Making a Difference: How A FLATE Awardee Continues to Affect Positive Changes in Manufacturing Education

Over the years, FLATE has taken an unprecedented role in recognizing the valuable contributions of industry leaders and educators in refining manufacturing education throughout Florida. These awardees have been in the frontline in terms of educating and training skilled technicians to meet the workforce needs of Florida’s high-tech manufacturers. Steve Portz, the FLATE 2012 Secondary Educator of the Year, is one such individual who continues to affect positive changes.

Portz who is an instructor for engineering technology at Space Coast High School has been teaching engineering technology for the last 25 years. Portz is also the co-founder and lead instructor of the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Aerospace and Manufacturing) Academy at Space Coast High School. Portz played a leading role in co-writing the 2007 Florida Succeed Grant that lead to the establishment of an SLC academy. He has also hosted several industrial lecture series and offered summer camps with advanced topics in injection molding and composites, and instituted SolidWorks training program for the CSWA achieving a significant pass rate.

Most recently, through a grant submitted by Portz, the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Engineering Technology program at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School received a $5,000 Motorola STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in September 2012. Grants were awarded to 10 school districts in Florida, and targeted to challenge Florida’s district-wide local education foundations to inspire students through projects designed to help them solve real-world problems in science, math, technology and engineering (STEM). The grant opportunity at Space Coast High School (SCHS) was made available to STEM teachers by the Brevard Schools Foundation through the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations.

The scope of the project involved, among several factors, a field trip to a manufacturing facility; identification
of industrial “manufacturing processes” present at the workplace; identifyng applications of STEM in these “processes”, purchase of equipment and software to integrate academic content and industrial applications; manufacturing a product using 3D parametric modeling software (Solidworks), and using the product as an example to showcase applications and integration of STEM disciplines in designing and producing a manufactured piece. (Source: Brevard Public Schools News Release). In an effort to give students a real-world, hands-on experience and knowledge, Portz also struck a partnership with Knight’s Armament a local manufacturer in Titusville to outline its role in defining manufacturing expertise, offering in-kind equipment, materials, and training support. The local industry tie-in has proved highly beneficial in enhancing students’ understanding about high-tech manufacturing operations.

In addition to his involvement with the Motorola Project, Portz was also recently awarded an Einstein
Fellowship by the National Science Foundation. As part of this effort, Portz will be joining a distinguished group of STEM educators from across the nation to provide insight in establishing and operating STEM related education programs, and providing “real world” perspectives to policy makers and program managers developing or managing educational programs. (Source: Einstein Fellowship). Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE says student success is often the result of great teachers working with great industry partners. To that effect, “Steve’s contributions to manufacturing education are exceptional and representative of educators across Florida,” Barger said.

You can help FLATE celebrate Florida educators who are making a difference in manufacturing education in your community by submitting a nomination at www.fl-ate.org/awards, or by emailing Executive Director, Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org. For information on the projects related to the Motorola education grant at SCHS visit http://scvipers.brevardschools.org/default.aspx, or contact Steve Portz at portz.steve@brevardschools.org