Concluding a Three Part Series in Defining Workable Education Models

Previously we explored the details and definition of formal licensed apprenticeship (FLATE FOCUS June 
2013) and formal student internships (FLATE Focus July 2013). This month we will look at less formal work experiences for students. These experiences differentiate themselves from apprenticeships and internships by the important fact that they do not have any tie to a particular credit-bearing course (as an internship would be). These less formal work experiences can certainly add important related work experience to a student’s resume. These opportunities can be thought of as regular part-time jobs that happen to be in the student’s field of study.

One option is college work-study programs, which provide on-campus, part-time jobs for students that
qualify for the federal program. On-campus jobs of interest to students in technical programs could include the laboratory technician helpers, or positions in the college utilities, or information technology departments. Work-study programs and campus student assistant positions have the advantage of providing a work experience at the same location that the students attend classes, but is not necessarily work in a “real manufacturing company.” Additionally, there is no connection to a college course, so there is no specific set of skills and work experience expectations, and no assessment by a faculty, or instructor as would happen in a formal internship program.

Many faculty will help their students find part-time jobs with their industry partners trying to match students’ interest directly to a company’s needs. These situations often result in informal, or formal employment-related mentoring by the industry partner and/or the faculty. This arrangement can increase the value of the part-time jobs, and provide additional guidance for the student that they would get in a formal internship.
This leads us to job shadowing. Job shadowing is a career exploration activity that offers an opportunity to spend time with a professional currently working in a student’s career field of interest. Job shadowing offers a chance to see what it’s actually like working in a specific job, observe the day-to-day activities of someone in the current workforce, and also get some of their questions answered. Categorically, a job-shadow experience is an extended informational interview. Most informational interviews are approximately 30 minutes, while a job-shadowing experience is typically a few hours to a full workday. Job shadowing is considered a good career awareness/exploration experience for middle, or high school students who are not yet old enough to legally work, but can be good experiences for college, or technical school students as well.  
For all student jobs: internships, apprenticeships, job shadowing and co-operative education experiences, it is important for both the student and the employer to prepare for the experience. Students should research the company, ask about work expectations, work hours and behaviors, etc. The company should be willing to provide personnel time and energy to orient the student to the work environment, to train them for the work expected, to oversee the student’s work, and mentor the student during the experience.

Certainly most companies can identify and implement one, or more of these student-focused opportunities to help our youth learn how interesting and exciting it can be to work in the manufacturing field, understand the breadth of the industry just by being part of it, and possibly recruit future workers. Hiring students also provides direct connections to school curriculum that manufacturers can then influence to meet their needs. It’s up to all of us professionals in the field to help grow the next generations of manufacturing professionals. If you have specific questions on how to get stated with any of these, please feel contact me at

We know all you educators are super busy with the start of a new school year, but we hope you take time to read the articles in this month’s newsletter that has a little something for educators, industry colleagues as well as students. Above all we hope you will join FLATE in making Manufacturing Day in Florida a huge success. We have many activities lined up, so be sure to check them out in this edition of the Focus. 

Manufacturing Day is October 4. Sign up NOW!

It’s not too late to sign up for Manufacturing Day in Florida. FLATE, the National Science Foundation Center of Excellence at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon and the Manufacturers Association of Florida are working with industry partners and educators across the state to make a big, statewide splash for students on Manufacturing Day which is on Oct. 4, 2013. This event is the perfect opportunity to expand knowledge about and improve public's perception of manufacturing careers.

Manufacturers and stakeholders across the state are strongly urged to participate, organize a regional team of manufacturers, schools, other community groups, and join in the celebrations in a number of ways.

