Fall Conferences Highlight Importance of STEM & Advanced Technological Education

FLATE participates in a number of conference venues every October to disseminate our work, share our
expertise, and celebrate advanced technological education. Part of our mission is to share the good work of our partners and stakeholders, and mentor others looking for guidance. The October conferences we participated in as part of the NSF ATE Centers joint dissemination efforts include the National Career Pathway Network (NCPN, www.ncpn.info),  National Collation of Advanced Technology Center (NCATC, www.ncatc.org) , the National Council for Workforce Education NCWE, www.ncwe.org), the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Principle Investigator Conference (NSF ATE PI, www.aacc.nche.edu).  Each venue serves a unique collection of stakeholders and provides valuable opportunities for professional growth, networking, dissemination, partnership and fellowship. This fall I presented on various aspects of our Engineering Technology degree program including the details of its flexible structure and the FLDOE frameworks that define the program and its alignment to MSSC CPT that provides an accelerated completion pathway. I also presented a Toothpick Factory workshop to over 50 technical educators eager to learn new active techniques to help students learn and adopt the subtle intricacies of teamwork. 

In Washington, at the NSF ATE PI conference, FLATE had its Center showcase display as well as two
student displays for Mercedes Ramirez from Hillsborough Community College and Afrad Mahamed from Polk State College. Mercedes’s showcase focused on her work with our FLATE Summer Robotics Camps and its alignment to our Engineering Technology technical courses. Afrad shared the story of our Iberian Partnership program from his student participant point of view and how much the experience impacted him at many levels. Conference participants were very impressed by both students. NSF ATE recognized both as outstanding ATE student/alumni at an awards breakfast, where they networked with 60 other ATE students and alumni from around the country. 

Aside from the student activities and showcases FLATE co-led a panel on mechatronics highlighting our
partnership with SCTE, the Supply Chain Technology Education Center (Dr. Ned Young of Sinclair Community College) with two of our business partners. The panel discussion focused on comments and questions from our partner and NVC member, Bill Mazurek, director of continuous improvement at Conmed Linvatec in Largo and SCTE’s partner, Gary Forger, senior vice president of professional development, materials handling institute. Our industry partners engaged forty-nine participants including Dr. Celeste Carter, lead program director for the NSF ATE program. The common skills supporting manufacturing and supply chain (and many technologies) epitomized the work that many of our ATE graduates are and will be engaged in. There is more work to do to better the jobs that support these technologies.  Additionally, FLATE was highlighted in Dr. Will Tyson’s PathTech presentation about its important research project studying pathways between high school programs and our ET degree.

In Florida, Dr. Boyette was presented a Best Practice Award at the Florida Career Pathways Network
Symposium (FCPN, http://www.ftpn.org) for her presentation on FLATE’s strategies for professional development. Earlier in the month, Nina Stokes, FLATE’s FESC project manager, shared our curriculum work on the industrial energy efficiency technology with attendees of the Florida Energy Summit in conjunction with our FESC partners. 

Catch up with more news with November stories that check in with one participant of our Recruiting Girls for STEM Pathways workshop last June, Christine Danger, who has already put strategies learned at the event into play; get up to speed with biotechnology program at Palm Beach State College; make sure you and your industry partners are signed up for our machining education workshop; step into the final STEM puzzle of 2013; and, last, but not least, meet our 2013 FLATE Awardees: Roy Sweatman, Alex Anzalone, and Dale Toney. 

FLATE Awardees: A Synergistic Alliance to Educate & Train Florida’s High-Tech Workforce

FLATE’s outreach strategy encompasses working with industry leaders and educational partners across the
state. These synergistic alliances have enabled FLATE to expand its outreach initiatives, streamline curriculum, and offer professional development opportunities that have established crosswalks between academia and industry. While these strategic initiatives are spearheaded by FLATE, there are many individuals who over the years have collaborated with FLATE in its mission to promote, educate, and train Florida’s high-tech workforce. These individuals deserve special mention, and are recognized by FLATE each year during the Manufacturers Association of Florida, Manufacturers Summit.

This year’s awardees join a distinguished group of educators and industry professionals who have made significant contributions in enhancing technician training and education in Florida. Starting on the secondary education level, Dale Toney, recipient of the 2013 FLATE Secondary Educator of the Year Award, exemplifies qualities sought in an educator. Toney who is the robotics and automation teacher at Marion Technical Institute (MTI) in Ocala has been teaching engineering technology for several years.

