American Ingenuity and Innovation is Alive and Well!

This past month provided opportunity to attend three very interesting events that reminded me that American ingenuity and innovation is alive and well! Each focused on innovations and advanced technologies. The first took place in Orlando where Advanced Manufacturing Technologies ( was on stage. The world of advanced manufacturing technology addresses the engineering, design, production, and delivery of a variety of machines and processes which manufacturers use to make the products we are familiar with (food products, cell phones, boats, books, bikes, etc.). These manufacturers look for better, more cost effective, more “green,” and faster ways for their customers to make their goods. (You can read about the conference and its impact on students enrolled in the engineering technology program at Hillsborough Community College, in this month of the FLATE Focus).

On March 27, I moderated sessions at the USF “Technology and Innovation Forum: Nanotechnology.” This international event had a series of panels on various aspects of nanotechnology including engineering, medicine, education, and again, innovation. The take-away of the day is that scientists and engineers are working very hard to understand and then capitalize on atom and molecule “self assembly” for a variety of “manufacturing” applications from drugs to electronics. Analogous to the "additive" strategies we use in "3D printing," nano-scale self assembly builds from the ground up by putting the right atoms and molecules in proximity to one another. Their physical and chemical properties express themselves and "assembly happens." This emerging technology will eventually bring a very new look to "production environments" and of course, self-assembly will only be one of the new innovative tools in nano-production.

I closed the month with a visit to National Lab in Oak Ridge, TN, where supercomputing is creating a new definition of fast. Right now one of their supercomputers “Titan” is cranking out 20,000 trillion (20 petaflops) calculations per second. I can maybe do one simple calculation per second, and tried to calculate how long it would take me to do 20 petaflops. Scientists and engineers from all over use Titan to do innovative simulated experiments and design problems before actually carrying them out in a lab. There is an amazing amount of innovative “STEM” (science, technology, engineering and math) in the concept and construction of a supercomputer. This includes, of course, the many STEM professionals who maintain, run, and use them. Even the facilities that house supercomputers are STEM special and spotlights of innovation themselves.

Innovation was also the theme of President Obama's early March announcement to establish 15 regional institutes that will comprise the National Network for Innovative Manufacturing. East institute will have a well defined technology focus, including light weight materials, standards for additive manufacturing, and smart manufacturing. In the months ahead, FLATE looks forward to working with this national network on workforce issues and strategies.

Closer to home, FLATE has lots of innovative projects/activities lined up this past month and in the upcoming months. Our summer robotics camps are now scheduled and you can find information about those on our websites ( and We are offering PLC and “measurement” workshops this month and other professional development opportunities this summer. For those of you interested in learning more about credentials in education, register for the free MATEC webinar on April 13. Now sit back, relax and enjoy the stories in this month’s FLATE Focus, including the answer (YES, the answer) to last month’s STEM puzzle #27.

FLATE partners with the National STEM Initiative Mechatronics Team

Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE—the National Science Foundation Center of Excellence for Advanced Technological Education—was invited to join the mechatronics team of the Anne Arundel Community College Department of Labor TAACCCT “National STEM Consortium”. The consortium was formulated with an aim to build a STEM Bridge that feeds into a number of specialized curriculum areas. Barger has been invited by the mechatronics team at AACC to share her expertise in advanced manufacturing curriculum design and alignment of academic standards to industry credentials, and to help meet the team’s objectives. The one-year mechatronics college program will be aligned with a number of stackable industry certificates. Florida State College at Jacksonville) –one of the consortium partners—will work closely with FLATE to bring the mechatronics program into the engineering technology degree structure, and make it available to all colleges offering the statewide A.S. degree in Engineering Technology.

For more information contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

Outreach Themes Emerge at the Annual NVC Meeting

As a direct response to FLATE's 2011 Stakeholder Survey, and inspired by Gov. Rick Scott's comments and presentation at the 8th Annual Manufacturing Summit & Marketplace in 2011, FLATE initiated its "Manufacturing Year of Awareness" campaign. FLATE "kicked off" this effort in January 2012 during its 8th annual NSF National Visiting Committee meeting hosted this year by Harris Corporation in Melbourne, Florida. Through it all Dr. Marilyn Barger, PI & Executive Director of FLATE says "we hope these efforts continue to strengthen Florida's leadership in the manufacturing renaissance."

