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.

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