Middleton High School Engineering Students Experience Manufacturing Close-Up

Seventy students enrolled in Middleton High School’s engineering program were given the opportunity to explore the exciting world of modern manufacturing and related careers in January. As part of an annual “Industry Day,” Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE), housed at Hillsborough Community College’s Brandon Campus, coordinated tours to six local manufacturing companies where students got a first-hand view of real-life applications of their curriculum. Middleton utilizes Project Lead the Way’s (PLTW) curriculum which focuses on activities, project, and problem-based (APPB) learning. Central to this Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum are hands-on projects that help students understand how the information and skills they are learning in the classroom may be applied in everyday life.

Students toured six sites including Southern Manufacturing Technologies (SMT), a manufacturer of precision components for the aerospace and defense industries. At SMT, students had the opportunity to handle components such as valve bodies for missile defense systems and parachute release system assemblies. At Plasma-Therm, a manufacturer of etch and film deposition equipment for global semiconductor and related specialty markets, students wore “bunny suits”, shoe covers and hair nets before touring the manufacturing clean room facility. Tampa Armature Works (TAW) gave students an in-depth look at their operations starting from incoming supplies to the final product. At TAW students learned about the construction of huge switchgear enclosures for the phosphate industry, wiring complexity for various applications,

and machining equipment, several weighing in at over 50 tons, needed to produce their products. Students also visited TAW’s Motor division, the premier provider of all types of electric motor repair and service. At this facility, students learned about TAW Motor Division's role in repairing and rebuilding electric motors of all sizes. In addition to the technical presenation, TAW staff treated students to an informative and motivational speech about careers and life.

Staff at Vulcan Machine (a provider of high quality machining since 1978) gave students a tour of the entire shop. They stopped at each equipment station, showed product flow from raw stock to finished item, and explained the operations necessary to consistently produce at top quality levels. At the Mitre Corporation, staff welcomed the students, and conducted a facility tour culminating in a spaghetti-marshmallow tower building contest. The goal was to build the tallest structure! Mitre is a not-for-profit organization chartered to work in the public interest, applying expertise in systems engineering, information technology, operational concepts, and enterprise modernization to address their sponsors' critical needs. The Mitre Student Program provides summer jobs to high school and college students who are mentored by senior Mitre staff in areas such as software engineering, robotics, and nanotechnology. Some students go on
to make their adult careers at Mitre.

At the conclusion of the tour Nina Stokes, project for FESC at HCC-Brandon said “industry tours such as these allow students to experience modern manufacturing in action and raises their awareness of the numerous and varied careers available in the field.” Stokes who accompanied the students on the tour said “these efforts support recruitment to STEM areas including HCC’s A.S. and A.A.S degree in Engineering Technology which is designed to prepare the student for initial employment in high technology industry.”

For more information on FLATE’s state-of-the-art industry tours visit www.madeinflorida.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.