Defining Workable Education Models: A Closer Look at the “Terms of Engagement” for Apprenticeship Programs

As we struggle to find, or define workable education models that prepare people from different generations
with various backgrounds for today’s technical workforce, we add to the confusion, by not defining the “terms of engagement.” The need to find and use terms that express specific significant learning opportunities for students may seem a low priority task for educators familiar with the various term options, but this is not the case for people in, or just entering the technical education process. This is specifically the case when the term refers to some sort of work experience when educators, politicians, and manufactures use words and phrases like apprenticeship, apprentice-like, co-operative (co-op) education; internship; work-study; job shadowing; mentorship and work experience. Loosely tossing these terms around has two effects. First, when we mismatch the term and the reality of the term, it will cost them at least their time and usually their money. When we misuse one of these terms, it usually means we really don’t have a distinction among these terms, and then we try to generate policies and practices, that at best, do not meet student, or industry needs.

This will be a long term discussion that will include the definition of the terms above with accompanying common applications of where and how the term is currently used in Florida (which is not unlike how they are used across the U.S.).  This month, we will explore the very well defined apprenticeship programs. Our first recommendation to our readers is to avoid using the term apprenticeship unless it meets the characteristics presented below. In the coming months, we will continue the conversation by defining and discussing cooperative education, work-study, job shadowing, mentoring and part-time work terms and concepts. You are encouraged to use the FLATE Focus blog feature anytime during this series of discussion to share your own thoughts.   

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (, a registered apprenticeship program has a written plan designed to move an apprentice from a low, or no skill, entry-level position to full occupational proficiency. These programs must meet parameters established under the National Apprenticeship Act that are designed to protect the welfare of the apprentice. The Department of Labor’s, Office of Apprenticeship administers the Act and its promulgating regulations, or a State Apprenticeship Agency approved by the Secretary of Labor for federal purposes. Each program is sponsored by an individual business, or an employer association, and may be partnered with a labor organization through a collective bargaining agreement. Upon finishing the training program, an apprentice earns a "Completion of Registered Apprenticeship" certificate, an industry issued, nationally recognized credential that validates proficiency in the apprentice-able occupation. 

Apprentices are paid employees of the company from the first day of their program.  Typically apprentices
Image Source: Google Images
have a mix of classroom training and on-the-job training, as specified by the registered program. The training could be conducted in a company training facility, or at an educational institution partnering with the company. Some apprentice programs require specific college courses, or are aligned to college courses such that the completed apprentice program is eligible for a number of college credits that can be applied to a degree program. Who pays for the classroom-training portion (materials, instructor, tuition, etc.) of the apprentice program varies, but details are generally defined in in the “registration” papers. Generally, each program defines entry requirements, and most include a high school diploma, or GED, possibly a particular grade point average; aptitude testing, and/or other appropriate applicant filters.

Apprenticeship programs have traditionally been offered in highly skilled industrial occupations including those in construction and manufacturing. Today, large companies in some emerging health care technologies as well as specific occupations in information technology are starting registered apprenticeship programs. Due to the changing profile of industrial and technical workforce, it is now highly desirable for apprenticeship programs to include articulation pathways into academic and/or technical degree programs (both at the Associate and Bachelors levels). These pathways provide apprentice graduates, opportunities to move into supervisory and leadership roles in their companies, which generally require one, or both of these academic credentials.

Apprentice-like education models are generally industrially focused career, or technical education models that offer some of the characteristics above. If, an “apprentice like” program occurs in a high school, it generally means that students in the program have the opportunity to work in a company in their technical discipline for some amount of time during their high school program. The work experience may not provide any support, typically occurs in the summer of the sophomore and junior years, and true to registered apprenticeships, they are paid positions. They could be thought of as career focused “summer jobs,” tightly aligned to a high school technical course of study and many are coordinated by the educational institution and an affiliated industry partner. Of course, students must be over the age of 16 and meet the other legal requirements to work in the U.S.

In terms of this issue of the FLATE Focus, summer is here and there are lots of STEM “stuff” going on in Florida and around the country. Take advantage of student summer programs, educator professional development opportunities and for sure a bit of R&R.  Check the events on the FLATE home page ( for some suggestions on the first two and we will leave the R&R options up to you. The latest sTEm puzzle solution is provided; please check out the collection of “congratulatory” notes that are included in this issue. 