  • Schools/districts can provide transportation and chaperones for students
  • Manufacturers can host a “Made in Florida” tour, and provide lunch for student groups. If you have not signed up to host an event, please do so here
  • Regional manufacturers can support the cost for Manufacturing Day regional t-shirts for students. If you’d like to sponsor and/or have your organization’s logo imprinted on the t-shirts please sign up here
  • Organize a regional team of manufacturers, schools, other community groups
  • Send any adopted school information to Dream It! Do It!  at
  • Have your County Commission Proclaim Florida Manufacturing Day

FLATE is also working with regional “Manufacturing Day teams,” helping to connect schools with
local companies, arranging media publicity, designing and delivering t-shirts, and surveying students to assess the impact on students in specific regions as well as the overall impact on all participating students. The t-shirts also serve as a tangible and long-time reminder of the significance of Manufacturing in Florida. And, of course, it all helps put the “fun” in manufacturing.

The official guide to organizing Manufacturing Day open houses, the most frequent type of Manufacturing Day event, is available at www.MfgDay.comFor local/Florida based manufacturing day events, visit the “Made in Florida” site. Here you can access resources that answer common questions and outline steps that every Manufacturing Day host will find useful, such as: 

FLATE will recognize participating companies and organizations on this webpage. If your company can host a tour and provide student lunches, or your assist with purchasing t-shirts for the student participants, publicity support, or anything else, please sign up here, or contact Desh Bagley, FLATE outreach manager at or (813) 253-7838. Desh will follow up with all participants with additional information regarding statewide manufacturing day events. 

We look forward to everyone’s participation in Manufacturing Day celebrations in Florida.

Study Reveals New Hires in Manufacturing Sector Earn More Compared to Other Industries

Looking for ways to attract students to your manufacturing programs and to manufacturing jobs? A new study by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Economics and Statistical Administration offers a different and positive light on wages and salaries in manufacturing. Although comparisons between new hires and incumbent workers probably won’t mean much to students, strong worker earnings for the manufacturing sector between 2000-2011 are something to think about.

Manufacturing jobs continue to earn their reputation as “good jobs.” To most, a “good job” offers above
average wages and benefits, full-time hours, and stable employment. A relatively new data source, the Quarterly Workforce Indicators, reveals that new hires in manufacturing sectors earn more than new hires in other industries. Key points include a notable premium for new hires in manufacturing (38 percent) at the end of 2011. Additionally, new hires in manufacturing make approximately 70 percent of incumbent worker earnings compared to new hires in other industries that average only 60 percent of incumbents. Since the recession began, new hires and incumbents in manufacturing have had real earnings grow 3.5 and 2.4 percent points. New hires in other industries saw no growth in earnings while incumbents actually have seen a decline in real earnings during the study time period 2000-2011. 

Other good news can be gleaned from the data.  The smaller gap between new hires and incumbents can
indicate a higher skill and/or education level of the new hires joining the manufacturing workforce. This reflects the industry’s need for multi-skilled technicians to operate and maintain the increasingly sophisticated automated machinery that is being added to most manufacturing facilities across the country. This is certainly the direction we see with our manufacturing partners in Florida who are looking for more skilled and educated workers to grow their workforce. 

The full report is available from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration at Write your thoughts and continue the discussion below this blog post, or on our Facebook page

sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #36: Gasket Response to an Applied Test Pressure Pattern

In sTEm-at-Work Puzzle #35 the technician for Sun Hydraulics performed the quality check on a hydraulic
driven actuator before it was to be shipped to the customer.  After examining the test results shown in the graphic below, the Tech did not send the actuator to the customer, but instead, sent it back for rework because the actuator leaked. The leak test involved the application of the pressure pattern shown to the right.  The Tech knew that the value was not supposed to leak when the pressures in the test pattern were applied to the hydraulic fluid in the actuator.
The Tech rejected the actuator because the test results shown below were not the same square wave shape as the applied pressure test pattern shown above.     

