Kudos to Dave Gula from FLATE’s Executive Director

It is my extreme pleasure to announce that David Gula, FLATE outreach manager has been selected as the Brandon Campus Employee Excellence Award winner in the supervisory category. We are thrilled that he was selected as our campus awardee. Dave has worked tirelessly since 2005 as FLATE’s Outreach Manager. In his current role, he developed a comprehensive industry tour/field trip model that has taken over 3,000 Florida middle and high school students into manufacturing facilities in Florida. He also diligently seeks facilities and school programs that can be good partners after the tours conclude.

Dave also manages and oversees our summer robotics camps, another model outreach program. From partnering with others in a supportive role, to developing and running our own camps, FLATE has grown considerably in this area since we started in 2006. This summer we had 200 students attending weeklong camps at 4 different sites and 2 different levels. The fact that all 9 camp sessions went flawlessly with only the highest kudos from parents and kids alike – is all Dave’s doing. To enhance our own summer camps and highlight the HCC academic program in Engineering Technology, Dave has brought a number of local and regional robotics competitions to the Brandon Campus of HCC. These competitions, no matter what level (elementary, middle or high school) are intense and require a lot of logistical support before, during and after the events (including weekends and nights!). Dave supports them all by helping with logistics, set-up, judging, teardown and clean up.

What else does Dave do? Dave makes FLATE look fabulous! He develops a variety of display items, posters, and presentations. He also supports our website with information about events, companies, and develops the virtual tours posted on www.madeinflorida.org to help students and the community get an inside look at advanced manufacturing companies in Florida. As we all do, Dave does data, helping keep FLATE’s outreach documentation in tip-top shape and as impactful as possible. Dave also helps keep FLATE robot mascot, FLATER uniquely costumed and appropriately dressed for any occasion or holiday.

Please join me in congratulating Dave for this well deserved recognition!

Enjoy the rest of our October FLATE Focus with another challenging STEM puzzle, an informational article about the work FLATE has been doing with the Florida State Common Course Numbering System, and a review of the July HI-TEC conference through the eyes of the principle of a Post-secondary Adult Vocational Technical Center here in Tampa. Congratulations also to recipients of the 2010 FLATE Awards for their role in promoting excellence in education and training today's technology workforce.

HI-TECH through the lens of a post secondary adult vocational educator

Career and technical education is an important component in building the knowledge and technical base of the 21st century workforce. The 2010 High-Impact Technology Exchange (HI-TECH) Conference held in Orlando, in July, served as a hot-spot for cultivating excellence in technical education/training. The conference was jointly hosted by two NSF ATE Centers, FLATE and SPACE TEC, and offered several venues for networking and professional development. 
AnnMarie Courtney, principal of ALTC

For educators like AnnMarie Courtney, the conference was a true depiction of how industry can work with educators in defining advanced technical education systems. Courtney who serves as the Principal of Aparicio-Levy Technical Center (ALTC), a post-secondary training center specializing in business and information technology skill training located in Tampa, FL, says one of the most valuable take-home nuggets from the conference “was the free exchange of ideas, knowledge about best-practices, and sharing technical know-how between attendees and administrators who administer successful advanced technical programs across the country.” She describes the sessions as informative—one that brought a shift in thought about standard procedures, shed fresh perspective on ways to effectively meet instructors’ as well as students’ needs, and highlighted the need to make industry leaders aware about educational, project-based learning programs available in high-tech centers of excellence throughout Florida.

To that effect, Courtney applauded FLATE’s (the NSF Center for Excellence in Advanced Technological and Manufacturing Educationh located at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) in Brandon efforts in facilitating such events. “I think FLATE has a perspective that is not bounded by the parameters of the traditional school district/educational set-up, and has access to avenues that underline the importance of partnerships between industry and education to accomplish targeted goals.” The conference was a “true validation of what industry and educators are trying to accomplish,” and provided a wealth of online resources (webinars, curriculum guides) to community college and technical school educators. “We felt welcomed, felt like we were a part of that puzzle in promoting and refining higher education and the programs, and felt like we had something to offer everyone on a national level” Courtney said.

Indeed, for centers like Aparicio-Levy Technical Center (ALTC), HI-TECH served as a guide in charting a “roadmap for success.” The Center caters to a diverse range of students that include those looking for initial career skills to enter the workforce for the first time, students looking to retool current skills set for career advancement, and assist local industry partners with proprietary training needs.

