Survey Data from MFG Day 2014 Reflects Tremendous Scope & Impact of "Made in Florida" Industry Tours

Last year, FLATE worked with industry partners and regional manufacturers associations across the state to implement a statewide
strategy for manufacturing day/month. The event was deemed highly successful and did much to place Florida firmly on the national manufacturing map. Following the tours, we brought you a story in April that highlighted the impact Manufacturing Day 2014 had on statewide participants, and the feedback FLATE received through post event surveys. In this edition we dig deeper and highlight additional data and details.

In 2014 more than 3,000 students from 39 counties toured 88 facilities across Florida participated in Manufacturing Day. Following the tours, surveys were completed by almost 1,500 students. Data collected included anecdotal evidence based on feedback from students, industry hosts, staff, and teachers as well as aggregated survey results from eight years of student tours of manufacturing facilities. Survey data collected from 2014 Manufacturing Day including emerging themes were compiled and analyzed, and were published in the April 2015 edition of the FLATE Focus.  

In addition to what was reported in April, FLATE has compiled further survey comment analysis. Additional findings show a
Heightened Awareness about Careers and Jobs in Manufacturing following the tours. In that, students were exposed to a range of careers available in the industry, from engineers and scientists positions requiring a four-year degree, to CNC technicians and helpers who can enter the workforce straight from high school. Findings overwhelmingly support the importance of showcasing real-world, work environments with real people doing real jobs. (The infographic produced by the Manufacturing Institute (2015) illustrates the level of impact generated by exposure to and familiarity with manufacturing.)

The Made In Florida industry tours offered an effective way to increase participants’ familiarity to industrial settings, and in turn contributed to raising the number of parents and educators encouraging their children/students to explore the world of modern manufacturing and related careers. The surveys also pointed to the importance of classroom-manufacturing industry connections, and the crucial need for educators to tie what students are being taught in the classroom with the real world. To that effect, industry tours were identified as a highly effective tool to achieve this goal.

Survey data also showed significant impact on educators. Educators articulated that the tours gave them a deeper insight about the manufacturing industry and related careers, and helped integrate STEM concepts in their curriculum materials. Educators also stated industry tours aided them in developing a more authentic, application-based curriculum. They recommended a two-pronged outreach strategy that is: 1.Geared to offset negative images of manufacturing; 2. highlight use of fun, high-tech, computer skills that offer well-paying jobs and opportunities for advancement.

Indeed the tours proved beneficial for all in facilitating first-hand experiences for students to discover the relevance of STEM 
and its applications in the real world. Students were able to connect with incumbent employees engaged in manufacturing which gave them an accurate picture of what a future job in the industry looks like, and potentially helped them make informed decisions. Planning for Manufacturing Day 2015 is already underway. FLATE together with its regional industry and educational partners are working hard to grow participation as well as increase the impact of tour experiences. “FLATE staff will also be working closely with teachers before the tours to make sure they are comfortable using the pre-tour lesson plans and associated activities provided to them. If parents and teachers don’t have personal experience in today’s manufacturing, they can’t guide their children with accurate opinions and information about manufacturing careers,” said Pat Lee, FMA Public Relations Director and a member of the Rockford, Ill., Chamber of Commerce Manufacturers Council.

To extend the scope and deepen the impact of the tour experience, FLATE will once again encourage teachers to have a post-tour, debriefing discussion with their students, and utilize follow-up lesson plans and activities. Additional efforts will focus on adding new tour locations and increasing student participation through regional organizational partnerships. For in-depth information on this article and survey data from last year’s manufacturing day tours, click on the link to the “What’s New Section” on www.fl-ate.orgor contact Nina Stokes, FLATE project manager at stokes@fl-ate.org. For information on 2015 Manufacturing Day and Made in Florida Industry tours contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org and visit http://madeinflorida.org/manufacturing-day