Executive Director Takes Stock of FLATE’s Upcoming Professional Development Initiatives

One of FLATE’s 2012 New Year’s resolutions is to respond to our stakeholder survey request to provide additional opportunities for professional development. We are doing that by offering and supporting these activities every month and hopefully each with a pleasant twist. In January, FLATE hosted the 4-day Southwest Microsystems Education (SCME, www.scme-nm.org) Pressure Sensor Workshop. Rather than a sit on your hands slide show, participants had a hands-on experience in clean room fabrication that culminated with a working MEMS pressure sensor device. Faculty from 10 community colleges around the country actually built their own devices over the 4 day period with the help of Rob Tufts and the expert team at the USF Nanotechnology Research and Education Center (NREC). Although I am knowledgeable of microelectronics processing, I was still fascinated to learn how many of the same manufacturing processes and techniques are used to make micrometer scale flexible membrane pressure sensing devices. It was awesome!

The following week, FLATE conducted a Toothpick Factory workshop for 20 eager Educators in north Texas at the Convergence Technologies Center’s (www.convergencetechnologycenter.org) Winter Working Connections conference and in early February we are conducting a workshop with Florida’s regional manufacturing associations to define concrete doable manufacturing awareness activities that they can take back to their local regions. Looking forward a bit, we are also working with BAMA (Bay Area Manufacturers' Association) and the school districts in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties to put another industry-focused program in place for both the community and students. (Look for details on this innovative project in a future FLATE Focus newsletter).

In conjunction with FLATE’s statewide NSF-ATE mission, this year our professional development activities are reaching into the sometimes challenging faculty and grant development domains. FLATE is helping Florida’s Biotechnology Education Consortium (BECON) implement a faculty forum similar to the statewide engineering technology forum that FLATE supports. This forum mechanism is a great way to share resources, to strengthen programs, and to better align and connect to the program’s target industry. BECON’s 2nd forum was in January 27, and our semiannual Engineering Technology Forum is scheduled for March 29-30 at Indian River State College in Fort Pierce. If you wish to attend, just contact Brad Jenkins, (jenkins.bradley@spcollege.edu) for details, or find details about the meeting in our website at http://fl-ate.org/projects/et-forum.html.

On this same NSF front, we are continuing to help small community colleges around the country develop and format their NSF-ATE grant proposal ideas. Contact Richard Gilbert (gilbert@usf.edu) if you need help with your ideas. Closer to home, on March 9, FLATE will conduct a workshop for college educators on NSF grants and how they work. You can access online registration on the FLATE home page. The HCC Brandon Campus is co-sponsoring this event.

One of the really exciting activities this spring is the beginning of the next phase of our partnership with TKNIKA (www.tknika.net). In May, a group of second year Engineering Technology students from various colleges in Florida will study at one of the colleges, Usurbil, in the Basque region of Spain. This unique experience usually reserved for students enrolled in four-year undergraduate programs, is being offered to two-year technical students and supported by NSF-ATE. Through this partnership with TKNIKA in the Basque region, an analogous organization to FLATE in Florida, we are structuring this event as a professional development opportunity for faculty in both countries.

There are still more FLATE professional development events scheduled to round off the spring. A half day metrology workshop is planned for high school teachers at HCC Brandon on April 6, and we will bring a programmable logic control workshop into our faculty development portfolio. The workshop will be held April 13-14 at HCC-Brandon in partnership with Gulf Coast State College. In mid June we will sponsor our second engineering technology summer institute as well as our 3rd annual teacher summer camp, and host a STEM Cart workshop for STEM teachers with LabVolt in late spring and early summer. This will be an excellent opportunity to see how STEM fits into your classroom on a daily basis without interrupting the structure, or intent of your current lesson plans.

Summer brings a lot of education-focused activity, including the FACTE, Florida Association of Career and Technical Education (www.facte.org) annual conference and HI-TEC (www.highimpact-tec.org) which is in Denver this year. You can find more NSF-supported summer workshops around the country at www.teachingtechnicians.org. Take advantage of these low cost and high quality workshops that cross the spectrum of advanced technologies. Well, that’s a fly-bye of FLATE’s professional development plans, but for the FLATE team there is still a lot left on our activity plate.

