A Closer Look at ATE Programs’ Passion to “Partner with Industry for a New American Workforce”

Every October, the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) program supports a conference for the principal investigators, senior personnel of NSF projects and other involved stakeholders. The conference is a power-packed two days in Washington DC. Although the conference has a theme every year, the byline of the ATE program captures the root and essence of the ATE vision and passion for “Partnering with Industry for a New American Workforce”.

Three showcases, national speakers, round table discussions and working sessions provide the stakeholders of currently funded projects and centers many opportunities to share best practices, learn about new strategies and resources, and identify potential partners. I attended a deep dive round table workshop on industry partnerships where we brainstormed and shared effective strategies to get and keep industry involved in all aspects of our educational programs. Mike Ennis, FLATE’s partner from Harris Corporation, co-presented our own best practices at the session. Another working session on data and evaluation had many of us digging into good practices for collecting, analyzing and reporting impact data for NSF as well as our home institutions.

Despite being an active NSF ATE Principal Investigator (PI) for eight years, we are always looking for better ways to increase the impact of our programs and activities. One highlight of the PI conference is the interesting and provocative speakers for the general sessions. I have often left those presentations a bit uncomfortable and struggling with the potential impact of new, out-of-box ideas. Three, 2+ hour showcase sessions where projects and centers display their project activities are all highly stimulating sessions, and great vehicles to explore new technologies, pedagogies and/or valuable new ideas, demos and handouts.

This year Florida was represented by a number of projects and centers. Continuing projects and centers were joined by newly funded projects at Seminole State College, Polk State College, Tallahassee Community College, and South Florida Community College. There are brief summaries of all current NSF ATE projects and centers in Florida on our website at http://fl-ate.org/projects/ate.html. Check them out! They might have resources, or opportunities you are interested in, or spark an idea for your own grant project.

Perhaps the best is that the NSF ATE principal investigators, their stakeholders, and the NSF program officers are a real, working community of practice. It’s a community built on trust, helping and sharing. We face new challenges and mandates together. We work together to get the job done, each contributing what we can do best. We celebrate our individual and group successes together. We mentor and nurture each other. All of this provides fertile ground for personal growth and innovation. It is truly an honor and privilege to be part of such a warm and generous community.

The “New American Workforce” requires dynamic thinkers and strong leaders who cherish creativity and innovation. Articles in this December issue of the FLATE Focus, celebrate NSF ATE Centers’ role in forging partnerships with industry to build a new and skilled American workforce. On behalf of all FLATERS, I’d like to wish you all a warm and happy holidays!

Get into Gear with FLATE Awardees

Manufacturers and educators committed to promote, educate, and train Florida’s high-tech workforce will receive special recognition at the 9th Annual Manufacturers Association of Florida, Manufacturers (MAF) Summit. The awards will be presented on Dec. 6, during the president’s banquet at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Orlando, Fla., by FLATE (Florida Advanced Technological Education Center), the National Science Foundation (NSF) regional center of excellence for manufacturing located at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) in Brandon. According to Marilyn Barger, Ph.D., principal investigator and executive director of FLATE the awards “are a testament to Florida’s high-tech workforce.” They also “serve as an effective vehicle in recognizing outstanding educators and industry professionals who have made significant strides in training the next generation of high-skilled workers in Florida” Barger said.

Steve Portz will receive the 2012 Secondary Educator-of-the-Year award. Portz who is an instructor for engineering technology at Space Coast High School has been teaching engineering technology for the last 25 years. Portz is also the co-founder and lead instructor of the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Aerospace and Manufacturing) Academy at Space Coast High School. Portz played a leading role in co-writing the 2007 Florida Succeed Grant that lead to the establishment of an SLC academy. He has also hosted several industrial lecture series and offered summer camps with advanced topics in injection molding and composites, and instituted SolidWorks training program for the CSWA achieving a significant pass rate.

At the post-secondary level, Adrienne Gould-Choquette, faculty and program director of engineering technology at State College of Florida (SCF) in Bradenton, FL, will receive the Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator of the Year award. Choquette nurtured the engineering program since 2009, and has been instrumental in launching specialized courses in alternative energy, electronics and digital design. She also developed over 15 courses that include SolidWorks, Industrial Safety, Quality, Manufacturing processes and Solar Energy. At the state level she introduced several new courses including off-the-grid, nanotechnology, sustainability, building envelope science, and biofuels.

Indeed, Choquette has served as a great inspiration in persuading students like Andrew Sink to earn a degree in engineering technology. She helped Sink, a current student pursuing a degree in engineering technology at SCF find a job at a local manufacturing company, and “contributed immensely” to his “personal, professional, and academic growth.” Choquette is a member of the State of Florida Articulation Coordinating Committee for Engineering, and has been a faculty mentor for the FLATE-led Iberian partnership for technician excellence initiative for the last two years.