Toney transfers his passion for engineering by finding creative ways to capture students’ interest. He has
established strong partnerships not only with local industry, but with teachers and community college educators across Florida. His program at MTI is aligned with the industry driven, MSSC CPT certification which has added to the skills set of his students, making them better qualified for higher paying jobs. Toney is big on hands-on projects, and regularly takes students on local industry tours, or invites industry professionals to provide first-hand, real-world perspective to students. Most recently, he won a scholarship to attend the HI-TEC conference in Austin where he participated in conference sessions about new technologies, student recruitment/retention, and strengthening industry/workforce partnerships.

On the post-secondary education level, Dr. Alessandro Anzalone, professor and director of the A.S. degree in engineering technology (A.S.E.T), has been a leading factor in driving enrollment of students into the A.S.E.T program at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon. “Dr. Anzalone’s excellent teaching, mentoring and outreach efforts have done much to dramatically expand the ET degree and certificate program at HCC” said Sabrina Peacock, dean of Arts & Sciences at HCC. Under him, enrollment into the A.S.E.T program has sharply risen from two students to 180, and is steadily increasing every academic year.

Anzalone believes the strength of the A.S.E.T degree lies in its industry-centric focus which has helped all
graduates to either get a better job, or climb up the corporate latter. “The degree is also adaptable and flexible, and offers transferability of skills and knowledge across various engineering sectors.” He credits FLATE for being a driving force in ensuring the success of the program at HCC and those offered at 13 state and community colleges across the state. “The most important contribution of FLATE is transforming manufacturing technology into engineering technology” said Anzalone. “This has not only dispelled negative connotations attached to old world manufacturing, but aligned it with engineering so students/parents view it in a slightly different perspective” Anzalone said.

Outside his role as an educator, Anzalone is involved in a number of high-tech projects. Anzalone is well-connected with other institutions of higher education, local manufacturing industry. He has been working on an innovative project at USF to design, build, and test prototype of a product that can be used primarily in developing countries. He is also involved in the ETAM educational project partnering with Polk State College, Tallahassee Community College and State College of Florida. “I believe this cross pollination between schools is very important as it leads to a better streamlined curriculum that prepares students for the workforce.”

On the industry end of the continuum, Roy Sweatman, president and CEO of Southern Manufacturing
Technologies, a leading high-tech manufacturer in Tampa, has been a prominent figure in representing the voice of local industry, and establishing a platform for industry to engage with students as well as educators. Sweatman has hosted many “Made in Florida” industry tours for middle and high school students in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties. Through these tours, Sweatman has met, hired as well as mentored many students for part time work giving them a real-world view about manufacturing careers. Sweatman is on the advisory committee of the Pinellas Technical Education Center’s machining program, the Florida West Coast Apprentice Board, and several other local workforce and education advisory committees. “Sweatman has promoted a very open and receptive culture, making SMT a warm and welcoming place for students to get a first-hand view of advanced manufacturing operations and careers supports industry at all levels” said Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE.

At the national level, Roy Sweatman is an appointed member of the U.S Department of Commerce’s
Manufacturing Council for the past two years as well as that organizations’ subcommittee for workforce development. In that capacity, he and 24 other industry leaders advise the Secretary of Commerce on all aspects of competitiveness and respond to regular input/ request from Florida manufacturers and regional organizations to represent their interests at the national level. Roy has also served in numerous leadership roles in the National Tooling and Machine Association (NMTA) for over 20 years, focusing on both the manufacturing industry and its workforce issues. Within Florida, Roy participates in the Manufacturers Association of Florida (MAF) annual meeting, and focuses on impacting/ influencing state legislators for manufacturing friendly policies and regulations.

2013 marks the seventh year of the FLATE awards. Since the implementation of the awards program in 2006, FLATE has recognized 14 educators in secondary and post-secondary educational institutions, and seven industry partners. For more information on the FLATE awards, or to nominate an awardee for next year, visit www.fl-ate.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org/813.259.6578.

FLATE’s Educator Workshop Spurs Development of K-8 STEM Curriculum

FLATE’s curriculum and professional development tools are geared to equip educators, students, and industry with knowledge and skills that promote technician education and training. One of the focus of FLATE’s professional development efforts have centered not only on a regional, but a national push to engage girls in STEM. This has culminated over the years in a number of workshops that have enabled educators to refine and/or certify their knowledge base within manufacturing, and develop STEM based curricula for their schools that have long-term impact on technical education.

