National Visiting Committee: A Guiding Force that Drives and Guides FLATE’s Mission

FLATE’s National Visiting Committee (NVC) is composed of industry leaders, educators, workforce, and economic development representatives from across the nation who are committed to providing FLATE the support and help needed to achieve its targeted objectives, goals, and mission. The Committee works to ensure that FLATE reflects its core values on a day-to-day basis. In compliance with the National Science Foundation’s guidelines, the NVC also serves as a guiding force in assessing FLATE’s strategic plans, and offers insight on current and ongoing projects. The NVC is also an integral body engaged in dynamic SWOT analysis, and vested with the responsibility of providing feedback that supports growth and sustainability of FLATE’s mission and goals. The committee convenes on an annual basis, and reports the status of completed and ongoing projects to the National Science Foundation as well as the Center’s leadership team. Early in February 2013, FLATE’s NVC convened at ConMed Linvatec’s world-class facility in Largo, Florida. Mark Snyder, vice president of global operations for ConMed, and member of FLATE’s NVC and Bill Mazurek of the Linvatec facility hosted the two-day meeting which included a comprehensive tour of both the manufacturing facilities and the surgical training facility.

Committee members are actively involved in FLATE’s initiatives. Bruce Driggitt, vice president of human resources at Hoerbiger Corporation of America, a longtime NVC corporate member, contributes expertise and insight on workforce issues while supporting FLATE-led initiatives. In Bruce’s opinion, these initiatives “lead to a more skilled and accredited workforce,” as well as “created a climate that attracts future manufacturers to Florida.” In addition, Driggitt, who has served as Hoerbiger’s representative on the committee for three years says his role in terms of the NVC is to “bring manufacturers perspectives” to the table, and assess strategies to help FLATE educate and train a skilled workforce that supports manufacturers’ needs.

In terms of FLATE’s strengths, Driggitt is impressed by FLATE’s leadership role in advancing state-of-the-art technician education and training throughout Florida. As a senior executive working for a well-established south Florida internationally based manufacturer, Driggitt believes this attribute lies in “leadership by an exceptionally well-grounded group of professionals” who have successfully matched “academics to the needs of industry.” Anthony Fedd, another long term FLATE NVC member who has been serving as an “industry advisor” since 2006, agrees FLATE’s hallmark lies in its “academic leadership and interface with industry, academia and workforce agencies.” Fedd is currently the site director for BASF, and has more than 30 years of experience working in engineering and manufacturing. Anthony is also a long time board member of the Manufacturing Association of Florida. To that effect, he has played an integral role not only in an advisory role, but in providing financial support to develop manufacturing workforce education programs pioneered by FLATE.

NVC members also play an important role in identifying and capitalizing on strategic opportunities. Fedd and Driggitt see vast potential for expanding FLATE’s role at the local/statewide level. Fedd recommends driving continued adoption of the engineering technology degree supporting MSSC CPT at Florida institutions. On the other hand, Driggitt believes expansion into south and southeast Florida through partnership with local state colleges could serve as an effective vehicle in “marketing and promoting exciting careers in manufacturing,” as well as help FLATE promote its programs and services to the community at large.

“Manufacturing is the strength/backbone of a growing nation” say Driggitt. To that effect, FLATE leadership in conjunction with the NVC is working to “create economic growth in the community” by establishing sustainable, industry-centric programs that support a high-tech, high-skilled manufacturing workforce in Florida. For more information on FLATE’s National Visiting Committee and to review current/past FLATE NVC reports visit http://fl-ate.org/committees/NVC.html. To find out ways your company can get involved with FLATE and other Florida manufacturers to promote a strong technical education program with the Florida state college system contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.