On the industry side of the continuum, Peter Buczynsky, president & co-founder of Pharmaworks, Inc. in Odessa, FL, will receive the Industry Distinguished Service award. Over the past few years, Buczynsky has coached a FIRST robotics team, and hosted several industry tours for students to increase technical interest and awareness. Buczynsky currently serves as a Pasco County Economic Development Council (PEDC) board member, and is the Chair of the PEDC Economic Growth Task Force. He is a member River Ridge High School’s engineering academy advisory board, and is part of the Pasco-Hernando Community College drafting and design advisory committee. Rob Aguis, director for community, career and technical education in Pasco County says “Bucznsky has been very influential in establishing and ensuring progress of career academies, STEM education and robotics throughout Pasco County.” Buczynsky is also a board member of the CTEF of the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute Workforce and Education Board, and has served as an advisory council member for the Banner Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

2012 marks the sixth year of the FLATE awards. Since the implementation of the awards program in 2006, FLATE has recognized 12 educators in secondary and post-secondary educational institutions, and six industry partners. For more information on the FLATE awards, contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org/813.259.6578, or visit www.fl-ate.org.

Great American Teach-In Emblematic of Industry-Centric Partnerships

For a number of years, the Great American Teach-in has offered students, educators and industry professionals across the nation an opportunity to share ideas and best practices on a vast range of topics. The program has helped “learners visualize and discuss ideal learning environments” enabling the cultivation of innovators and thinkers in society. It has also prompted creation of better workplaces by empowering individuals to work as a community. (Source: Great American Teach In)

Given its emphasis on industry-centric partnerships and impact on educators on a national and statewide level, FLATE, the National Science Foundation Center of Excellence in high-tech manufacturing, recently partnered with several manufacturers, industry partners and the school districts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties to participate in the Great American Teach-In event for local students and educators. On November 15, more than 150 students got an up-close look at high-tech manufacturing outfits in the region, and re warding career options available to students in Florida.

FLATE partnered with the Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA), a leading voice for manufacturers in the greater Tampa Bay area and HSA Engineers and Scientists, a local industry partner, to give local students an overview of STEM-related careers. Steve Meitzen, past president of BAMA and director of sales and marketing at Clarison Plastics in Ocala, FL, gave 25, fourth graders from Citrus Park Elementary School, a first-hand account of high-tech manufacturing operations in the region. FLATE also partnered with HSA Engineers and Scientists, a local industry partner in Tampa, to give students enrolled in the STEM Engineering Academy at Greco Middle an in-depth look at STEM based careers. Steven Janosik, senior project engineer at HSA talked to 6th and 7th graders about the importance of STEM and showcased its applicability in every day high-tech processes. Elizabeth Heli, lead technology instructor at Greco pre-engineering STEM academy and a technology instructor for FLATE’s all girls’ robotics camps said “the presentation was wonderful,” and gave students got a first-hand view of what it takes to be an engineer.

In addition to tapping into industry expertise, FLATE professionals visited Brandon High School, Walker Middle Magnet School, Bevis Elementary School and Greco Middle School in Tampa. At Bevis Elementary School in Lithia, Nina Stokes, project manager for the FLATE-led FESC program at HCC, gave two presentations that covered topics related to energy sources, energy efficiency, recycling, and water conservation. She distributed materials and examples offering students a real-world view and applications of the concepts discussed in the presentation. According to Stokes “the kids were fascinated by the simple windmills and how they could generate electricity just by spinning the blades.”

In another “show and tell” type presentation, students at Walker Magnet Middle School were taught about recycling. “Ms. Fedna did an amazing job with the students!” said Desaray Cochron from Walker Magnet Middle School. Fedna was very hands-on, and showcased real-life examples that got students excited about recycling. At Brandon High School, Danielly Orozco & Rick Cole gave students an insider’s look at educational and career pathways in high-tech manufacturing. Orozco, FLATE’s curriculum coordinator, presented Made In Florida manufacturing resources for teachers and students. The presentation enhanced students’ understanding about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, provided insight on what it takes to become an engineer, and how programs like the FLATE-created statewide degree in engineering technology can help students pursue STEM-related careers.

“Great American Teach-In was a great collaborative success” said Dr. Marilyn Barger. Barger, principal investigator and executive director of FLATE, said the hope is “to educate and motivate students to explore unique career options in manufacturing,” and bring the world of high-tech manufacturing into the classroom of local schools.

To participate in Great American Teach-In visit www.declarationofeducation.com. For information on FLATE-led local and statewide STEM based projects contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit www.fl-ate.org and www.madeinflorida.org.

sTEm–at-Work: Answer for Puzzle #31

This puzzle provides the opportunity to explore the plots and determine that two of the
three batches of devices have failed quality expectations each for a different reason.  The inverse response dependency is present in one of the failed batches while the other does not exhibit this inverse relationship. This provides opportunities to discuss direct and inverse relationships relative to function response.   The high temperature response of the other two batches provides the distinction between failed performance and expected performance for the two batches that do exhibit inverse response characteristics.  The interesting point to make about Diode lot: PP#203B is the fact that although it has in inverse linear region, the fact that the output voltage value goes up as temperature goes up is a valid reason for rejecting the batch.  This high temperature region response suggests that there was a flaw somewhere in the manufacturing process and thus the devices with that flaw cannot be trusted to perform as expected through their entire life cycle.  The fact that the devices in Diode lot PP#520B fail as expected provides an opportunity to discuss the fact that devices are designed to operate within a desired range.  If the devices operate correctly within that range and do not exhibit unexpected operational characteristics outside that designed range, the devices will pass their quality inspection.

