Of Farewells, Thank You’s & Welcomes!

‘Tis the time it seems for welcome, thank you’s and farewells. This month we take a moment to pause and congratulate two of our colleagues on their retirement and celebrate their illustrious careers.

We start with Dr. Carlos Soto who recently retired from his position as the campus president of
Hillsborough Community College in Brandon. Dr. Soto who served in this capacity since 1999 was reputed for his role in promoting strong education programs, and his support of FLATE. Under Soto’s guidance, FLATE flourished and is today considered the go-to organization for excellence in manufacturing and advanced technical education not only in Tampa Bay, but in Florida and across the nation.

Dr. Soto was at the helm of many key decisions affecting the Center since it was established in 2004. Dr. Soto served as a member of the FLATE Industrial Advisory Committee as well as the National Visiting Committee. He was also a liaison between FLATE and manufacturing communities in the region. He was also a champion of the statewide A.S degree in Engineering Technology developed by FLATE and offered at HCC and 14 colleges across Florida. Soto viewed FLATE as a ‘high prestige endeavor’ that enabled HCC to reengage people in manufacturing,’ and encouraged students to pursue careers in advanced manufacturing.

As Dr. Soto bid farewell to FLATE and HCC, we wish him the best in his personal and professional
endeavors and likewise acknowledge the quintessential role he played, especially during FLATE’s infancy years, in securing a strong partnership between FLATE, HCC and the broader academic community in Florida. In that same breath, FLATE would also like to extend a warm welcome to the new Brandon campus president, Dr. Nancee Sorenson. FLATE looks forward to working with Dr. Sorenson and the entire HCC community to impact manufacturing and technician education throughout Florida.

Switching gears and crossing the bay over to Pinellas County, FLATE has one more colleague who is marking an important milestone. Bradley Jenkins, co-PI of FLATE and associate dean of the engineering technology at St. Petersburg College also retired last month after serving the SPC community for 40 years. Jenkins is credited with laying the foundation and spearheading several successful projects and programs. Jenkins played a leading role in laying down the foundation for the Collaborative Center for Emerging Technologies at SPC. He was also instrumental in launching the A.S. degree in engineering technology at SPC. Under his leadership, enrollment into the A.S.E.T program skyrocketed. More than 1,800 students earned their certificates and degrees, and over the past three years, enrollment in manufacturing programs at SPC rose by 20%.

In keeping with his academic engagement, Jenkins was the co-Chair of the Florida Forum on
Engineering Technology, and worked closely with the Florida Department of Education in restructuring the state common course numbering system for all engineering technologies. He served on both SACS and TAC ABET visiting teams and the engineering technology leadership committee for the America Society of Engineering Education. In addition to his role as an educator, Jenkins currently serves as co-PI of FLATE. He has served in this capacity since 2002, and is on the Center’s leadership team. Under this role, he heads up curriculum and professional development initiatives for college faculty throughout Florida. He also works with local and statewide industry organizations, economic and workforce development agencies to ensure alignment of academic programs with industry needs.

His engagement and expertise has earned him many accolades. In 2012, Jenkins received the prestigious, NSF-supported national HI-TEC Conference Educator of the Year award at the HI-Tec Conference in Denver, CO. ‘Brad’s quest to introduce innovative strategies into engineering technology related programs/courses have reshaped statewide technology education in Florida’ said Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE. FLATE extends hearty congratulations to Brad on his many successes and on his retirement from SPC. The entire FLATE team looks forward to continue working with Brad as he serves as the co-PI of FLATE and as a member of the FLATE NVC team.