From the Executive Director's Desk

It is my pleasure to introduce FLATE stakeholders to the newest member of our team. Dr. Marie Boyette comes to FLATE from the University of South Florida where she coordinated technology enhanced courses and training programs, face-to-face courses in technology enhanced classrooms, and e-learning experiences for thousands of students and over 800 courses. She is trained in and experienced with the learning strategies needed to develop curriculum and programs in both print and virtual venues, to coordinate, evaluate, and report on core competencies and learning assessments for technology enhanced educational programs.

As the engineering technology degree is implemented across the state, we are eager to move to a new level of support for the college degree programs. At this point, we are not committed to a specific e-learning strategy or look, but are very anxious to get started. This new thrust for FLATE will not replace or dilute our other activities. There will still be many “Made in Florida” student tours, NEXT advertorials, class presentations, summer robotics camps, special events and other initiatives in the wings to be announced soon.

Please enjoy the stories in this issue of our newsletter, particularly those submitted by our academic partners, applaud our 2009 FLATE award winners, watch our first FLATER “cartoon”, and laugh with FLATER as he readies himself for the end of October festivities.

Inventory of Biotechnology Industries in Greater Tampa Bay

FCoE- BITT (Florida Center of Excellence for Bimolecular Identification for Targeted Therapeutics) at the University of South Florida partnered with Florida Advanced Technological Education Center to conduct a first-cut inventory of existing biotechnology companies in the greater Tampa Bay region. The initiative was part of an effort to identify current training needs, job categories, required skill-sets, and assess the growing workforce demand for bio-technicians in the region.

A total of 139 companies were identified in 7 counties, in the Tampa Bay area. Surveys were conducted in 2008, and included 49 biopharmaceutical companies, 49 medical device manufacturers, 32 research and development companies, and 9 categorized themselves as “other”. Candidates were identified through direct contact with knowledgeable individuals, the FLATE and BITT databases and FHTCC, eFlorida, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, and Tampa Bay Partnership.

Approximately 64% of the surveyed companies stated that they market their goods internationally. Thirteen percent stated they have a national market, 15% were local, and 13% were statewide companies. In terms of educational requirements, 33% percent indicated their minimal educational requirement was a Bachelor of Science degree. Technical training and “quality assurance” were identified as primary training needs, while required skill-sets included laboratory experience; mechanical/electrical skills; mechanical aptitude, manufacturing and computer skills.

Results of the inventory provided important information that was used to gauge the current work force and its needs. It will also be used to design necessary education and training programs to meet the needs and ensure a skilled and proficient labor force. The inventory has helped to define strong partners for an advisory council comprised of biotechnology industry representatives that convened for its initial meeting in the summer of 2009. The council and academics will host a focus group in early 2010 to drill down deeper to define detailed knowledge and competencies that are required in new biotechnology curricula and programs developed for the greater Tampa Bay area.

For more information on the surveys, or to view the full report visit, or contact Kim Wilson at 813.253.7845/

In the Spotlight: Engineering Design and Leadership Academy at Braden River High School

The Engineering Design and Leadership Academy is a state-of-the-art design and manufacturing academy at Braden River High School in Bradenton, FL. The Academy has grown exponentially since it opened its doors in 2005, and over 400 students are currently enrolled. According to Engineering Design and Manufacturing Teacher Richard Platt, lessons are hands-on, offer students a real-world view of manufacturing using latest technologies, and are “totally about design to manufacturing.”

The Academy has started a limited manufacturing product for a commercial company in Manatee County with a goal to produce products for real world applications to match industry needs. The program also offers industry certifications in MSSC, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Flash, and SolidWorks, and is the designated training academy for SolidWorks in Manatee County.

Manatee Public School Adult and Career Education recently made a tremendous investment in the Academy. As part of the department’s $35,000 initiative to purchase CAD licenses for the entire county, BRHS received 80 of 500 CAD licenses. Continuous effort to improve the quality of programs is also evident in initiatives to recruit female students. “We’ve added a consumer and jewelry product design focus. We are creating a revenue stream from these products to provide funds for supplies and future capital equipment acquisition,” Platt said. As a result, female enrollment in the program has dramatically increased.