Christine Danger, STEM resource teacher and elementary science teacher at Hillsborough County Public
School was one such person who took advantage of the resources offered by FLATE. According to Danger, FLATE’s “Recruiting Girls to STEM Pathways” workshop offered in June served as a turning point in her quest to get more students engaged in STEM. “The research about why girls choose particular career pathways served as an eye opener for me” says Danger. In that it helped her get a better perspective why most girls choose a career where want to make a difference. The information presented during the workshop led her to show her students, particularly girls, how “being an engineer can help (or possibly even save) lives, animals, and the earth.”

The SEM, or the Science, Engineering, and Mathematics in STEM, are all interesting, but what really gets students excited about these subjects is “technology,” or the “t” in STEM. As a teacher, Danger found children love to play with technology. Armed with the knowledge she gained at the STEM workshop, and as part of Danger’s role as the first science resource teacher for SDHC, Danger set out to formulate a K-8 STEM program at Turner Elementary School and Bartels Middle School in Tampa.

As part of this effort, Danger has set-up engineering design challenge centers in all K-5 classrooms at Turner
Elementary School that integrates STEM concepts and engineering challenges into mainstream curriculum. “Our goal is to add connections to STEM careers into all subject areas” said Danger. Danger is creating a STEM lab where students can engage in hands-on engineering activities that complement science standards they are learning in class. Danger is also developing a robotics elective at Bartels Middle School and plans to start a robotics team in the school, and working on integrating technology into language arts by creating video games, and using technology to create presentations and videos. My long term goal is to help teachers understand how to teach engineering, and to get students and encourage students to exercise their creativity.”

In a quest to position STEM as fun, Danger collaborated with FLATE’s partner, Scientific League of Super
Heroes (see October 2013 FLATE Focus) to develop STEM based curriculum for fifth grade SDHC students. “The superhero theme is working to attract both boys and girls” said Danger. Using the “Super Heroes theme,” she has developed curriculum where students can research different STEM careers online that they find most interesting, and corresponding skills-set, or  “superpowers” like curing diseases, reducing pollution, developing new energy sources, improving communication systems, and growing food more efficiently. In general, I found girls are attracted to STEM careers when they find out that they can be creative, hands-on, collaborative, and the work they do can help people and the planet.” Boys on the other hand she notes, love to build things and compete. Danger hopes to eventually have 50% girls and 50% boys enrolled in the robotics/STEM elective.

Given her research and experience with STEM curriculum development, Danger presented her findings about engaging women/girls in STEM at the annual Florida Association of Science Teachers conference in Miami. For more information about FLATE’s STEM based curriculum and workshops visit www.madeinflorida.org and www.fl-ate.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org. For information on the SDHC K-8 STEM curriculum currently offered at Turner Elementary and Bartels Middle School in Tampa, contact Christine Danger at Christine.Danger@sdhc.k12.fl.us

sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #37: Machine System Performance

A Certified Process Technician, CPT, is reviewing the “Run Charts” for two machine systems, System #425 and System # 638, to assess their performance and determine if either, or both systems’ preventive maintenance schedules should be interrupted with an unscheduled maintenance check. Among other tasks, each system is milling shear pins to a specified radius for use in the propeller subsystems of a marine engine the company makes. To accomplish this system assessment task, the Tech routinely randomly selects pins to measure and record their radius. Because of the knowledge and skills expected of a CPT, the technician understands the implications presented in such Run Chart data.   

The plots below summarize system performance by presenting daily average radius measurements performed by the Tech. After studying this information the Tech has made a decision.   

1) The technician decided that both systems are operating as expected. Yes or NO. Submit your answers below the blog post, or on www.fl-ate.org


PBSC Students BLAST Off their Career at Full Speed with a Degree in Biotechnology

Florida is not all about sunshine, beaches and Mickey Mouse country. The state is emerging as an incubation
hub for fostering several high-tech initiatives. Among these, biotechnology has emerged as a prominent industry cluster in the state. Recent reports published in 2013 from the University of Florida and the Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability, Florida has experienced a 60 percent growth of biotechnology industry over the past five years, and the state outpaces the nation in terms of biotechnology research and development. Within the biotechnology research and development sector, the OPPAGA identifies Hillsborough, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties that experienced greatest business growth.

