Spotlight on FLATE Awardees

FLATE is doing its part in recognizing contributions made by industry leaders and educators in positioning manufacturing at the forefront of the state’s diverse economy. Recipients of the 2009 FLATE awards not only display high caliber in each of their respective fields, but have made significant strides in educating and training today’s technology workforce.

At the industry end of the spectrum, manufacturing has experienced a dramatic growth. Michael Ennis, recipient of the 2009 FLATE Industry Distinguished Service Award states that American workforce demographics have significantly changed, making “manufacturing companies more efficient, effective and cost competitive as a result of competition from foreign manufacturers.” Ennis is a manufacturing engineer at Harris Corporation, and an adjunct professor at Brevard Community College where he teaches applied mechanics in the Harris-BCC applied associate of science degree in engineering technology. As reflected by FLATE’s “Made in Florida” industry tours, Ennis encourages manufacturing companies to “invite high school seniors for industry tours where they meet new-graduate engineers and hear of their personal experiences in college as well as in their first years of work”. He says the strength of Florida’s manufacturing industry lies in the “significant number of people who can do high- tech jobs in engineering, as well as entry-level manufacturing tasks”.

The educational side of Florida manufacturing has also undergone some fundamental shifts. Jim Mathews, recipient of the 2009 Secondary Educator-of-the-Year award points to the developing “high-tech corridors” in Florida as beacons of collaborative efforts between businesses, technical schools and universities. Matthews has over 25 years of manufacturing and technology experience as an engineer, strategist, and senior level manager of technology businesses. Currently, he is an engineering technology teacher at Sarasota High School engaged in developing new technology courseware for companies.

Mathews describes the school’s four-year manufacturing program as a vehicle to not only increase the entry and survival rates in technology careers, but to create leaders and outstanding performers in colleges and the workplace. His passion lies in ensuring students have a real-world view of manufacturing—one that connects their learning experience to future career opportunities.

At the post-secondary level, Norm Brahs, head machining instructor at Atlantic Technical Center and recipient of the 2009 FLATE Post-Secondary Educator-of-the-Year award firmly believes showcasing practical applications of the industry to students will help capture interest in careers/educational pathways in manufacturing. He points to FLATE’s “Made in Florida” website as a rich tool where educators and students can take advantage of some of the available resources.

Brahs wears many hats. He has been an enthusiastic leader in the Florida First Robotics competitions, and has led numerous teams to victory. He is also closely working with the South Florida Manufacturers Association, and 16-20 local companies to create an apprentice program at ATC. Brahs notes students most often are not aware of “how things are made”, and educators need to establish those “inroads” so students can “think about how products are manufactured". His suggestion for educators is to “have exercises that are fun, interesting and challenging at the same time".

Indeed, each of the awardees have made significant strides in augmenting manufacturing on a statewide level. Please join us in congratulating recipients of the 2009 FLATE awards. For more information, you can read an in-depth interview with the awardees on our Facebook page at

News Clip: Jim Mathews, Secondary Educator-of-the-Year interviewed on TV

From the Executive Director's Desk

FLATE team has worked hard throughout 2009 to help colleges adopt the engineering technology degree. To date, 10 state and community colleges have completed their local curriculum adoption processes and are in various stages of implementing the degree as well as offering their first courses. To generate enrollment for this degree, FLATE also developed and facilitated the state approval process, and the new automation and production technology (APT) curriculum frameworks for secondary and postsecondary institutions.

The ET Degree and the APT program are both aligned to the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician (CPT) credentials. The APT secondary and post-secondary program of study, the A.S./A.A.S. degree and certificates in engineering technology together with the FLATE crafted statewide articulation agreement using the MSSC certification, provide a strong foundation of an integrated career and educational pathway system that supports life-long learning by allowing for many entry and exit points.

This system, designed by FLATE and its statewide partners, has received national attention. It was identified by the National Manufacturer’s Association (NAM) Manufacturing Institute last spring when it rolled out the NAM-endorsed skills certificate system. The NAM system is a “stackable” set of skills-based certifications with educational delivery systems across the country. The pathway and articulations FLATE has built with MSSC certifications was recognized by NAM as a national model. To facilitate implementation of all or parts of our model across the country, FLATE has been invited to join NAM’s prestigious education council.

