Mechatronics and Vacuum Technology

The terms Mechatronics and Vacuum Technology represent 20th Century state-of-the-art “tags” for leading edge STEM based skill sets that are even more significant in this 21st century digital world.  Mechatronics was coined in the 1960’s to verbalize the then brand new integration of mechanical and electronic knowledge for commercial (automobiles, etc), space (moon mission) and defense (ICB’s) applications.  Vacuum Technology could trace its heritage to the 19th Century (Edison’s work with incandescent filaments for example) but certainly is anchored in technology development (radio and television) in the 1920’s and cemented in all advanced technologies triggered during and post Manhattan Project.  Although there is always a tendency to rebrand almost everything (IHOP to IHOB for the latest example), new identifiers for either of these incredibly STEM based skill sets is not necessary.  What is important is to recognize that from a technician’s perspective both are indicative of the required and similar advanced knowledge and skills for today’s advanced manufacturing sector technicians. 

FLATE’s mission to build Florida’s advanced manufacturing workforce is driven by the fact that Florida’s high tech industries (defense, aero-space, biomedical devices and communications sectors) are dependent on both Mechatronics and Vacuum Technology and the reality is that the skillset of these two discipline areas have a significant overlap. FLATE continues to work with A.S. programs around the country that support mechatronics certifications alignment to year degree programs.  Additionally, FLATE annually provides a range of professional development opportunities at the HI-TEC conference (this year in Miami Florida in July).  Mechatronics events include: workshop on Programmable Logic Controllers; Mechatronics group “mixer”; and an industry panel on Industry 4.0.
FLATE is now beginning an initiative to build a community of practice that supports vacuum technology and its overlapping Mechatronics skills.  The National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education program (NSF-ATE) is supporting FLATE activities focused on technician education that lead to careers in advanced manufacturing that depend on vacuum technology and science skills and knowledge.  FLATE has entered into a partnership with the American Vacuum Society (AVS) to identify the essential skills that are and will be essential to support this industry sector.   (The AVS is the internationally recognized premiere organization of academic, industry, Department of Defense, National Laboratory, and NASA STEM professionals that require or use controlled pressure environments to accomplish their missions.)  This objective will be reached through a joint effort by the AVS Education Committee, Normandale Community College in Bloomington, MN, and FLATE.  The work has already begun at workshop supported by AVS at the Colorado School of Mines that took place in early June. Stay tuned for the next steps in this project in the fall of 2018.  For more information, contact   

So what’s next?  As with the action item generated in last month’s FOCUS workforce related message, “On-Time and Drug Free”, We need input from manufacturers and their technology supporters that rely on vacuum technology and science to share insight and experience.  From your perspective, what are required skills that support manufacturing operations conducted in controlled pressure environments?  What skills and tasks do your engineers and scientists have and do that should be within the technician’s domain?  What vacuum related skills are now not key to your vacuum supported processes?
In summary, to paraphrase and repeat the bottom line message from “On-Time and Drug Free”, drilling down into the skill set expectations of manufacturing workers in high performance complex vacuum required processes will increase process efficiency and product quality.  This exploration requires extra energy from all parties but the increased details will refine the processes Florida uses to produce the fundamental non-competitive technical expertise necessary in this manufacturing sector.  Florida has a great future in global manufacturing when the needed skills development is transferred to the education system.  FLATE can help with that transfer into the education system but manufacturers have to identify the critical skills.  If you can help, let us know.        

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida 2030 Project and Earners to Learners Summit Explores the Future Opportunities and Needs for Florida’s Workforce

The recommendations released come from three years’ worth of research and feedback from more than 10,000 Floridians in each of Florida’s 67 counties as part of the Florida 2030 initiative- a multi-million research initiative that seeks to identify the challenges and opportunities Florida has between now and 2030, and to create a blueprint for Florida’s future. Recommendations found that:
  • Florida is growing- our state needs to add 1.7 million net new jobs by 2030.
  • Florida must prepare its workforce to take advantage of global consumer demand.
  • Florida is experiencing generational changes.
  • Florida will need to adapt to shifting skills and the training that will be required.
  • Innovation and disruption are transforming industries and jobs.
  • The nature of work in Florida is changing.

FLATE, FloridaMakes, the Able Trust, Economic Development organizations and Educational institutions gathered to hear the specific recommendations for Talent and Education Pilar of Project 2030 at the recent Earners to Learners Summit held in Tampa.  In addition to the project recommendations, Commissioner Pam Stewart presented the Commissioners Business Recognitions Awards during the event.  These awards to a number of exemplary programs and businesses around the state. The award winners are posted here: .  You can also view the recorded videos of Summit speakers and see the agenda here:

For more information about Project 2030, click on the images below for the recommendations listed above. You can also download and share the Drivers for Florida’s Future report, which covers all Six Pillars of Florida’s growth (Talent Supply & Education, Innovation & Economic Development, Infrastructure & Growth Leadership, Business Climate & Competitiveness, Civic & Governance Systems, Quality of Life & Quality Places.)

