Au Revoir Dave!

FLATE News for March 2012 is that David Gula, FLATE Outreach Manager, is retiring this month. Dave tells us it’s his 5th, or so retirement. I haven’t probed back to the first one, but maybe this will be his last. Dave came to FLATE at our very beginnings, channeled to us from the Florida High Tech Corridor’s Tech Path’s efforts. In 2002, FLATE was still an idea with promise. The promise inspired the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program to invest $70,000 in a “Planning Grant for one year for the FLATE leadership team to develop its “plan,” and define the regional and statewide need.” Looking for something to do and someplace to volunteer to help grow the pipeline of students interested in STEM career pathways, Dave started attending our NSF ATE Regional Center Planning Grant meetings. His contributions to our “volunteer” planning team’s activities and to our mission became so valuable that we convinced him to accept a contract to help us with our industry surveying during that period. This activity defined the need for educational reform for manufacturing education throughout the state.

After securing our Center level funding in the summer of 2004 and opening our doors as Florida’s Advanced Technological Center of Excellence for Manufacturing Education, Dave joined out team as our full time “Outreach Manager” in 2005. Since then, his activities have been legendary in FLATE. Dave first helped us define what “Outreach Manager” could and would mean as a component of FLATE which was to include industry tours for students in STEM programs in middle and high schools. Dave developed and implemented a great process. To date, over 3,500 Florida students have participated in FLATE’s “Made in Florida” industry tours of manufacturing facilities. In addition to tours, Dave was responsible for developing and implementing the FLATE summer robotics camps which quickly became another signature FLATE event that continues to run strong. 

In between tours and camps, Dave visits companies, gives student presentations at schools and other venues. Dave also helps FLATE “look” great by printing and mounting posters and flyers, and keeping outreach web pages up-to-date. Recently he took over parental custody of “Brandon” our NAO robot. Additionally, he supports the rest of FLATE staff in many ways for all of our activities and has been a great team player. He will be missed both by the FLATE staff, his team of FLATERS, and the family on the HCC—Brandon campus where FLATE resides. Although we do not know what Dave will be doing next, we do know you might see him at local football games, shopping for chocolate, volunteering at local robotics competitions,  relaxing in Winter Haven, or under a Rose Bowl Day Parade float (before, during or after the parade).

As you join us in celebrating Dave’s contributions to FLATE, please take a moment to read the rest of our stories in the spring edition of the FLATE Focus. This edition highlights a a Fabrication Lab in Sarasota that is generating interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) through personalized manufacturing projects. You can learn about Hillsborough Community College’s ongoing sustainability and college “greening” efforts, and read about the Machining program at Pinellas Technical Education Center and its role in meeting the demand for skilled machinists in Florida and across the nation. Hope many of you will join us at the following FLATE events this month: NSF grants workshop (for educators and administrators); MATEC's online webinar for innovative manufacturing featuring FLATE and EMS-USA--one of FLATE's business partners, and hope to see some of you at the advanced manufacturing technology forum in Orlando. Don’t forget to take a stab at the new sTEm puzzle!
Hurray! You can now print individual articles in the FLATE Focus. Just click on the ‘print” button after each article.

The Many Faces of Dave's FLATERS

Machining Program at pTEC Addresses a National Need for Skilled Machinists

Peter Buczynsky, owner of PharmaWorks, manufacturing company in Odessa FL wants to expand his business and move into a bigger facility. He can’t. New England Machinery, another manufacturer located in Manatee County, FL is looking to expand its payroll. So far it hasn’t. These companies are not holding back due to a hiring freeze. According to recent reports published in the Tampa Tribune and in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, they are being held back due to an acute shortage of skilled workers. As schools slash funding for technical programs, manufacturers across the board are increasingly finding it difficult to find skilled machinists, engineers and technicians.

In an effort to fill this void for qualified, skilled and certified workers, pTEC (Pinellas Technical Education Center) in Clearwater, FL currently offers the Precision Machining Technology program. Eric McClendon, assistant director at the Campus is a machinist supporter extraordinaire who says “every consumer and industrial product exists because of machining…our modern life completely depends on the hard work and ingenuity of machinists.” The mission of the program, he says, is to prepare students for employment as entry level machinists, tool makers, lathe operators, mill operator, grinding operators, electrical discharge machine (EDM) operators and computer numerical control (CNC) machine operator/basic programmers. “We offer a problem solving atmosphere, and we share with them our experiences, which allows them to learn and be excited with this program.”

Centrally connected and embedded into the program is a state registered apprenticeship program that is tied to the NIMS (National Institute of Metal Working Skills) Certification. NIMS was started by several metal working trade associations to develop metal working skills standards. Over a period of time it developed different levels of testing standards that range from Machinists level 1 through III. These skills standards are currently formulated and recognized by industry across the nation.