The workshop started with presentations by Art Hoelke, vice president and general manager at Knight’s Armament in Titusville, and Terry Iverson, president & CEO of Iverson & Company in Des Plaines, IL, who shared their outreach activity experiences. During the meeting attendees were asked to participate in an outreach activity focusing on manufacturing. Several common themes emerged, providing guidance for improving and designing future outreach efforts to increase the pipeline of students entering manufacturing-related careers.

Community Involvement and Support
Overwhelmingly attendees stressed the importance of having all stakeholders engaged and involved in outreach activities. The stakeholder list includes (but, is not limited to) manufacturers, students, teachers, education administrators, workforce and economic development boards, parents.

Industry Image
Unfortunately, the image/perception associated with the manufacturing industry is still not a positive one. Attendees agreed that educating and informing students (and parents) about the world of modern manufacturing and the opportunities available in the field is essential.

Manufacturing Support (especially local support) is of paramount importance, and partnerships should be fostered between all stakeholders (community, schools, manufacturers).

High School Focus
High school students emerged as the group that should be targeted most aggressively, with hands-on learning focused on content and skills relevant to students, and was cited as an essential component of manufacturing programs.

Industry Tours were listed as one of the most effective ways to expose students to manufacturing and emphasize the importance of STEM and its connections to manufacturing.

Parental Buy-In
Participants strongly agreed that without parental support, efforts to guide students into manufacturing careers can be very difficult, if not impossible. Educating and informing parents (and school personnel) to raise awareness is of key importance.

Advertising, Marketing and Publicity
Attendees emphasized the vital role targeted publicity plays in getting the word out. High quality, extensive advertising and marketing are essential to raise awareness and highlight the many manufacturing job opportunities available.

Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE says the goal is straight forward. “Through this activity we hope to develop executable proactive action plans to strengthen the perception of manufacturing within Florida communities and school districts.” As a part of the outreach activity, attendees were asked to create an action plan/blueprint for planning a Manufacturing Expo. Attendees agreed that a regional manufacturing expo would require the support of all stakeholders for funding, participation, organization and publicity. The consensus was that the Expo should be tailored to educating and informing students, parents, teachers and the community as a whole and focused on improving the image of the manufacturing industry as a whole.

At stated by Hoelke “I believe the number one message is to be involved.” FLATE proposes to use output from the workshop to coordinate various awareness activities. These include but are not limited to facilitating plant tours for middle and high school students and educators, outreach “tool kits” for each of the Regional Manufacturers Associations (RMA), participation in regional events to help promote technical education career paths, conduct teacher professional development workshops on manufacturing and its support technologies, and support the participation of FLDOE representatives at major RMA sponsored manufacturing career awareness events.

For information on the outreach activity, and about FLATE’s NVC visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #27 ANSWER: Monitoring devices in miniature surgery

The puzzle is a segway to De Vince Surgery and related science. The technology connection is miniature robotic devices of all types.  The actual puzzle answer can be presented as a math integration exercise.  The puzzle allows for simple linear integration formula practice or reinforcement of the area approximation method for determining the area under the test response data. For students with introductory calculus skills the area can be determined as the sum of the 4 linear equations between 0 seconds and 3.5 seconds.  In the area approximation case, area under the curve above the 0.2 horizontal is matched by same amount of area below that horizontal leading to a rectangle with a 0.70 Joule, (0.20 j/s x 3.5 sec),  area.   
1)      Pump DP-3ml meets test criteria.        YES               

A Day in the Life of a Machinist

Last month we brought you a story about the machining program at Pinellas Technical Institute and highlighted its role in meeting the demand for qualified and skilled machinists in Florida. This month we take a first-hand look at what it takes to be a machinist.

Meet Molly Woods—a machinist at Vulcan Machine Inc., one of FLATE’s strategic industry partners located in Tampa that specializes in custom aerospace machining and commercial precision manufacturing. Working with machines is second nature to Woods who has been working for Vulcan—her family owned business—since 2007. “From start to finish I like running the machines, cleaning the parts, and love the ‘hey I made that’ feeling.” Woods loves new challenges. Initially, she started doing basic work on the machines then moved to doing more complex tasks. On any given day, her work runs the gamut of working with six to seven different machines and ensuring they run smoothly. She works on CNC machines that manufacture parts for Vulcan’s aerospace customers. She is also responsible for operating the mills and lathes, uses different methods like fast bright to take the burr off the parts, and boxes the final product readying them for final shipment. “My job is highly productive and interesting” says Woods. “I love making parts and seeing the products that I manufacture can be used by another company.”

