FLATE's Executive Director Celebrates "sTEm At Work"

Putting a practical spin on sTEm is important to FLATE. The low energy approach to this renewed national interest in STEM is to leave each of the four components in its traditional environment, and then isolate the funding, effort, and signs of success to each separate silo. FLATE's view is that science and mathematics must be blended to support the engineering needed to create and then maintain a technology. With this as a guiding thought, FLATE participated in and supported two important annual University of South Florida events in February that celebrated this integrated effort to make sTEm really work. Both activities encouraged students of all ages to get excited about STEM “stuff”, and put it, or see how it has been put to work. In both events, invention, engineering, and enterprise were stars in a sky of technology, and each hosted record participation in 2011. The final competition of the Young Inventors Cup took place on Feb. 11 (ironically Thomas Edison’s birthday), and the 39th USF College of Engineering at USF Engineering Expo took place Feb. 18 –19.

The Young Innovator Competition, sponsored by USF and Innovation Express, a not-for-profit organization, drew nearly 500 submissions spread between three levels of competition. Students from elementary through high school competed for this year's Inventor’s Cup. The five finalists from each division actually made a prototype of their invention. In addition, finalists gave during the last stage judging which is also open
 to the public, a two minute presentation to promote their idea to a panel of distinguished judges that included media celebrities and business leaders. Each division winner and their school received a $1000 prize. Competition rules were designed with the teacher in mind. FLATE crafted a workshop for teachers to help them get started, and showed how easy it is for teachers to bring this activity into their classroom as an integration piece for science and math lessons. Submitting ideas online was easy. However, an invention did not get very far through the multiple layer judging process if it was not unique. Inventors were required to submit design and manufacturing details, business plans, cost of the new invention and its expected selling price. The overall competition was targeted to blend inquiry, exploration, critical, and systems thinking with the appropriate age level knowledge in science and math to support the engineering needed to create the invention from the applicable technology. You can learn more about the 2011 competition and winners, and how to participate in 2012 at www.innovationexpress.org. Kudos to the Hopens, father and daughter, as competition founders for making this competition a reality in Tampa Bay.

On a similar token, the 2011 USF Engineering Expo drew a huge record crowd, nearly 18,000 students and parents from all over the Tampa Bay region. This free, student-run event featured displays by engineering companies, STEM programs at local schools including Pinellas County’s D.L. Jamerson Elementary School's Center for Mathematics and Engineering, and Hillsborough County’s middle school STEM institutes and high school academies. The expo featured a variety of “shows” ranging from laser lights to science “magic,” as well as STEM and engineering activities for students of all ages (hosted by the many engineering student organizations). The indoor/outdoor event had a county fair ambiance, and provided lots of space for children to explore, and have fun as well as visit various engineering college laboratories. Students could compete in drag races, ride a TECO cherry picker, and explore both the manmade and engineering wonders of our world, it was very easy for them to talk to technicians, engineers, and scientists to see why things work and how these people make things work as well.

If you are going to be in Tampa next February, make sure your plans include attending or getting involved with one, or both of these events. However, to borrow a famous phrase, "but now for something completely different,” it is time for you to catch up with FLATE news. You can try our latest sTEm puzzle, take advantage of a “FREE” faculty development seminar for STEM educators offered by City University of New York, read about the fascinating Florida Manufacturer or the Year Awardees, their products and production processes, and about a state-of-the-art mobile laboratory at Florida Gateway College. I hope you enjoy this edition of the FLATE Focus.

Manufacturing Advertorials: Roadmap for Lucrative Career Pathways

2010-11 Advertorial
The “Made in Florida” manufacturing advertorials in Florida Trend’s NEXT magazine have been an effective vehicle in reaching thousands of high school students throughout Florida. The advertorials promote positive awareness of manufacturing careers and education, and serve as an educational roadmap for students interested in manufacturing as a viable and lucrative career pathway. Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE and a strong voice for manufacturers throughout Florida, says painting a positive picture is only one piece of the awareness and recruitment puzzle. Barger believes parents and the entire community must be made aware of the challenging, state-of-the-art, high-wage, high-skill careers that the manufacturing industry provides.