2018 BAMA Annual STEM Scholarship Awards Dinner

Every year, Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA) hosts a Scholarship, STEM, and Awards dinner to support manufacturing education. This event highlights one of BAMA’s primary initiatives, which is to support education through scholarships and STEM programs. The BAMA Scholarship program helps provide financial assistance to deserving high school students and post-secondary students from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties who wish to attend college, or a technical education center to pursue a manufacturing or technology-related career.

During this year BAMA Awards dinner, participants were able to appreciate two cool robots from the Middleton high school robotics teams and meet and greet BAMA’s 2018 Science Fair winners and learn how the award will help them achieve their goal in a manufacturing discipline, whether it be engineering technology, or a skilled trade certification.

The 2018 Science Fair Winners are Cameron Cook "3D Printing Pinball Party"  Grade 7, St. Cecilia, Safety Harbor; and Carson Hamel, "Rangefinders and Temperature: Does Heat affect the Measurement?" Grade 12, Lakewood High, St. Petersburg.

2018 Scholarship & STEM Awards
Hillsborough Education Foundation: Darlesa Richardon, Keegan Suero, Chastity Hardwick-Veteran.
St. Petersburg College Foundation: Krismel Joy Ubas, Vinicius Fiabani, Megan Flanagn, Ricky Brumett-Veteran, Jeffrey Mathis-Veteran

he program also featured a special motivational guest speaker Sam Cila, an Iraq War combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient who's overcome severe injuries to become an elite-level endurance athlete and activist for veterans.

In addition to its regional support for Florida Manufacturing, BAMA has also been a strategic partner with FLATE in promoting manufacturing education. BAMA partnered with FLATE for Manufacturing Day-related efforts and has been one of the key sponsors for the FLATE summer robotics camps that play an integral role in stirring middle and high school students’ interest in robotics and learning about its applications in high-tech manufacturing.  For more information about Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA) please visit their webpage here.  For more information on FLATE please visit our webpage here, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

Congratulations to the 2018 FLATE Award Winners!

FLATE and the Florida Association for Career and Technical Education (FACTE) are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 FLATE Awards! The Awards represent FLATE’s efforts to recognize leaders who have been at the forefront of manufacturing workforce education and training. This is the This is the Eleventh year of our FLATE Awards program and is one of FLATE’s many efforts to showcase and recognize the contributions of educators and industries in advancing technician education and training on a regional and statewide level. The 2018 FLATE Award recipients are:
Distinguished Manufacturing Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award: Ted Madison Missildine, Freeport High School, Freeport, FL.

Distinguished Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award: Shirley Dobbins, Hillsborough Community College, Tampa, FL.

Distinguished Partner Manufacturing Service Award: C.A. Vossberg, Electron Machine, Umatilla, FL.

Award winners will be honored and receive their awards during the awards breakfast at The Florida Association for Career and Technical Education’s 52nd Annual Conference and Trade Show held at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, FL. on Tuesday July 17, 2018.
The FACTE Annual Conference and Trade Show will host approximately 500 participants who represent all areas of career and technical education.  The Conference provides three days of intensive and informative general sessions, workshops, focus sessions, open forums and business meetings.  The Trade Show presents an opportunity for all attendees to see first-hand and hands-on the latest materials, information, equipment, and services that will help fulfill and enhance their professional responsibilities.
To register to the conference click here and make sure you register for the FAITE-FLATE preconference industry tours on Monday, July 16th. Tours will include a site visit to Mid-State Industrial Maintenance in Lakeland, FL. with the largest machining equipment in the Southwest US and Polk State College-Clear Springs Advanced Technology Center, where you will learn about PSC Open Entry, Early Exit (OEEE) self-paced hybrid NSF sponsored program.
The Florida Association for Industrial and Technical Educators (FAITE) is a non-profit professional organization which works collectively toward the advancement and enhancement of technical and industrial education throughout Florida. Membership in FAITE is open to all Industrial & Technical educators.
For more information about FACTE Annual conference visit and the FLATE Awards please visit our webpage here, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at



