Manufacturing Day

Last Friday, October 5, was national Manufacturing Day.  The “Day” is co-produced by Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Manufacturing Institute, and the Manufacturing Extension Service and was first announced at the end of June. Together with a number of sponsors and endorsers, nearly 200 facilities across the country signed on to host open houses and tours. The first Manufacturing Day was headed for a successful initial event!  Resources and guidelines for a successful event and an easy-to-fill-out form is all that is needed and can be found at  Potential guests can quickly search an interactive map to find and sign up for tours or open houses in their area.   

Although Florida manufacturers and supporters seem to have gotten wind of this “movement” a bit late, we can still celebrate. Take the time and tell someone about the great careers in manufacturing.  Educators can “celebrate” with a lesson on manufacturing (see,  showing the “Made in Florida” video (, or reviewing pathways to great manufacturing careers with their students.  RMA’s can acknowledge the day on their websites with special notes to recent accomplishments by a member company.  Visit one of the Florida sites listed on by signing up for a tour.  However, we can all start planning now for 2013. FLATE will work with it partners to make Manufacturing Day 2013 in Florida a great day for manufacturers and all Floridians.

In Florida today, we have much to celebrate around manufacturing.  We are excited to report that FLATE has been refunded for another 3 years. Although this is great news, there is more good news for manufacturing education and workforce in Florida. 

Check out the article about new federal investments by the US Department of Labor and National Science Foundation – all supporting our Florida manufacturers with significant efforts planned to make concerted effort to better develop the talent, industry needs today.  With these investments, we have great opportunities not only to train for our immediate workforce needs; but also to continue to develop our manufacturing education and talent development pipeline. Working together for continuous improvement and sustainability through institutionalization, we not only meet the needs of these grants, but also build a strong, viable foundation for the future.  Together, we can move our manufacturing infrastructure forward to a new level.

Keep celebrating! This month’s FLATE Focus has articles about our updated Wiki site which houses many of our resources including teacher lesson plans, copies of FLATE presentations at various events and conferences, great resources for providing student tours to high-tech industries, and much more….. Don't miss out on this month's FLATE Focus.

FLATE’s Wiki: Your One-Stop-Spot for Accessing Enriching, STEM-based Resources

       One of the challenging goals for educators is to offer authentic learning activities, and to engage students with relevant content. This can be especially difficult for STEM instructors when the property, principle, or structure students are investigating can only be observed with advanced scientific instruments or specialized materials that are too costly for the ordinary classroom. FLATE’s Made in Florida lesson plans provide students with real-world scenarios relevant to high-tech manufacturers throughout Florida. Each Made in Florida lesson plan gives teachers the materials needed to engage students with authentic and sometimes unresolved challenges faced by manufacturers in the region, and provides print-ready resources such as handouts, worksheets,rubrics,timelines,and other educator supported material. 

        FLATE’s Wiki is a rich storehouse of information designed to provide an array of resources to enrich understanding of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). While most resources support science and mathematics, FLATE resources integrate a focus on the technology and engineering side of STEM. Information posted on the Wiki is free and available online 24/7 with easily accessible, print-ready materials. The Wiki offers up-to-date content and concepts from activities, and lesson plans suitable for middle and high school students designed to foster problem based learning (PBL), to high-tech presentations in mechatronics and other advanced technologies offered internationally. The range of Wiki resources are replete with career and education planning tools and worksheets. Teacher support materials and information are also provided as pre and post Made in Florida industry tour FLATE lesson plans to help students make the most of these exciting tours.

The Chocolate Factory lesson plan for high school and middle school students, for example, provides innovative ideas for stirring interest in STEM. The lesson challenges students to determine general properties of melting points and emulsions while learning how to make their own chocolate bar. Danielly Orozco, FLATE’s curriculum coordinator who served as a principal in designing the challenge says “students gain a deeper understanding of science, chemistry, mathematics and technology through these fun, hands-on exercises.” Students learn how to measure temperature, understand and apply properties of melting point and emulsions to a real product, and better understand the role of research and development as well as develop problem solving and teamwork skills. They are also introduced to key manufacturing processes such as designing, fabricating, testing, and developing abilities to assess the impact of products in the market. 

  Another lesson, featuring Florida manufacturer Sun Hydraulics Corporation, helps students understand general properties of matter through “hands-on, minds-on” problem-based learning. Given the integral role of design in the manufacturing process and the interest of many students in computer aided design and manufacturing, FLATE has designed a new lesson plan for high school students incorporating the use of SolidWorks in office architecture design. Through this lesson, students are introduced to basic concepts of drafting/technical drawing. Students also gain deeper insight about the importance of measurement, and learn about precision and logistics in the design and drawing of an architectural/engineering space. In this lesson, students gain a better understanding of matter by comparing mass and weight, striking a relation between volume and density, learning the importance of selecting appropriate unit systems, and manipulating variables to achieve desired computational outcomes. FLATE’s award winning, ready-to-use curriculum modules are aligned with Sunshine State Standards and are unique in that they feature real manufacturing scenarios based on actual Florida advanced manufacturers. Thus allowing students to see real and relevant applications of STEM concepts applied to practical applications found in the high-tech, high-skilled workplace.

