'Tis the Season

Dr. Marilyn Barger congratulates
FLATE Awardees at the
2011 MAF Summit.
Whoever can believe that it is December already. As we all scurry around sharing holiday festivities and fun, ‘tis the season to also squeeze in some time to review the year that is almost over and our plans/dreams for the one starting in just a couple of weeks.

FLATE spent some of this past year critically evaluating our accomplishments and analyzing stakeholder feedback as we focused time and energy on our proposal to NSF for renewed funding. We received great feedback from our stakeholder survey, and several focus groups during the year. Through this input, we have distilled two important stakeholder needs that we are addressing. First, FLATE’s help was requested by our industry partners in developing strategies for engaging with students and the education system . Second, we had significant requests for more professional development opportunities for teachers and educators.

We have begun to address the first need by developing an Outreach Kit for manufacturers. Starter “Made in Florida” outreach kits were distributed personally to many Regional Manufacturing Associations (RMA) at the recent Manufacturers Association of Florida (MAF) Summit and Global Marketplace in Orlando. (Kits which were not delivered personally will be arriving by Santa’s sleigh sometime next week with help from the USPS.) Since one size does not fit all, please remember that FLATE would be most happy to help individual RMAs and/or specific manufacturers customize their own materials.

Enclosed in each kit you will find:

• a “Made in Florida” DVD (video also available online: www.madeinflorida.org/why-manufacturing/

• stacks of Made in Florida postcards and our new “Hire an ET Grad” postcards to handout, or use however you see fit ( more available upon request)

• printed copies of our 2 FLATE Best Practice booklets:
  • 1-“Robotics Camp Survival Guide”
  • 2-“Middle & High School Field Trips to Florida High Technology Manufacturing Facilities”
• links to career and tech education directors and career academies on the Florida Department of Education website

• sample handouts we regularly use when presenting career options to students, or when taking student on tours of manufacturing facilities

• a FLATE flash drive that contains a copy of the outreach kit letter with embedded links plus two versions of a PowerPoint Presentation “Made in Florida – great careers are waiting for you!”
  • FLATE MadeInFlorida PPT 11-2011.pdf: Slide show for presentation, directions for use are on the first slide.
  • FLATE MadeInFlorida PPT Notes 11-2011.pdf: A notes version of the same presentation with each slide accompanied by some talking points on a page together to help you develop your own ideas about what to say to the students.
The industry outreach kit letter with embedded links is now the very first link on the “Made in Florida” industry portal/link: www.madeinflorida.org/industry. This “page” has been reorganized to host outreach materials for our stakeholders’ use and includes additional resources not specifically listed in the outreach kit letter that you might be interested in. As always, we are interested in your feedback, so please let us know if there are other tools you might be interested in, or if you would like to develop some customized materials, or if you would just like us to help you get started. Our goal is to lower the barriers between industry and education so we can provide our Florida students with first hand information about the great jobs, careers, and educational opportunities available for them in manufacturing in Florida.

Enjoy this last newsletter of 2011. This edition captures a story about the Technical Student Association at Lakewood Ranch High School, and how it has spurred students’ interest in STEM. This edition also highlights Gulf Coast State College’s mobile laboratory training kit as a cost-effect alternative to standard training methods, and discusses the FIRST robotics program in Florida, and underlines the role of national conferences, like the National Career Pathways Network conference, in serving as a platform for students to showcase local Career & Technical programs. The whole FLATE team wishes everyone a peaceful, restful and fun holiday. May all your days be bright!

sTEm–at-Work (Puzzle #25): Chemical Deposition Chamber Outgassing

A technician working for a semiconductor manufacturing facility removes residual molecules that have been adsorbed to the inside surface of a below atmospheric pressure chemical deposition chamber by heating the chamber for several hours. The heat from this “bake-out” process drives the adhered molecules back into the gas state so they can be pumped from the chamber. To perform this procedure, the tech closes the chamber, turns on the vacuum pump, applies heat to the walls of the chamber and records the pressure inside the chamber as a function of time. Two identical chemical deposition chambers are to go through this process one at a time. One chamber was “baked-out” just before a shift change and a new shift tech had to complete the work started before he reported for work. After examining pressure data for the two identical chemical deposition chambers, the technician knows which chamber had already been “baked-out”.

Chamber CVD T4 has not been through the “baked-out” process. (yes or no). Submit your answers at www.fl-ate.org, or right below this posting here on the blog.