To assist in this double-edged effort, FLATE partnered with the Manufacturers Association of Florida to expand the "Made in Florida" brand into a coordinated statewide awareness campaign. The initiative encompasses the Made in Florida DVD and online video, live and virtual industry tours, career pathways, Facebook and YouTube content, student interviews, and web-based resources on the Made in Florida webpage at www.madeinflorida.org.

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2011 marks the sixth year FLATE has placed content in NEXT, the career guidance edition of Florida Trend. Since publication of the first manufacturing advertorial in 2006, FLATE has collected data indicating a significant increase in the number of schools that have received lists of potential enrollees from FLATE. Between 2009-10, 60% of the responders filled out the paper reader response cards while 1,132 responders (40%) requested information online via the NEXT website at www.FloridaNEXT.com. Over half of both male and female high school students responding to this same edition of the advertorial requested community/state college information in addition to career materials. Demographic results also suggest a significant interest by female high school students; 72% of female responders expressed an interest in careers and education in advanced manufacturing. Forty five colleges and technical schools in Florida currently receive monthly lists of prospective student leads in their service areas for follow up. (You can view current and past advertorials at www.fl-ate.org/projects/fl-trend.html.)

The NEXT campaign has received more than 20,000 inquiries from Florida students. Join FLATE and MAF and help students learn how to pursue an education and career in advanced manufacturing. The April 1st deadline is right around the corner for our next group of visionary sponsors. Sponsorships are available at multiple levels that allow organizations/individuals to receive recognition for their support. Just visit 2011 NEXT Sponsors page at www.fl-ate.org/projects/fl-trend.html, and follow the instructions on the sidebar, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at 813.259.6578/barger@fl-ate.org.

You have the ability to make a difference. Your sponsorship will help affect positive changes in manufacturing awareness and education for Florida’s current and prospective students. We look forward to working with you!

Mobile Engineering Technology Lab at FCG Offers “hands-on, minds-on” Training

Who among us can deny a lab-on-wheels is a neat idea? It’s a breakthrough concept that has fired up the curiosity of many students pursuing an engineering technology (ET) degree at Florida Gateway College (FGC) in Lake City, FL. The mobile ET lab, the brainchild of Bob Deckon, director of the ET program at FCG, is a state-of-the-art facility that offers hands-on, minds-on education and training, and is probably the first of its kind in the state, or perhaps even the country.

This lab on wheels is housed within a 52 ft. triple axel trailer, and holds eight Hampden Technical Training Systems, two Nida model 130 electronic training consoles with individual circuit boards, has two fluid power trainers (hydraulic on one side and pneumatic on the other), a four loop instrumentation & process control trainer, a three-loop instrumentation and process control trainer, and two PLC trainers. Deckon points to these technical training systems as educational tools that enable students to “transition from traditional printed classroom material to a dynamic hands-on approach to ‘involvement’ training.” The trainers are specifically tailored to every level of complexity, and reinforce classroom learning through a series of hands-on projects that permit students to isolate a particular component and/or system and focus on its operation and usage.

True to its mettle, the trailer can transport each of the training systems anywhere within the five county (Columbia, Baker, Union, Gilchrist and Dixie) service area, where they can easily be rolled off the back into a classroom or training facility. The lab can also function as a stand-alone mobile classroom, equipped with its own on-board generator, air compressor, HVAC system and complete video system. One full side of the trailer can be opened up to expand the viewing area and create an open classroom.

The main idea, according to Deckon, is to have the ability to reach out to any school, or create and deliver customized training to improve the skills-set of current employees of any company/organization. To that effect, the lab has served as an important instructional tool and extension of the ET core curriculum, and played an integral role incorporating practical, hands-on projects that have expanded students’ theoretical/practical knowledge base.

Use of NIDA trainers in the introduction to electronics course has yielded tremendous success. Looking to the future, the program is looking to incorporate use of process control trainer into the manufacturing materials and processes, as well as mechanical measurement and instrumentation courses, and expand the advanced manufacturing curriculum through use of other trainers in the motors and controls, hydraulics and pneumatics, PLC’s and process controls courses. Its aptitude for flexible onsite training has also extended its services to a wide audience. Since September 2009, Deckon has hosted tours for seven high schools in Columbia and Gilchrist counties, with plans to take the mobile lab and use the hydraulics and pneumatics trainers to supplement the ag-mechanics classroom instruction at Fort White High School. Several tours and demos of the lab have also been conducted for local college students, faculty/instructors, members of the local ET advisory committee, College Board of Trustees, as well as local companies and technical schools.