The Academy is award winning on local, state, and national fronts. Gil Burlew, teacher and head of the engineering academy at BRHS received FLATE’s 2008 Manufacturing Secondary Educator-of-the-Year award, and student Ahmad Hares set a national speed record in creating the fastest Dragster at the TSA Dragster national competition. Ahmad and his team members (Brandon Demers, Alexandra Villalobos and Cesar Garcia) also won the prestigious National Best in Manufacturing Award from Denford F1 in Schools. “This process has created some amazing results in speed of manufacturing, quality of cars, and ultimately winning championships and setting national speed records of .925 of a second,” Platt said.

Looking to the future, BRHS is offering AP credits to students who successfully pass industrial certification exams. This not only enables them to earn college credits, but gain industry-verifiable skills that foster high-paying jobs. The academy is also in the process of establishing an in-house industrial manufacturing site for on-the-job training for students. It is negotiating with an outside company to donate a large industrial 3 Axis CNC mill which will dramatically increase their manufacturing capabilities, and raise the volume of products it manufactures. “We are passionate about design and manufacturing and feel Florida can be world-class in these areas” Platt said.

For information on the Engineering Design and Leadership academy visit, or contact Richard Platt at

Marion Technical Institute: Taking strides in getting students industry certified

Industry certification ensures relevance in academic curriculum, and facilitates the creation of “ready-to-work” employees that are prepared to take future challenges by the horns. The Manufacturing Skills Standard Council’s Certified Production Technician (MSSC CPT) certification is a valuable tool that empowers production workers with relevant and current skill- sets. It affords them the opportunity to earn a national certification, and demonstrate skills increasingly needed in the high-growth, technical jobs of the 21st century.

Many schools across Florida have embedded the MSSC CPT certification as part of their curriculum. Marion Technical Institute, a CHOICE Institution located in Ocala is one of them. MTI is a unique institution which allows high school students to earn high school credit, college credit and nationally-recognized industry certification—all at the same time. MTI’s eight career academies offer students opportunities to jump-start their career by combining academics with hands-on experience, bright futures scholarships, business partner involvement, and paid training-related internships.

On September 21, forty-four students from MTI’s Industrial Engineering Technology Academy passed the MSSC certification exam in safety, with a reported 90% pass rate. Additionally, MTI student Geoffrey Rogers-Crocker passed all four sections of the MSSC certification process and earned the CPT certificate.

The MSSC certification has the potential to certify millions of production workers against industry-recognized, federally-endorsed standards. Under this system, new and incumbent workers who pass the four manufacturing-related modules in Manufacturing Processes and Production; Quality Assurance; Maintenance Awareness; and Safety can be awarded the CPT certification. Applicable to all sectors of manufacturing, the MSSC goal is to assess 40% of the nation’s entry-level and incumbent production workforce—a strategy for providing industry with a future pipeline of skilled workers.

The MSSC certification is also embedded into the FLATE-created statewide engineering technology A.S. /A.A.S. technical core that allows students to earn an 18 credit hour college certificate. The MSSC CPT certification combined with FLATE’s Engineering Technology degree and Automation Production Technician program for high school students ensures Florida has a high-skilled workforce prepared to work in advanced manufacturing and high-technology industries.

For more information on MTI contact Michael Fritch, vocational administrator at 352.572.8280/ For information on FLATE’s ET degree contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at 813.259.6578/

2009 Florida Energy Systems Consortium Summit

The 2009 Florida Energy Systems Consortium Summit was an effective vehicle in showcasing some of FESC’s ongoing energy programs and policy opportunities on the state and national level. The summit was held Sep. 29-30 at the University of South Florida’s Marshall Center,and served as a venue for industry experts to share energy-related research findings, and facilitate future collaboration. The summit was also a follow-up to ongoing regional energy conversations aimed at identifying emerging regional workforce needs for technicians and programs at community colleges.

At the summit, Executive Director of FLATE, Dr. Marilyn Barger highlighted FLATE’s leading role in serving as FESC’s core facility to develop community college technical education and deployment throughout Florida. She also provided an overview of FLATE’s current initiatives targeted to build workforce education components for FESC.

For more information about the summit, or learn about ongoing renewable energy initiatives in Florida contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at 813.259.6577/ or visit

Programmed for Success

FLATE is hosting an information session on educational and career pathways in manufacturing. The event is scheduled for Oct 12 at Hillsborough Community College-Brandon from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The session will showcase information on robotic and tech programs offered at high schools and community colleges in Hillsborough County. It will also provide an overview about the FLATE- created Engineering Technology degree, feature local manufacturers, and provide information on prospective employers/employment in Hillsborough County.

For more information contact Jodi Sutton at or visit