From the Executive Director's Desk

This summer, Governor Rick Scott asked the Manufacturers Association of Florida (MAF) to submit a list of five important actions that the state could take to better support Florida manufacturers. For context, MAF’s response included the current status of manufacturing in Florida. Here is that current snapshot and the five item “wish list” MAF submitted (see We all look forward to seeing which of the list will be addressed in the months ahead.

• Florida is the 15th largest manufacturing state
• There are more than 302,000 high skilled direct manufacturing employees in Florida
• They work in 17,722 discrete manufacturing facilities
• Manufacturers pay 122% higher wages than other Florida employers and offer substantial benefits
• They pay over 5% of the real estate taxes and nearly 25% of the tangible personal property tax.
• The majority of research and development dollars are spent by manufacturers
• Manufacturers employ a large percentage of technical graduates from the state university system
• Florida manufacturers have open jobs that they cannot fill due to one of the following: a) lack of social skills; b) cannot pass the drug test, and c) are not qualified or certified with the appropriate skills for the jobs.
• Manufactured good make up 91% of all exports leaving Florida’s 14 ports.

The 5 action priorities for Florida Manufacturers are:

1. Designate a Manufacturing Advocate or Liaison
2. Improve the Tax Climate for Manufacturers in all business models
3. Continue to invest in Workforce Training
4. Increase Import and Export trade opportunities
5. Use Energy Policy as an Economic Development Strategy

For many of us, it’s important to realize that high skilled manufacturing jobs are still going unfilled due to lack of qualified candidates. The need to fill these high-tech, high-wage jobs with qualified candidates with education credentials is one of FLATE’s goals. However, our goal, and that of the National Science Foundation (NSF) with its investment in FLATE, is not only to help the current workforce needs, but also to develop and implement long-term strategies to build and maintain attractive, relevant, strong and flexible career pathways to support Florida’s manufacturers.

And, of course, it’s just about time for all of us to refocus on career pathways with school doors opening across the country. I hope everyone has had a relaxing summer. Our summer has been very busy and very rewarding. Here at FLATE, we hosted over 100 students in our summer robotic camps and supported five camps outside of Tampa Bay. We offered our first energy summer camp in conjunction with the NSF Energy Systems Technology (EST2) grant and the Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC). We offered a number of faculty development opportunities for educators from attending conferences; summer energy camp, focused training in Solid Works, teacher externships, and curriculum writing. FLATE also took a small cohort of college faculty to the Basque Country in Spain to learn firsthand about their technical education system.

Our August issue of the FLATE Focus brings a story about our regional Bay Area Manufacturer’s Association (BAMA) Manufacturing Scholarships winners, the Teacher Quest program’s summer externship program, and the newest addition to our summer robotics camp offerings. I also urge you to take advantage of this last month to submit your nominations for the 2011 FLATE awards. All nominations are due by September 1. The process is simple and the nomination form can be accessed on FLATE’s home page at With limited funds in everyone’s budget this year, FLATE Awards are a great way to recognize and celebrate excellence in manufacturing education.

Tampa Bay Teacher Quest Program: A Vital Link for Educators to Explore STEM

They say “great teachers help create great students,” and an informed teacher is one of the prime components contributing to student success (Edutopia). FLATE is a firm proponent of this principle, and has taken several steps to educate the educator. Dr. Marilyn Barger, PI and executive director of FLATE (Florida Advanced Technological Education) says the Center is founded on “vibrant synergistic partnerships with academic institutions, government agencies for workforce and economic development, and industry.” Amidst its working alliances with various organizations throughout Florida, FLATE shares a strategic relationship with the Tampa Bay Teacher Quest Program. The program is a three year pilot program funded through a grant from the Helios Education Foundation, and managed by Florida’s Technological Research and Development Authority (TRDA). Teacher Quest seeks to transform teaching and learning through industry-education partnerships, and places teachers as primary agents for effecting meaningful change in the educational system.

Since the inception of the program in 2009, the program has served as a “vital link” in creating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) related academic pathways, and in empowering teachers and students with skills needed in the workplace. Diane Matthews, director of education for TRDA who also oversees the Teacher Quest Tampa Bay program says the program has been a primary vehicle in addressing the critical needs of Florida’s teachers by offering professional develo
pment in STEM through real-world work experiences. “STEM covers all ability levels” says Matthews, and Teacher Quest has been rigorous in its efforts to create awareness about STEM-related career pathways by establishing connections with real-world applications/situations. The program has served as an effective pathway for industry partners to directly reach their future workforce through one-to-one contact with teachers. Its biggest impact lies in the fact that “just one individual teacher can impact literally thousands of students over the course of their career.”

Given its benefits to industry as well as educators, Teacher Quest has experienced significant growth over the course of two years. According to Matthews, the number of teachers engaged in the program has risen from seven in the first year to 19 in 2011. In years two and three the program also expanded its outreach to Polk, Manatee and Sarasota counties, and remains committed to expand and maintain strategic relations with existing industry partners like Raytheon, Alliant Tech Systems, Sun Hydraulics to name a few.

