“Year of Manufacturing” Outreach Initiatives Connect High School Students with Summer Jobs

In keeping with FLATE’s “Year of Manufacturing Awareness” theme, and encouraged by partners to expand Industry Day offerings, FLATE provided an Industry Day multi-tour experience to George S. Middleton High School in order to support the engineering program offered at the Tampa magnet high school. The magnet school programs at Middleton are designed to help students enter career paths in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Since the objective of the magnet programs is to give students a balanced and rigorous curriculum leading directly to industry, technical school, or college programs, making the practical connection between STEM subjects and college and career pathways in engineering technology and advanced manufacturing is a great fit for FLATE’s student tours to advanced manufacturing facilities. Tampa Armature Works, Vulcan Machine, MITRE, Southern Manufacturing Technologies (SMT), and Plasma Therm industries all opened their facilities and provided 67 students with firsthand knowledge about advanced manufacturing careers and the education needed to obtain these careers. 
FLATE’s “Made in Florida” traditional one-site tours are designed to connect classroom-based knowledge to real-world innovation and application, and easily translated into the multi-tour Industry Day event. Roy Sweatman, President of SMT shares that he had received “20+ calls asking about a job in manufacturing from high school students who visited the facility,” and hired a couple for part-time work during the summer. In fact, FLATE research shows a 13% positive change in agree responses from students interested in a career in high tech manufacturing who were surveyed after participating in a tour (3,777 students have participated in tours since 2005). But, we need to do more to ensure teacher and parent buy-in for manufacturing careers since parents and teachers are major career influencers.

One way to aid in this connection is to support school-site “Expo Style” Industry Day events. To aid this initiative, FLATE provided all Florida RMAs with an outreach pack in late December 2011 to be ready for use in 2012. Each pack contained the award winning “Made in Florida” video, copies of FLATE best practice pamphlets for offering summer robotics camps and tours to high tech industries, a postcard size “Made in Florida” promotional handout designed to appeal to students, the new “Hire a Graduate” promotion which networks industry and workforce needs with college programs and their graduates, a resource sheet for online FLATE products and services, career pathways worksheet for students (available online to parents, teachers, career counselors), and annotated presentations which can be used for Industry Day and Industry Expo events. Items were provided as paper copy as well as bundled onto a robot jump drive for ease of access, printing and portability.

After receiving their outreach kit, Marion Regional Mfg. Association (MRMA) referred Suzanne Mills, Director of Human Resources at A & N Corporation, to FLATE for career fair resources. A & N Corp. is a manufacturer of high vacuum flanges, fittings, and chambers in Williston, and Ms. Mills wanted her Career Fair presentation at Williston High School to be representative of the local manufacturing industry. FLATE sent the “Made in Florida” DVD, pencils, FLATERS (FLATE’s robot mascot), and handouts to support this event. Suzanne reported that this event generated “lots of interest.” In fact, A & N Corp. received nine hard applications and over 18 employment inquires from high school students after seeing the A & N display and watching the “Made in Florida” presentation at the March 2012 Williston High School Career Fair.

Do you have an “Industry Day” story to share? We would love to hear from you! Contact Dr.Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org .