Ringing in New Year, New Beginnings by Celebrating a Banner Year of Accolades!

As we start a new year, it is common practice to make resolutions for new beginnings and changes, as well  as reflect on past successes and opportunities. Looking back to 2012, I would like to share some FLATE milestones. Most importantly, the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded FLATE for an unprecedented third cycle at full center funding level early in September. We look forward to the next three years, working together with all our stakeholders across Florida to meet our goals and objectives. The past year brought a number of recognitions to the FLATE staff, individually, and collectively to our community. Brad was honored as the 2012 Hi-TEC educator of the year in July for excellence throughout his long career serving engineering technology community in Florida. In March, I was inducted into the Epsilon Pi Tau honor society for excellence in technological education. Over the summer, Eric Owens, previously the state supervisor for the manufacturing cluster and strong partner of FLATE for our curriculum work, was promoted to senior director of career and technical education programs. Many of you also know that Janice Mukhia, FLATE’s communication guru, took a three-month leave to take her two-year-old son to India to meet his large extended family, and during her stay got a chance to explore the state of technical education in that part of the globe.

Notable in our outreach and recruitment work was the retirement of David Gula, FLATE’s outreach manager for 7 years. Dave continues to be missed. Other achievements in our work include improvements in our outreach and recruitment data collection and analysis that have in turn better enabled us to reveal impact on the participants. We took our 4,000th student on a “Made in Florida” industry tour, and have expanded our initiative to work more closely with regional groups home school consortia to offer high quality, high impact tours.

We expanded our summer robotics camp offerings to Ocala in partnership with the Institute for Human Machine Cognition (IHMC) who hosted three camps for middle school students in their Ocala facility last June. We also updated our wiki site that hosts curriculum resources and our two existing FLATE best practice guides for camps and tours, and have already seen an increase in traffic on that site. We also published a new Best Practice Guide focused on “Communications.” We will publish our forth volume later this month, “FORGING POSITIVE PARTNERSHIPS IN FLORIDA: Strategies for Starting and Sustaining School-Industry Partnerships,” in partnership with the Center for Advanced Manufacturing Excellence (CAME) the newly formed 501c3 arm of the Manufacturers Association of Florida (MAF). Together with MAF, we also closed out our six year of supporting a Florida Trend NEXT advertorial for manufacturing. FLATE’s Made in Florida video was awarded a Communicator award and the Florida Career Pathways Network (FCPN) presented FLATE with two leadership best practices awards for our tours and our manufacturing pathways. FLATE was also recognized as a critical contributor of alternative energies workforce curriculum in HCC’s award for its college wide commitment to sustainability from AACC’s inaugural Green Genome Award.

A summary of 2012 news and updates for the engineering technology degree can be found in a separate article in this month’s FOCUS. You can also read about Governor Scott’s challenge for state colleges to offer $10,000 bachelor degrees, get a round-up of outreach events that dominated December, start budgeting to attend HI-TEC Conference in Austin, TX, and start your year off right by trying the first STEM puzzle of 2013! From all of us at FLATE, Happy New Year!