Yes or NO. Submit your answers below the blog post, or at     


Hillsborough-Pinellas Manufacturing Gap Analysis

According to a recent study conducted by the Hillsborough and Pinellas counties’ leading economic and workforce development organizations, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are home to 2,074 manufacturers, representing 50,803 employees. Manufacturing employees have a total income contribution of almost $9 billion to the local economy, and each manufacturing job created results in the creation of an additional 2.65 jobs. The study states the economic recovery is leading manufacturers to increase production, but they are facing challenges in hiring qualified workers for critical positions. Almost 40% of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties’ manufacturers say that the skills gap is limiting business growth.

To take a closer look into the situation, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties’ economic and workforce
development organizations recently conducted a comprehensive skill set needs assessment for Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. The report was published in August 2013, and was sponsored by Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, Pinellas County Economic Development, Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance, WorkNet Pinellas, Tampa Bay Partnership and Florida High-Tech Corridor. The Hillsborough-Pinellas Manufacturing Gap Analysis was targeted to quantify the areas’ difficult to fill manufacturing skills set. In total, 107 skill sets across 16 job type categories were surveyed. There were 109 responding companies, representing 14,715 employees, or 28.9% of the entire manufacturing employee population in the two county area.

Data from the analysis showed an increasing shift from traditional manufacturing methods to more advanced methods. The highest 12-month vacancies were for production solderers, which work predominately in the areas component manufacturers. CNC machining positions were ranked as having the second and fourth highest vacancies, underscoring the shift from traditional to advanced methods. Maintenance mechanics had the third highest 12-month vacancies. Mig and Tig welders were tied as having the fifth highest 12-month vacancies.

Based on the interviews, the organizations determined three action areas and possible solutions, where they believed they could make an impact to improve the manufacturing talent pipeline.

Areas for improvement included:
1. A lack of interest in manufacturing is causing a shortage of skilled workers.
2. Workers lack knowledge of industry.
3. There needs to be a greater connection between industry and education.

1. Organize manufacturing job opportunities public relations campaign.
2. Increase internship and apprenticeship offerings.
3. Improve coordination between industry, education, and government.

The study also points to valuable resources and possible partnership opportunities manufacturers can avail of
in the area to address the skills gap. Among these, FLATE the National Science Foundation Center of Excellence at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) was named as the go to organization for manufacturing and advanced technical education. FLATE developed and continues to support the comprehensive Engineering Technology associate of science degree and certificate programs offered at HCC, St. Petersburg College and 14 community & state colleges in Florida. These programs offer training in many of the high vacancy jobs identified in the survey that include machining, electronics, and quality.

For detailed information on core courses and certificates offered by the A.S. degree in engineering technology visit FLATE’s “Made in Florida” site. The site is part of FLATE’s statewide outreach campaign aimed at changing community perceptions about manufacturing, and recruit students into high-tech, high- wage STEM career pathways that support manufacturing. For information on current skills gap in the region read the Tampa-Hillsborough EDC detailed report.

Symposium Offers Educational & Career Options in Technology & Robotics for Girls

There is a song in the Disney Junior channel which beats to the tune of “you can be who you want to be.” That was exactly the kind of message 36 girls enrolled in the PACE program received during their one day visit to FLATE’s, Careers in Technology and Robotics Workshop.  The workshop was held in August and involved PACE students and teachers from Manatee, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Polk counties. PACE Center for Girls, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501(c) 3 corporation that provides a non-residential delinquency prevention program in locations statewide, targeting the unique needs of females 12 to 18 who are identified as dependent, truant, runaway, delinquent, or in need of academic skills. Its purpose is to intervene and prevent school withdrawal, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, substance abuse and welfare dependency in a safe and nurturing environment. (Source: PACE website)

During the day long visit to FLATE’s manufacturing and engineering technology laboratory at Hillsborough
Community College in Brandon, the girls programmed Lego® Mindstorms® robots, and got an overview of educational and career pathways in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). “Our goal is to provide students with hands-on robotics experiences while emphasizing how robots are used in manufacturing” said Desh Bagley, outreach manager for FLATE.  To that effect, students got a wealth of information on applications of robotics technology in everyday settings and in manufacturing operations, and witnessed a demo of the NAO humanoid robot in action. To give a real-world view of engineering and technical professions, Dr. Sylvia Thomas, professor of electrical engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa, gave a first-hand account of a “day in the life of an engineer,” and the skills set and knowledge required to pursue STEM based careers and educational pathways. “I'm here to encourage each of you to dream and to become the great young ladies that you are” said Thomas.

