From the Executive Director's Desk: FLATE who?

To our FLATE Focus readers familiar with the NSF ATE program, what we do at FLATE is only “sort of” a mystery. To many of our educational, industrial, and governmental stakeholder who are individually involved with specific projects or activities within our 3 NSF-ATE mandates (outreach, curriculum, and professional development), there is always enthusiasm and energy contributed, but not necessarily comprehension of everything we do and how what they do contributes to our mission.

Confirmation of this general lack of clarity and confusion was revealed by results of the stakeholder survey administered last October. Survey results indicated many participants could not succinctly articulate what FLATE “does for a living”. We reviewed these results with two of our advisory boards and they also agreed with these findings. Thus, their encouragement coupled with our drive for continuous improvement and Sterling excellence has triggered this attempt to rectify this situation. This is bit of a challenge. We are many things to many people, but here goes an “all in one basket” summary.

Globally, FLATE, as well as all other NSF ATE funded centers and projects, has independent and interrelated efforts to enhance the “American Technician Workforce” in various advanced technologies. Generally, most projects and activities we undertake fall into one or more of these three categories:

1. outreach (e.g., student recruitment);
2. curriculum reform/development; and,
3. professional development.

NSF requires us to engage appropriate industry, education, governmental and workforce stakeholders in all of these efforts. Fiscally, FLATE represents more than a $5 million federal investment in Florida’s technical and STEM education system. Physically, we occupy 1500 square feet of office area on the HCC Brandon Campus as a non-academic college unit, and we have 6 full-time staff, 2 who are part-time and a number of contract workers.

Practically, FLATE has 4 goals which align with the 3 categories above. Each goal has a number of target objectives with associated measurements that tell us what to do and how to determine impact. Administratively, we use seven guiding principles to help us determine if a new project opportunity suggested by one of our stakeholders will help us meet one of our goals and call on one or more of our three functionally different advisory committees for advice and consent.

Well, the condensed view of FLATE sounds pretty dry! The next step is for us to stuff all of this prose into a nutshell. I’ll share some of those candidates with you next time. Now, check out the new specializations and certificates for the ET Degree, partner spotlights, and information on the upcoming 2010 HI-TEC conference. Finally, join the fun in voting for a solution for this month’s sTEm-at-work puzzle, and take a moment to fill out a brief survey on the FLATE Focus.

Beyond the Sun and the Surf: A look at Florida's Biomedical Industry

Florida is not all about the sun, the sand and the surf. The state is emerging as a strong hub for biomedical  industries. This shift in focus is steering the state’s economic engine in a new direction, and industry leaders and educators are taking steps to address the educational as well as workforce needs of a new and emerging sector.

The Biomedical Quality Systems and Digital Design and Modeling certificate at St. Petersburg College (SPC) is a direct response to local industry needs, and establishes Florida’s efforts to redefine and diversify its economy. The Biomedical Quality Systems is a 24 credit hour specialty within the A.S degree in Engineering Technology. The program was developed for the Medical Device Industry Education Consortium Project under the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Consortium Program to meet critical industry-specific educational needs in quality assurance, and present the regulatory and quality standards that are required for the medical device industry.

Courses are FDA approved and include regulatory compliance in biomedical systems; risk management for biomedical product development and production; medical device design and manufacturing; quality audits for biomedical systems, and document and data management control. Other courses include concepts of lean and six sigma, and coaching self-directed work teams. Co-op work experience is also required for the specialty. Completion of the first five courses prepares students for the medical quality systems certificate which is a 15 credit hour certificate.

The Digital Design and Modeling certificate is another specialty that involves AutoCAD and SolidWorks. It is a 24-hour credit program that also falls under the ET degree. Students can take six classes in AutoCAD and SolidWorks along with a course in Lean Six Sigma, and couple that with CO-OP work experience. The certificate prepares students for entry-level positions that complement engineering activities of industry and consultants in planning, designing, and detailing. Curriculum frameworks were developed in Fall 2009, and received approval in Spring 2010.