            In keeping with the demand for alternative energy sources and subsequent demand for trained technicians, FLATE has taken a leading step partnering with the Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC) in developing an alternative/renewable energy specialization for the two year A.S. degree in Engineering Technology. Presentation-ready modules are posted on the Wiki which were developed for use in an introductory level 3-credit-hour course. Modules include solar energy, wind energy, photovoltaics, hydro energy, energy storage, and energy economics and policies, to name just a few titles. Hot topic subjects such as alternative energy provide fertile ground for today’s STEM students and the educators who teach them.

Indeed, FLATE‘s STEM oriented curriculum resources are easily integrated into mainstream curriculum. To support the effective use of materials and concepts for technology education, and in support of advanced manufacturing education state wide, professional development opportunities where K-20 STEM educators develop, refine or certify their knowledge base within manufacturing and its enabling technologies are offered year ‘round by FLATE.

For more information on FLATE’s Wiki, contact Danielly Orozco, FLATE’s curriculum coordinator at, and Nina Stokes, FESC project manager at To explore and utilize FLATE’s free STEM based resources, visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at

Industry Day Expo Events Have Many Faces

“Industry Days” across the state include tours for students to high-tech manufacturing facilities as well as school-site presentations about the advanced manufacturing industry, and large expo-style events. These outreach events play an important role in FLATE’s own 2012 “Year of Manufacturing Awareness” initiatives and are helping make the advanced manufacturing career and college connection for Florida high school students. FLATE 2012 partnerships involved local manufacturers, Florida’s Regional Manufacturers Associations (RMAs), the Manufacturers Association of Florida (MAF), the Career Technical Education Foundation, Inc. (CTEF). FLATE has also paired up with middle and high school educators and high school career academies, FLATE outreach ambassadors, the School District of Hillsborough County, public and private schools, local home schools, and parents joining forces and resources to change manufacturing’s negative image and promote college and career pathways in engineering and advanced technology. Industry Day partnership initiatives complement and expand FLATE’s “Made in Florida” recruitment and outreach activities and programs which have been ongoing and growing since 2005. These combined efforts have taken involvement and exposure of students to the “real world” of manufacturing to new levels, with targeted presentations and tours provided to 1,993 Florida students so far this year, plus, FLATE participation in large Engineering and STEM Expo events exposing over 2,000 students every year to advanced manufacturing technology.

"An Industry Day 'Expo' does not have just 'one look.' It is a multifaceted positive promotional approach to generate student interest in Florida manufacturing and  can be a tour to multiple sites, a school-site event, a large scale Expo or Fair, and many more events may fall under the heading to support college and career pathways in advanced manufacturing, said Dr. Marilyn Barger, FLATE Director. For instance, Hillsborough County’s new Manufacturing Task Force has a goal to define and promote educational opportunities that support manufacturing in the county, which could take the form of an Industry Day. The Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA) in partnership with county school districts has a new “STEM goes to Work” tour model which takes place on a Saturday in order to get more parents involved and is planned to include a hands-on related curriculum experience, and “Dream It! Do It! Florida” is working with FLATE, MAF, RMAs, and manufacturers to develop best practices for Florida. Another important part of the equation is providing teachers and counselors with the tools they need to promote high-tech college and career pathways, such as industry oriented curriculum, and professional development opportunities using the latest in high-tech equipment and applications. During the course of a tour event, students are provided a behind-the-scenes, up-close look at high-tech manufacturing operations, an activity which lends relevancy to Science, Education, Technology, and Mathematics (STEM) skills learned in the classroom. In fact, 77.4% of 2,416 survey responses received from students after taking a tour either agreed or strongly agreed that “the tour helped me understand the use of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in industry.”

However it looks, an Industry Day will have five things in common: emphasize the importance of STEM subjects, and strike a connection between manufacturing jobs between manufacturing college and careers, expose students to the real-world of manufacturing through tours and hands-on work experiences, educate and inform parents to generate buy in, and publicize job opportunities. Working together in partnership to provide educational experiences which attract the next generation of high-tech workers is a worthy commitment toward advancing the world of modern manufacturing, changing its image, and getting the word out.

Thinking about planning your own Industry Day? Contact Dr.Marilyn Barger at for help when you are ready to start.

Robots applaud the 2012 Schwartz Industry Innovation Award Winners

William C. Schwartz Industry Innovation award winners were recognized at a special luncheon on September 6, 2012 at SeaWorld’s Ports of Call in Orlando. The event, sponsored by the Orlando EDC, MACF and other organizations, was attended by more than 100 guests who had the privilege to see some of the many things that are currently “Made in Florida”.  FLATE, as the leading resource center of excellence for advanced technological education, could not miss this opportunity to support Florida Manufactures whose innovation, entrepreneurship and hi-technology are making the difference to help improve our Florida’s economy.

During this event, FLATE offered a short, but intense training to test participants’ skills in robotics with a real “hands on” exercise. Using a LEGO Mindstorms and a VEX Box robots, participants learned the logic “behind the scenes” to successfully control and maneuver a robot in different directions and even capture a prize. Participants were excited to have the opportunity to learn firsthand how educators today can use robots in classrooms to help students see the connections between advanced technologies and the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) they learn in school.  

The VEX box Robots are a sample of the “Made in Florida” Summer Robotics Camps promoted by FLATE every year for middle and high schools students. This program, which includes an introductory and advanced camp, is designed to introduce students to robotics and teach them STEM concepts used in modern manufacturing. During the camps, students learn to programming robotics and understand the science behind it in an environment of fun, team work and competitive problem solving.

For more information on LEGO Mindstorm or VEX  Box robots, contact FLATE (