At pTEC, students enrolled in the Precision Machining Technology program can choose up to four apprentice programs out of a total of 10. These apprentice programs train 34 students currently enrolled in the apprentice program to either be a certified machinist, CNC programmer/operator, CNC machinist or mold maker etc. The NIMS System affords
maximum flexibility for trainees and employers alike. In that, the system “rewards trainees enabling them to advance at their own pace in defined career ladders throughout the metalworking industry.” Using attained competencies in lieu of a rigid set of hours, employers are able to effectively monitor and measure progress and reward individual initiative. Roy Sweatman, owner and president of Southern Manufacturing Technologies, a precision custom high-tech manufacturer in Tampa, agrees the competency based learning offered by the pTEC Machining program helps students learn things at their own pace based on their competencies. “A lot of manufacturing has moved offshore, and a few of us are working on getting manufacturing back onshore, and the NIMS program is a step towards that direction.” Sweatman said.

Industry certification is undoubtedly the cornerstone of the program. In addition to the NIMS certification, the machining program offers four, 30 hour courses in Safety, Manufacturing Processes & Production, Quality Practices & Measurement, and Maintenance Awareness which is part of the national Manufacturing Skill Standards Council certification (MSSC). Upon graduation, students not only earn a certificate of completion from pTEC, but a certificate from the Department of Education, Apprenticeship Division as well as a NIMS and MSSC certifications. Students completing the program can also receive college credits that can be transferred to a four year engineering program in Florida. “Industry recognizes and values certifications which in turn increases compensation and employability opportunities” McClendon said.

Indeed, the machining program together with the NIMS and MSSC certification is a powerhouse for graduating students. Given the high demand for machinists across the nation, graduates are assured of several lucrative opportunities serving as machine operators, machinists, tool & dye makers, designers, engineers or even entrepreneurs and business owners. A great advantage to students is that they are highly marketable and can get a job anywhere in the country. A claim confirmed by Sweatman who says “if someone walks into my office with a NIMS credential I will hire them immediately.”

For more information on the NIMS certification and the machining program at pTEC contact Eric McClendon at, or visit For information on FLATE and its industry centered curriculum and outreach initiatives contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at, or visit and

Fab Lab in Sarasota Serves as an Innovation Incubator of the Future

Say you are a bicyclist who needs a console to mount a GPS to your bike’s handlebars, but don’t have the money, or equipment to produce a prototype of your invention. If you are innovative by nature, want to experiment transforming your ideas into making a product, a Fab Lab may be your Mecca. A Fab Lab or Fabrication Laboratory is a place where ideas come to life.

“If you think it, we can create it here in the Fab Lab” says Eric McGrath, foreman at the Faulhaber Fab Lab at the GWIZ Science Museum in Sarasota. The museum’s mission is to serve as a “gateway for lifelong adventures in science,” and was founded in 1990. The Fab Lab at the GWIZ museum came into being through the generous donations of Dr. Fritz Faulhaber who through the Faulhaber Family Foundation donated $400,000 to GWIZ to launch the project. It is a champion of science education not only in Sarasota County, but the entire state of Florida. What defines the fab lab is “personal manufacturing.” It is “custom creation” at its best. Its main purpose is to make one of a kind product rather than mass manufactured products.

Although work in the fab lab entails using computers and computer-guided machinery, McGrath says the end result is a physical product, not merely a digital construction that ceases to exist when the lights are out. Given its mission to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) literacy through cross-disciplinary collaboration and innovation, the Faulhaber Fab Lab gives community members access to high-tech tools and materials as well as several high grade, industrial design and production equipment with simple design interface. The lab is equipped with CNC machines, manual metal cutting lathes, vinyl cutter, embroidery machines, CNC routers, soldering stations, and plasma cutters that enable users of all ages to make a number of products that range from plaques, puzzles, 3D portraits, gaskets, camera adaptors, or anything else they can think of.

The lab is truly a community-based initiative. Since opening its doors to the public in Spring 2011, staff have helped, trained, mentored and supported students, teachers, as well as members from the community fine tune individual inventions using the latest cutting edge technology. McGrath describes the Fab Lab as “a space where people from all kinds of backgrounds can collaborate, create and brainstorm.” It is like a workshop, or a garage of the future that heavily promotes digital fabrication, and a place where “the practical applications of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and craftsmanship come into play.” Through it all, McGrath hopes to foster innovation, art, learning, craftsmanship, and the thrill of creating something from scratch, all the while promoting the understanding of STEM.

For information on the Fab Lab at the Sarasota based GWIZ Science Museum contact Eric McGrath at, or visit For information on FLATE’s STEM initiatives visit and, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

HCC Leads the Way in “GREENING” Florida’s Community Colleges

As a rising number of educational institutions realize the importance of developing and implementing campus-wide sustainability initiatives, Hillsborough Community College (HCC) stands out as a model of excellence leading the way for other colleges. In December 2008, HCC’s President Dr. Gwendolyn Stephenson signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), an effort by higher education institutions to eliminate their global warming contribution by a chosen target date. HCC joined over 685 colleges and universities nationwide and became the first two-year college in the State of Florida to commit to a series of goals to guide the institution to climate neutrality. Although Dr. Stephenson retired in 2010, Dr. Ken Atwater, the new HCC President, is equally committed to ensuring that HCC fulfills the goals set forth by ACUPCC.

