Bauch + Lomb & St. Petersburg College Tie for 1st: 2024 FLATE Most Innovative Manufacturing Month Student Event Award Winners

The Winners for the Most Innovative Manufacturing Month Student Event Award, both from the Tampa Bay area, were honored at the Bay Area Manufacturers Association Annual Banquet on June 20th.

Congratulations to our winners who tied for 1st place:
  • Bausch + Lomb: 2023 Manufacturing Month Student Industry Tours in Tampa.
  • St. Petersburg College: 2023 Manufacturing, Engineering, Construction, and Architecture Expo (MECCA) Discovery Day” in Clearwater.

Bauch + Lomb, in partnership with Workforce Development Partners (Hillsborough County), Future Career Academy, and the Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA), held multiple Manufacturing Month Tours. Students from King High School, Freedom High School and Buchanan Middle School visited Bauch + Lomb Pharmaceuticals in Tamp and gave them exposure to production operations and different job levels along with information on salary and benefits. Students were excited and eager to learn more when surveyed. 

Click here to watch news coverage of the King High School visit to Bausch + Lomb Pharmaceuticals in Tampa. 

St. Petersburg College (SPC) holds their annual Manufacturing, Engineering, Construction, and Architecture Expo (MECCA) Discovery Day Expo in the Spring. This event aims to inform and excite middle, high, and postsecondary students to understand that there are career options they can pursue that they may not hear about at home, an opportunity for all students to explore and experience career opportunities in these growth industries: manufacturing, building arts, engineering, and architecture and other related fields.  The goal is to reach underrepresented and underserved students to have them realize that there are career choices for them. 

Discovery Day includes a variety of opportunities for our SPC employees to gain personal and professional skills as well as team-building activities to complement SPC’s year-round focus on enriching the lives of both full-time and part- time employees. Panel discussions will focus on the opportunities seen by our corporate leaders and also look to learn from students what their desires are from the workplace.  Local companies attend to inform students about their company and products, and why they would want to work in manufacturing.

Their 2023 event was held on April 4, 2023 with 42 manufacturing employees from 22 manufacturers from the Tampa Bay area participating including:
  • AD Morgan
  • Draper
  • Manpower Group
  • Infento
  • Technical Training Aids
  • Polypack
  • Formulated Solutions
  • EEI manufacturing Services
  • Plasma Therm
  • Homeless Empowernment Group
  • Moss Construction
  • Ultimate, 3D printing
  • TSE Industries
  • Creative Contractors
  • Fastenal McCormick Stevenson, Smith Fence
  • Publix
These companies shared information on local career opportunities with over 250 students from seven (7) Pinellas County middle and high schools, many homeschool association students and postsecondary students.  St. Petersburg College received over 100 thank you notes, and the students described how their knowledge increased about manufacturing and the types of jobs that could be performed.

Don't forget: Manufacturing Month student tours and events can be held any time through the year, not just in October! For information on getting started with your event, go to

Building the Talent Pipeline: St. Petersburg College ET Program Hosts 2024 Summer Camps

FLATE frequently emphasizes the importance of changing the perception of careers in manufacturing to reflect its true status as the most advanced, high-tech industry in the country. Two ways to provide exposure to manufacturing careers are through manufacturing summer camps and tours of local manufacturing facilities. Robotics and Engineering Technology Camps take students on an in-depth exploration of some of the most recent technologies used in high-tech manufacturing environments. Students develop real-world skills in programming through a hands-on exploration of STEM-related topics in robotics.

This summer, St. Petersburg College’s Engineering Technology (ET) program hosted two summer camps for middle and high school kids at its Clearwater campus that also included visits to local companies. 