NSF-funded Technology Grant Helps High School Students Gain Industry Credentials

Manufacturing has always been considered the bedrock of American innovation. The industry may have undergone a metamorphosis, but remains a powerful impetus in driving the economic engine (Source: Washington Post, April 2013). From main street to wall street, media pundits along with industry gurus agree the big comeback kid of late that has played a big role in revitalizing the economy has indeed been the manufacturing sector. Then too, manufacturing industry cannot of itself stand alone. Its success hinges on factors that extend beyond the factory floor. In particular, manufacturing requires expertise and knowledge of skilled technicians who can operate in a high-tech and dynamic environment.

In Florida, as in the rest of the nation, the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Advanced
Technological Education (ATE) centers of excellence housed at local state and community colleges has taken a leading role in spearheading initiatives to educate and train the next generation of high-tech workers. Most recently NSF awarded the Students in Engineering Technology (SET) grant to Tallahassee Community College (TCC). The SET is a two year, $199,565 grant that was awarded on June 30, 2012. The goal of the SET project is to address industry’s needs by producing highly skilled and educated technicians who are prepared to enter and succeed in the field of engineering technology (ET). Bruce Batton, program manager for engineering technology program at TCC says a significant component of the grant also encompasses giving students, at the high school level, additional options to earn an industry credential that they can use to find employment, or pursue a two and/or four degree.

The SET project led by TCC represents a cohesive partnership between educational and industry partners. Project partners include Godby and Leon high schools in Leon County, Wakulla High School in Wakulla County, Daytona State College, College of Engineering at Florida State University, GT Technologies, St. Marks Powder/General Dynamics and FLATE—the NSF ATE Center of Excellence in Manufacturing at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon, FL. Bruce Batton, program manager for engineering technology at TCC says “the intellectual merit is manifested through the introduction of a career pathway in ET, which stimulates and increases learning by offering educational opportunities that far exceed current curriculum options.” By providing concentrations in a variety of technical areas, Batton says, students can choose a path that is compatible with their academic interests and career choices. The initiative also encourages the study of engineering technology in manufacturing by providing a career pathway for students to either be a technician, or gives them the needed credentials to enter into a four-year program.

Curriculum was developed working closely with local industry and academic partners and FLATE. The
program was engineered to support implementing FLATE’s ET career pathway at TCC by adapting exemplary educational materials, courses and curricula developed in conjunction with FLATE. Using a 2+2+2 model, the program articulates into the two year A.S.E.T degree at Tallahassee Community College (TCC) from Godby, Leon and Wakulla high schools and from TCC to a four-year institution (FSU College of Engineering or Daytona State College). The core courses align with the Manufacturing Skill Standards Certification (MSSC) Certified Production Technician certification, with dual enrollment courses being offered at Wakulla High School in Fall 2013, and at Godby High School in Spring 2014. “We mapped it out so that if a student enters a dual enrollment program, say over summer, they can complete all the courses and assessment for the MSSC and gain 18 credit hours that they can use towards an A.S. degree in engineering technology” Batton said.

Indeed students, educators and industry all stand to benefit from the initiative. Immediate impacts include development of a career pathway in engineering technology with specialization in manufacturing that leads to
a diverse population of students entering the program at many different stages. Batton says the initiative has spurred a synergy between educational institutions to brainstorm ideas on developing an impetus to get students engaged and move beyond normal classroom activities by showcasing and experiencing real-world applications of what they’re learning in the classroom. High schools, community colleges, four-year institutions and employers will be connected through educational, co-operative education, internship, and job opportunities. Activities will involve workforce development initiatives; maintaining close interaction with employers; broadening the participation of underrepresented groups; advance efforts to create systemic educational change at the secondary and undergraduate levels, and ensuring sustainability of products and services. In all, the initiative stands to boost confidence of local industries in terms of “providing skilled technicians that they can rely on to design a product and build it, and potentially expand operations.”