All three batches of these devices have to be reported as not meeting performance expectations?

Answer: NO

FLATE Steps Forward in Building Strategic & Sustainable Industry-Education Partnerships

FLATE, the Florida Advanced Technological Education Regional Center of Excellence, was established by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2004 to help develop a skilled and qualified workforce for Florida’s manufacturers. FLATE builds the pipeline of future workers for Florida's advanced manufacturing sector by using a comprehensive, three pronged approach: Curriculum Reform, Outreach, and Professional Development. FLATE’s vision and mission are grounded in collaborative partnerships. In 2011, Florida industry expressed the need for partnerships with schools to develop a pipeline of STEM-educated employees, and schools have expressed a strong desire for this partnership, but both entities have had a slow start forging ahead to make these partnerships happen.

Given the interest from both sides of the continuum, FLATE has stepped in to facilitate strategic partnerships between industry and education at both the grass roots and higher levels. Through the Center’s efforts, industry and educational institutions can now engage in a variety of partnerships and activities as outlined in our new guide that is currently in production and produced in partnership with the Manufacturers Association of Florida’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAME). Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE says “partnerships often begin with a single, regular involvement in an outreach activity, and increases as interest in that activity grows and expands to others.” Although partnerships may start with a single person in a school, or company, it is imperative this initiative will expand to involve more stakeholders. In the school, this could be a program director (CTE director and/or principal). At the company, the group might include human resources, media and outreach/community involvement personnel as well as plant or operations managers, engineers and/or technicians. “Strong, lasting partnerships involve relationship, and relationships involve people” Barger said.

FLATE’s goal in this activity is to build a network of sustainable partnerships. As a first step forward in that direction, FLATE is sharing lessons learned and best practices on how to create successful and sustainable school/industry partnerships. The Center is offering a “laundry list” of possibilities that schools and industry can mix and match to create strong partnerships that result in “win-win” scenarios for both. “We will offer tips for talking with students about aspects of manufacturing that young people can relate to and are even passionate about” said Barger. The partnerships will have many common and fundamental threads, but they won’t look alike and shouldn’t! FLATE can help you get started on your partnership adventure to grow a strong and engaging educational pathway for manufacturing careers. Please do not hesitate to share your stories; we would love to celebrate and share them.

Finally, providing the correct image of manufacturing is imperative. Many still see the manufacturing industry as merely assembly lines of workers manually processing widgets all day. Educating and informing students (and parents) about the world of modern manufacturing and the opportunities available in the field is essential. Too many young people are disregarding manufacturing as a career, unaware of the career and wage potential. However, the image will not change unless we do something to change it. Involvement is vital!

Look for the new FLATE Best Practice Guide in January and hit the ground running in 2013. To join FLATE in this strategic mission visit www.madeinflorida.org and www.fl-ate.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, P.I. & executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org.

Another use for Toothpicks!

At this time of year when holiday food and feasting are popular pastimes, toothpicks are often little items that play a big role, but did you know that toothpicks also play a major role in learning about effective corporate communication skills? For a number of years, FLATE has put toothpicks to work in addressing industry’s need to provide “soft skills” training for employees. FLATE’s Toothpick Factory© is a hands-on, experiential activity designed to stimulate awareness about a wide range of communication and teamwork skills crucial in corporate environments.

How does it work? The Toothpick Factory© comes in a complete kit with everything needed to facilitate a workshop session. “Jobs” in the Toothpick Factory© consist of clients, pre-production, production, distribution, and quality control teams that are split into teams of four, or more individuals. Excitement builds with “monopoly style” cards which can mix things up for the teams. Reflective post activity scorecards provide the opportunity for individual self-reflection, are effective as a springboard for facilitated debriefing, and can be used as a resource for further assessment.

The Toothpick Factory was awarded a 2011 National Career Pathways Network (NCPN) Best Practice Award. Each “kit” comes packed with all the resources and no assembly, additional purchase, or cutting required! There is even a disc containing a ready-to-use PowerPoint presentation. A variation for a shortened version of the “game” is included in case time is limited. Its uniqueness and popularity has earned fans in six states and around the world, as far away as Australia. This hands-on and interactive “simulation game” has also provided fresh perspective on soft skills to over 600 educators and business professionals, and has been a great starting point for students preparing to enter the workforce. Out of 349 collected surveys, 96% of participants agree, or strongly agree that the Toothpick Factory© is “a resourceful way to promote the importance of soft skills.”

Sessions are typically provided in conference settings, on teacher development work days, and by request for professional development events. Toothpick Factory© kits are available for purchase online on FLATE’s, Made in Florida website, and are typically purchased for employee and teacher orientations to facilitate communication in new teams. High school and college teachers have also used the kits to improve student communication skills, and teach listening, speaking, adapting, and leading skills which are so important in today’s teamwork-oriented environments. It is also a good way to start a pattern for cooperative learning.

Research suggests that learning “by doing” is the best way to explore and learn about soft skills. In fact, employers rate communication skills as a highly desirable trait in employees, and a critical skill for effective interaction with co-workers. To that effect, FLATE’s Toothpick Factory© provides a fun and effective addition to typical team building workshops. To learn more, visit http://madeinflorida.org/toothpick-factory, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.