First, a Nuts Bolts and Thingamajigs (NBT) manufacturing camp was held June 3-7. NBT camps are partially sponsored by the Foundation of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association to promote US’s fabrication of goods. M.S. Greg Lewis and Dr. Andres Cardenas were the 3D Design and Mechatronics coaches, respectively. The eight campers enjoyed the camps’ curriculum, which consisted of:
  • Introduction to Electronics and Mechatronics
  • Creating a siren circuit and a transistor-based touch-on light
  • Creating circuits which were interfaced to micro-bit and Arduino microcontrollers
  • Creating solid works drawings and 3-D printing their designs. 
Draper Labs, June 2024
Campers also visited two local industrial facilities: Draper Labs and Inventorium Robotics, both located in the City of St Petersburg).
  • At Draper Labs, the campers learned how semiconductor materials are used and also had the chance to dress up for a cleanroom. 
  • At Inventorium Robotics, the kids learned all the basics of a machine shop. 
Also, two professional visitors shared their experience with our campers. Dr. Michelle L. Cardenas, professor at the University of South Florida’s Engineering College delved deeply into the world of inventing, designing and leading a team to fabricate electromechanical prototypes. M.S. Abraham Azar, from Polypack, another local manufacturer, provided an in-depth discussion of engineering design that included examples of the types of machinery used for automation at Polypack.

SPC FORM Camp, June 2024
The second camp was held June 24-28: The Future of Robotics and Mechatronics (FORM) Camp. Sponsored by the City of Clearwater, this camp was packed with activities led by Dr. Cardenas-Valencia, working with St. Petersburg College's cobot ("collaborative robot"), relay boxes, PLC trainers, industrial robots, and pneumatic trainers.

The campers also:
  • Worked with Arduino-based claws, where they operated a prosthetic claw (for amputees) with their own muscles, and
  • Programmed a micro-bit bot and completed the assembly and programming of a 4-degees of freedom robotic arm. 
The eight FORM campers visited the MONIN U.S. Headquarters and Flavor Innovation Center, in Clearwater. In this industrial visit, the campers learned about automated manufacturing, the processing of flavors and even tested a new flavor, as Monin does for their novelty products. 

Two professionals visited the FORM camp to talk about their careers. Mr. Richard Cole, alumni from St. Petersburg College's Engineering Technology program, now works at Duke Energy. He taught the campers how electrical energy is produced and transported to their homes. Mr. Larry Langebrake, an accomplished electrical engineer, gave an inspiring talk about how technology has evolved over the years and how he, after an illustrious career, has become an entrepreneur and co-started his own manufacturing company Sayweather.  

Manufacturing summer camps and plant tours shows students, parents and community members the high paying career paths available in manufacturing. The ultimate goal is to help manufacturers build a steady pipeline of qualified and diversified manufacturing talent to help build and support local economies for decades to come.  For information on planning your student event, visit

Pauline Sevigny of Grace Aerospace Wins 2024 FLATE Distinguished Manufacturing Partner Service Award

Congratulations to Pauline Sevigny. President, GRACE Aerospace, LLC for her outstanding contributions to manufacturing and engineering technology education.  GRACE Aerospace is a member of the First Coast Manufacturers Association, specifically participating on the Workforce Development Steering Committee. Pauline serves as Co-Chair of this Committee.  As part of this initiative, the GRACE Aerospace team works with local high schools and colleges to educate youth on the benefits of a career in manufacturing. They have provided on site tours, visited schools, made videos, participated on educational panels, and employed interns and apprentices to give them exposure to the manufacturing environment and spark their interest in a field they may not have considered. 

GRACE Aerospace has been coordinating with the Opportunity Project/Kids Hope Alliance to describe career opportunities to kids ages 16-23 and GRACE Aerospace has recently agreed to sponsor the Odyssey of the Mind locally; this program teaches students how to develop and use their natural creativity to become problem-solvers. GRACE Aerospace has a true commitment to their employees and enhancing the future manufacturing workforce. 

GRACE Aerospace has assisted other manufacturers by highlighting employment opportunities using the Apprenticeship Accelerator program and describing their positive experiences with CareerSource and Incumbent Worker Trainer grants. Specifically, CareerSource highlighted GRACE Aerospace in a presentation to Congress for Customized Training for the instruction our employees received on IPC training to manufacture electrical components for NASA and the Department of Energy. 

First Coast High School
Also, in October 2023, as part of the First Coast Manufacturers Association Workforce Development Committee, GRACE Aerospace coordinated with FLATE to bring educators and manufacturers together to introduce shared needs and create a pipeline for future employees. Last year, they also worked with the First Coast High School art students to create aerospace related murals throughout our facility, for which the students received volunteer hours.