For more information on the SET grant, dual enrollment classes offered at local high schools contact Bruce Batton at, or visit the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center at Tallahassee Community College. For information on FLATE’s award winning A.S. degree in engineering technology visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

Impressive Survey Data from SAMA-Sponsored “Made in Florida” Tours

FLATE’s partnership with the Sarasota Manatee Area Manufacturers Association (SAMA) grows stronger each year. With leadership from Peter Straw, executive director, Jennifer Behrens-Schmidt, president, and SAMA’s extremely active board members, four “Made In Florida” tours were held this Spring for 141 students. To analyze the impact of the industry tours, FLATE surveys all students after the completion of tours.  This ensures tours to the advanced manufacturing facilities are effectively meeting needs.

Below are cumulative results for 141 students from Northport and Bayshore high schools and Woodland Middle School. As evidenced in the results, a tremendous amount of learning about advanced manufacturing and manufactured products took place. We ascertain impact by comparing two opinion questions about consideration of a career in manufacturing (shown in bold in the table below). The 38% positive change in opinion is above our cumulative norm of 36% for 3,386 students. The positive promotion of advanced manufacturing in your area through efforts such as tours is reinforced by both high school academies and college programs at State College of Florida-Manatee. These partnerships are crucial to building a pipeline for an educated workforce in Florida. As a student from Bayshore High School shared regarding the tour: “Our tour guide, Matt was very good. I learned a lot from him about manufacturing and my now potential future.” 

FLATE looks forward to a continued partnership with SAMA members. Additionally, FLATE always 
seeks to strengthen our relationships with Regional Manufacturing Associations (RMA) in our state with the goal of helping Florida’s students become increasingly aware of the career opportunities that exist in advanced manufacturing industries and the educational pathways needed to pursue those careers. Organizational leaders can visit to access FLATE’s Best Practice Guide for offering effective industry tours. If your RMA, or manufacturing company would like to discuss the “Made in Florida” tours, please contact FLATE’s Outreach Manager, Desh Bagley, at (813) 253-7838, or  

Association of Florida Colleges: Building the Future Through A Qualified Workforce

The Association of Florida Colleges (AFC) provides a forum where all Florida college employees have the
 opportunity to learn from one another through professional development workshops, general themed meetings, commission business meetings, and best practice presentations for all commissions. FLATE has been active in the Occupational and Workforce Education Commission since 2010, and has been awarded a Best Practice, Synergy in the Sunshine State, for its collaborative partnership in designing, promoting, and supporting the Engineering Technology (ET) A.S. degree program. The ET program has now been adopted by 14 of Florida’s 28 state and community colleges. AFC joint commission conferences such as the May 16-17, 2013 annual spring conference, hosted by State College of Florida, Sarasota (Lakewood Ranch) and the AFC Technology Commission offered as its theme the promise and challenge of Building for the Future. FLATE was pleased to present a workshop at this conference: Supplying Florida’s Ready-to-Workforce.

The Manufacturers Association of Florida (MAF) supports 2013 legislation providing incentives to Florida colleges that train students in certified programs that will help students meet the needs of the changing job market. These types of programs are seen by the state of Florida as an excellent resource toward economic recovery based on U.S. manufacturing using new and emerging technologies. The ET degree is one such program.

The FLATE workshop discussed strategies for injecting relevant career skills into college programs using
FLATE’s ET program as an exemplar. The ET A.S. degree program packages stackable industry certifications, prepares students to enter the workforce, and applies successful completion of the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician (CPT) toward 15 credits of the ET A.S. degree for students successfully achieving the CPT. This combination provides both knowledge and credentials, and supports the technology-focused and high growth potential of advanced manufacturing. This nationally recognized certification allows students to prove that they have the skills and knowledge required for a good job in the high-tech workforce. The certification covers four areas manufacturers say they are looking for in employees: quality, safety, production processes, and maintenance awareness.

