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.

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