Ernie Friend is an Instructional Program Manager for Information Technologies at Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) in Jacksonville, Florida. FSCJ is a values-driven institution committed to ensuring that all students at the institution have an extraordinarily positive overall experience. Mr. Friend holds a B.S. degree in Electronics Management from Southern Illinois University and an M.S. in Cybersecurity from the University of South Florida.
He has worked at FSCJ since 1994 and been involved in many phases of manufacturing, engineering technology (ET), computer networking infrastructure management and design, and cybersecurity. He also managed the ET and advanced manufacturing programs for a number of years. For ET and advanced manufacturing, Mr. Friend worked closely with FLATE in restructuring and updating those programs and expanding student options in the degree plan to meet regional industry needs. With support from several large federal grants, Mr. Friend further enhanced those programs by developing strong business partnerships. With FLATE, Mr. Friend developed and built small programmable controller trainers designed with high schools in mind because of their low cost and simplicity.
He has taught FLATE workshops at HI-TEC conferences using these same trainers and has used the trainers with his local high school partners. 

Join us all at HI-TEC to celebrate Ernie and the other Hi-TEC winners. 

INDUSTRY RECOGNITION AWARDCelia I. Merzbacher, National Laboratory Oak Ridge, TennesseeINNOVATIVE PROGRAM AWARD: Educator Bus Tour directed by John Sherwood, Columbus State Community College, Columbus, Ohio

Sarasota Technical College (STC) Celebrates 5 Years of Success (from Ed Doherty, Machining Instructor, STI)

We are wrapping up the 5th year of Precision Machining & CNC Automation.  We have trained 102 machinists. Our goal was 100 - We fulfilled the goal.

I think we should recognize the accomplishment with all involved. The group included: CareerEdge; Sarasota & Manatee Area Manufacturers Association; SCTI and the Sarasota County School Board; Suncoast Workforce Board; Sarasota County Commission; Gulf Coast Community Foundation; Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce; and Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County.

We hope to continue our journey as we move on to Phase 2 in training and filling jobs in the Manufacturing sector for our community.

It's often good to take a look back at beginnings and visions.  Check out the Sarasota Herald article from 2013 to read about the community vision for this program.
The 2018 graduation took place in the STC Conference center on STC June 21.  Congratulations to all STC's machining graduates! For more information about the STC Machining or Advanced Manufacturing program, please contact Ed Doherty: 

FLATE Supporting ARMI: Education & Workforce Development Summit Pathways 2018

The University of Florida (UF), the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), and the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE) hosted the 2018 ARMI Education & Workshop Development Summit Pathways on June 18th and 19th in Tampa, Florida.

Approximately 50 participants from all over the country meet at the SOFWERX building during two days to identify and analyze gaps in the development pathways towards a workforce in Regenerative Manufacturing, make recommendations for ways to meet these needs, and organize a path forward for the ARMI Education & Workforce Development community. 
The discussions and sessions were focus on topics including: (1) K-12 opportunities, (2) small business needs, (3) undergraduate education, (4) graduate education, (5) community college education, (6) programs aimed at training veterans.

Assessing the resources already available, as well as identifying the gaps, will enable a clear pathway for academia and industry to develop the skilled workforce necessary to complete common goals and objectives. Developing pre-collegiate programs within the CC community will enable a broader scope, to reach many more students and will aide in the identification of curriculum content needed to obtain a skilled, competent workforce.

As veterans already possess several of the competencies needed for this field, such as ability to work under pressure, organization, team mindedness, troubleshooting etc., they are highly coveted within the workforce. In partnership with Vets Helping Vets, the Pathways Summit also strives to implement ways to connect, educate and guide veterans on the path to become part of and further develop the field of bio-engineering.

Participant Panelists:
·         K-12 Education: Jen Mansfield, Mary Stewart, Nancy Ruzycki-Panel chair
·         Community College: Deb Audino, Tamara Mandell, Danielly Orozco, Mori Toosi, Thomas Tubon, Leslie Barber. 
·         Undergraduate Education: Lori Thrun, Don Wojchowski, Roland Kaunas, Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari.
·         Graduate Education: Tommy Angelini, Rick Cote, Sangya Varma. 
·         Small Business: Daniel Barousse, Jon Dobson, Susan Ingersoll, Ezequiel Zylerberg.
·         Veterans: Kevin Jones, Alex McGhee, Eric McGhee, Margaret O’Donnell, Daniel Sorby, Sandra Torres-Pintos.

About ARMI
The Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), a non-profit organization located in Manchester, New Hampshire.  ARMI's mission is to make practical the large-scale manufacturing of engineered tissues and tissue-related technologies, to benefit existing industries and grow new ones.  To that end, the technical scope for BioFabUSA work includes innovations across five thrust areas: (1) Cell Selection, Culture and Scale-up, (2) Biomaterial Selection and Scale-up; (3) Tissue Process Automation and Monitoring; (4) Tissue Maturing Technologies and (5) Tissue Preservation and Transport.

