From the Executive Director's Desk

With the start of a new academic year, I am happy to report that the two-year Engineering Technology degree has grown to include eight different specialization tracts (advanced manufacturing, advanced technology (composites), alternative energy systems, biomedical systems, digital design and modeling, electronics, mechanical fabrication and design, and quality) at 10 different colleges across the state. These programs are growing and maturing, and there are now students graduating from these programs every semester. Responding to some recent requests, and to help all Florida industries find these graduates, FLATE has just launched its new “HIRE an ET GRAD” pages on FLATE’s Made in Florida website From this portal, industry has direct access to ET programs across Florida via a link to the person overseeing the program they are interested in hiring. It’s very simple to use and works like this:
  • Navigate to home page.
  • Click on the green “hire an ET graduate” button under the home page intro flash slide show.
  • Click the link to login.
  •  Login with your name, position, company (you will set a password, but you will not need it to get to the   page again if you login from the same machine in the future).
  • Once logged in, you will see the list of ET Degree specializations with a summary of the course topics which make each unique. Click on the specialization that offers courses that cover the skills you are looking for and a pop-up window will open with all colleges offering that specialization.
  • Click on the contact from any school you wish to contact.
  • Send an email about the position you are looking to fill. Please does not change the email subject line; it is auto filled to alert the college contacts that your message is from this webpage. The auto text is “HIRE AN ET GRAD REQUEST”.
  • The college contact will reply with recent and potential graduates as well as answer any questions you might have about that specific program of study.
Please visit these new pages and explore how they work – and give us some feedback to let us know if this will be useful, as well as your ideas how to make it even better.

We have added other features in the last few months as well – including our ET Student profiles Industry might find potential new hires on this page as well! There are separate pages for college students and high school students and you can navigate back and forth easily. Teachers and faculty (and anyone else) can direct students to the link on this page that takes students to a short online survey. We develop profiles based on survey answers. We do not post the student profiles without a photo, so all students are given instructions on what they need to for that. Please explore this site and consider including students from your area by contacting local schools and colleges. We would love to have profiles for students from every school around the state.

Thanks to Janice Mukhia, our newsletter editor, the September issue of the FLATE Focus is packed with interesting stories. This issue chronicles a story about Southern Manufacturing Technologies Inc., a local industry partner who has been at the forefront of providing high-tech custom manufacturing and machining services, outlines South Florida Manufacturing Association’s strategies to promote international trade initiatives in the region, and discusses FLATE’s STEM-based professional development initiatives geared to increase the pipeline of skilled workers. We are also starting a new “announcements” section that will feature news about ongoing and upcoming events, conferences, grant opportunities etc. Please contact us if you have any questions, or have a story you would like to tell in the FLATE Focus, a project you think we might be able to partner with, questions about manufacturing education in Florida. Have a wonderful week!

South Florida Manufacturers Association: A key player in spurring international trade through workforce development training & advocacy

South Florida Manufacturers Association (SFMA) is a formidable voice for manufacturers in south Florida. Since its establishment in 1960, the organization has been a leading resource for manufacturers “saving its members time and money through workforce development, advocacy and networking.” The organization prides itself in being a leader in promoting international trade initiatives in the region, and serves nearly 5,000 of the 14,000 manufacturers in Florida.

Central to its mission in serving diverse needs of local manufacturers is its emphasis on workforce
development. Tom Kennedy, president and CEO of SFMA says connecting workforce needs with training and education is what completes the circle in terms of meeting industry needs. Given SFMA’s expertise in the areas of workforce and economic development, and legislative/regulatory advocacy, Kennedy hopes to serve as the leading resource “manufacturers look to when they are confronted with issues that need to be addressed.” He views international trade as a promising spot for the sunshine state, and sees SFMA as a key player in demystifying international trade. “Getting that manufacturer to take that first step past the international trade arcade will be part of SFMA’s mission to facilitate and break the inertia with respect to conducting international trade” Kennedy said.

SFMA’s commitment to economic growth is evidenced in the organization’s multi-dimensional projects. Heeding the growing need for skilled machinists on a state and national level, SFMA has recently launched a formal machinist apprentice program. The organization has also built a strong alliance with Workforce Florida to conduct gap analysis, hosting seminars on international banking and trade, tax seminars, organizing plant tours for members, assessing availability of grants, and administering MSSC CPT Certification training and testing. SFMA works closely with the National Association of Manufacturing’s Manufacturing Institute to provide workforce development and training to its members, and helps monitor regulatory/legislative advocacy issues to spur growth in manufacturing throughout the state.