When asked why she thinks manufacturing education is important, Pauline states that 

"Over 20% of the United States will be over 65 by 2050 and currently, Florida is rated #10 in the country for Manufacturing. It is critical that we provide today's students with the knowledge they need to understand a career in manufacturing can be lucrative and interesting. We need to expose current students to manufacturing environments, job opportunities, and educate them on the skills needed to be successful in manufacturing. This is a key sector in Florida and manufacturers need to ensure that we have an excited, well-educated and well-equipped workforce to lead the next generation of manufacturing."

Join us in congratulating Pauline Sevigny and GRACE Aerospace as the 2024 FLATE Distinguished Partner Service Award Winner!

For information on the FLATE Awards visit, or contact Executive Director of FLATE, Ernie Friend.


FLATE Highlighted in the Latest National Science Foundation (NSF) ATE IMPACTS Book for 2024-2025!

The NSF ATE community publishes an IMPACT book every two years to highlight the activities and impacts of the projects and centers funded by the program. The “info book” layout and design is an easy read and full of great information and graphics. The 2024-2025 book highlights 30 Years of ATE innovations and impacts in technical education programs implemented by the grantees of this program.

Click here for the 2024-2025 ATE Impacts Book.

It’s a big effort led by the team at ATE Central ( to showcase the important work done in 2-year degree-granting institutions: preparing highly skilled and educated technicians for the continuously changing advanced technologies workforce. The book highlights the amazing innovations in these technical education programs implemented by the grantees of this program in the following technology categories:
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Agricultural and environmental
  • Biological and chemical
  • Engineering
  • Information and security
  • Micro and nanotechnologies
To be 100% inclusive, NSF ATE funds projects that focus on applied research in technician education in addition to general advanced technologies. Several universities in Florida are engaged in research on technician education funded by NSF ATE. The 2024-2025 Book opens with a timeline showing the advances made as the NSF celebrates 30 years of funding Advanced Technical Education and tomorrow’s skilled technical workforce. 

In the Advanced Manufacturing Technologies section, there are four 'centers' and six 'projects' highlighted. FLATE, now part of the FloridaMakes Network, is proud to be included as a “sustained” center even though it is no longer funded by NSF ATE as a center. FLATE is now supported by FloridaMakes, project grants from the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), and project grants from NSF. FLATE’s 20 years of impact in Florida can be found on pages 16-17 and it highlights many FLATE projects, including the biannual ET Forum and J&J Vision's ongoing partnership with FLATE and many other organizations to develop a manufacturing talent pipeline. 

FLATE is involved with many NSF projects and centers across the country. With the recently funded NSF ATE National Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (NCNGM), FLATE will be working to connect the 2-year advanced manufacturing programs with MEPs across the country. NGNGM is highlighted on pages 18-19 and serves on the Center’s Leadership team. The Hidden Innovation Infrastructure is an ATE research project housed at Rutgers University Economic and Employment Research Center (EERC) where FLATE serves as a co-principal investigator. The project was focused on unraveling the economic impacts that ATE grant funding can have on local and regional economies and innovations. The project produced a case study in its publication titled “Lessons in Community Colleges Economic Development from NSF ATE” and some highlights from that study can be found in a call-out box on page 5.

One other NSF ATE Center mentioned in the Engineering Technology section of the Impact Book is housed in a Florida State college. The LASER-TEC resource center is housed at Indian River State College (IRSC) and offers many resources that support advanced manufacturing programs (pages 52-53).  IRSC is also involved with two projects that are highlighted in the Engineering Technology section: EdQuantum (Hybrid Curriculum for Upskilling Photonics Technicians in Quantum Technologies – Page 61) and NEVC (National Electric Vehicle Consortium - Page 63).  One final project from Miami Dade College is highlighted in the Information and Securities section: WomenRISE (Women Reinvigorating Industry Support and Empowerment).

The NSF ATE Impacts book showcases some of the most impactful and innovative funded projects, but there are so many more across the country with 37 scattered in Florida’s state colleges and universities, working quietly on their own technician education innovations. 

You can learn more about the NSF ATE programs, read the request for proposals, and see brief overviews of the funded projects in Florida at You can download a pdf copy of the ATE Impact Book at the link above or contact Dr. Barger ( to request a hard copy... or ask about how to turn your own innovative idea into a funded project.