and for including a nationally recognized certification program into the system. “I would love to see FLATE bridge the gap between a two-year manufacturing degree into a four, or possible a masters degree in manufacturing” Brudnicki said.

For more information on SME visit www.sme.org, or contact Tina Brudnicki, member and industry manager for Southeast region at TBrudnicki@sme.org. For information on FLATE, or become a member of FLATE’s IAC, visit www.fl-ate.org/committees/IAC.html, or contact FLATE’s Executive Director, Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.

Watch the SME Video on YouTube

sTEm–at-Work (Puzzle #23): Bridge Corrosion Test

A technician works for the Florida Department of Transportation monitoring the amount of corrosion that occurs in the “rebar” of concrete bridge pillars. “Rebar” are steal rods that are embedded in the bridge concrete to give the bridge extra strength. The problem is that the bridge pillars are in salt water and the steal rods corrode. The tech uses a corrosion tester made by the “U-Betch-en” instrument company. The instrument applies an increasing voltage across two test points on a “rebar” in the bridge and then decreases that applied voltage value back to zero. The electrical current along the “rebar” between the two test points is measured as the voltage changes in both voltage directions. If the steal rod (the “rebar”) is not corroded there are neither local maximum nor local minimum in the voltage vs. current plot. The test results on two different rods in Bridge 123 show one of the bars is corroded. The technician now needs to label it on the plot.

The “rebar” identified as B-123¬_a is the corroded rebar. (yes or no). Please submit your answers in the comments section below this posting, or at http://www.fl-ate.org/.




President's Request for Industry Credential Based 2 year Degree: A Done Deal in Florida!

On May 8, 2011, President Obama announced a goal to credential 500,000 community college students nationwide with skills certifications aligned to manufacturers’ hiring needs. Similarly, at the NSF Broadening Impact Meeting in Washington D.C., Jane Oates, assistant secretary for employment and training at the Department of Labor (DOL) called out to the nation’s community colleges to grant college credit for short-term workforce training. Oates said “short-term workforce training, which has historically not included college credit, and does not count toward degrees is "immoral." The unified message from the pulpits of the White House and the DOL, to align workforce training with industry recognized credentials, is loud and clear!

These presidential directives that the nation needs two year degree programs which articulate industry recognized certificates is already a reality in Florida. Even before the big names in manufacturing first endorsed this system, FLATE took a leading step to embed the National Manufacturers
Association-endorsed Manufacturing Skill Standards Council’s Certified Production Training (MSSC CPT) certificate into the core of the FLATE-created statewide Engineering Technology (ET) degree.

Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE says “FLATE was the first to establish alignment crosswalks, and wrote the first statewide articulation that allows anyone in the country to get 15 credit hours towards this A.S. degree if they hold a valid MSSC Credential.” FLATE has also put into place a high school program that is specifically aligned to the same certification, and can be used by high school students to enter the two year A.S. degree in Engineering Technology. Moreover, Dr. Marilyn Barger, via invitation from Emily DeRocco, president of NAM’s Manufacturing Institute, has been a member of the Manufacturing Institute’s Education Council for 2 years, primarily representing FLATE’s highly regarded statewide model, and as a conduit to other manufacturing centers. “It’s a kind of grass roots effort to get industry engaged; besides which, Florida now has the third largest number of MSSC CPT certified individuals in the country. Pretty good for a state that is not considered a ‘manufacturing’ state” Barger said.

The ET degree program conceived, engineered, and coordinated by FLATE was developed with funding from the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Program (NSF ATE), and has been in place in Florida since 2008. The program represents a cooperative effort between the Florida Department of Education and FLATE, is a unified statewide approach to meet the needs of Florida’s hi-tech manufacturing industry, and represents a synergy which connects industry and workforce needs to college degree and certificate programs.

Currently, ten participating Florida state and community colleges offer ET degree and certificate programs, and current data shows that the program is meeting student needs. Since ET program adoption began in
2008, there has been a 139% increase in ET degree enrollment among Florida colleges, with 347 enrolled in 2009-10. Additionally, 2010 data received from the Florida Department of Education reports a 14% increase in total ET and related degree enrollment (4,714 enrolled in 2009-10), and a 10% increase in total Engineering Technology and related degree and certificate program enrollment (5,095 enrolled in 2009-10). Enrollment has also grown in 16 Florida colleges in ET and all related programs between 2008-09 and 2009-10 by as much as 58%!

For more information on FLATE’s industry-aligned ET degree email Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit www.madeinflorida.org/engineering-technology-degree/e-t-overview.

Programmed For Success...Preparing Students for Robotics and High-Tech Careers

Each year FLATE hosts a robotics night for parents and middle school students who attend the LEGO robotics camps this year. This year’s fast paced, one hour information session, held at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon, served as a rich storehouse of information primarily on robotics and STEM, and was attended by 17 people. The program highlighted STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-based resources available at local schools; career and educational opportunities for students interested in pursuing STEM pathways, and an overview of FLATE”s two year A.S. degree in engineering technology currently being offered in community colleges across the state.

Rob Weinburg, district resource teacher for career and technical education curriculum and STEM initiatives at the School District of Hillsborough County (SDHC) in Florida and Jake Prokop, from the Helios Foundation provided an in-depth overview about the SDHC’s, middle school STEM Institutes (More Information about the STEM Institutes on FLATE’s Blog), and high school STEM career academies. Weinburg and Prokop highlighted a best practices/benefits reaped from the institutes’ STEM models, and briefed attendees about upcoming robotics events. Students and parents also got an opportunity to tour the manufacturing lab at HCC, and were encouraged to take advantage of the resources available on the “Made in Florida” website. Response from parents as well as campers was overwhelmingly positive.

Alyssa Joyner, a 7th grader at Madison Middle School who attended FLATE’s intro camp last year and the
advanced camp this year says the robotics camp have tremendously helped with schoolwork. Joyner who was also this year’s door prize winner—a complete LEGO kit—says she is “more into STEM now than before.” Gregory Starks another camper who attended the 2011 intro camp, and a 6th grader at Greco Middle School, says the “stuff” he learnt at the robotics camp has helped him with engineering classes in school. His grandfather, Paul Helbing, agrees the robotics camp spurred Gregory’s interest in robotics, and sharpened his penchant for science.

In addition to its impact on students, FLATE’s robotics camps have also fired up parents’ interest in STEM/robotics. Kim Bone, whose son Dalton Hensley attended the 2011 advanced camp, recently started a robotics club at Turkey Creek Middle School in Tampa where she teaches 7th grade science. Bone says she was inspired to start the program at her school after watching her son flourish/enjoy FLATE’s robotics camp. “A lot of my students are Hispanic and face the possibility of working in the fields. Familiarizing themselves with latest technology will give them the tools to seek better opportunities” Bone said. The club, comprised of 10 boys and 12 girls, recently had its first meeting, and is poised to explore and have a “lot of fun” with robots.

For more information about the robotics camps please call or email FLATE’s Outreach Manager, David Gula at 813.259.6581/gula@fl-ate.org, or visit http://www.madeinflorida.org/.