Its important for manufacturing educators to take a look to the future to see where their educational programs might be going and this ARMI summit was a great opportunity to do just that for Florida Educators. FLATE was proud to co-host this ManufacturingUSA effort by one of the newest of the ManufacturingUSA institutes. We look forward to the white paper of the findings of this event and the opportunity to continue our relationship with the ARMI Institute. For more information about the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), please visit For more information on FLATE please visit our webpage or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

2018 Manufacturing Day/Month – SAVE THE DATE!

October 5 marks the official kick off for Manufacturing (MFG) Day with industry tours, open houses, career fairs and other miscellaneous events being planned in Florida and across the country.

This year FloridaMakes, FLATE and the network of Regional Manufacturers Associations across the state are taking the lead in organizing statewide industry tours and events that kick starts on MFG Day/Month. Counties and cities across Florida are set to issue proclamations marking October as MFG Month. Thousands of students and educators from schools across Florida are also anxious to participate in industry tours that are geared to showcase products that are “Made in Florida” as well as get an up-close and in-depth look at high-skilled, high-wage careers that the industry offers. Manufacturing Day is expected to be celebrated across Florida, and there are a number of ways to be involved in this nationwide event that focuses on the strength of American Manufacturing.

For more information and Florida's MFG Day/Month educational resources, please visit these online sites.

For information on MFG Day/Month in Florida visit FLATE,, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

Manufacturers Endorse A.S. Engineering Technology Degree Competencies

In 2016, Polk State College engaged with the Lumina Foundation’s Beta Credential Framework project.  Polk State included the A.S. Engineering Technology degree with its Advanced Manufacturing (mechatronics) specialization.  Competencies were defined for each course in the program and subsequently assigned a level indicator according to the Lumina Credential Framework. Level indicators were defined from knowledge to high-level problem solving, troubleshooting and creative thinking skills.  More details on this aspect of the project for the ASET Advanced Manufacturing specialization will be covered in a separate article and can also b found on the Lumina Foundation website (search for Beta Credential Framework).

The resulting list of ASET competencies were grouped and condensed to 40 survey items that would be put to employers that hire ASET graduates in the form of an online survey. The forty items included 20 items each for (a) knowledge and specialized technical skills and (b) personal and social skills.  Industry participants were asked to provide two responses to the first 20 knowledge and technical competencies.  First, they were asked to rank the importance of each item in their facility using a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the most important.  The second response for each of these items was an estimate of the frequency of use.  Choices for the second response were never, sometimes and always.  If the frequency of a competency was determined to be “never”, respondents were asked to select 1 (not important) for its importance level.  The second twenty items, covering the social and personal skills, required only a single response to assign an importance level on the same 1 to 5 scale used for the technical knowledge and specialized skills. The industry survey personal and social skill items did not have an indicator level. 

What did industry say?  A total of 88 responses were captured during the two weeks the survey was open.  Responses came in from 26 of Florida’s 67 counties and most were from the Interstate-4 corridor in central Florida and the northwest region. Overall, industry strongly endorsed the technical knowledge and specialized skills as well as the social and personal skills. The endorsement can be interpreted from the significant number of “important and very important” responses (14 of 20 items; 70%).  Also within this knowledge and skills that are important or very important, half of them (7 items) had been assigned a level indicator of 7 or 8 indicating that these items require very high-level creative thinking, problem-solving and troubleshooting skills. Fewer than 20% of the industry responded “never” to any of the items in this list indicating that all of the knowledge and skills in the survey were sometimes or always needed by technicians in the manufacturing field.

For the personal and social skills, the lowest weighted average of the importance scale (1 to 5) was 4.1. These results indicate all of these items were very important to the respondents. Five (20%) of the competency personal and social items have level indicators of 6, 7 or 8, indicating that they require the higher level thinking skills.

These responses generally say that the ET degree is providing much of what industry currently needs and endorses a need for the higher level thinking skills with significant responses of the high importance of items rated with high-level indicators. There are also many more pieces to the workforce education process and system.  Assessment of the knowledge and skills need to be determined to be strong indicators of successful knowledge and skill attainment. Also, in Florida, colleges need to be sure that the knowledge and skills taught in a particular degree program align with the corresponding Florida Department of Education Curriculum Framework (  Workforce education is a dynamic process with many ongoing opportunities for continuous improvement in content, delivery, pedagogy, and assessment. We are always monitoring for new ways best prepare our students for the current manufacturing jobs and those of the future.

You can find the results of the survey, the survey instrument, and the competency list for the ASET Advanced Manufacturing degree program on FLATE’s wiki. Click on the “Modules for Advanced Technological Education” and click on the last item in the middle column. If you have additional questions, please contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at or Mori Toosi at Polk State College (