Path To Excellence in Technical Education—Is Asia’s Next Tech Tiger up for a Top Challenge?

Technical Education plays a crucial role in India’s economy, and is a major booster in positioning India as one of the high-tech hot spots in the global arena. Over the past few decades India has heavily invested in improving its educational infrastructure. These changes can be traced back to the mid 19th century when the government started laying the foundation for a structured technical education system. A major overhaul in technical education took place with the appointment of the Indian Universities Commission in 1902. This was followed by the constitution of Technical Education Committee in 1943, the formation of the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) in 1945, the establishment of the statutory AICTE Act in 1987, and its implementation in 1988. The AICTE currently oversees the planning, formulation, maintenance, monitoring and evaluations of all technical programs throughout the country. (Source: All India Council for Technical Education).

Technical education has, indeed, always been the bedrock of Indian economy. Technical Education is divided into three levels: industrial training institutes that offer trade courses for skilled workers; polytechnic institutes that offer diplomas for mid-level technicians; and engineering colleges that conduct undergraduate and post graduate studies in engineering and technology. Of late, with an increase in government expenditure and emphasis in technical education programs, private engineering institutions are also playing an integral role in meeting regional technician training and workforce needs.

According to a study conducted by Naresh Kumar at the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS) there are currently 7,361 degree providing institutions that offer 10,364 programmes with an intake capacity of 1,954,482 students. The study also revealed that India has the highest number of engineers per million persons among emerging economies, with demand for technical professionals at an all-time high. The basic framework consists of federally funded institutions, state-funded institutions and self-financed institutions. Then too, the engineering and technical infrastructure is not uniform. In that “it is more skewed towards south central, south and north west regions of the country.” The states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have the largest number of technical institutions, while the north east states have least number of technical institutions. (Source: NISTADS).

Kumar notes that over the past few years “India has registered a substantial performance in technical education” and measures are being taken to “improve the quality of technical education by greater use of technology in teaching-learning processes.”These are not blanket measures. They are being implemented on a state-by-state basis, and are targeted to ensure maximum return on investments.

In the state of West Bengal, for example, the growth rate in higher technical education has remarkably improved, particularly in emerging areas like information technology, computer science and engineering, electronics, and communication engineering. In keeping with changes in technology and to meet workforce-related demands, plans are also in place to introduce courses in engineering/engineering technology, biotechnology, genetic engineering, environmental engineering, pharmaceutical technology, material science etc. (Source: West Bengal Department of Higher Education).

The situation is similar in the neighboring state of Sikkim. In that unlike earlier years where civil, mechanical, or electrical engineers were treated exclusive of each other and operated in separate silos, engineering education has witnessed a greater level of integration both regionally as well as nationally. Ruben Phipon, associate professor at the department of mechanical engineering at Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology (SMIT) attributes this change primarily to the computer revolution. Phipon believes “computers have enabled greater degree of flexibility in terms of transferability of skills/knowledge” from one field to another.

Curriculum is not the only factor that has experienced changes and growth. There has been a major expansion in degree level engineering and technology education. In that, in 1947 there were only three engineering colleges in the state of West Bengal that could accommodate a maximum of 320 students. That number grew to 12 colleges with an increase in maximum capacity from 320 to 1452 students. Today the number of engineering and technology colleges has multiplied six times, with total intake capacity of more than 20,000 students reported between 2008-2009. All colleges in the state are AICTE approved and affiliated to West Bengal University of Technology which is the governing body ensuring “uniformity in academic curriculum, up-gradation and excellence in all technical arenas.” (Source: West Bengal Department of Higher Education).

Indeed engineering and technical education has been a driving force in most economic spheres in India. Then too, technical and engineering education is undergoing a major metamorphosis. At the higher secondary as well as post-secondary education levels much is being debated about the quality, or the maintenance of high standards of engineering education, and its competitiveness in a global arena. Like many educators in the region and around the country, Phipon believes there is a need for a major overhaul in the curricula at the high school level. In terms of S & E related subjects, Phipon says, there is a lot of mathematics and numbers at the high school and two-year college level which tends to threaten students who are not naturally numerically inclined. The curriculum also tends to emphasize theories and theorms which “bore students.”

Dr. Rajendra Prasad Dhakal, principal of Kalimpong College in the state of West Bengal echoes Phipon’s sentiments. “If you look at the Indian educational system, the curriculum framework is not hands-on” says Dhakal. Even at the bachelors of Science level, the curriculum does not prepare students to become technically inclined. Subjects like physics, chemistry, and mathematics are too academically oriented with little to no exposure to practical applications of these subjects/concepts. To that end both Dhakal and Phipon believe “it would be helpful if students were allowed to engage in more experiential based learning at an earlier stage” rather than be engaged in a mere theory based form of education.

Besides a lack of hands-on education, major contentious issues include centralization and lack of autonomy vested to individual colleges, and accountability of statutory bodies like the University Grants Commission and even AICTE. Lack of proper infrastructure combined with a lack of common consensus in reforming curricula to ensure technological competitiveness, limited access and regional disparity are emerging as areas for concern in streamlining engineering education. Other areas of contention revolve around the need for establishing creditable national standards in the assessment and certification of skills and competencies, and a general need to obtain industry based training and experience for partial credit towards completion of degrees. (Source: NISTADS).

