Industry Day for Local Students Expected to Help Build Interest in STEM

FLATE, the National Science Foundation regional center of excellence for advanced technological education at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon, is partnering with CTEF (Career Technical Education Foundation) located in Palm Harbor, FL, to orchestrate a two-day “Industry Day” for high school students in the greater Tampa Bay area. As part of this effort, students from the engineering academies at River Ridge High School in Pasco County and students from East Lake High School in Pinellas County will tour six high-tech manufacturing facilities in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. These fun-filled, educationally engaging tours will be conducted on May 17 and 18, and are geared to give students a first-hand view of high-tech operations, showcase the importance of industry-aligned STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education, and outline tools/pathways to secure sustainable, career goals in high-tech industries in Florida.

Industry hosts Pall Aeropower, Nielsen Media Research, Micron Pharma Works, Bauer Foundation, Southern Manufacturing Technologies and Mitre Corporation have agreed to open up their facilities and give students a detailed overview of some of their high-tech operations. Special employee presentations have been planned to give students a first-hand account of STEM-based educational pathways needed to secure high-tech careers. Paul Wahnish, president of CTEF Inc. who masterminded the initiative says “using a theoretical arsenal of basic science and math, students are driven to apply that which they have learned, making strong STEM skills relevant to them.” Wahnish says this relevance “engages a student’s interest and develops a strong desire to apply their knowledge toward innovation.”

Complementing their industry day experience, FLATE will provide students with information on statewide educational and career opportunities in modern manufacturing, and advise students to take advantage of the resources posted on FLATE’s “Made in Florida” website. FLATE will also conduct a pre and post survey to gauge students’ opinion of technical careers, and document impact of the tours on student participants. Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE says the tours “serve as an effective mechanism to expose students to the real world of manufacturing and get students excited about career opportunities in STEM.” The industry day tours represent a three-year partnership between FLATE and CTEF, and are an extension of FLATE’s “Made in Florida” outreach campaign designed to connect classroom-based knowledge to real-world innovation and application.

For information on FLATE and the Made in Florida industry tours contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at, or visit and For information on CTEF Inc. contact Paul Wahnish at, or visit

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