In Florida high schools, the Automation and Production Technology (APT) framework integrates the MSSC CPT certification into career academies letting students earn college credit (15 credit hours toward the ET degree program) at any offering Florida college for earning MSSC CPT. As well, high schools offering the MSSC CPT integration earn bonus FTE funding as part of Florida’s CAPE legislation. The program is helping high school graduates to be “career ready” when they graduate high school: students needing to enter the workforce are better able to find a job and begin earning money, and have an option to take advantage of employer programs to complete their A.S. degree. The ET career pathway can take students from high school, to Associate in Science, to a Bachelors degree in engineering technology, with good jobs along the way due to the industry aligned curriculum and industry preferred certification.

At the AFC joint Commissions conference, attendees saw ways in which adult and continuing education programs at colleges may intersect with occupational and workforce training and traditional credit based coursework in the area of industry certifications. Collaboration helps build and support new revenue streams for colleges and in turn helps Florida's colleges continue to secure Florida's future by offering a world-class workforce that can compete in a global economy. The Florida Chamber of Commerce supports efforts to make Florida more competitive in the manufacturing industry and looks to double Florida-origin exports by 2015; programs such as the engineering technology degree serve as a cornerstone for building a workforce in support of our important manufacturing industry.   

For more information on the FLATE-created, statewide A.S. degree in engineering technology visit, or contact Associate Director, Dr. Marie Boyette  at and Executive Director, Dr. Marilyn Barger at


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, or by emailing Executive Director, Dr. Marilyn Barger at For information on the projects related to the Motorola education grant at SCHS visit, or contact Steve Portz at

sTEm–at-Work Answer Puzzle #34: Valve Selection for OJ transfer

An immediate lesson from this puzzle is the realization that slope values of a curve transmit technical information. In this case, the butterfly valve allows about 5% of the maximum flow when the valve is 30% on the way to completely open. However, the other valve at the same 30% open position will permit about 45% of the maximum flow through the valve. From the opposite perspective, the curves also indicate at the 50% fluid flow position, the butterfly valve has to be 70% open, but the other valve only needs to be about 32% open.  
The puzzle also provides a segway for an introduction to valves. In this case, the Butterfly valve is a common  rotating valve while the other valve is actually a stem driven valve that goes up/down to open/close the flow channel. There is enough Google based information with pictures of various valves to make a PowerPoint presentation. For more advanced students, valve components (trim, etc,) and valve coefficient, Cv, can be introduced as well.       

The technician installed the “U-Becth-Em V222.   Answer: NO       


D.L. Jamerson Elementary School Marks 10 years of Excellence in Engineering and Technical Education

In the 2002-2003 academic year as FLATE was formulating its initial strategy for developing a technical education pathway that would be tailored to Florida’s educational system as well as address modern workforce needs, the Pinellas County School district contacted FLATE with an interesting challenge. Their objective was to bring engineering into the elementary school environment as a viable way to strengthen STEM education and provide both rigor and relevance to the curriculum. Douglas L. Jamerson (DLJ) Elementary School requested that we partner with them on this U.S Department of Education funded initiative. The result of that collaboration was the DLJ Elementary Center for Mathematics and Engineering in St. Petersburg Florida.

Robert Poth, the first principal of DLJ Elementary, was the driving force for this idea.  During the school’s
 initial planning period, he gathered a group of gifted teachers that were willing to explore a new way to teach elementary school students. While the school campus was being physically prepared to open, this group worked on opening a school that would present this new engineering based learning experience. They met weekly with FLATE for professional development, to discuss and develop a curriculum while spending the time in between integrating these suggestions into an elementary engineering curriculum that would be used in all of the subjects to be taught every day, all year long.  

The results of their efforts are impressive. The school opened with a full complement of students with at least
 two classes at each grade level. Granted the student test scores that first year were nothing to write home about and the school received an average rating. However, by the fourth year of operation, starting with K, first, second and third graders moving into fourth and fifth grade, DLJ’s test scores and school rating started going up. The school never looked back. Today, DLJ is an A rated elementary school, and its reputation has spread across the state and in the nation. For our readers in elementary education interested in blending engineering into your teaching day, check out their website, give them a call, or just Google D.L. Jamerson Elementary. You will be pleased with the results.   