“From helping develop a skilled workforce, to recognition of excellence, to networking, SFMA brings value and opportunity to its member companies.” The organization is gearing up for its three part annual meeting comprised of a symposium, recognition ceremony, and a scholarship golf tournament. “Future of Florida Manufacturing”—the theme of this year’s symposium—will focus on workforce development, economic development, education and international trade— key tools/building blocks needed to secure a future in manufacturing. The event will be held at the Coral Springs Marriott on Sep. 26. In keeping with SFMA’s focus on fostering international trade in the region, Emily DeRocco from the Manufacturing Institute will shed light on workforce development and skills certification needed to compete in a global marketplace. DeRocco will also discuss the importance of and strategies for forming close alliances with local schools, and building inroads for establishing articulation agreements. Other distinguished panel of speakers and presenters include Gov. Rick Scott, Florida Secretary of Commerce, Gray Swoope, renowned author and entrepreneur, Raul Pupo, and Dr. David Altig from the Federal Reserve to name a few.

As a unified force representing common interests of manufacturers, SFMA has “served as a GPS in helping companies navigate through their everyday needs.” Its success and legacy lies in its strong connection/association with leading organizations—the movers and shakers of manufacturing in Florida. Working with other regional manufacturers, SFMA helped establish the Sterling program in Florida, and helped establish the Manufacturers Association of Florida—a premier platform representing the voice of manufacturers in Florida and throughout the nation. SFMA also shares a close partnership with FLATE, and points to FLATE’s manufacturing advertorial and its “Made in Florida” outreach campaign as effective tools in reaching out to local schools, students, and manufacturers. Kennedy applauds FLATE’s efforts in taking a leading role to establish and offer curriculum and training programs that are industry-centric as well as sensitive to the needs of manufacturers throughout the state. He sees tremendous potential, and would like to work with FLATE on collaborative projects like a “road show” to convey the “manufacturing message,” especially in south Florida. “FLATE has given students and educators the tools to pursue careers/educational pathway that have high return on investment personally, economically as well as financially” Kennedy said.

For information on SFMA and manufacturing initiatives in south Florida contact Tom Kennedy at, or visit For information on FLATE and its outreach efforts throughout the state contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at, or visit and

Watch the SFMA Video

sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #22: Cargo Robot Arm Performance Test

A technician working for a shipyard that retrofits robotic arms for lifting cargo into storage compartments has just completed a computer controlled test of three new robotic arms (purchased from the Robotic Arm Division of the “U-Betch-em” Company) that have just been installed in the vessel cargo compartment. The computer has plotted the voltage verses displacement data for all three arms. The technician knows that the voltage the computer applies to the robotic arm is directly proportional to the force the arm can use to lift an object and that, for the same value of applied voltage, “U-Betch-em” RA-142 is the arm that can do the most work. Now, the Tech must label the computer plots and then print the graph out for the robot arm commissioning report that must be file.

On the graph below, the plot for “U-Betch-em” Robotic Arm RA-142 is labeled correctly. (Yes or No). Submit your answers in the "comments section" below, or at


Southern Manufacturing Technologies: A Forerunner in Precision Manufacturing

When it comes to defining excellence in precision custom manufacturing, Southern Manufacturing Technologies, Inc. located in Tampa is considered the best in class delivering “value and outstanding quality” to its customers. Since its establishment in 1983, SMT has been a leader in providing high precision components and assemblies for aircraft, aerospace and defense industries. Some of its customers include: Aerocontrolex, Conax (Cobham), Honeywell, Teledyne and Woodward Governor. Its 20,000 sq ft facility in Tampa serves as a launch pad for manufacturing parts used in space vehicles, mars rovers, military/general aviation aircraft, regional and large jet planes, missile defense systems and satellites.

Given its gigantic scale of operations and high profile customers, investment in cutting edge technology takes precedence in defining success and meeting high-tech demands of its clientele. Shannon Sweatman, systems administrator at SMT states “we have an aggressive growth strategy, and strive to be the supplier of choice to the top global companies in our industries.” Maintaining these high standards requires “innovation, passion” and emphasis on “customer focused” strategies. SMT is a certified small employer with AS9100 certification under its belt. The company is capable of producing a large mix of parts while running 24/7 with lights-out capability. Its horizontal milling machines are on an automated 23 pallet system and controlled by a single cell controller computer. Two of the machines have 300 tool capacities; while the other can hold 120 tools. SMT also designs its own fixtures, specific tool and machining centers, and uses CAD and CAM software to model parts and program CNC machines. The company recently invested in a water jet deburring machine—the only one of its kind in the country—that enables removal of internal burrs from complex components with decreased cycle times and increased consistency. “Everything we manufacture is custom made, and we are very adaptable to each of our customers’ needs” Sweatman said.