This issue of FLATE Focus highlights some of our partner activities including a teacher professional development workshop at EMS-USA for STEM teachers in Hillsborough County; tours to the BAE shipyards in Jacksonville by 60 students in Peterson Academies of Technology; and a follow-up story about NSF’s continued commitment to streamline/invest in Florida’s technical programs. Unfortunately, this FLATE Focus issue is not able to cover all the activity and projects that are under way, but you can catch up on some and follow-up on others in our "announcements section" which is designed to post information on upcoming events. Do send us what is happening in your area so we can help disseminate. Finally, believe it or not, after two years of published puzzles, check out the first published answer to any of the sTEm-at-work puzzles – ever! So don’t miss it!!

FIRST Lego League Fuels National Effort to Position STEM as COOL

When you think of “Food Factor” chances are you’re not thinking LEGOs and robots. To strike a connection, FIRST Lego League took a leading step in 2011, and designed the “Food Factor Challenge.” Since its inception in September 2011, over 200,000 participants, ages 9-16, from over 55 countries have embarked on a journey to explore food safety, determine the cause and susceptible points for food contamination, and evaluate methods and solutions to prevent different forms of contamination. (Source: FIRST Lego League).

In all of this, where does the robotics factor come into play? Desh Bagley, CEO of Tech PlayZone and Director of the Suncoast FLL tournament says LEGOs and robots are mere “hooks” to get young people interested and excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Bagley who has been involved with FLL through her company Tech PlayZone for the past six years played a pivotal role in facilitating the 2011-2012 regional FLL event. The tournament, held in January at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) at the Regent—the satellite campus of HCC in Brandon, brought together over 150 students not only from the greater Tampa bay region, but from Pasco, Pinellas and Orange counties.

Aptly termed as “Sports for the Mind”, the atmosphere was heavily charged as team enthusiasm soared high. Participants were divided into 16 teams, and presented with a two-fold challenge. The first portion was building, testing and programming a robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT robots to solve a set of food safety missions. Coaches worked with individual teams on fine tuning engineering and programming components to build a robot using gear ratios, torque, force, motion and speed. Greg Verrill, teacher at Lomax Elementary School and coach for the Robo Panthers described the competition as a stepping stone to expose students from all backgrounds to robotics. He says being a part of the team helps students work cohesively as a team, to take on leadership roles, and also “helps fuel national effort to create an interest in STEM and engineering.”

The second portion of the game focused on researching, developing and sharing innovative safety solutions. Teams had to undergo a technical interview, talk to judges about their robot and programming concepts, and defend the individual theories and solutions behind their research. Kyle Coker and Hunter Dennis, 8th graders at Williams IB described the challenges as “a lot of fun.” Kyle, who aspires to be the “the next Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates” says what excites him about robotics is the opportunities. His fellow team mate Tushar’s take-home nugget lay in “winning is not everything…what matters is how you can apply what you learned to the outside world.”

Given the in-depth nature of the challenge, teams began working on their project in September 2011. For example, Williams IB Middle Magnet school in Tampa chose beef contamination
as their topic. Through research they learned that a Japanese scientist studied and found the bacteria killing effects of catechin, a compound found in tea leaves. The team discovered if the contaminated meat is placed together with the catechin in a basting bag, it kills the bacteria. The entire process is highly educational. “The main thing that today’s challenge has taught us is to work together as a team” said Duncan, a fifth grader at Lomax Elementary School who was animated about his experience. Duncan, who has set his goals high to be a NASA scientist says he likes STEM because it is logical, based on facts and has real world applications and implications. “I find myself looking forward to my math and science classes every day” Duncan said.

Indeed, the FLL competition has been an effective vehicle in not only cultivating a passion for STEM, but for sharpening leadership, teamwork, and communications skills. Kristy Weg, coach for Williams IB says being part of the FLL has helped students expand their knowledge about science beyond learning definitions and text book reading. “They get to see science as a conduit for solving problems, sparking new technologies and innovation that has real- world applications.”

“Science is all about collaboration” notes Bagley. To that effect, the competition represented a cohesive partnership between various organizations like FLATE, TechPlayZone and Hillsborough Community College, committed to enhancing the understanding/appreciation of STEM and robotics. Bagley views FLATE as a “big brother” taking on a bigger lobbying role in reaching out to Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco school districts to offer similar programs for free, so kids who cannot afford will be able to avail of these opportunities. “These kids are our future. It is important for the upcoming generation to think past masters/doctorate. They need to be innovators for tomorrow.”