Last month DLJ Elementary celebrated its 10th anniversary. This was an all-day event culminating with an open house and evening picnic for the public. That single event drew more than 700 people from the St. Petersburg neighborhoods the school services. Attendees included former DLJ students and teachers, as well as city and state dignitaries. So happy anniversary D.L. Jamerson Elementary School! Your first 10 years were a whopping success! Who knows what the next 10 years will bring, but for Jamerson it is bound to be good.    

For more information on D.L. Jamerson Elementary School visit For information on FLATE’s STEM focused programs for K14 students visit, and, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at 

NAM’s Manufacturing Institute Recognizes Eleven Florida Colleges Offering ET Degree

The Florida Department of Education (FL DOE) announced in a press release last week that the National 
Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Institute has included 11 colleges from the Florida State College System as charter members of its “M-List” that recognizes schools for excellence in manufacturing education. The FL DOE also indicated that the Manufacturing Institute acknowledges Florida as the national leader with the most schools on the list. The 11 Florida colleges that made the “M-List” are: Brevard Community College, Broward College, College of Central Florida, Florida Gateway College, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Hillsborough Community College, Pensacola State College, Polk State College, St. Petersburg College, State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota, and Tallahassee Community College. 
The list recognizes schools for ensuring students earn credentials endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). The recognition by NAM of the Florida colleges prompted Florida College System Chancellor, Randy Hanna, to issue the following statement; 

“I am very proud the Manufacturing Institute recognized 11 Florida colleges for incorporating industry standards into manufacturing education and job training. The Florida College System’s strong connection to the manufacturing community ensures our students are receiving the highest quality education that will prepare them for good jobs.”

FLATE is particularly pleased with this Manufacturing Institute acknowledgement and Florida College System Chancellor’s announcement. Each of the colleges on the list offer the statewide articulated A.S. degree in Engineering Technology (ET) with its accompanying integration of the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council Certified Production Technician (MSSC CPT) industry recognized certification. Students entering this degree program, at any of the colleges listed above that hold the CPT, automatically receive 15 credit hours in this 60 credit hour ET degree program. Students entering without the CPT are prepared to sit for the exam by the completion of their first year in the ET program.

FLATER’s hat is off to Meer Almeer, Michael Ouendeno, Cheryl Fante, Margi Lee, Ernie Friend,
Alessandro Anzalone, Mike Cannon, Eric Roe, Brad Jenkins, Adrienne Gould-Choquette and Bruce Batton from the Florida colleges on the “M-List”. Without their efforts, none of the colleges would be on the list. In addition, FLATE anticipates that Florida’s impact on the “M-List” will go up because the ET degree has very recently been adopted by Gulf Coast State College and Northwest Florida State College. Finally, a very special “thank you” to Eric Owens, senior director of adult and career education at FL DOE for his ongoing support of our work. Without his help, the ET degree would have never gotten off the FLATE drawing board. Thanks gang! 

For more information on the award winning, statewide engineering technology degree and the specializations offered at regional Florida community and state colleges visit, or contact Executive Director of FLATE, Dr. Marilyn Barger at

Science Saturday “Rockets & Robots” Presentation Sparks Interest in Science

Earlier this year, we brought you a story about Science Saturdays—an outreach initiative spearheaded by Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) with offices in Ocala and Pensacola, FL. To recap, the Center‘s community outreach efforts focuses on making science more accessible to people of all ages. According to Dr. Ursula Schwuttke, development director for the Ocala educational outreach program says the Center‘s community outreach efforts focus on making science more accessible to people of all ages. The emphasis of the Science Saturday series, according to Schwuttke “is to provide hands-on learning experiences where youth interact directly with scientists, doing enjoyable and exciting activities that engage the mind.” In Ocala, from September to May, two free Saturday sessions are offered for Marion County students, grades 3-5.

To conclude the spring series of Science Saturdays, IHMC recently offered two sessions of the rockets
& robots at its facility in Ocala, FL. A total of 60 students attended the session, with 30 attendees in each of the two sessions.  Dr. Dave Atkinson, senior research scientist at IHMC in Ocala led the session which took place on a “Martian landscape”. Working in teams of five, attendees simulated a robot with the five functions of vision, control, mobility, left arm, and right arm. Schwuttke says these topics are important in terms of developing general knowledge and exposure to scientific topics. The exercises, during the rockets and robots presentation, were an extension of these objectives. In that, they showcased among other things difficulties in coordinating the functions a robot performs. Schwuttke hopes the rockets & robots presentation creates an excitement for science among students and exposes them to robots and their application in everyday life.