Tampa Bay Teacher Quest’s partnership with FLATE continues to play a major role in helping industry placement for teachers. Matthews says “FLATE has been a poster child of the Teacher Quest Tampa bay program.” To date, the Center has helped placed approximately 35 teachers in local industries for the Tampa Bay as well as the statewide Teacher Quest program. Furthermore, FLATE’s role in creating awareness of the program among local industry has been a leading factor in getting them engaged, and getting teachers onboard. As a result of FLATE’s efforts, several teachers have been hired to work in some of Florida’s prestigious high-tech facilities like Southern Manufacturing Technologies, Sun Hydraulics, .decimal, Conmed Linvatec etc. Indeed, FLATE was named “Business Partner of the Year” consecutively in 2010 and 2011. “Without the support of FLATE and its help with promotion, we would not have been able to take advantage of several industry liaisons that we currently enjoy” Matthews said.

The relationship is symbiotic at best, yielding bilateral benefits to both organizations. Kristina Beecher, industrial technology teacher at Woodland Middle School in North Port Florida who worked as a technology curriculum assistant at FLATE over the summer says the program gave her the opportunity to see the relevance in what she is teaching, and provided an insight into the direction that she should be going in terms of designing curriculum. “STEM empowers our kids to be globally competitive and allows them to excel in fields that they feel kids from other countries are already excelling in.”
Another valuable take away for Beecher was the opportunity to develop lesson plans for the 2011-2012 academic year.
As part of her summer teaching internship at FLATE, Beecher wrote four new “Made in Florida” learning challenges. The Challenges are state-of-the-art classroom materials that provide middle and high school teachers with lesson plans, activities and assessments that are designed to enrich students’ knowledge and understanding of STEM. She also helped update four existing challenges, and helped campers work through several challenges during the introductory and advanced robotics camps. “I now have a very different perspective on how I teach. I plan to relate everything we do in the classroom with related industry and community applications” Beecher said.

For information on Teacher Quest contact Diane Matthews at , or visit For information on FLATE and its professional development initiatives contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at, or visit and

High School Students Get a STEMulating Taste of Robotics

Stefan Dueck and Nate Greaves are hard at work, fine tuning their robot that they have designed, built and programmed to compete in the final day challenge of the “Industrial Camp” for high school students. They have appropriately named their team “STEMulators” which they say is targeted to STEMulate passion for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Dueck and Greaves share a thriving ambition to become mechanical and/or electrical engineers, and have attended each of FLATE’s robotics camps starting at the introductory level and progressing onto the high school camp.
Stefan, a ninth grader at Seffner Christian Academy in Tampa, and Nate, also a ninth grader at Durant High School in Tampa describe the camp as “real fun.” What brings them back each time, they say, is the motivation to learn. “At school you’re learning, but here you’re competing in challenges, having fun while learning, and at the same time expanding your knowledge about the career opportunities that are out there which makes it much more exciting than a regular school/classroom environment.”

What made the camp “fun” were the challenges themselves. Campers were presented with the “Cable Tram Challenge,” whereby each team worked in groups of three to design and program a robot to crawl across a cable wire/outcropping, pick up buckets and transport them back to a drop off location. To get the tasks accomplished, teams used basic programming skills, and followed each of the engineering design processes that require brainstorming ideas, designing, building, programming and testing their robots to perform at its optimum level. Teams also used the knowledge gained at the camp through hands-on training with programmable logic controls, robotic arms, and CCM machines to work through each step of the challenges. “The high school camp was much more challenging and thought-provoking and elevated our knowledge about robots and robotics technology” Stefan said.

Indeed what set the high school camp apart from the past two camps was its emphasis on real-world applications of robotics technology. Students got an opportunity to witness modern high-tech manufacturing operations at work while touring Sun Hydraulics—a designer and manufacturer of high-performance hydraulic cartridge valves located in Sarasota, FL. “It was the best tour yet” said Nate. “I learned about pneumatics that helps control robots, learned how to wire PLCs, and CPUs, and gained a better understanding about the technology behind some of the machines we use everyday like Ipads.” Stefan on the other hand said he learned about the making and functioning of machines, use of robotic arms, and design programs which he said was “cool” and “interesting.”

Allan Dyer, who helped develop curriculum of the camp, agrees the camp was not your average summer camp. In that, campers got a firm grip on key engineering concepts, its integration in robotic applications, and experienced first-hand the value of working within a team environment. Dyer, who has been the robotics camp instructor since the inception of the program in 2007 says “the teacher of today isn’t the teacher of yesterday who in most instances focused on lectures and notes.” Technology, he says, affords teachers a more hands-off approach, and makes way for greater level of self exploration and problem-based learning for students.