For more information about the FIRST Lego League and regional competitions visit www.firstlegoleague.org. For information on TechPlayZone visit www.techplayzone.com, or contact Desh Bagley at 813.684.7329. To enroll in FLATE’s robotics camps visit www.fl-ate.org and www.madeinflorida.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.

JAX Students Earn Technical Skill Proficiency through Competency-based Applied Learning

Career academies play an important role in meeting local workforce needs and retooling the skills set of workers across the nation. The Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology (PAT), an A grade magnet school in Jacksonville, FL is a perfect example of how students can get a bang for their buck by earning solid academic credentials that are combined with industry-focused skills/training. The school comprises of several small learning communities/academies that include aviation, automotive, biotechnology, communications, culinary and early childhood education.

The manufacturing academy is the newest addition to its list of career focused academies, and is set to be offered in August 2012. According to Charlie Rutledge, resource teacher for career and technical education in Duval County “the program offers a sequence of courses that are coherent, rigorous and aligned with challenging academic standards needed to prepare students for a career in the manufacturing sector.” Rutledge, who works with eight high schools in the region and assigned to six career clusters says the program includes competency-based applied learning that fosters technical skill proficiency, problem-solving skills, and an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of the manufacturing career cluster. The program also offers a broad base of knowledge to prepare students for automation and production positions, and is aligned with the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council certification.

Given its focus in high-tech manufacturing, curriculum content is centered on automation technology and its applicability in manufacturing, engineering and robotics. The program also offers “transferable skills across various industry sectors, and stresses understanding and demonstration of tools, machines, instruments, materials and processes” commonly used in everyday business/industrial settings. “I always tell kids that by graduating from a career academy they not only earn a high school diploma, but an industry certification that offers college level credits” Rutledge said. Depending on their schedule, students can earn a total of two credits in one academic year, with each course equivalent to one credit. Students also participate in school-based, small team projects like SkillsUSA and TSA (Technology Student Association) competitions. “We have to educate the future workforce with relevant skills set so they can earn a college degree and be industry certified.”

In keeping with this effort, Rutledge recently partnered with FLATE to arrange a “Made in Florida Industry” for 60 students from PAT. As part of the tour, 30 students from the automotive academy; 30 students from the aviation academy toured the Southeast shipyards of BAE Systems in Jacksonville, FL. BAE is a global defense and security company with approximately 100,000 employees worldwide. “The Company delivers a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and support services.” (Source: BAE Systems). The tour was conducted in December 2011 over a course of two days, and provided students a different perspective not only on career choices, but courses they could take in school to avail of these careers.

Given Rutledge’s stance to “base future career academies on the regional targeted occupational list” plans are in progress to partner with SMART--the National Science Foundation Southeast Maritime Transportation Center in Virigina--to offer summer camps for students. Rutledge is also interested in establishing articulation agreements with local colleges, expanding its partnership with local manufacturers like BAE, regional manufacturers like First Coast Manufacturers Association, and organizations like FLATE and SMART to promote the success of its program. He views FLATE as a marketing tool in getting the word out to adults, students and industry about various local and regional high-tech opportunities. “Peterson is a model in the region. What FLATE does is the heartbeat and the core of what we’re trying to accomplish” Rutledge said.

For information on Peterson’s new manufacturing academy contact Charlie Rutledge at rutledgec@duvalschools.org, or visit www.duvalschools.org/fhp/Academies.html. For information on FLATE and it’s state-of-the-art Made in Florida industry tours contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit http://www.madeinflorida.org/ and http://www.fl-ate.org/.

NSF’s Continued Commitment to Advanced Technological Education in Florida

Peabody here! Last month we dialed 1991 into the “Way Back Machine,” and looked at the first decade of NSF-ATE in Florida. Now we move the gauge up to 2002, which holds the record with respect to total number of NSF-ATE awards in Florida. Awards were secured by Santa Fe Community College, Hillsborough Community College, University of South Florida, Brevard Community College and Florida State College at Jacksonville.

2002 was a significant year for ATE Centers of Excellence. Al Koller from Brevard Community College and Marilyn Barger were Principle Investigators for Space Tech and FLATE, respectively. In addition, Drew Hoff’s High School Technology Initiative project marked the beginning of a major effort to identify STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) with the high school science and math curriculum. This project ultimately produced curriculum that was adopted by school districts in 13 states across the country, and provided professional development to over 600 teachers nationwide. Evan Kuharich’s project at the Florida State College at Jacksonville partnered with Gulf Coast State College to adapt and implement curricula developed by the ATE Advanced Integrated Manufacturing Center in Dayton, Ohio (AIM Center).