Given its strategic role in shaping the educational/career pathways of students ALTC relies heavily on industry feedback to maneuver the flavor of its courses/programs, and offers programs which range from 150 hours to 1,000 hour courses. Under the post secondary adult vocational program, ALTC offers a plethora of programs ranging from biomed technician, information technology specialist, manufacturing tech, new media production tech, medical office technician, e-business courses etc. “We are about putting people to work, and we want to give people the opportunity to continue their education, earn those essential credentials that can either land them that job they’re looking for, or help advance their career goals” Courtney said. ALTC also offers workforce essentials skills that help people acquire basic knowledge/skills (interviewing skills, computer skills, workplace etiquette) to launch a specific career. For corporate clients the Center offers continuing education credits and industry training programs that include CPR, entry-level management courses, and diversity training credits.

ALTC’s commitment lies in providing industry relevant training that is supported by program advisory boards, and has embedded employability components. Students can earn a variety of industry certifications depending on the type of program they’re enrolled in. The information technology specialist program prepares students for the A+ exam, as well as the CISCO certification exam. The mobile electronic installer program prepares students for the Mobile Electronic Certified Program, while the students enrolled in the new media production specialist program can earn the Adobe Associate Essentials credentials in Photoshop, Dreamweaver and FLASH. Students also have the ability to earn a number of Microsoft certifications in WORD, PowerPoint and Excel.

ALTC also serves as one of the testing centers to earn the Florida Ready to Work credentials that tests three essential skills: reading for information, applied mathematics, locating information. “We are able to successfully encourage students to continue their education to earn industry certifications that provide access to statewide articulation agreements/programs to transfer those credits to continue higher education” Courtney said. This seamless transition offers greater flexibility for graduates to transfer credits to either join the workforce, or continue their education.

To implement some of the forward-thinking perspectives gleaned from the high-tech conference into its current curriculum/programs, ALTC held a preplanning meeting three weeks after HI-TECH. As part of that meeting, they introduced online webinars and other resources garnered from the conference which will give staff an opportunity to explore various options to integrate technology in the classroom. The meeting also prompted a large percentage of ALTC staff to join a book study, Brain-based Learning for the Digital Age.

For more information about Aparicio-Levy Technical Center and its programs, contact AnnMarie Courtney at 813.740.4884 or visit www.goaltc.com. For information on the HI-TECH conference, or about FLATE contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org or http://www.fl-ate.org/.

Statewide Course Numbering System offers seamless transition for students in Florida

The Statewide Course Numbering System (SCNS) is an integral piece in Florida's K-20 system of articulation. This seamless system of articulation has been in place since the 1960s, and provides a database of post-secondary vocational courses at technical centers, community colleges, universities, and participating nonpublic institutions. Central to the system is its effort to assign numbers, describe course content to improve research, assist program planning, and facilitate seamless transition of courses for students transferring among various colleges. (Source: www.scns.fldoe.org).

In Florida, the effort to better align, classify and define existing courses as well as new discipline areas of engineering technology began in Fall 2007. According to FLATE’s Executive Director, Dr. Marilyn Barger, “FLATE’s efforts to develop the new A.S. degree in engineering technology served as a strong impetus for this reform activity at the state level, and continues to play an important role in the processes.” FLATE’s objective is to make engineering technology education through the state college system unified in all aspects so it is easy for all stakeholders (students, employers, educators). The review and reorganization of the SCNS ET disciplines is just one activity FLATE has undertaken to reach this goal.

Participants at the ET Forum

 In a special ongoing effort since early 2008, the division in the department of education that oversees state post-secondary courses/course numbers began a comprehensive look at several discipline areas including engineering technology education. The objective of the project was to move courses to discipline areas that better define them; consolidate redundant courses, review and update discipline area descriptions/definitions, and reorganize the discipline areas which are subsets of another. The new definition for the engineering technology discipline area and thereafter all courses associated with applied engineering focuses on the practical aspects of the specific technical disciplines preparing students to do one or more of the following: analyze, assemble, design, fabricate, install, operate, troubleshoot, maintain, and manage engineering and related systems.

FLATE, together with the ET Forum, played a crucial part in working with the state to redefine the discipline definition, rewrite all ET course prefix definitions and reclassify them in a more organized manner. Brad Jenkins, program manager for the engineering technology degree at St. Petersburg College and one of the SCNS state coordinators for aligning the numbering for the EET, EST and ETI courses under the engineering technology discipline says the initiative is a leap in the right direction as “it gives all colleges that have adopted the ET degree a chance to change their numbers and align it with the new course numbering system.”

Jenkins points to several benefits the reorganization will have students, educators and employers. The biggest advantage for educators, he says, is not reinventing the wheel, rather “adding specialties and aligning them within the frameworks of the ET degree.” It makes a nice fit for students as well. In that the articulation will be straightforward, and students won’t lose credits while transferring between colleges. “We also hope the reorganized and redefined system will simplify recruiting for our industry partners who employ our students” Jenkins said.