Dyer notes critical thinking, problem solving, and working in team environments are skills needed across all industries and in all professional environments. He says “one of the failing of our education system is we don’t stress enough on the importance of working cooperatively in group/team settings.” To that effect, he hopes the camp provided a deeper insight on soft skills, on the field of engineering, what it entails and offers, and more importantly will give students a competitive advantage in the long run regardless of their decision to pursue engineering/non engineering related fields.

The robotics camps are part of FLATE’s outreach efforts targeted to cultivate technical, leadership, professional and team-building skills. The project captures the interest of middle and high school students by following the current trend of robotic applications used throughout the entertainment media. The camps are also a fun and exciting way to sharpen students’ knowledge about STEM, and showcase its applications in everyday high-tech manufacturing operations. In addition to the high school industrial camp, FLATE offered two introductory level camps and an advanced camp this summer at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon. As part of a wider effort, the Center partnered with College of Central Florida (CCF) and Florida Gateway College (FGC) to offer similar camps in Ocala and Lake City. Safety Harbor Elementary School in Pinellas County also hosted a FLATE-based robotics camp over the summer.

For more information on the camps visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at, and Dave Gula at

sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #21: Valve Selection for Installation in Juice Filling Process

A technician working for Tropicana is replacing a value in a pipe that delivers already squeezed orange juice to an automated container filling station. As the container is filled, the value receives a signal from a weight sensor under the container. As the container fills with juice, its weight changes and the electrical signal also changes. The sensor is used to change how much the value is opened/closed. For this application, the flow rate of the juice into the container must always be directly proportional to the percent the value is open. The technician understands all of this very well and must now select the value to be installed in the pipe to control the flow of juice into the container. The tech examines the valve performance data that the valve maker (U-Betch-em Value Company) provided. There are three possible valves to pick from and the tech picked the correct valve!

Valve-qo-04 is correct value for this application. (yes or no). Submit your answers at

BAMA Scholarship Program Helps Promote Manufacturing in Tampa Bay

Educational costs are at an all time high. As the cost of higher education continues to soar, regional manufacturers associations are doing their part in augmenting the skill-set of deserving students and employees through scholarship programs. BAMA (Bay Area Manufacturers Association) of Tampa is a big proponent of academic advancement, and offers scholarships on an annual basis to promote continuing education for current manufacturing employees and local students.

As part of its effort to as promote excellence in vocational training, BAMA recently awarded a $1000 scholarship to Burton Bellamy, a current student at Hillsborough Community College. The scholarship was presented by keynote speaker, William R. “Willy” Schweikert, director of engineering for Florida region at Raytheon during BAMA’s dinner meeting at the Countryside Country Club in Clearwater in June, 2011. David Stailey, president of BAMA says the initiative is part of an effort to promote manufacturing in the bay area. Stailey says there is a great need for technical/engineering support, and to promote excellence and achievement in vocational training. He hopes the scholarship will encourage students to pursue educational pathways in high-tech fields like manufacturing, and will eventually help them become future engineers. The good news, he says, is there are many high paying jobs in manufacturing that can be availed of with a two year technical and/or associates degree. “What we’re working on is coming up with a strategy to reach out to younger generation, get them excited and involved in innovative STEM and manufacturing-related fields.”

To qualify for the BAMA scholarship, applicants had to write a 500 word essay highlighting reasons for their interest in being appointed as a BAMA scholarship winner, outline educational goals and/or career plans rele
vant to the vision and expectations of a manufacturing association, expected contributions by the applicant to the manufacturing field, and how the BAMA scholarship would impact their academic goals. Applicants also had to provide two recommendation letters—one from the parent/grandparent; the other from a current school teacher, administrator, or a BAMA member, along with transcripts documenting previous higher education credentials. In addition to the $1000 scholarship, BAMA will be donating money to help support several manufacturing and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) related initiatives throughout the Tampa bay area. BAMA donated money to support Florida Advanced Technological Education Center high-tech robotics camps this summer at HCC-Brandon. It is also donating money to support STEM-related programs at the St. Petersburg Science Center in St. Petersburg, FL, and gave two $500 scholarships to Pasco and Pinellas Vocational Technical Centers. Money for the scholarships was raised through BAMA scholarship golf tournament held in April, 2011. “Manufacturing offers a better quality of life than merely flipping burgers and it is important to keep manufacturing jobs in the bay area” Stailey said.
For information on BAMA scholarships, or to register as a member contact Dave Stailey at 813.626.7006/, or visit For information on additional scholarships provided by regional manufacturers associations across Florida contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at HCC-Brandon at, or visit

2011 FLATE Award Nominations

Do you know someone who deserves kudos for their relentless effort to position manufacturing at the forefront of Florida's economy? Would you like to recognize an industry colleague, an industry partner, and/or an educator at the secondary or post secondary education level who has made significant strides in educating and training today's technology workforce?

FLATE awards are a great (and easy) way to recognize secondary/post secondary educators, as well as industry colleagues and partners. Submit your nominations for the 2011 FLATE Awards at