In 2003, Bob Williams from Daytona State College, continued his award winning efforts with the announcement that the Information Technology Education Center in Florida (iTEC) was to become an Advanced Technological Regional Center of Excellence in Information Technology. June Johns from College of Central Florida, received project funds to increase the number, quality, and diversity of prospective mathematics and science teachers through an interdisciplinary program undertaken through teacher training and pre-training activities. 2004 saw NSF-ATE investing in Florida’s engineering technology infrastructure. FLATE received continued funding as an ATE Center of Excellence with a major objective to install a statewide Engineering Technology A.S. degree program while Gsny Hawat from Valencia College, was awarded project funds to develop coursework for a new robotics and simulation specialization within its Electronics Engineering Technology associate degree program.

2005 accented projects that created partnerships with local school districts. McCraney Michelle was the Principle Investigator for an exciting project that featured a technical work based IT learning program for high school students dually enrolled in computer and information technology degree programs at the Daytona State College Advanced Technology Center (ATC). The ATC is a public-private partnership of the community college, two K-12 school districts, and the business community. Susan Roark’s, Indian River Community College, represented a collaborative effort between Indian River Community College and the Martin County School District. Project CAPSTONE created and implemented an interdisciplinary, project-based model to prepare high school students for technical careers. Shri Goyal from St. Petersburg College, was awarded a project grant to address a national need for well-trained professionals in information technology security. This project represented a collaboration between St. Petersburg College, State College of Florida, and Seminole State College.

The second half of the first decade of this millennium accented NSF-ATE support of new technician issues developing within the state. St Petersburg College received grants to support a partnership between medical device companies and a group of community/technical colleges to form the medical device industry education consortium (MDIEC). Robin Willoughby from Indian River State College received ATE support to build a partnership with industry, government, high schools, and universities to meet the technician workforce needs of southeast Florida's expanding biotech research industry. In 2010, Kevin Cooper, also at Indian River State College, received funding to address the fact that a significant percentage of the nuclear power industry workforce is close to retirement.

These last three examples merely emphasize the fact that Florida’s community and state college technician education programs are on top of the needs of Florida’s industry, and that NSF-ATE is right there, ready to help these colleges meet those community-defined workforce needs. NSF-ATE is committed to the education of the technician workforce in Florida. The program works in and for Florida, and all of the ATE Centers and projects funded in Florida have altered the way Florida prepares its technician workforce. Next month, we will just tweak (a technical term indicated a gradient adjustment) the knob on the “Way Back Machine” just a smidgen (at technical term used to indicate a small tweak) to see what happened last year.

For more information on the NSF ATE projects and grants visit www.fl-ate.org, www.atecenters.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org, and Dr. Richard Gilbert at gilbert@usf.edu.

Want to apply for an NSF grant? Enroll NOW for FLATE's professional development workshop, or check out the announcements section on the blog!

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sTEm–at-Work (Puzzle #26): Diagnostic Expectation from an Inductance Test

" No answer you say. Ok, just hear me out!!!

I know I promised that you would get an answer for the last puzzle (Puzzle 26). I know I could tell you a sad story about my homework and my dog. However you have heard that sorry song too many times already, and I think you would rather read the following: The answer to the puzzle will show up if you answer the puzzle one more time. This way you get to think about the puzzle so that stays fresh in your mind as you check out the answer. Please feel free to use the blog space to generate some conversation about the puzzle and its use in your teaching environment."

sTEm-at-work Puzzle 26

A technician is working with a vehicle diagnostic system to determine if a subsystem in the vehicle is operating correctly. The technician uses the diagnostic system to compare the flow of charge, the current, in the subsystem’s electronic circuit to the energy divided by the amount of charge, the voltage, required if the subsystem is operating correctly.

The subsystem under test has a current voltage behavior that is characteristic of an inductor. For this type of subsystem, the voltage needed is proportional to rate the current changes with time. The technician recorded values of current (the orange dotted curve) and voltage (the blue solid curve) verses time for the subsystem circuit being tested and examined the graphs of that data for an expected pattern.

The vehicle subsystem is operating correctly. (yes or no). Check your answer for Puzzle 26 at http://www.fl-ate.org/.