Given the biotech growth spurt, the National Science Foundation through its Advanced Technological
Education initiative recently awarded a grant to Palm Beach State College (PBSC) to respond to the needs of south Florida’s emerging bioscience industry. “The goal of the Biotechnology Laboratory and Skills Training (BLAST) project is to increase student success, retention and graduation among biotechnology majors in order to meet the growing demand in our region and nation for skilled technicians in this field” said Dr. Alexandra Gorgevska, chair and professor in the Department of Biotechnology and the Department of Natural Sciences at PBSC. Gorgevska says the targeted objectives of the project are to provide: student cohort activities to increase student engagement; internal recruiting efforts; provide tutoring, mentoring and career guidance, and creating learning communities and community involvement.

Since the awarding of the grant in 2011, the BLAST project has successfully worked towards accomplishing
outlined objectives. Activities have centered on creating learning communities, offering student internships, providing venues for student presentations during conferences, hosting internal recruiting efforts, and offering professional development opportunities aimed at educating students about potential career opportunities of a career in biotechnology. “The Biotech program at PBSC provides students with amazing opportunities like the BioFlorida conference and I can’t fathom a better educational environment” said Austin Tregenza, a student at PBSC. The project also hosts an on campus bi-annual, student poster symposia, a biotech awareness week, and opportunities to attend regional conferences that give students the opportunity to present their work at meetings and conferences.

Additionally, PBSC also developed a new general biology course that emphasizes the molecular biology
basis of biotechnology. The course serves in attracting both biotech and non-biotech majors. In Spring 2012, there were 11 non biotech major students enrolled in the introductory biotech course, out of which two students took an additional biotech course. In Fall 2012, there were 15 non-biotech students enrolled in the course out of which one took an additional biotech course. In Spring 2013, there we were a total of 13 non-biotech students. Currently, after two semesters, the program has seen 11.5% of non-biotech majors retained in the program.

The impact of the project has been multi-faceted. Impacts are not only being felt within the field of biotechnology, but these contributions can be extended to a variety of other academic fields. The curriculum modifications that are being developed for general biology course has the potential to create a more well-rounded biology, chemistry, physics or engineering major by presenting them with additional applications of the basic sciences. Additionally, the creation of an advising manual has provided professional development of college advisors that can also be made available to other college programs via online access. “We have been very fortunate to have this NSF ATE grant funding. It has allowed us to initiate a variety of interactive efforts to increase enrollment, retention and success of students in our biotechnology program” said Dr. Gorgevska.

Looking to the future, Gorgevska is currently writing a new NSF ATE proposal to continue the projects
targeted efforts. “In order to determine if the activities we have implemented will have an impact on our program, we will need to continue these efforts for an additional 2-3 years collect data concerning program completers and tracking of alumni” Gorgevska said. For more information on the BLAST grant and biotech courses offered at PBSC contact Dr. Alexandra Gorgevska at gorgevsa@palmbeachstate.edu, or visit www.palmbeachstate.edu/programs/biotechnology. For information on biotech courses offered at other community and state colleges across Florida contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit www.madeinflorida.org.

ATE@20 Showcases Accomplishments of NSF's Advanced Technological Education Program

The National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program is celebrating twenty years of supporting technician education this year. 
Begun in 1993, the ATE program supports innovative efforts to improve the education of incumbent and prospective technicians, and the professional development of educators who teach them. The program focuses on technician preparation in fields vital to the nation's security such as information technology, manufacturing, agriculture, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and engineering technology. 

As part of this celebration ATE Central, a crosscutting ATE project that aims to support and highlight the
work of the 300-plus funded projects and centers, is spearheading the  ATE@20 Book + Blog project—showcasing the accomplishments of the ATE program during the past 20 years. The blog aims to reach students, parents, educators, as well as business and industry partners with articles about successful technicians and cutting-edge technical education programs. The blog will feature stories throughout the anniversary year and entries may be reprinted or reused. The book, which chronicles the program with feature stories and programmatic data infographics, will be released in October. 

Since it was created in response to the Scientific and Advanced Technology Act of 1992, the ATE program's various student recruitment efforts have meshed with the National Careers Pathway Network to encourage youngsters to enter technical careers and to improve the opportunities of underemployed adults.