As of today, India clearly stands at the crossroads of a demand driven need for a high-tech, high-skilled workforce that is ready to perform at optimum levels in a global economy. To that end, both state and central governments have invested in qualitative as well as quantitative improvements in higher education, and have started the process of expansion to cater to the growing demands for technical brainpower both within and outside the country. If government, as well as the upper, mid and lower echelons of academia can find a meeting point, India might very well assume the title of Asia’s next tech tiger.

For more information on technical education in India visit AICTE, West Bengal Department of Higher Education, Sikkim Manipal Insitute of Technology, and National Institute of Science Technology and Development Studies. For information on FLATE’s award winning statewide engineering technology degree program offered in 12 state colleges throughout Florida visit www.madeinflorida.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.

Defining Differences: Engineering and Engineering Technology

In the educational world, there is an ongoing conversation about engineering and engineering technology. The history is laid out in a recent focused issue of the Journal of Engineering Technology, Spring 2012 edition (http://www.engtech.org/docs/Jet_Article_re_Survey.pdf). You are encouraged to read the collection of articles which includes a reprint of one from a 1985 publication on the current state of the issue at that time. Typically, the distinctions include differences based on academic courses students take in a 4-year college program.
• Engineering programs demand a lot of calculus and math. Engineering technology programs do not.

• Engineering programs include a lot of theory.

• Engineering technology programs require a lot of hands-on.

• Both programs can be accredited by ABET (Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology).

• B.S. Engineering program graduates can become licensed professional engineers. B.S. Engineering Technology grads cannot.

• “Engineering Technology” is and has been labeled, “engineering light”; applied engineering; “hands-on” engineering etc. in an effort to distinguish it from “Engineering” as academic disciplines.

However, from the survey results reported in the article referenced above, “7 out of 10 companies make no distinctions between graduates (of BS ET degree versus BS E degree) when hiring into engineering positions, nor do they make significant distinctions in assigning functions and responsibilities, nor do they note important differences in capabilities of either group while on the job.” The article goes on to analyze some specific questions that the captures information from over 200 company respondents that also provides additional statistics and anecdotal comments that strengthen the “no distinction” response I have reported here. (The whole of the survey instrument and tallied results can be found on the Engineering Technology Division National Forum website: http://www.engtech.org/organizations.php#NationalETForum).

Academic institutions continue to segregate the two disciplines, and during the last decades have housed them in different “departments” and/or “schools”. Students have to choose early in their secondary or post secondary education which path they will pursue, while companies that do not directly service the public sector hire baccalaureate graduates from these two discipline areas, make little distinction when hiring into “engineering” positions. This situation is very confusing to students wanting to enter an engineering profession and to parents who do not understand the options and opportunities. They need to know that in the current scheme, students can get many of the same good jobs, good pay and have great careers as “engineers” no matter which path they take. Although the survey provided additional information supporting the single statistic mentioned above, one point of distinction between graduates is the eligibility to become professionally licensed in engineering fields and positions which have that requirement.

Bringing the ”no distinction” home to Florida, FLATE, and our Engineering Technology Degree College Network, is Margi Lee, Mechanical Engineer, new Program Manager and Professor at Florida Gateway College in Lake City. She succinctly states “this poses a really crisp value proposition for earning an AS ET at a Florida State or Community college, then articulating it into the BS ET at Daytona State College.” These degrees provide opportunity for every hands-on oriented student willing to focus their time and talent to accomplish that goal. Look to your local state or community college to get a great start in an engineering career and feel free to contact me if you have additional questions or comments at barger@fl-ate.org.

Hard to believe that it’s November already and that the holidays and the end of the fall semester are just around the corner. Nonetheless, please take a few moments to catch up on our FLATE Industrial Advisory Committee, FAST Conference, Recruiting Girls Workshop, industry tours, Best Practice guide, and our infamous STEM Puzzle challenge.

WANTED: Girls for STEM Careers

Women in today’s U.S. economy fill up more than 57 percent of the workforce but there is less than 25 percent who are in STEM related jobs. There is currently a stigma that girls can’t “naturally” be driven in the demanding disciplines of mathematics therefore girls think that STEM related careers are not the path for them. The College of Central Florida (CF) says the exact opposite. CF received a Progress Energy Foundation Grant, which allows them to offer energy and engineering related workshops for secondary and post-secondary teacher and faculty. The October workshop, with a turnout of over 40 attendees, focused on recruiting women and minorities interested in the STEM fields as well as writing grants to help achieve these goals.

The Florida Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence (FLATE) presented at the workshop with a productive PowerPoint presentation. FLATE’s presentation was all about recruiting girls. One part of the presentation was to show how to help girls identify their interests and help them translate their interests into a career. Another section of the PowerPoint showed skills like writing, critical thinking, and mathematics are skills that can help students achieve their goals in the STEM field. Another part showed current STEM role models and how they ended up today. Dr. Betty Hackmyer, who worked with FLATE this past summer for the Ocala FLATE robotics camps, gave a mini-grant workshop focusing on writing grants for STEM education that are accessible for teachers. We hope to hear soon that one of the attendees was able to submit a successful grant mini-proposal.