Middleton High School Engineering Students Experience Manufacturing Close-Up

Seventy students enrolled in Middleton High School’s engineering program were given the opportunity to explore the exciting world of modern manufacturing and related careers in January. As part of an annual “Industry Day,” Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE), housed at Hillsborough Community College’s Brandon Campus, coordinated tours to six local manufacturing companies where students got a first-hand view of real-life applications of their curriculum. Middleton utilizes Project Lead the Way’s (PLTW) curriculum which focuses on activities, project, and problem-based (APPB) learning. Central to this Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum are hands-on projects that help students understand how the information and skills they are learning in the classroom may be applied in everyday life.

Students toured six sites including Southern Manufacturing Technologies (SMT), a manufacturer of precision components for the aerospace and defense industries. At SMT, students had the opportunity to handle components such as valve bodies for missile defense systems and parachute release system assemblies. At Plasma-Therm, a manufacturer of etch and film deposition equipment for global semiconductor and related specialty markets, students wore “bunny suits”, shoe covers and hair nets before touring the manufacturing clean room facility. Tampa Armature Works (TAW) gave students an in-depth look at their operations starting from incoming supplies to the final product. At TAW students learned about the construction of huge switchgear enclosures for the phosphate industry, wiring complexity for various applications,

and machining equipment, several weighing in at over 50 tons, needed to produce their products. Students also visited TAW’s Motor division, the premier provider of all types of electric motor repair and service. At this facility, students learned about TAW Motor Division's role in repairing and rebuilding electric motors of all sizes. In addition to the technical presenation, TAW staff treated students to an informative and motivational speech about careers and life.

Staff at Vulcan Machine (a provider of high quality machining since 1978) gave students a tour of the entire shop. They stopped at each equipment station, showed product flow from raw stock to finished item, and explained the operations necessary to consistently produce at top quality levels. At the Mitre Corporation, staff welcomed the students, and conducted a facility tour culminating in a spaghetti-marshmallow tower building contest. The goal was to build the tallest structure! Mitre is a not-for-profit organization chartered to work in the public interest, applying expertise in systems engineering, information technology, operational concepts, and enterprise modernization to address their sponsors' critical needs. The Mitre Student Program provides summer jobs to high school and college students who are mentored by senior Mitre staff in areas such as software engineering, robotics, and nanotechnology. Some students go on
to make their adult careers at Mitre.

At the conclusion of the tour Nina Stokes, project for FESC at HCC-Brandon said “industry tours such as these allow students to experience modern manufacturing in action and raises their awareness of the numerous and varied careers available in the field.” Stokes who accompanied the students on the tour said “these efforts support recruitment to STEM areas including HCC’s A.S. and A.A.S degree in Engineering Technology which is designed to prepare the student for initial employment in high technology industry.”

For more information on FLATE’s state-of-the-art industry tours visit www.madeinflorida.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.

Hillsborough County High School Teachers Get a Taste of 3D Technologies

On January 17, 2012, twenty Hillsborough County high school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) teachers spent a half day at a special FLATE educator workshop at EMS-USA in Tampa. EMS is a leading provider of product design, 3D scanning and rapid prototyping products and services. Their shop is a hub of activity with several engineering and technicians working on a wide array of projects. As the teachers entered an exciting world of 3D technologies, they learned the applications are endless, and crosscut many disciplines ranging from architecture, anthropology art, designer vehicles, to biology, historic restorations, forensics, and medical devices and products. Teachers also got an in-depth overview on a variety of applications, and got a live demonstration of SpaceClaim—a simple 3D design software, that was remotely presented by experts in Boston.

Teachers took away lots of applications of these advanced technologies; great classroom resources to share with their students and most importantly lots of information about exciting STEM careers that they can share with their students. As one social science teacher said, “Wow – everything about this workshop was exciting. It will be great to share the mix of technology with humanities and social sciences with my students.” EMS-USA has a lot of videos and photos of their projects on their website and YouTube channel. Everyone is encouraged to check them out.

A big “thank you” to Mark Kemper, COO, and Eric Wenhem, account & marketing manager, for the presentations and demonstrations. FLATE and EMS–USA will be offering additional workshops for teacher later this year so other teachers can share their fascinating experiences. As Mark Kemper told the group, we need more students to go in to STEM fields and EMS-USA is hiring right now! For more information about the workshop, please contact Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org. For information on EMS-USA visitwww.ems-usa.com.