Indeed SMT has been at the forefront of providing high-tech machining services for almost 30 years, and has been a member of the National Tooling & Machining Association (NTMA) since 1984. Most recently SMT was named NTMA’s 2010 Technology award winner. In the past, the company has also bagged the NTMA Safety award, business excellence award, OSHA Sharp award, and earned a spot on the 1988, INC 500 list of fastest growing companies in America. SMT’s relentless commitment to support high-tech operations in Tampa and in Florida has paved a close partnership with FLATE. In May 2011, SMT hosted the FLATE Industrial Advisory Committee comprised of industry partners from the manufacturing community, representatives from related professional organizations in the community interested in promoting/supporting education and training of the manufacturing workforce at various levels. Through this partnership SMT hopes to work with FLATE to support local robotics programs/teams, and/or hone competencies needed to train the next generation of high-tech workers.

For information on SMT contact Shannon Sweatman at, or visit For information on FLATE and its Industrial Advisory Committee contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at, or visit

FLATE Supports National Effort to Increase Pipeline of Skilled Workers in Knowledge Economy

As the U.S. Department for labor points to STEM as a “central” force in sustaining economic competitiveness and growth, focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is at an all time high, at all educational levels. Across the board, there is general consensus as well as consciousness to step up education and training efforts to prepare a fresh pipeline of workers who are qualified to work in STEM-related fields (Source: Department of Labor). FLATE recognizes this growing need and importance of STEM, and has joined in this national effort to increase the number of “knowledge workers.” The Center’s role as a leader in creating relevant, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) centered curriculum has had a positive impact on middle and high school educators across Florida.

As part of its effort to share information and resources, Dr. Marie Boyette, FLATE’s associate director recently presented sessions, for the second year, at the 2011 Secondary Science Professional Study Day for Hillsborough County high school educators. The event was held Aug. 17 and involved 21 high school teachers. In keeping with the theme—Accessing the World through Science—Dr. Boyette presented information on integrating the T & E in STEM into mainstream curriculum. During the workshop, educators had the opportunity to engage in a project-based learning activity that involved creating their own curriculum aligned to core STEM concepts. Working in teams, teachers designed a prototype following the four step engineering design process (Plan, Design, Test and Share). Projects created covered water quality, hydroponic gardening, building cars from bicycle parts, and mechanical vs. electrical efficiency. “These hands-on projects were geared to demonstrate how science and math serve as enablers for technology and engineering applications” Boyette said.

Teachers were also updated about FLATE’s expansive resources available to their schools. These included organizing field trips to local high-tech industries, mapping college and career pathways, and FLATE’s award winning lesson plans replete with STEM-embedded concepts and applications. Teachers also received information on “Industry Day” for students, hosting onsite professional development workshops for teacher groups, and FLATE’s summer institutes and STEM camps for teachers. Larry Plank, director of STEM education for K-12 at Hillsborough County Public Schools was “delighted to have wonderful support from academic and community partners.” He said “FLATE and others make for unique opportunities for our teachers and students...ultimately inspiring kids to pursue careers in STEM.”

For more information on FLATE’s professional development initiatives, or STEM based projects/curriculum contact FLATE’s Executive Director, Dr. Marilyn Barger at, and Dr. Marie Boyette at You can also visit for additional resources.

National Career Pathways Network Annual Conference: Transforming Lives for a Strong America

The National Career Pathways Network is bringing its 20th anniversary conference to Florida for only the second time in our history. The conference will be October 13–14 (with several preconference options on October 12), at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

Although more than 40 of the conference presentations will be by fellow Floridians, there will be more than 100 presentations from career pathways practitioners outside of Florida so that attendees may see what is going on in other parts of the country. Whether you are involved with traditional secondary-to-postsecondary transitions or with adult education, the NCPN conference has presentations that will help you implement and/or improve career pathways programs.
  • 8 program strands
  • 12 preconference workshops
  • Keynote speakers
  • Registration information and forms (online and printable versions)
 Special offers to help with costs include:
  • We are extending the "super early bird" discounted registration rate from June 30 to September 28 – just for Floridians.
  • Districts and institutions that send at least 20 people may receive a $50 per person registration discount – print paper forms instead of online.
  • Classroom teachers (any level) may take a $50 discount – in addition to other discounts.
  • NCPN members receive a discount.
  • Those registering for a Kuder preconference receive a main conference discount.
For more information visit, or contact David Bond at