One other speaker at the workshop was a University of Florida (UF) graduate who is currently an electrical engineer in Ocala, Florida and spoke to the attendees about how she got to where she is today. She is not only in graduate school at UF but is also an engineer for a startup company. She is from a small town in China and talked about her journey of breaking barriers to be a female engineer. Dr. Kevin Cooper, Director of Advanced Technology at Indian River State College, talked about how to get students interested in math and other STEM areas and translate that into a career. Diana Scroggie, the College of Central Florida Progress Energy Grant Coordinator and workshop organizer, wanted the workshop “to provide the type of programming that helps us better prepare incoming students for CF and other institutions. It helps us prepare teachers who prepare the students and in return help students make good choices choosing degree programs that will grow and create diverse population for careers down the road.”

There was great feedback on the event. Many attendees thought that the material at the workshop was useful and willing to use in their own program. Some of indicated that they will be using the FLATE website as a resource. Several attendees stated that they would like Dr. Barger and Dr. Cooper to address their students. Survey results show that the attendees’ wanting to spend more time to encourage students to seek their interest in mathematics shows the workshop’s impact. Scroggie said, “At the end of the day, these students have heard all the speakers and fabulous ideas about recruiting and STEM, that Dr. Barger and Dr. Hackmyer showed them how to pay for it.”

To check out FLATE's Presentation click here.

YES! to Industry Tour Impact

FLATE outreach initiatives regularly engage middle and high school students in tours to high tech industries using three primary models: the multisite “Industry Day” model described in the September FOCUS, FLATE’s traditional “Made in Florida” Industry Tours for middle and high school students where student groups are transported by bus to participating partner industries, and tours for private and home schools where parents provide the transportation. In 2012, FLATE increased both the number of events and participants in tours to advanced manufacturing facilities. Several factors added to this upturn: FLATE increasing the number of its Industry Day multi-site model tour offerings, a partnership with Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA) and county school districts offering a new STEM Goes to Work tour model (described in the Oct. FOCUS), expansion of tours into south Florida (Hendry County), an increase in the number of FLATE summer camps (tours are offered as part of the camp experience), and more requests for tours were received from middle and high school teachers. The positive change in both number of events and participants is reflected in the graph below showing a five year trend.

But, are these tours having a positive impact on the way students view advanced manufacturing careers? The data shows an unequivocal YES! FLATE compares strongly agree and agree student responses to two survey questions in order to consider the impact of the tour:

10.) I was considering a career in manufacturing before the tour.

13.) I am now considering a career in manufacturing or related technical industries.

Cumulative data (2005-2012) for collected surveys shows a 36% positive change in agree responses toward consideration of a career in a high tech manufacturing after the tour

(n = 2,292). 2012 survey data collected to-date through October shows a 43% (7% increase) in positive change for agree responses toward manufacturing career interest (n = 335). This percentage indicates a definite increase in tour impact on student perceptions of advanced manufacturing careers. Future plans to raise the impact of tours include: Work more closely with teachers prior to tours to ensure that they are aware of and know how to use the FLATE pre-tour lesson plan and activities; survey teachers and parents accompanying students on the tours for feedback; continue to share best practice tour models and grow outreach through collaboration with partners; work with Regional Manufacturing Associations to extend scope of tours; initiatives with Dream It! Do It! Florida; Continue incorporating tours into other events such as summer STEM and robotics camps to increase scope; explore strategies to better connect tour experiences to college and career pathways. These are exciting times for manufacturing. Tours to Florida high tech industries expose not only students, but their parents and teachers to the positive aspects of advanced manufacturing careers, and the education needed to obtain these careers.

To learn more about tours to advanced manufacturing industries, contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.

FOCUS on the IAC

FLATE’s Industry Advisory Committee (IAC), meets tri-annually to promote and provide sustainability for a strong industry connection with the Engineering Technology (ET) Degree Program. An industry tour for IAC participants at the host’s advanced manufacturing site is the usual opening to the meeting, and provides a firsthand look at the operations and machinery in use. After the tour, participants meet in a typical conference or meeting room with an additional online connection provided via Adobe Connect and facilitated by FLATE for those who are participating from a distance. News, updates and feedback includes Regional Manufacturers Association (RMA) reports on the activities and plans of RMAs. The collaborative nature of the IAC helps FLATE and others identify ways to help. For example, FLATE provided a complete “outreach pack” to RMAs for use in 2012 which included ready-to-use presentations, the Made in Florida video, and a wealth of print and online collateral materials ready for student outreach. IAC is an important way in which FLATE receives feedback, resulting in the newly remodeled FLATE website with its updated industry page. FLATE’s external evaluator provides a formal presentation at each meeting reflecting on different aspects of FLATE’s industry endorsed Baldrige Sterling evaluation and objectives. IAC group activities have involved the group in feedback for new FLATE Goals, a STEM Survey, Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) curriculum frameworks review of standards and benchmarks, and Nanotechnology inventory among others, providing the necessary and valuable feedback required as go forward in these projects.

The value of the industry certifications and what that brings to local industry provides a forum for a good discussion. The topic of certificates and training covers a wide range of areas. The benefits of the industry certifications including the MSSC, the value of these industry certifications, and the employment outlook for the local region and the state are all variables in the equation. The MSSC in many areas is now a preferred characteristic for employment, but to promote specific technical expertise, industry support and collaboration is needed.