Technical Student Association at Lakewood Ranch High School Spurs Interest in STEM

Career and technical student associations (TSA) through their respective missions play a prominent role in creating an environment where students can aspire to be the best in advanced technology careers. FLATE recognizes the importance of these organizations and has established partnerships with various career and technical student organizations throughout Florida. The Engineering Club at Lakewood Ranch High School (LRHS) is one such organization FLATE works with, and is part of TSA—an international association focused on different areas of engineering and technology.

LRHS TSA Students with Quinton Jones,
at NCPN Conference in Orlando.
The TSA chapter at Lakewood Ranch High School started approximately nine years ago, and has been a dominant national team for the past six years. There are currently 34 different projects, TSA students are currently working on, that focus on developing various skills set that range from public speaking, to building robots, animatronics, to computerized woodworking. Of these projects, students enrolled in the engineering club are involved in at least three projects/events throughout the year. Some of these include computer web design, video gaming, designing and creating architectural designs and models.

Given its involvement in various projects the TSA at LRHS enjoys a robust reputation. They recently ranked first in the nation for video game design, and hold third place in the nation for designing and creating architectural models. The award winning architectural model was on display at the 2011 National Career Pathways Network Conference in Orlando, FL., which served as a platform for students to showcase local career & tech programs in Florida.(You can read about the Florida Student Showcase in the November edition of NCPN Connections). Additionally, they ranked second in the nation last year for creating a carbon dioxide powered dragster that could race through a 90 ft track in less than a second. The TSA team has also been invited by Universal Technologies Company to participate at various FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) events, and to visit its site so students can get insider know-how about UTC engineers, and interact with industry professionals who have insider knowledge. It is such opportunities that get students like Jamie Marchini excited about TSA. Marchini, a senior at LRHS who is currently a TSA member says the projects have reinforced her passion for STEM. The experience has given her the ability to participate in regional/national competitions, gain fresh perspective/ideas on some of the projects she’s working on, and made her “a better learner overall.”

The root of excellence clearly lies in hands-on projects that are targeted to enhance students understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Teachers design projects that are not strictly textual based, but offer new ideas to students every semester, and are fun to learn. “We’re not just making mail boxes, or bird houses, we’re designing fun things like go carts and hovercrafts—something that kids can really care about.” Jones takes a subliminal approach to teaching STEM whereby students don’t realize they have to think about mathematics, or science, rather they take on these subjects by showcasing practical applications of it in everyday life. “A lot of courses you can’t really be creative, but STEM related subjects allow students to exercise their creativity and sharpen hands-on knowledge” Jones said.

Award winning architectual model,
designed by LRHS TSA students,
on display at NCPN Conference
Another component that has added to LRHS’s TSA team success is the curriculum itself. Classes/curriculum are designed to follow the nine step design process that starts with researching, planning, designing their product, working through the engineering portion using tools/machinery to accomplish the assigned task. For example, a large portion of the drafting program at LRHS is aligned with the SolidWorks Administrative Certification. In 2010, LRHS was the only school in Manatee County to get students tested on the SolidWorks Certification. Eighteen students passed the test, out which three students scored 100%. “It is a great opportunity for my students and my school, and that is the sole reason why I am pushing for students to take the next level certification” Jones said. In addition to the SolidWorks Administrative Certification, students are also encouraged to take the MSSC certification. “MSSC especially is great as it offers vast transferability of skills across industries” Jones said.

The Florida Technology Student Association (FLTSA), SkillsUSA and FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) are some of the organizations FLATE is closely involved with and actively supports. FLTSA fosters personal growth, leadership, and opportunities in technology, innovation, design, and engineering through co-curricular activities, competitive events and related programs. SkillsUSA is a partnership between students, teachers and industry representatives providing resources for teachers, high school and college students pursuing technical education/occupations. The South Florida Robotics invitational functions as a pathway for local students to participate at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competition which is a national robotics competition.

As part of the partnership, FLATE invests time and resources to design challenges, serves as judges in regional competitions, helps gather necessary equipment for the participants, and assists in securing a location to host some of these competitions. FLATE also helps set-up the arena, provides financial support through event sponsorship and team registrations. The initiative is part of FLATE’s effort to enhance technology education programs, and to provide extra-curricular and leadership skills for middle/high school students. In addition to FLATE’s involvement with career & technical organizations, FLATE recently named Greg McGrew, engineering instructor at LRHS 2011 Manufacturing Secondary Educator-of-the-Year. You can find out more about the awards and these organizations at www.fl-ate.org, or by contacting Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org, and Dave Gula at gula@fl-ate.org. For more information about Lakewood Ranch High School and its engineering program contact Quintin Jones at jonesq@manateeschools.net.

