Don’t miss out on FLATE’s Engineering Technology (ET) Experience Tours

FLATE offers several outreach initiatives that are designed to spark students’ interest in STEM and manufacturing. One of FLATE’s ongoing efforts to reach out to local students is through Engineering Technology (ET) Experience Tours. These tours place an emphasis on hands-on problem based learning, and strive to capture students’ interest in STEM and robotics, give them a realistic view of the skills needed in high-tech manufacturing jobs, and motivate them to pursue high-tech and high-paying careers.

This spring, FLATE will be hosting ET Experience Tours at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) Brandon Campus. Most recently, students from Burns Middle School participated in an ET Experience Tour on March 28. The 8th grade class that visited was part of an Aerospace Technology program. This program gives the students high school credits while they are still in middle school. This was the first time Burns Middle School has participated in an ET Experience Tour.

The tour began with students being welcomed by Dr. Marilyn Barger, who gave a brief introduction of FLATE. After Dr. Barger’s opening remarks, students watched a video titled “Why Not Me,” which discussed why manufacturing careers are so great and in high demand. After the video, students were separated into two groups for a tour of HCC’s ET Lab. During the tour students were very engaged as they saw demonstrations from a 3D printer, programmed a robotic arm to conduct simple tasks, and spoke with students currently enrolled in HCC’s ET program. The students learned about the mechanics and real-world applications of these devices and machines in high-tech manufacturing operations.

Following the hands on and interactive learning, Shirley Dobbins, one of HCC’s ET program instructors, led a discussion about manufacturing careers and educational credentials. Students also watched a presentation that focused on items that are “Made in Florida.” The activity showed students a real-world view of manufacturing companies and the products are made right here in the state.  

At the end of the day, one Burns Middle School student stated that attending the ET Experience Tour will help them with STEM coursework in school because “now I’m interested in manufacturing and engineering so I will focus more in class.” Another student commented that the ET Experience Tour “showed the importance of STEM and what skills are needed in the future,” and stated that the tour was “great and fun, and very informational.”
Information gathered from surveys completed by Burns Middle School students after the tour showed that 100% would recommend this ET Experience to other students. One student commented that they would recommend this to other students “because technology is going to be a big part in our future.”

Middle and high schools in Hillsborough County with Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs are invited to visit HCC’s ET labs and learn about the college’s ET degree program. All ET tours are hosted by FLATE staff and HCC faculty and last around two hours. All costs are covered by a grant from Hillsborough County. The ET Experience Tours are a great follow-up to the Manufacturing Day tours in October. 

If you would like more information on ET Experience Tours or are interested in scheduling a tour for your students this spring please contact Janice Mukhia, FLATE’s Project and Outreach Manager, at or 813-259-6581, or Dr. Marilyn Barger, FLATE’s Executive Director, at

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