Industry trends and the educational connection are always important topics for IAC discussion, with the education connection for workforce pipeline development emphasized. Discussions target the ways and means of interaction with industry partners and outreach for local educational institutions (especially high school students and their parents). Since manufacturing forms a viable part of the community, it’s important to support and grow that connection’s positive visibility, and IAC input helps with that. Industry trend discussions include participant’s’ experiences working with the local workforce boards and the economic development council to provide a pipeline of technical talent needed not only for the host’s and participants’ businesses, but for the state of Florida. Hearing from students is important in order to evaluate the education-to-industry connection from a student’s perspective. At the September 2012 meeting, three current HCC Engineering Technology students shared the many benefits of the ET degree: applying the MSSC toward 15 college credit hours, the appropriateness of the degree to prepare for promotion at students’ current place of employment, potential to continue on to a more advanced degree after receiving the A.S., and the ability to use the skill set they acquired in the military.

Overall, the IAC provides an opportunity for FLATE, educators, industry partners, and state level workforce partners to meet, partner, collaborate and achieve. Sharing is an effective enabler for avoiding duplication of effort and for forwarding initiatives in research, resources, and knowledge sharing. IAC feedback helps insure that the Engineering Technology program continues to support the needs of Florida industry. Contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org to become involved.

FLATE Presents at the Annual Florida Association of Science Teachers (FAST) Conference in St. Pete. Beach

FLATE’s Nina Stokes, and Mark Dick, an instructor at Tallahassee Community College, gave a presentation at last week’s Florida Association of Science Teachers (FAST) conference at the beautiful Tradewinds Resort on St. Petersburg Beach. The Florida Association of Science Teachers (FAST) is the state's largest non-profit professional organization dedicated to improving science education at all levels, pre-school through college. The association's membership includes science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, representatives of business and industry, and others interested in science education.

Their presentation, titled “Energy Camps that are Energizing”, highlighted energy camps and teacher energy workshops held at Hillsborough and Tallahassee Community Colleges as a part of the National Science Foundation-funded Energy systems Technology Technicians (EST2) Project. The EST2 Project Team also comprises individuals from Brevard Community College and Florida State College at Jacksonville. Energy camps and teacher workshops were offered simultaneously at all four institutes last summer.

The FAST annual conference for science educators emphasizes excellence and highlights outstanding programs, innovative teaching techniques, research findings, as well as new materials and equipment. Make-and-take workshops and interactive, hands-on sessions are a major component too. Nina and Mark’s presentation dovetailed perfectly with the conference’s focus. Their presentation concentrated on providing participants with all the resources necessary to design, organize and host their own energy camp (or energy teacher workshop). Logistics, partners, funding, content, activities, equipment needed, transportation and food were just a few of the areas covered. Lessons learned from their experiences were shared, along with ways they planned to enhance their camps next year, based on suggestions and requests obtained from student and teacher evaluations.
As the production of renewable energy continues to grow, professional development opportunities like the FAST conference and, on a smaller scale, teacher energy workshops, will be essential to provide teachers with the tools they need to educate tomorrow’s citizens about issues that will directly impact their lives in the future. Kids’ camps like the ones described in Nina and Mark’s presentation can spark students’ interest and “hook” them into STEM subjects - get them excited about learning concepts that they might have once thought were “way too hard”. They also serve to introduce them to the growing number of high tech energy-related careers available.

In an effort to increase “Green” Professional Development activities, FLATE, in partnership with the Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC) and the Florida Solar Energy (FSEC) Center in Cocoa, will be hosting an Energy Workshop for Community College and High School instructors on January 25, 2013. The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) was created by the Florida Legislature in 1975 to serve as the state’s energy research institute. The main responsibilities of the center are to conduct research, test and certify solar systems and develop education programs. Penny Hall of FSEC gave a super presentation about solar cookers and how to build them, to a packed audience at the FAST conference. The January workshop will be held at the FSEC facility and will include a make-and-take professional development activity, as well as a tour. For more information about FSEC, please visit www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/ and to learn more about the workshop, or for a copy of the presentation, please contact Nina Stokes, FESC Project Manager, at stokes@fl-ate.org.

A STEM Based Professional Development Success Story

Borrowing and slightly modifying the popular closing line from “The A Team” – “it’s always great when a professional development plan comes together”. In this case, the plan involved; a major manufacturer of plasma etching equipment as well as key deposition technologies for the specialty microelectronics industry, Plasma-Therm; the Florida Chapter of the AVS, the professional society composed of research scientists, engineers, and technicians from university, industry, department of defense, and national laboratories as well as major manufacturers of specific micro to nano scale devices; the School District of Hillsborough County, the 8th largest school district in the country; and the National Science Foundation through its regional Center of Excellence, FLATE. The plan was simple. Develop a partnership among these entities to support the two day Science Educators Workshop presented by the AVS Education Committee so that over a dozen teachers from all over Florida could participate in this professional development event.