Recognition that true change rarely happens in isolation led to requirements that ATE initiatives:
  • involve two-year college educators in leadership roles
  • collaborate with employers
  • connect with secondary school teachers and university faculty
Gerhard Salinger, a National Science Foundation (NSF) program director who was co-lead of the ATE program from 1993 through 2012, said the team involved in structuring the competitive grant program wanted broad and deep partnerships for a simple reason: "We could get more done if people collaborated." Collegiality among ATE principal investigators is another program hallmark. "We wanted it to be a program and not just a series of grants."

Elizabeth J. Teles, who was co-lead of ATE with Salinger from 1993 to 2009. They hoped that a network of partnerships beyond the particular college department or campus receiving an ATE grant would help sustain activities and lead to other innovations after the NSF grant funding ended."I just saw too many people acting in isolation, not realizing there were components in other projects. I had worked in a few projects at my college, and I felt like we did them, but we didn't have any idea what other people who were being supported were doing,” Teles said. She taught mathematics at Montgomery College before a fellowship at the NSF led to her employment as a program director.

The annual ATE Principal Investigators' Conference is an example of NSF investment in building a truly collaborative ATE community.  At these high-energy meetings, ATE grant recipients share their successes and challenges to improve overall practices, and build professional networks that have frequently led to other collaborations. For instance, several consortia formed by ATE centers have been awarded large Department of Labor grants.

As the NSF’s largest community college investment, ATE has broadened the federal government’s definition of STEM workforce. By focusing on the associate degree programs offered by two-year colleges—primarily by public community colleges, ATE provides technicians with a solid academic foundation that enables them to learn throughout their careers.  ATE enhancements to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses equip students to move more efficiently on career paths from high school to two-year colleges, from two-year colleges to technical careers, and from two-year colleges to four-year institutions.
The innovative ATE initiatives established throughout the nation and the free information available to anyone who wants to emulate these model educational programs improve educational practices, students’ opportunities, and ultimately the nation’s prosperity.

For more information about the ATE program or the ATE@20 Book+Blog project visit: http://atecentral.net and the ATE@20 Blog at https://atecentral.net/ate20

Help with MSSC Employer Engagement

Do you need help reaching out and getting companies engaged with MSSC Certifications? Earlier this year,
MSSC unveiled its “Employer Outreach Tool Kit,” a collection of online resources loaded with a variety of information to help educators at all levels inform and engage their industry partners about the MSSC CPT and CLT credentials. The webpage hosts the following downloadable files: Introductory letter; MSSC overview with CPT and CLT Activities;  MSSC Infrastructure; Programs for the Military; How Employers Use MSSC; How to Engage Manufacturers Effectively; College Credit for MSSC courses; the NAM Endorsed Skill Certification System; ROI Data; 2 MSSC presentation; MSSC Trifold brochure, and Manufacturing and Logistics Occupation lists from BLS.

There is something for everyone, no matter what stage of employer engagement you might be in. All is available free, with a contact email for special requests. Visit www.msscusa.org/educators for more information, and to avail of these resources.   

Machining Workshop for Industry Professionals and Educators. Enroll NOW!

Technology Grant Boosts Manufacturing-Related ET Programs in Florida

The College of Central Florida (CF) was recently awarded a $10 million, round three TAACCCT grant focused on information technologies, but which also includes capacity building for their manufacturing related engineering technology program as well. Advanced manufacturing is evolving with greater emphasis on programming, and automation/robotics. Essentially the consortium colleges will build capacity and offer training in programing and operating automation, production and related simulation equipment. Another partner in the consortium, North Florida Community College (NFCC) with it home campus in Madison, FL, will start a Manufacturing Technology post-secondary vocational program aligned to Manufacturing Skill Standards Council certificate to support a growing manufacturing sector with its funding from this TAACCCT award.

"We had no idea that there was enough manufacturing and production activity in our area to support a technical program until we did a comprehensive needs analysis” said Nancy Lils, coordinator of grants and institutional research at NFCC. “Even if we had not been awarded the TAAACCCT grant, our college had decided that it would go forward with the program in 2014, although at a much slower pace.”  The engineering technology programs at CF and TCC, as well as FLATE, have been extremely helpful in helping NFCC develop its manufacturing program and identifying regional industries. “We really look forward to working with them all as we put our program into place" Lils said.