FLATE News for March 2012 is that David Gula, FLATE Outreach Manager, is retiring this month. Dave tells us it’s his 5th, or so retirement. I haven’t probed back to the first one, but maybe this will be his last. Dave came to FLATE at our very beginnings, channeled to us from the Florida High Tech Corridor’s Tech Path’s efforts. In 2002, FLATE was still an idea with promise. The promise inspired the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program to invest $70,000 in a “Planning Grant for one year for the FLATE leadership team to develop its “plan,” and define the regional and statewide need.” Looking for something to do and someplace to volunteer to help grow the pipeline of students interested in STEM career pathways, Dave started attending our NSF ATE Regional Center Planning Grant meetings. His contributions to our “volunteer” planning team’s activities and to our mission became so valuable that we convinced him to accept a contract to help us with our industry surveying during that period. This activity defined the need for educational reform for manufacturing education throughout the state.
After securing our Center level funding in the summer of 2004 and opening our doors as Florida’s Advanced Technological Center of Excellence for Manufacturing Education, Dave joined out team as our full time “Outreach Manager” in 2005. Since then, his activities have been legendary in FLATE. Dave first helped us define what “Outreach Manager” could and would mean as a component of FLATE which was to include industry tours for students in STEM programs in middle and high schools. Dave developed and implemented a great process. To date, over 3,500 Florida students have participated in FLATE’s “Made in Florida” industry tours of manufacturing facilities. In addition to tours, Dave was responsible for developing and implementing the FLATE summer robotics camps which quickly became another signature FLATE event that continues to run strong.
In between tours and camps, Dave visits companies, gives student presentations at schools and other venues. Dave also helps FLATE “look” great by printing and mounting posters and flyers, and keeping outreach web pages up-to-date. Recently he took over parental custody of “Brandon” our NAO robot. Additionally, he supports the rest of FLATE staff in many ways for all of our activities and has been a great team player. He will be missed both by the FLATE staff, his team of FLATERS, and the family on the HCC—Brandon campus where FLATE resides. Although we do not know what Dave will be doing next, we do know you might see him at local football games, shopping for chocolate, volunteering at local robotics competitions, relaxing in Winter Haven, or under a Rose Bowl Day Parade float (before, during or after the parade).
As you join us in celebrating Dave’s contributions to FLATE, please take a moment to read the rest of our stories in the spring edition of the FLATE Focus. This edition highlights a a Fabrication Lab in Sarasota that is generating interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) through personalized manufacturing projects. You can learn about Hillsborough Community College’s ongoing sustainability and college “greening” efforts, and read about the Machining program at Pinellas Technical Education Center and its role in meeting the demand for skilled machinists in Florida and across the nation. Hope many of you will join us at the following FLATE events this month: NSF grants workshop (for educators and administrators); MATEC's online webinar for innovative manufacturing featuring FLATE and EMS-USA--one of FLATE's business partners, and hope to see some of you at the advanced manufacturing technology forum in Orlando. Don’t forget to take a stab at the new sTEm puzzle!