Brad Jenkins, program director for engineering technology at SPC says the programs “provide current/incumbent workers with an opportunity to upgrade their skills and directly apply these learned skills in the workforce.” Indeed, both programs address industry-specific needs. The digital design and modeling program is aligned with the AutoCAD and SolidWorks industry certifications, and is specially designed for people who want to pursue careers in planning, designing and detailing.

As part of an effort to streamline and refine the program, Jenkins is currently working on developing a national certification as well as a national center for medical devices at SPC. The school also plans to establish an AutoCAD and SolidWorks testing site this spring, is developing a fourth course in design and analysis, and is working with the State College of Florida to adopt the frameworks for the Digital Design and Modeling certificate program. Jenkins says the best part about these programs is that students can get a certificate that enables them to earn an A.S. degree, and opens prospect for better jobs at supervisory-level positions. “I look forward to working with a number of colleges around the state to adopt these specializations as part of their curriculum frameworks” Jenkins said.

The Biomedical Quality Systems and the Digital Design and Modeling program are part of the A.S. degree in engineering technology. The ET degree prepares students and incumbent workers for employment and/or additional training in the manufacturing, medical, electronics, aerospace, or other related industries. This degree is a planned sequence of instruction consisting of the four specializations in electronics, quality, digital design & modeling, and biomedical systems with one common core. Graduates can transfer to universities offering the B.S. degree in engineering technology.

For more information contact Brad Jenkins at (727) 341-4378, or visit

Watch this YouTube video on Florida as the new hub for life sciences, biomedical and biotechnology industries.

PGT Industries: Florida's Next Generation, High-Tech Manufacturer

When it comes to defining high-tech, next generation manufacturing PGT Industries located in North Venice, FL stands far above the cut-off line. The company is one of the largest manufacturers of windows and doors in the nation for residential and commercial markets, and employs approximately 1300 employees at its manufacturing facilities in Florida and North Carolina.

Over a period of three decades, PGT has positioned itself as a premier company in manufacturing, and is a proud partner of the U.S. Department of Energy’s, Energy Start program. The technology is in the design. PGT’s products are environmentally friendly, define durability, and are energy efficient. For example, the Vinyl 2100 and PremierVue series are highly rated products that cater to “consumer demands for energy-efficiency” and are engineered for high durability and low maintenance. Whether it’s sustaining impact from wind or water damage, multi-family and high-rise dwellings, or commercial and residential properties, PGT’s products are recognized by the building industry as “the ideal choice providing innovative and flexible solutions.” These enhancements have not only enabled PGT to remain competitive locally but have enabled the company to expand and offer its products in new markets.

PGT also exercises a high degree of social responsibility. In February 2010, the company was honored with the World Vision Humanitarian Award for years of service and donations to families in need across the United States. PGT has also been one of FLATE’s strategic partners in facilitating the “Made in Florida” industry tours for the Sarasota and Manatee school districts. The tours have provided students with first-hand knowledge about high-tech manufacturing operations in modern manufacturing facilities. Since 2006, PGT has hosted seven industrial tours involving 170 students and teachers from five schools (Riverview High School, Braden River High School, Heron Creek Middle School and North Port High School). The company has also hosted tours for other schools, communities and manufacturing organizations in West Central Florida.

For more information on PGT visit For information on the “Made in Florida” industry tours contact David Gula, FLATE outreach manager at 813.259.6581/

sTEm at work: Puzzle #5

As if last month’s mix-up between the globins was not enough of an annoyance, you just discovered results from the pre-film insurance company required stress test for these two superstars also needs to be labeled. Fortunately you did recall from your past studies, or perhaps an educated guess that the moose’s carbon dioxide production will have a bigger pH impact than that of the squirrel.

