Stalwarts of Manufacturing: FLATE Awardees Remain Laser Focused on Making a Difference

FLATE awardees serve as a testament to Florida’s high-tech future. Each awardee’s commitment to manufacturing matches their legacy to ensure Florida has an educated and well trained high-tech workforce. In looking back at some past awardees, as we have been these past few months, Art Hoelke stands firm as a stalwart of manufacturing.  Hoelke is the vice president and general manager of Knight’s Armament in Titusville, FL, and was recipient of the 2010 FLATE Industry Distinguished Service Award which recognizes industry leaders for their outstanding contributions to promote technology education and career awareness in support of manufacturing.

Hoelke’s connection with FLATE dates back to the early years. “FLATE has been a leader in manufacturing
education and training, and is a leading resource for manufacturers in the greater Tampa bay area.” While, he considers it an honor to be associated with FLATE, and is inspired by all that the Center has been able to accomplish in the past 10 years, Hoelke’s connection with FLATE is rooted to a common purpose to expand and leverage influence on manufacturing on a state and national level.  

From the outset Hoelke was a prominent voice for affecting positive changes at the industry, education and legislative levels. In the five years since he received the award, Hoelke has accomplished, by his own account “10 times more than what he had back in 2010.” A core part of his leadership strategy has been his tireless efforts to establish strategic crosswalks between education and industry. “I want to make sure there is symmetry between high schools and local industries, and students have the opportunity for advancement in our industry.” His commitment has prompted Hoelke to remain actively engaged in the educational arena forging partnership with Space Coast High School, Brevard County school system and Eastern Florida State College. He also works closely with students from Astronaut and Titusville high schools. Through the TIES program, he has also reached out to local high school teachers inviting them to work at Knight’s  Armament’s engineering department to get an insider’s understanding about manufacturing operations and learn real life skills that they can take back to the classroom.

Hoelke is a mover and shaker in his own right. Working with local business leaders, politicians and educators, Hoelke envisions opening a manufacturing institute in the near future that will be housed at EFSC. "I know the value of hands-on education and training as it gave me the opportunity to learn 
real life skills” reflects Hoelke. He invests considerable time training current and incumbent workers, and leverages his position to offer the same opportunity to local students. In synch with his sustained commitment to education, Hoelke remains laser-focused on making a difference. “Right now manufacturing is a sexy word” notes Hoelke. Everybody, he says is talking about it and understands its importance, but the way to ensure growth, he says is “to invest in an educated and well trained workforce,” and in infrastructure that is critical in supporting/providing a talented pipeline of high skilled workers for manufacturers in Florida.

Hoelke has been a driving force for many Knights Armament initiatives that has fetched top recognition for him and the company. In 2015 Knights Armament was recognized by Women in Defense for its commitment to education. He also serves as a member in the Council of Women in Defense working closely with them on various educational and STEM-related initiatives. Art also played a pivotal role in Knights Armament being nominated, every year, by Space Coast High School and recognized as a valued business partner by the Brevard Chamber of Commerce.  Affecting positive changes and witnessing students transform into successful individuals and transition into lucrative careers is highly fulfilling for Hoelke. On that token, he underlines the importance for all engaged in manufacturing be it at the industry or education level to speak the same language and outline common goals that are not geared to promote individual agendas, but target benefits for the manufacturing community at large. 

To connect with Art Hoelke, or set-up industry tours for students, or other educational partnerships with Knight's Armament contact Hoelke at AHoelke@knightarmco.com/321.607.9955.


In addition to FLATE awardees who remain active in the manufacturing diaspora, we would also like to make note of some who have veered into retirement. Norm Brahs, winner of the 2009 post-secondary educator of the year award and Dave Liner, recipient of the secondary educator of the year
award in 2010, both retired from the school system. Brahs  was the head machining instructor at Atlantic Technical Center in Coconut Creek, FL; while Litner was  the industrial education and technology teacher at Ridge Community High School in Davenport, FL. In retirement, Norm and his wife who love travelling, are making a headway in striking off their bucket list a yearly trip to visit family in Germany, and also enjoying being with kids and grandkids. We wish Norm and Dave many more adventure-filled golden years ahead!

FLATE Awards are geared to recognize both secondary and postsecondary educators and industry leaders for their outstanding contributions to promote manufacturing in Florida. For more information, or to submit a nomination for the 2015 FLATE awards contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit www.fl-ate.org