With that in mind, the girls were encouraged to dispel the myths associated with becoming an engineer and/or
STEM professional. The students also got an overview of local high-tech companies, like Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney, Featherlite, Tampa Armature Works and Tropicana that they could work for in the future.  “It’s all about discovering who you are and the choices that you have” Thomas said.

Preliminary survey from the workshop showed more than 90% of the students agreed/strongly agreed that the workshop made them think about how STEM is used outside the classroom. More than half the participants also agreed/strongly agreed that the workshop made them consider a career in advanced manufacturing. More than 90% of the respondents also stated learning about robotics made them think about the applications of automated systems in advanced manufacturing settings.

For more information on FLATE’s robotics programs for middle and high school students, visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at and Desh Bagley, outreach manager at For information on PACE Center for Girls visit

ET Summer Institute Focuses on Building Florida’s Manufacturing Career Pathways

FLATE and the National Science Foundation recognize the importance of providing professional
development to the Florida engineering technology community. This year FLATE hosted the 3rd Engineering Technology Summer Institute workshop for Florida educators, faculty and staff personnel involved in “Building Florida’s Manufacturing Pathways.” The workshop was held as a one day pre-conference workshop at the 47th Annual Florida Association for Career and Technical Educators (FACTE) conference & trade show at Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.

To develop curriculum and reinforcement strategies for bolstering student success the workshop included a
shared best practice panel and two group activities. Best practice panel focused in integrating Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) into high school curriculum, sharing strategies for preparing students for the MSSC tests, and establishing a common tie between MSSC and educational resources available for educators and students. Activity I included review and alignment of the Automation & Production Technology frameworks to MSSC standards. Activity II involved review of the MSSC production standards and identification of key vocabulary that students need to learn to score higher in MSSC test and improve their success in finding better jobs.

FLATE has created the following link that contains presentations and resources developed during FLATE'sE.T. Summer Institute III. Material posted includes Automation and Production Technology (APT) that is aligned to the MSSC  -CPT credential summary report of activities I & II,  links to the the MSSC website FLDOE Curriculum Frameworks for this program, wisc-online, & other resources, MSSC test review resources from Bruce (Dale) Toney (Marion Technical Institute), all workshop presentations including audio recordings.

Following the conference, 100% of 28 survey responders agreed they have a better understanding of how
MSSC standards can be aligned to curriculum. The same number of responders also stated that there was a very good or excellent likelihood for them to implement components of this workshop at their institution. Typical survey comments included: “It was very helpful to me to speak with other people in the field,” “Very beneficial workshop” and “It was very informative and exciting to see how much is being done for our students.”

Special thanks to Bluegrass Educational Technologies, LLC and Lab-Volt for sponsoring workshop’s lunch. If you have additional resources you would like to share please contact Danielly Orozco-Cole, curriculum coordinator at, or visit and

BEST Robotics Event Volunteering Information & Opportunity

BEST Robotics EVENT Volunterr Information

Venue: Armwood High School, 12000 U.S. 92, Seffner, FL 33584

All volunteers will be provided with an event Tee Shirt that should be worn at Friday and Saturday events. 
A Hospitality room will be provided at the Armwood High Media where meals, snacks, and beverages will be provided for event volunteers, judges and corporate sponsors only. On Friday evening, pizza and drinks and on Saturday a continental breakfast and lunch will be provided for event volunteers, judges and corporate sponsors only. We thank you in advance for your willingness to volunteer to help with this worthwhile STEM program. We guarantee you'll have an awesome time.