You have decided to indicate that curve (a) belongs to the moose. Of course the Insurance Company (Underwrite Your Animal Limited) will check these results with previous tests. Do you think UYAL will wonder about the moose’s stress test performance this time?

Submit your answers at

High Impact Technology Exchange Conference: Educating America’s Technical Workforce

The High-Impact Technology Exchange Conference is a national conference focused on defining advanced technical education systems that are streamlined to meet the demands of a 21st century workforce. The conference is held on an annual basis, and is part of the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Centers’ (NSF ATE) effort to promote excellence in career and technical education.

The conference’s primary emphasis lies on convergence of scientific and technical disciplines. Featured technologies include: advanced manufacturing technologies; agricultural, environmental and energy technologies; biomanufacturing; biotechnology; engineering technologies; geospatial technologies; information, communications and security technologies; learning and evaluation; micro- and nanotechnologies; and optics and photonics technologies.

Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE-an NSF funded ATE Center of Excellence in Tampa, FL says the event will provide numerous opportunities for community college and technical school educators to capitalize on professional development opportunities. Educators can also take advantage of resources that are geared to “refine educational materials, collaborate ventures, and provide insights into emerging market trends that help develop/advance the technical workforce of the 21st century.”

This year’s conference will be held July 26-29, at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, FL, and will be jointly hosted by FLATE and SpaceTEC®—another NSF ATE Center of Excellence for Aerospace Technical Education. As one of the primary conference hosts, FLATE will take a leading role in organizing local tours, will sponsor two sessions during the main conference, and support two pre-conference workshops. FLATE will also host "HI-TECH Hotspots"--a welcome session showcasing a panel of Florida's industry leaders, and state and community colleges .

Preconference technical workshops and local industry worksite tours will be offered on Monday, July 26, and Tuesday, July 27. General conference sessions, keynote speakers, and a technology showcase will take place on Wednesday, July 28, and Thursday, July 29. Online registration for the conference and workshops is now open. Community college and university faculty, high school teachers, workforce development advocates, counselors, industry professionals, and technicians are all invited to attend.

For information on conference registrations, exhibit space, and sponsorship opportunities visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at 813.259.6578/

Conference Preview

Virtual Marketplaces For and By Manufacturers

Websites are an important tool in every manufacturer’s tool kit. Given their strategic role in reaching a widespread audience, other NSF ATE Centers like the National Center for Manufacturing Education (NCME) and Weld-Ed ATE are using it as a platform for industry professionals, educators, and students to exchange ideas and information.

The Careers in welding website ( for example is a new website that represents a partnership between the American Welding Society (AWS) and the National Center for Welding Education and Training (Weld-Ed). The site is a Bible of sorts for welders showcasing videos and profiles of companies and industry professionals, updates on upcoming events, industry-related news and fun facts about welding. The student page contains information on scholarships, has links to social networking tools, and has an AWS welding school locator. Current and incumbent workers can also build their resume and look for jobs using the built-in resume builder and the AWS JobFind link.

METEC Online ( is yet another site that highlights information on state-of-the-art technologies in advanced manufacturing. The site is a rich store house of information that serves as a searchable database of materials submitted by educators from around the world. Notable topics include classroom content, best practice modules, and information on STEM-related initiatives in the K-16 levels. The site provides links to several regional centers of excellence in manufacturing, and information on national STEM-related initiatives. New materials are added continually, and visitors can share resources and links using popular social networking tools. ( is another site geared to educate students in grades 11-13, their parents, and teachers about careers in manufacturing. The site gives an insider’s perspective on the nuts and bolts of modern manufacturing. Other neat aspects of the site are videos of manufactured products and personal accounts of what it takes to become a next generation, high-tech manufacturer.

Finally, FLATE’s family of websites and social media outlets offer numerous resources on high-tech manufacturing, technical education and careers specifically for students, educators, industry representatives, and current/incumbent workers in Florida. You can check out these resources at,, MIF Blogspot, PBWIKI and on FB page.

Sample video posted on CareerME Website