In January 2010, FLATE will begin a new phase of its ET degree support. FLATE will subsidize student MSSC certification tests across the state to help expand and entrench our statewide system and support our Florida Manufacturers. Directors of secondary and post-secondary programs using the APT frameworks and colleges offering the ET degree are encouraged to request funds from FLATE for student testing. A second program supporting teacher and faculty certification will also start in January 2010. If you are interested in taking advantage of either of these opportunities in 2010, please contact me directly before December 17 for details. I am also asking everyone to help spread the word about this opportunity by sharing our newsletter with your colleagues and co-workers.

In addition to this new effort, FLATE continues to lead several related statewide initiatives. We are verifying the ET degree standards; aligning the MSSC standards to other career programs; developing new specializations and certificates for the A.S./ A.A.S. degrees, and streamlining course delivery systems statewide. We are also developing common course content; and marketing (under the “Made in Florida” umbrella) these pathways to students as great STEM career and life pathways to our industry, as the ultimate source of highly-qualified, high-skilled, educated new workers.

FLATE’s ET Degree: A model in “Tooling up for future careers in manufacturing” in Wisconsin

FLATE continues to be a leading resource for review and reform of manufacturing and advanced technical education. FLATE-led initiatives such as the statewide engineering technology degree, the “Made in Florida” learning challenges, the Toothpick Factory simulation game for soft skills have generated tremendous momentum, and resonated positively within the engineering and technical education communities on the state and national realm.

More recently, FLATE’s ET degree framework, with the MSSC skills standards embedded into its technical core, served as a model for developing a new training and certification program in Milwaukee, WI. “Tooling up for future careers ” was developed through a partnership between Milwaukee Area Technical College, Harley-Davidson Foundation, Snap-on Incorporated, and the Johnson Controls Foundation. The program is poised to provide MSSC training to eight Milwaukee area high school teachers, who upon successful completion of the MSSC instructor certification will deliver the MSSC Certified Production Technician courses to approximately 100 MPS students over a period of two years.

"Tooling Up for Future Careers" is highly targeted towards workforce education, in that students not only earn high school and MATC credits, but will be ready to enter the manufacturing workforce. Results from CPT course assessments are also expected to help local manufacturers gauge skills-set of incumbent workers, and develop relevant future training priorities. Since the debut of the program in 2007, Milwaukee Business Journal states MATC has provided training to 350 individuals, administered 600 certification assessments, issued 400 certifications and produced 40certified production technicians. It is also one of 19 certified MSSC centers in Wisconsin, and the only one in Milwaukee.

Despite the close parallels with the FLATE curriculum framework, the MATC program has a more localized approach. John Stilp, vice president of MATC—Oak Creek campus and Chairman of FLATE National Visiting Committee said currently “every district develops its own articulation agreements and links those agreements to its own one-year diploma or two-year associate degree." On the other hand, FLATE's curriculum framework with the MSSC Skills Standards embedded in the engineering technology A.S. /A.A.S. technical core boasts of a statewide reach. The core consists of 18 credit hours and covers the following 6 areas: CADD, Electronics, Measurements, Processes, Quality, and Safety. The ET Core coupled with a second year degree specialization provides students with the oppotunity to earn an 18 credit hour college certificate, prepares them to take the MSSC skills test and earn a national certification, and prepares students for jobs in high-tech manufacturing. Stilp added "I like better what FLATE has done".

For details about “Tooling up for Future Careers” training, certification program at MATC visit For more information on FLATE's engineering technology degree, contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at, or visit www.

"Programmed for Success" Updates

FLATE hosted an information session highlighting educational and career pathways in robotics and high-tech manufacturing. Programmed for Success—preparing students for robotics and high-tech careers was held in October, and involved parents of middle school students from Hillsborough County who attended FLATE’s robotics camps in 2008-2009.