For information on FCG’s mobile engineering technology lab contact Bob Deckon at robert.deckon@fgc.edu/386.754.4442, or visit www.engineeringtechprogram.com/MobileLab. For information FLATE’s statewide engineering technology degree contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org/813.259.6578.

Spotlight on 2010 Manufacturers of the Year (Part II)

As mentioned last month, the Manufacturers Association of Florida announced the 2010 Manufacturers of the Year at their annual November meeting in Orlando. Each company was rated on nine various business parameters, an onsite tour and interview by a panel of 26 judges. Following are the winners in the larger employee categories.

Danfoss Turbocor Compressors, Inc., Tallahassee (126-400 Employees Category)
Turbocor Compressors started in Australia, moved to Montreal and finally relocated its headquarters and manufacturing facilities to Tallahassee in 2007 as a joint venture and became Danfoss Turbocor Compressors. This ISO 9001:2000 certified plant of 176 employees, produces the world’s first highly energy efficient refrigeration compressor utilizing magnetic bearings and variable frequency motor controls.

Using a combination of aerospace, magnetic bearing, and digital electronic technologies, its compressors are used in air- and water-cooled chillers and rooftop units. These oil free compressors are roughly 33% more energy efficient than conventional units and are used worldwide in the commercial heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration industry. With its breakthrough combination of patented technologies largely sourced from the aerospace industry, Turbocor's employees promise new horizons in energy efficiency and lifetime operating costs for mid-range chiller and rooftop HVACR applications.

Swisher International, Inc., Jacksonville (Over 400 Employees Category)
Swisher International, Inc. began in 1861 when David Swisher received the business through a debt settlement and by 1924, he was operating in Jacksonville. The plants here produced the first individually wrapped cigar in cellophane along with a simple device for removing the cellophane by pulling on the cigar band. Swisher’s King Edward brand became the world’s number one selling cigar in the 1940’s and by 1965, the Swisher Sweet brand was being shipped to all 50 states and 70 countries around the world.

Throughout the years, Swisher continued to prosper through the continuous upgrading of machinery and the constant pursuit of Continuous Improvement techniques in both Product Quality and Productivity processes. In 2004, Swisher adopted the Lean and Green Principles as its journey which encompasses all the past and current manufacturing principles/techniques under one umbrella.

Since Swisher is a private, family owned operation which allows for great flexibility and can react quickly to marketplace opportunities and developing trends. This, along with constant improvements, has made it a formidable force in the tobacco business now and in the future.

For more information visit www.mafmfg.com

sTEm-at-work (Puzzle 16): Chemical Reaction in Closed Batch Reactor

A “We-Make-it-All” product development technician is operating a fixed volume closed container batch reactor to make a test batch of miracle lotion “C”. A known mass of starter material, “A”, is put into the reactor and just heated so the “A” molecules rearrange their chemical bonds to form “B” molecules which then rearrange again to make the desired lotion molecules, the “C” molecules. After reviewing the data shown below the tech thinks there is something wrong.

There is nothing wrong with this reactor system. (yes or no). Please submit your answers at http://www.fl-ate.org/

STEM Virtual Enterprise (Summer Seminar)

The STEM Virtual Enterprise is an in-class pedagogical simulation that has students assume the roles of members of a high-tech enterprise and operate that business in face-to-face teams. It delivers technical, soft and business skills as part of an entrepreneurial experience comprised of a series of active-learning modules, online tools and student events. Faculty implementers have embedded it within existing IT, BioTechnology and Electronics courses. It has also been used as a standalone offering for STEM majors. The power of STEM-VE is its organized national and international network of student businesses, motivating students to produce high-quality projects and connecting classrooms across the STEM spectrum.

This seminar will discuss Virtual Enterprise and provide time and resources for integrating the pedagogy into your STEM classroom. Limited travel stipends are available to qualified STEM faculty members.

For more information please click on the flyer, or contact Edgar E. Troudt, lecturer and director of the Center for Economic and Workforce Development at the CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise at 718.368.6598/Edgar.Troudt@kbcc.cuny.edu

Contributed by FLATE Focus subscriber at the CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise

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