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

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