Saturday First Shift 8 a.m. – Noon                                     Friday Evening Shift 6:00-9PM
Location: Armwood High Media,                                           Location: Armwood High Media
Saturday, Nov. 2, 8:00am -12noon                                        Friday Nov. 1 6-9pm                             
Breakfast, 8-830am                                                               Pizza: 6-6:30pm
Orientation: 8:30am-9am,                                                       Orientation: 6:30-7pm,               
Judging: 9:00am – 12noon                                                      Judging: 7-9pm
Saturday Second Shift Noon – 4 p.m.
Location and Time: Armwood High Media, Saturday, Nov. 2, 12noon- 4pm
Lunch: 12pm – 12:30pm, Orientation: 12:30pm -1pm, Judging: 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Marketing Presentations - 9 judges needed Friday Night Only       .Each participating "BEST Awards Company" must give a 20-minute oral presentation to highlight both the Company’s business model and robot-building process as well as community involvement. Each Company is allowed a 30-minute time slot: 5 minutes for set-up, 15 minutes to present, 5 minutes for Q & A from the judges and 5 minutes for judges to fill out the scoring sheets. Teams are encouraged to be as creative as possible with their presentations. This category will include a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 8 Company members, with 3 judges present for each presentation. This judging event will occur on Friday, November 1 with hospitality 6-6:30pm, orientation at 6:30-7pm and judging beginning at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Company Tradeshow Exhibits and Interviews - 6 judges needed Friday Night Only. Trade Show Booth: Each participating "BEST Award Company” is given a 8' X 8' X 8' space with a 6-ft. table on which to visually and creatively display their Business Model, School Spirit, Community Involvement, and Robot Design and Construction. Judges will circulate the table display area and interview Company members staffing the displays. These displays will occur on Friday, November 1 with hospitality 6-6:30pm, orientation at 6:30-7pm and judging beginning at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Project Engineering Notebooks6 judges needed Shift 1 only. Each participating "Company” must produce a 3-ring binder notebook that documents the process the Company went through to design and build the robot, a technical diary of sorts. The notebook can contain a maximum of 30 pages of written explanation, along with photographs, design drawings, computer-generated drawings, etc. Notebooks will be submitted online and reviewed by judges during the week prior to competition. People with backgrounds in math, science, engineering and technology are especially needed in this area. Notebooks judging will occur on Saturday, November 2 with orientation at 8:30a.m. and judging beginning at 9 a.m. to noon.

Spirit and Sportsmanship - 6 judges needed to work all day covering both shifts during the competition on Saturday, November 2. Judges will circulate the arena and evaluate School/Company Spirit and good sportsmanship of Company members. Judges need to arrive on Saturday, November 2 with orientation at 8:30am and judging beginning at 9:00am to 4:00pm
Head Judges (Shift 1- 2 needed, Shift 2- 2 needed) November 2 with orientation at 8:30am and judging beginning at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Referees – 10 needed (5 Shift 1 and 5 Shift 2) The Robotics portion of the competition is similar to many sporting events in that it requires referees to oversee all head-to-head matches between robots. Additional referees will be needed to rotate periodically and give each other breaks throughout the day. Referees must be very familiar with the game rules, with preference being given to those who have served as referee for the current year’s game at a local hub. Rules for this year's challenge will be released 9/21/12 at http://FloridaRoboticsAlliance.Org. Saturday, Nov. 2, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hospitality - 6 Needed (3 Shift 1 and 3 Shift 2). A hospitality room will be provided at the Armwood High School where meals, snacks, and beverages will be provided for event volunteers, judges and corporate sponsors only. Friday evening pizza and drinks, Saturday continental breakfast and lunch will be provided for event volunteers, judges and corporate sponsors only. Friday, November 1 6:00pm – 7:00pm, Saturday November 2 7:30am – 4:00pm,

Volunteers and Judges please read the info for which you are volunteering:

Referees  (scoring sheet to be released 9/21/13)