In addition to HCC, there are 12 other colleges/universities in Florida that have signed the ACUPCC and
have campus-wide sustainability initiatives. HCC also has a comprehensive Climate Action Plan (CAP) outlining its approach to achieve college-wide climate neutrality by 2050. The CAP supports a vision of sustainability - balancing the natural environment, economic prosperity and the quality of life of the HCC community. Last April, HCC launched Zimride – a new carpooling opportunity for students designed reduce greenhouse gas emissions from travel. As a commuter school, HCC’s students and employees rely heavily on personal vehicles to travel to and from campus. With almost 48,000 students and 2,500 staff commuting to and from campus daily, greenhouse gas emissions generated by this travel comprise more than 75% of HCC’s entire carbon footprint. Through Zimride, students and staff are able to save money, preserve the environment and reduce campus traffic.

HCC’s newest campus locations, the Southshore Campus and the Student Services building on the Ybor campus, reflect the college’s continued commitment to sustainable practices, receiving Gold and Silver LEED certification respectively. Through the College’s Sustainability Council, many ongoing educational opportunities are provided to the HCC community including the recently introduced Sustainability Power Performance Webinars. These Webinars focus on diverse “green” topics such as HCC’s Waste and Energy Management and Zimride.

Last summer, HCC’s South Shore campus was host to an Energy Camp for 25 students from Beth Shields Middle School in Ruskin. The camp focused on solar energy and was coordinated by the Florida Advanced Technological Education (FLATE) group housed on the Brandon Campus. It was a great success and a second camp is planned for this summer. In addition, FLATE staff has also been working to map out energy career pathways and energy-related curriculum frameworks, including a new Energy Efficiency Specialization for the Engineering Technology Degree offered at HCC. Through ongoing sustainability and college “greening” efforts, HCC continues to shine as an example of what can be achieved when a college community works together to make common goals a reality. Synergy at its best…

For more information visit . For information on FLATE’s partnership with HCC on alternative energy systems contact Nina Stokes, project manager for FESC at, or visit

sTEm–at-Work (Puzzle 27): Monitoring devices in miniature surgery

Data from a test evaluation of a miniature implanted pump, pump DP-3ml, for insulin delivery was obtained by a biomedical technician. In its normal implanted operation mode in a diabetic, the pump provides a two to three day insulin supply (3 milliliters) per operation cycle. As would be expected, power consumption (energy use) is an important design parameter. For this design test procedure, the pump is expected to use a total of 0.70 Joules of energy upon completion of the test. The technician examines the data and determines if the pump meets the test design criteria.

Pump DP-3ml meets test criteria. Yes or No. Submit, or check your answers at

BAMA’s “STEM Goes to Work” Program Offers Students Insights About Careers in Manufacturing

Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA) has served as an effective voice for manufacturers, advocating issues that impact local manufacturers across the greater Tampa Bay region. “STEM Goes to Work,” a new initiative sponsored by the BAMA, recently gave local students an insider perspective on careers in manufacturing, and a chance to meet with local business leaders. The event was held in February and brought together both sides of the continuum by giving students in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties the opportunity to visit local manufacturing plants. This initiative supported ongoing efforts to raise awareness about the critical role that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) plays in ensuring that the U.S. remains the economic and technological leader in today’s global marketplace.

Given its goal to educate and showcase educational/career pathways in STEM-related fields, STEM Goes to Work” is scheduled to take place each quarter with the next one scheduled for March 31, 2012. Students from Greco School in Hillsborough County will tour Southern Manufacturing Technologies, Inc.—a high-tech manufacturing located in Tampa, and featured in the September 2011 edition of the FLATE Focus. During the tour executive manufacturing leaders will be available to meet with students to highlight the benefits of pursuing one of the many available positions in the manufacturing field. “Manufacturing in the U.S. is alive and well and has enjoyed 29 straight months of growth” said Roy Sweatman, president of Southern Manufacturing Technologies, Inc... He added “STEM Goes to Work is designed to teach students that and there are tens of thousands of great, well paying manufacturing jobs right here in Florida.”

In keeping with BAMA’s goal to promote STEM/manufacturing in Florida, FLATE also offers a similar program for middle and high school students throughout Tampa Bay. The Made in Florida Industry tours have been an effective vehicle in providing students a first-hand view of high-tech manufacturing. They are designed to stimulate student interest in today’s modern manufacturing careers and encourage the enrollment in the essential technology programs available throughout the state.

FLATE IAC Members at SMT
Sep. 2011
Since the culmination of the program in 2007, more than 3000 students and approximately 350 educators have toured 54 high-tech manufacturing facilities throughout Florida. As per a 2011 post tour survey, approximately 94% ‘Agreed’ or ‘Strongly Agreed’ that they wanted a high-skill, high-wage position. Dr. Marie Boyette, associate director of FLATE who attended the inaugural STEM Goes to Work event says “Effectiveness measures are key in student tour endeavors.” To that effect Boyette says “FLATE has developed student perception measures which will be used to evaluate the impact on students participating in BAMA’s STEM Goes to Work tour model.”

For information on BAMA visit For information on FLATE’s quality educational and training programs, or the “Made in Florida” industry tours contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at, and Dr. Marie Boyette at, or visit