For students looking to engage in STEM/robotics based projects, Schwuttke points to a host of regional
opportunities. IHMC partnered with FLATE, the Florida regional center of excellence in manufacturing, for a second summer of robotics camps for middle and high school students this summer. The robotics camp fever has spread in the central Florida region with Workforce Connection (Marion, Levy and Citrus county) offering camps in Citrus and Levy counties, all based on the FLATE robotics camp curriculum. Robotics is a really good tool to get kids interested in STEM.

For more information on IHMC’s science series coming up later this fall visit, or email Dr. Ursula Schwuttke at For information on FLATE’s summer robotics camps visit and, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at, and Desh Bagley, FLATE outreach and camp manager at

Students & Educators Share Best Practices and Grow Innovation at the Florida STEM Forum

Careers encompassing and integrating one, or more aspects of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) have gained tremendous attention, and occupy a central role in molding a high-tech workforce. In the sunshine state, as in the rest of the country, focus on STEM education and training is at an all-time high. According to a recent report compiled by STEM Florida, STEM education is considered “an axial element within the economic development strategy for a globally competitive Florida.” (Source: STEM Florida Report).

Given this trajectory, FLATE—the National Science Foundation Center of Excellence in Manufacturing,
sponsored a full day STEM Forum for industry, educators and students at the 21st Florida Sterling Conference held in May, in Orlando, FL. The STEM Forum titled, Share Best Practices: Grow Innovation, served as a collaborative event to share, identify best practices and innovative approaches to prepare students primarily for high-tech manufacturing and STEM-related jobs. Attendees included a cross section of individuals from large and small manufacturing firms including Baldrige recipients, manufacturing and workforce associations, leaders from community colleges, state colleges, and career academies, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The STEM Forum served as an educationally rich experience for students and educators alike. Dale Toney, instructor at the engineering academy at Marion Technical Institute in Ocala, FL, applauded FLATE for its part in supporting secondary educators and students, and giving them the opportunity to interact with local industries. Topics discussed ranged from skill-based competencies, training, certification and credentialing to hiring preferences, career-development programs, partnerships with colleges and local schools, and engagement and articulation strategies. Carlos Arteaga, an 11th grader from Frank H. Peterson High School in Jacksonville, who was one the students FLATE sponsored to attend the Forum said the experience enhanced his understanding of engineering technology degrees offered at Florida colleges, and provided insight about STEM-based job opportunities in the region.

Partnering with the Manufacturers Association of Florida, Workforce Florida, and Hoerbiger Corporation,
FLATE also helped coordinate the Career Academy Panel Best Practices. The panel was facilitated by Dehryl McCall, director of Workforce Florida Inc., and included a cross section of educators from across the state. Kathy Schmidt, director for career & technical education (CTE) for St. Lucie County Public Schools provided an overview of CAPE academies, their current impact and future contribution to CTE in Florida. Dale Toney, Greg McGrew—a FLATE awardee, and Russ Henderlite, instructors at the engineering academies at Marion Technical Institute, Lakewood Ranch High School, and Treasure Coast High School respectively, provided information and best practices about the engineering programs/specializations at each of these high schools. They also briefed attendees about industry certifications offered at each of the schools, and local industry partners’ role in providing students with hands-on experience. "I was intrigued by the schedule component that Polk State College does, and will be looking into workforce connection for internships" Toney said.

Discussions were primarily focused on those areas of STEM education and training relevant to career 
academies in Florida, talent supply they are providing, skills/certifications earned, and where students are finding employment. “The Panel discussions helped me understand the value of earning industry certifications like the MSSC certification” said James Dempsey, an engineering student at Marion Technical Institute in Ocala, FL. Dempsey who has two MSSC Certifications in Safety Awareness and Quality Assurance plans on pursuing a degree in robotics at Florida Technical College.

For more information on the Sterling Conference visit For information on FLATE’s STEM related curriculum and professional development resources visit and, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at