Florida Career Pathways Symposium Opens Dialogue on Career & Technical Education

Florida Career Pathways Network serves as a platform for educational practitioners and
leaders to collaborate on initiatives that are targeted to prepare students at the secondary and postsecondary level for the 21st century high-tech, high-skill and high-paying jobs. FCPN is considered a Principal in planning, implementing, evaluating and improving advancement of career pathways, career and technical education, and related education reform initiatives across Florida. Its cohort of members and partners that include educators, administrators, and employers have been effective in pooling extensive array of information aimed at providing a network of communication and resources for new and existing programs.

Given the scope and reach of FCPN’s outreach initiatives, FLATE is closely involved and has been a longtime member of the organization. As part of its ongoing involvement with statewide Career & Technical (CTE) programs, every year FLATE attends the FCPN symposium to share ideas and best practices, and provide professional development sessions for stakeholders and conference attendees across Florida who are involved in various aspects of CTE. This year FLATE facilitated three “best practice” sessions at the FCPN Symposium held last month in Jupiter Beach, FL.

Each of the Best Practice sessions were well attended, and evoked pertinent discussions about
the state of career and technical education in Florida and related issues. The Hillsborough County Manufacturing Academy was led by Ginger Clark, Vice President for Workforce Training at Hillsborough Community College; Roy Sweatman, Chief Executive Officer of Tampa-based Southern Manufacturing Technologies; Lauren Walden, Director for CTE program for Hillsborough County School District, and Ken Jones, Manager for Industry Strategic Initiatives for Hillsborough County. The session focused on strategic partnerships built between industry, education and workforce development agencies in Hillsborough County and how it could support strategies to increase the pipeline of talented workers for manufacturers with special emphasis in recruiting women, minorities and veterans. Attendees also learned about the award-winning statewide A.S degree in engineering technology with 10 specialization tracks developed by FLATE and offered in 19 state and community colleges across Florida, and got an overview about FLATE’s curriculum/credit credentialing activities, numerous outreach/recruitment and professional development resources geared to support and strengthen the future manufacturing workforce across the state.

The “What’s Made in Your Backyard?” breakout session featured STEM-centered, industry-

connected lesson plans for K-12 educators and included support materials for tours to high-tech industries, and resources to support technology career pathways and engage/recruit girls to STEM. FLATE provided several free giveaways intended to help raise educators’ and students’ awareness and interest in STEM. It Participants received samples of the latest “What’s Made in Your Backyard?” curriculum which is part of FLATE’s Made in Florida lesson plans for middle and high school students and educators. These FREE instructional resources provide students with real-world scenarios of high-tech manufacturing operations and manufacturers throughout Florida.

The Recruiting & Retaining Females in Engineering and Engineering Technology Programs was another panel presentation facilitated by FLATE. Panelists for this Best Practices presentation were representative of women in STEM, and included Dr. Maria Mercedes Larrondo Petrie, Associate Dean of International Affairs and Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL; Roxana Melendez, Professor of Engineering Technology at Palm Beach State College in Palm Beach, FL, and Danielly Orozco, Curriculum Manager for FLATE. The panel also included Jessica Nachtman, a female student enrolled in the AutoCAD class at PBSC.

Presentations focused on strategies, resources, successful modules, and first-hand accounts of
successful strategies used to recruit women and girls in STEM. This best practice panel considered the unique perspective of a group of female students, educators who could serve as role models for current/future women engineers. The session was punctuated by animated discussions and perspectives that extended even after the conclusion of the panel presentation. Notable remarks and feedback from the session included: “Image of STEM/engineering and engineering technician programs must change; Continue and increase resources to promote and engage females in these areas with images that attract females, even if this means using pink color or pink set of tools; help female students by creating more support organizations, tours, scholarships, mentors and child support.”

During the Awards Luncheon, Danielly Orozco, FLATE curriculum manager and each of the panelists received an Award for the Best Practices presentation. The best practice presentations are now available for download on FLATE’s Wiki. You can also access FLATE’s award-winning STEM resources on the Made in Florida website at www.madeinflorida.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org.