Indeed, a machinist’s job is not all work and no pay. Nationally, machinists can earn up to $18 dollars an hour, with average annual income of nearly 50K (Source: In Florida, machinists can earn up to $23 an hour with a starting annual salary close to 30K. Not only is money a motivating factor, but working as a machinist offers tremendous opportunities, especially for women. According to the Department of Labor only 3.9% of the total machinist workforce is comprised of women (Source: Department of Labor). Woods agrees machining may not be a traditional pathway for women, but encourages women and girls of all ages to look into it as a viable educational and professional pathway that offers a rewarding career. The NIMS (National Institute of Metal Working skills) Certification for example (discussed in last month’s FLATE Focus) is a great way to get started and gain a nationally recognized industry certification. For Florida residents, the machining program at Pinellas Technical Center is another great way to add to one’s educational skill set. “You can do anything if you put your mind to it” says Woods. Besides, she adds, “it is fun to run the machines and be the only woman on the shop floor.”

For more information about the machining program at pTEC and the NIMS (National Institute of Metal Working Skills) Certification visit For information on FLATE’s industry aligned programs visit, and, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

Manufacturing Technology Forum Gives Students an Overview of Technological Innovations

In an effort to give students a first-hand view of industry innovation, manufacturing and technology at work, FLATE recently sponsored six students, currently enrolled in the two year A.S. degree in engineering technology (ET) at Hillsborough Community College (HCC), to attend the Manufacturing Technology Forum. The Forum, hosted by the Association for Manufacturing Technology, was held in March in Orlando, and highlighted the integration of innovative technologies in high tech manufacturing operations. “It was very exciting to hear about large scale automated systems that down large sheets of rolled fabric for the main bodies of large boats and planes” said Executive Director of FLATE, Dr. Marilyn Barger. She added “I thought I knew some of the latest developments in composites and additive manufacturing.”

Innovation in manufacturing was definitely the common theme. Theoretical topics included the tricky fluid dynamics of spray cooling to lower the temperature of the power hungry, heat generating electronics that we all love. There were also talks on innovative uses of additive manufacturing for production, sustainable manufacturing, holograms measurement tools, and the open source MT Connect standard. The two day Forum was a game changer. Students got a first-hand overview of sustainable manufacturing practices, high speed milling, stabililty control, and innovations in defense manufacturing. They also got an up-close look at how the Joint Strike Fighter is manufactured, and were updated on MTConnect standards. It was an awesome day” said Barger. Students as well as educators were “energized by the presentations and the manufacturing professionals they met.” Byron Taylor, a current ET degree student at HCC-Brandon agrees with Barger. The Forum according to Taylor reinforced his interest in the field, and served as a pathway for him to “see the future of technology.”

In addition to the presentations, students attended two panel sessions that provided in-depth information on new and upcoming innovative technologies. During the tech briefs session, experts provided insight on electronics cooling, innovation within defense manufacturing, and the future of additive materials manufacturing. The panel discussion also shed light on precision engineering and various aspects of innovative machining technology, tooling and maintenance. “It is a very active time in manufacturing” said Nicholas Fields, a freshman at HCC enrolled in the ET degree. Fields was glad he had the opportunity to attend the Forum as it gave him the “tools to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering technology, or possibly in a biomedical field.”

For more information about the Forum visit For information on FLATE and its award winning two year A.S. degree in Engineering Technology, currently offered in 11 community and state colleges in Florida, visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

Congratulatory Notes

Congratulations Dr. Marilyn Barger
Congratulations to FLATE’s Executive Director, Dr. Marilyn Barger for being inducted into Epsilon Pi Tau,, the International Honor Society for Technology and Education. Dr. Barger was inducted based on the recommendation of colleagues from ITEEA during a special initiation ceremony for new exemplary practice members during the 74th International Technology and Engineering Educators Association Conference in Long Beach, CA on March 16, 2012. Plans are currently in progress to establish a Florida chapter at one of FLATE's partner colleges.For more information contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at, or visit on the Epsilon Pi Tau, ITEEA’s official honor society visit 

Kudos to Jennifer McNelly, FLATE NVC Member
Jennifer McNelly, a current serving member of the FLATE National Visiting Committee has been appointed as president of the Manufacturing Institute--the non-profit affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). McNelly will assume her new role as president effective April 2012. Congratulations Jennifer from the FLATE team!

Proctor & Gamble: Research Your Future in Science