This fast-paced program served multiple purposes. It underlined the importance and applicability of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in modern manufacturing and engineering technology operations, as well as in our everyday lives. It also provided information on robotics and technical programs currently offered at middle and high schools throughout Hillsborough County, showcased sample jobs and salary scales of professionals currently employed in STEM and/or high-tech-related careers, and highlighted the related program and lab facilities at HCC.

Attendees also received an overview of the statewide engineering technology degree created by FLATE, particularly the advanced manufacturing program offered at HCC. The ET degree is a hub of many career and educational pathways that tightly link high school programs to community college Associate of Science and/or Associate of Applied Science degrees to national skills certifications and 4-year bachelor degrees. Students and parents were also encouraged to take advantage of the resources available on the “Made in Florida” website.

The mood expressed by parents and kids was one of excitement and eager expectation for a 2010 Summer Robotics Camp program. Parents said the 2009 camp was “a great value,” and “totally hands on…giving kids a perfect blend of learning and doing.” Leticia Benson, one of the parents who attended the program said “The robotics camp was unique, I’d never heard of a kid’s camp like this before. My son loved it, it was just a great program…he’ll be back next year.” Her son Joseph Benson, winner of the Lego robot door prize drawing, echoed the sentiments of kids attending the event, “Robots are very cool.”

Indeed, the robotics camps have served as an effective tool in capturing students’ interest in STEM education by integrating them in a robotic platform. Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE said it is important for parents to “start focusing on STEM-related classes right now so their kids are programmed for success in the future.”

For information on the engineering technolog degree at HCC contact Dr. Alessandro Anzalone 813.253.7852/, or visit

sTEm at Work Challenge

Welcome to STEM at work! We are starting this column in the FLATE Focus as the beginning of our grass roots effort to change STEM to “sTEm” because we think that most people outside our community do not really make any effort to connect Technology and Engineering to the science and math part of STEM. On occasion, we will use this space as a “Bully Pulpit” but every month we will provide a visual challenge that hopefully suggests how math and science do connect to technology and engineering. This is an experiment for us, but we hope it will be of use to our friends in science and math education and we also hope our technical readership will adapt each of our examples into other applications and share those with us. But for now, let us begin.

This time your technical position is that of an energy auditor. You performed a household equipment energy audit test procedure on the residence of B.J. Moose while B.J. was overseas and the data is provided below. Upon returning from Stockholm Sweden again disappointed that he did not win any of the prizes, he is wondering if his home is an energy winner.

We will provide some points for discussion in the next issue but in the mean time, how about sending us the answer you would give to Mr. Moose by taking the survey at

Made in Florida Industry Tours: Making students a part of "the action" since 2004

The “Made in Florida” industry tours for 7-12 graders are designed to stir student interest in today’s modern manufacturing careers. The tours serve a multi-dimensional purpose. They provide students with the opportunity to see high-technology, modern manufacturing facilities “in action”, and are targeted to encourage enrollment in the essential technology programs available throughout the state.

Since 2004, FLATE has taken more than 2000 students and 228 educators on the MIF tours. This year alone, 184 students from six high schools in the greater Tampa bay area visited eight industrial settings. Upcoming tours scheduled for November and December include Braden River Middle School to PGT industries; Sleepy Hill Middle School to Cellynne Corporation, and Robinson High School to Lockheed Martin. Through the tours students have gained a better understanding of the importance of science and mathematics and its application in high technology careers; enjoyed the opportunity to talk to employees; experienced robotics and automation in action, and witnessed manufacturing of real products that are “Made in Florida”.

The tours have also been a catalyst in changing perceptions about manufacturing. Approximately, 83% of students responding to a post-visit survey said they would recommend the tour to other students. There was also a 15% spike in the number of students who stated they would consider a career in manufacturing following a tour. Jim Lewis, a student at Dixie Hollins High School articulated the response of most students about the tour as “cool”. He added, “When I turn 18, I am going to come back here and apply for a job. They have so many opportunities.”

For more information on the “Made in Florida” industry tours, or to arrange a tour for your students, contact David Gula at 813.259.6581/, or visit