To retreat a bit to fill in the pieces, the AVS has conducted their Science Educators Workshop (SEW) at their International Symposium since 1989. The workshop provides an intense exposure to vacuum technology and the leading edge technologies that require a below atmospheric pressure controlled environment. Since the workshop’s inception, nearly 500 teachers from all over the country have attended. In additional to lectures that connect small scale device research, metrology, and manufacturing technologies to the high school teachers’ STEM mission, the AVS provides the schools of attending teachers a complete two stage vacuum pump with the supporting items that permit the teachers to integrate what they have learned into their own class room.

This year, this international conference with its corresponding SEW was held in Tampa Florida. FLATE took full advantage of this opportunity to maximize the number of teachers from Florida attending the workshop. Working in partnership the Florida Chapter of the AVS (FLAVS), funds were secured to bring teachers from schools all over the state to the workshop. This attendance package included hotel and travel expenses provided through the FLAVS and FLATE as well as a full conference registration provided by the AVS Education Committee to attend all conference activates. One highlight activity included a guided tour through the conference exhibit, which is the largest conference exhibition of vacuum related equipment and technologies in the world.

In addition to the workshop and conference participation, the teachers were invited into the manufacturing facility of Plasma-Therm in St. Petersburg Florida. After arriving at Plasma-Therm by a charted bus, the teachers received a warm welcome including souvenirs, an overview of their manufacturing process, and then they suited up in “bunny suits” for a first hand look inside the manufacturing clean room. The group was shown the various production stages for manufacture, assembly, and final product qualification testing for the company’s plasma etch chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) product line. All the educators on the tour commented on how great this tour was. They loved seeing the equipment being “manufactured” – which included many views of what “inside” these automated process machines.

The School District of Hillsborough County (SDHC) is teaming up with FLATE for the final stage of this outstanding teacher professional development experience. The District will support an additional professional development workshop to be conducted by FLATE in the spring of 2013. The main objective of this event will be to reinforce the STEM concepts presented at the SEW as well as coordinate the development of lessons and hands-on experiences based on the equipment sets provided by the AVS. Although this follow up event is targeted at SEW attendees from the SDHC, the other SEW participants from Florida will be invited to attend.

In summary, FLATE wants to extend a warm thank you to all of the individuals within these partners’ organizations that made this great workshop a reality for so many Florida teachers. Although, the next SEW will be at AVS’s 2013 meeting next November in Long Beach California we are confident that this year’s workshop in Tampa will be a benchmark event for all future workshops. We also know that the partnership between FLAVS and FLATE will produce an opportunity for teachers from Florida to attend that workshop in Long Beach. “Wow! This was an incredible workshop – with a great mix of professional development for me, materials for my classroom, terrific mix of teaching styles, and awesome tours and it was so very nice to be treated as a professional side by side with the researchers attending the conference. We all learned so much, and extended our own professional networks”. You can find out more on the AVS website, www.avs.org, under education and Science Educator Workshop.

Best Practice Guide

The Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE) developed a Best Practices Guide to designing strategic communications tools. This guide shows a variety of outlets that FLATE use to reach out and inform key stakeholders, and the media about the Center’s multi-faceted initiatives. The guide includes samples of a press release, a media kit, and a news alert. The communications program reflects FLATE’s vision as a leading educational resource and supports the workforce in the high performance production and manufacturing community.

The FLATE website has many new materials ready to be viewed including a testimony of FLATE’s summer camps, Hillsborough Community College winning the green genome overall award and FLATE’ grant renewal. To learn more about FLATE or to check out our guide, visit us at www.fl-ate.org.


The Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE) invited college staff to the first ever
FLATERWEEN-Open House at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) - Brandon Campus. Visitors mustered the courage to tour HCC’s haunted Engineering Technology Laboratory by walking through the “dangerous” Brain Storm Area and experiencing STEAMING tricks and treats. During this event, FLATE staff had the opportunity to explain & demonstrate why FLATE is Florida’s leading resource promoting and supporting advanced technology education. Guests learned about FLATE’s multiple resources such as the “Made in Florida” industry tours, educator resources that include professional development opportunities, lesson plans for middle and high school students, soft skills activity, summer robotic camps, and much more. ‘Tricks and Treats’ included activities such as the “Flatekenstein-robot” experience, which allowed visitors to interact with robots and learn more about the current trend of robotic applications and manufacturing.

For more information about FLATE events please visit www.madeinflorida.org 

sTEm-at-work Puzzle 31

Thermodiode voltage response to temperature changes

An advantage of thermodiodes over other types of temperature sensors is their compatibility with computer chip manufacturing procedures. They can be easily manufactured as small scale devices in large quantities and low manufacturing cost per batch and are widely used for automotive and appliance applications. Their down side is the fact that the temperature range where they provide a linear response to temperature changes is subject to the internal characteristic manufactured into the device. Thus, technicians always quality test each batch of devices before they leave the manufacturing facility as well as report when a batch does not meet performance expectations. The Tech knows that for a specific current there is a specific voltage value across the device (the forward bias potential) that is also inversely dependent on the temperature surrounding the device. It is also understood that when the temperature is too high the diode current drops drastically and the device is no longer sensitive to temperature changes in its surroundings. The tech has recorded the performance of three different batches.

1) All three batches of these devices have to be reported as not meeting performance expectations.

Yes or No?