Gulf Coast State College Mobile Laboratory Training Kit offers a Flexible, Cost-effective Alternative to Standard Training Methods

In an effort to meet the computer automation and robotics technology training needs of manufacturing employees nationwide, Gulf Coast State College (GCSC) is offering the Mobile Laboratory Training Kit, a flexible, cost-effective alternative to standard training methods. Kim Allan, project coordinator for the technology division at GCSC says with the mobile kit “there’s no need to send employees out of town for training because the Mobile Laboratory Training Kit comes to you.” Each kit contains everything needed for a unique blend of hands-on training utilizing an online course delivery method. It can be shipped directly to a workplace, providing state-of-the-art training for up to 15 of your employees. The kit remains at the office for up to 16 weeks and is easy to use. Simply open the kit, set up the laptop computer, connect to the internet and you’re in a college class!

In addition to its portability, the mobile laboratory training kits are also part of the Computer Integrated Manufacturing certificate and A.A.S. degrees offered at GCSC. “We also offer the courses associated with this program for non-credit through our continuing education department for those wishing to advance their knowledge or not needing the entire program” Allan said. The trainer kits are utilized in our open lab hours here at the college when they are not in use by employers.
The mobile laboratory trainer kits were designed to offer more accessibility to training for incumbent workers in the manufacturing industry who find it difficult to attend the traditional face-to-face courses due to working swing shifts or other complications. Employees can opt to take each course for non-credit training or for college credits leading to a certificate or A.A.S. degree. The mobile laboratory kits have been in use for almost a year, and have been used by approximately 58 individuals using different trainer kits.

This program can also be customized to meet your specific training needs. These cost-effective, onsite hands-on training kits are available in the following areas: Programmable Logic Controls, Motor and Motion Controls, Hydraulics & Pneumatics Controls, Process Controls & Instrumentation, Industrial Networking and Industrial Robotics.

For more information, to learn more details on the courses available visit www.gulfcoast.edu/technology/cim_tutorial, or contact Dean Eavey at 850/769-1551 ext. 4868.

Article contribution by Kim S. Allan, technology division project coordinator at GCSC 

FIRST in Florida

Florida is home to a growing FIRST (For Recognition and Inspiration in Science and Technology) program that includes more than 60 high school level FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams, as many FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) teams, a high school program, and over 400 elementary and middle school FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams.

Robots at TNT

FIRST is increasingly in the public eye, from the May CNN story, “Don’t Fail Me,” to ABCs special with Black Eyed Peas singer Will.i.am, who has become the rock star face of FIRST. FIRST works hard to engage and inspire students in science and technology learning, with the long term mission of contributing to the nation’s technological enterprise. Terri Willingham, Assistant Regional Director for FIRST in Central Florida says FIRST’s immediate goal is to get youth excited about science and technology, to encourage them to pursue related studies and careers. Willingham added “We’ve got a host of great ways to do that with FIRST, which tasks students with building robots to compete in annual challenges.”

Through FIRST academic competition experiences, students can work “FIRST hand” with scientists, engineers, and technicians who serve as mentors and coaches in a collaborative, professional environment. The real-world experiences and the relationships students form within the science, engineering and technology community richly supplement and deepen learning in meaningful and enduring ways that go far beyond classroom experiences.

FIRST programs are:
  • Low cost and affordable, with significant funding availability
  • Standards aligned
  • Research based and proven to enhance student achievement and long term success
  • Rich in scholarship opportunities, with over 145 scholarship provides giving out nearly $15 million to participating youth
Nationwide they engage:
  • 294,000+ students
  • 26,900 teams
  • 24,300+ robots
  • 51,000 Mentors/adult supporters
  • 50,000 other Volunteers (e.g. events Volunteers, Operational and Affiliate Partners)
With respect to the Florida workforce community, FIRST offers numerous workforce training, volunteer and sponsorship opportunities that can strengthen an organization’s position and name recognition in the community, and provide both short and long-term returns on investments of time, expertise and funding.

To learn more, visit FIRST in Florida at http://flfirstrobotics.com or write to Terri Willingham at twillingham@usfirst.org, or visit http://firstinflorida.wordpress.com/.

Article Contributed by Terri Willingham, Assistant Regional Director, FIRST in Central Florida.