The proposed changes were approved by SCNS and the Florida Department of Education in April 2010, and will be implemented in Aug. 2011. For more information visit http://scns.fldoe.org, or contact Brad Jenkins at jenkinsb@spcollege.edu and Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.

sTEm–at-Work (Puzzle #12): Technician LVDT Operation Performance Test

The linear variable differential transformer, LVDT, is a sensor that indicates a linear change in the horizontal (vertical) position of a robotic arm and sends an electrical signal to indicate how much differential movement has occurred. To increase their versatility and coincidentally emphasize the fact that the sensor makes differential distance measurements, the output signal provided by the LVDT is simply a percentage of the total output signal the sensor can deliver.

In addition, the detected displacement is expressed as the percent of total possible translation of the sensor movement shaft from the null position. The technician routinely runs performance tests on the LVDT and compares that data to the LVDT’s manufacturer provided standard test (red plot) data. Results of one of those tech tests (blue data plot) are provided.

Should the tech recommend that the LVDT for this robot system be replaced? (yes or no). Submit your answers at http://www.fl-ate.org/

Focus on Florida's Manufacturers & the products that are Made In Florida

Did you know there are more than 14,000 manufacturers in Florida that employ roughly 372,000 individuals across the state? Ninety-one percent of Florida’s exports comprise of manufactured products that generate nearly $35 billion in revenue.

These astounding figures demand close attention not only on the manufacturers, but on the products that are “Made in Florida”. FLATE’s Manufacturers Display case is a depiction of some of the very products that we all love, have simplified our lives, and use on a daily basis. The display located on the 2nd floor of the Student Services building at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon, highlights the predominant role manufacturing plays in Florida’s economy, and the contributions made by manufacturers across the state.

Approximately 18 manufacturers across 9 industry divisions and over 100 manufactured items are on display. There are a wide variety of display items from the medical instrument, electronic, food, drug, paper, plastic, aeronautical, entertainment and heavy machinery industries. Some of the manufacturers are Tropicana in Bradenton, ConMed Linvatec in Largo, Sun Hydraulics in Sarasota, Signature Brands in Ocala, Catrike in Winter Garden and Biomet 3i in Jacksonville. All the items are either the final products, parts used in other manufacturing processes or raw materials. Several pieces are displayed in production stages so students can follow the manufacturing process from a piece of stock titanium to the final polished facial replacement part. These items also serve as educational pieces during ‘Made in Florida’ classroom presentations, and for students in HCC’s engineering technology program.

To donate a product or item for the MIF display case contact David Gula, outreach manager at gula@fl-ate.org, or visit http://www.madeinflorida.org/.

“Programmed for Success” Offers Information about Robotics and High-Tech Careers

Career and technical education occupy a central role in steering global leadership and innovation. Given this integral role, FLATE hosted an informational session for middle school students who attended the LEGO robotics camps this year and their parents about educational/career pathways in various high-tech fields. Central to the event was its focus on providing current/relevant information about robotics, jobs in various emerging technologies, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-based resources available within the School District of Hillsborough County.

Rob Weinberg speaks to parents and students 
about the importance of STEM

During the fast-paced, one hour program attendees received an overview of the statewide engineering technology degree created by FLATE, particularly the advanced manufacturing program offered at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon. Indeed the session provided a broad overview of the resources available at the local level. Rob Weinburg, district resource teacher for career and technical education curriculum and STEM initiatives at the School District of Hillsborough County in Florida says there is a pressing need to educate students about the importance of STEM-related subjects. Weinburg who was one of the speakers for the evening underlined the importance of getting students intricately involved in STEM through “exploration and witnessing applications that are geared to develop knowledge and skills in STEM-related areas.”

Dave Gula with door prize winner

Students and parents also got an opportunity to tour the manufacturing lab at HCC, and were encouraged to take advantage of the resources available on the “Made in Florida” website. Response from parents as well as campers was overwhelmingly positive. Chip Meyer who attended the intro camp last year and the advanced camp this year said the camp helped him develop an interest in science and mathematics. “The programming gave me a first-hand knowledge/helped me understand STEM concepts better” Meyer said. His father, David Meyer, described the session as a validation of his own beliefs in the importance of STEM. “I want him to see the practical application of what he is learning in the classroom. I believe information sessions like these can show a young person the available options and will motivate them to consider careers in high-tech or STEM-related fields.” Jacob Cunningham another camper who attended the SouthShore camp this year agrees the experience sharpened his interest in science and math. “I used to like those subjects a little bit, but now I like them a lot” Cunningham said.

For more information about the robotics camps please call or email FLATE’s Outreach Manager, David Gula at 813.259.6581/gula@fl-ate.org, or visit http://www.madeinflorida.org/.