Have a Holly Jolly Christmas in a Fab Lab Near You!

A number of years ago Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Bits and Atoms launched the first “Fab Lab” or fabrication laboratory. A worldwide network of “Fab Labs are connected with each other and the MIT Center by having a defined set of tools and equipment, shared resources for training, managing, organizing, and projects. Envisioned as a place to seed and expand product-based, small businesses across the U.S., Fab Labs began to grow in numbers across the country in libraries, community organizations, museums, and educational institutions.
Typically, a Fab Lab has a large (4'x8') numerically-controlled milling machine, a precision (micron
resolution) milling machine, modeling software with stations for product design, a 3D printer, laser etcher, a computer controlled laser cutter, and a sign cutter. Many have added additional (optional) tools. A generic business model suggests charging a user fee for use of the lab and its equipment, that there is a full time lab tech/manager, and offer a number of services to the community of users (some for pay, others for free). They attract the independent inventor, craft makers, educators, students and the curious. Furthermore, the very “21st century, digitally-connected community” relies on modern social media tools and the individuals in the connected network to keep it going.   

Many anticipated that Fab Labs would be one vehicle to help pull us out of the recession, invigorate STEM learning in schools, catalyze innovation, and seed the personal digital fabrication movement. I am not sure if anyone knows yet what contribution Fab Labs individually, or collectively have made to any, or all of these. They have spawned other more grassroots “maker movements” in communities across the country. Typically these organizations support various community events to share technology-supported “crafts” and homemade products.  At maker events, everyone who wants to share, teach, sell, or learn gathers at the maker events for a small fee.  Certainly, these organizations provide similar opportunities to network. 

You can learn about Fab Labs, in a couple of upcoming events. On Dec 13, 2013 at 1 p.m. EST, MATEC, the Maricopa Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence, will host a free webinar “Collab and Fab” sponsored by the Digital Fabrication Learning Community (www.dflc.org). The webinar’s theme highlights the collaborative nature of the Fab Lab network for product design and prototyping. This digital collaboration approach is already an industry standard for companies that have engineering, design and production facilities around the globe. You can register for the webinar at www.matecnetworks.org, or directly here.  

Locally in Florida, from January 8-10, 2014, FLATE and Collaborative Center for Emerging Technologies
(CCET) at St. Petersburg College together with the DFLC are hosting a workshop that will delve into product design and prototyping with a hands-on approach. Community college educators from around the county will be gathering at the CCET at SPC’s Clearwater campus to engage not only in the technologies, but also in their place in community college technical programs like our Engineering Technology A.S. Degree, Electronics Engineering Technology, Drafting and Design, etc. If you live and work in Florida, you can find out more and register by contacting me at barger@fl-ate.org. If you do not live in Florida you can contact Jim Jannise at janisse@fvtc.edu.  

We wrap-up our last edition of the 2013 newsletter with many exciting stories that highlight our curriculum, professional development and outreach initiatives. Continuing our line-up of reports on engaging women in STEM we underline key themes that emerged from the recruiting girls in STEM workshop. Given the surge in demand for skilled machinists we step aside to define the nuts & bolts of machining education in Florida. Venturing out west, we take you to Nevada where a nascent NSF project is working on cultivating problem-based learning. Last but not the least, as you wind down for the holidays check your answer to last month’s sTEm puzzle, and don’t forget to sign up for the 2014 FESC Community College Workshop coming up in January.

I am sending warmest wishes for a safe holiday to all of our FLATE stakeholders, partners, families and friends from the FLATE staff and working team. Have a holly, jolly Christmas and a very happy new year ahead!

Nevada-based NSF Project Focuses on Cultivating Problem Based Learning

Education and the way we learn is rapidly changing. Today the emphasis is not so much on “bookish knowledge” rather the emphasis lies in innovative/creative thinking that leads to problem solving. Against this backdrop, problem-based learning (PBL) is soon emerging as the preferred path, and is in many ways what defines a scholar in the 21st century.

So what is Problem-based learning? Jane Ostrander, principal investigator and project director for the
National Science Foundation funded project Destination: Problem-Based Learning (DPBL) says, PBL is about creating self-directed, self-managing, adaptive learners who will be successful in the ever-changing, globally competitive workplace. PBL challenges students to solve real-world problems, create deliverables, and present reports, or results that match what they will face in their professional careers. “The world of work--the pace of technical change, relationship of employers and employees, the very jobs that are out there now and will be out there 10 years from now are different. The competition is global” says Ostrander.  PBL arms students with capabilities/soft skills needed to succeed in the rapidly changing workplace.

Now that we’ve addressed the definition, the debate over PBL as an in-born, or a skill that can be learned
and cultivated remains. For the naysayers, this is probably where the DPBL project takes over. The Destination: Problem-Based Learning (DPBL) project is a large-scale materials development project funded by the NSF ATE program and located at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, NV. The Destination PBL project advocates for the scaling up of PBL though (a) deepening its understanding of PBL in practice through faculty action research; (b) sustaining work by building a knowledge network that supports efforts to expand the adoption of PBL in workforce education and builds a shared knowledge base, and (c) spreading research-based knowledge of how to create PBL materials, facilitate PBL workshops, guide PBL classrooms, and build PBL community. “These actions support our goals to develop resources, knowledge, and processes to support faculty in their efforts to change their professional practices, and to develop and implement PBL that aligns with industry requirements for technicians and increases student engagement and learning” Ostrander said.

To set its goals and vision into motion, DPBL has engineered several tools and resources. The DPBL project
has created an online Scenario Building model, process, and tool based on Google Sites. The companion Assessment Builder and Assessment Guide lead faculty through the process of creating an authentic assessment plan and items for their classes. Scenarios and Tasks created with the scenario builder by project faculty and workshop participants are available online at learnpbl.com.

The DPBL project has fostered four knowledge building communities supporting faculty and administrators adopting PBL. These include: PBL-Bio/Biotech that grew out of the online Faculty Action Research workshops; PBL-Hawaii, led by faculty and administrators within the University of Hawaii system to create a knowledge building community for PBL in Hawaii; PBL-West includes faculty from Colorado to California to deliver workshops and conference session in implementing and developing PBL, managing students teams, and facilitating PBL workshops for faculty, and PBL-East which includes faculty east of Colorado to the Carolinas. This community, co-created with the SC ATE Center at Florence-Darlington Tech, hosts the Roots and Wings (RnW) Instructional Leadership Institute.

Indeed these tools have a wide scope and offer vast resources, but how are they being applied, or more
importantly how are educators using DPBL’s resources to integrate PBL into every day curriculum? Co-PI and Training Director, Judy Fredrickson, Ph.D.’s intro to programming course is entirely PBL. Students are new programmer trainees in an alternative energy company. The first day students are handed documentation like new employees in a company would get, assigned to a team, and asked to install and test a compiler. As the term progresses, the students produce programs, test cases, documentation, presentations, and other products common to the professional world of programming. Likewise instructors at other partner colleges have collaborated on scenarios and tasks whereby students can develop and analyze products or software.

Being NSF ATE funded, partnerships with other NSF ATE Centers becomes a part of its operational
structure. DPBL hopes to offer workshops with new partners in May/June 2014. The goal of the workshop is for faculty to create a scenario, tasks, and assessments they will use in their classrooms, and have the skills to successfully implement the tasks in their classrooms when they leave the workshop. DPBL is also currently working with AMTEC in Kentucky to support their efforts to convert the curriculum they’ve developed for advanced manufacturing technicians into PBL. DPBL also looks forward to working with FLATE in offering similar workshops in the future, or collaborating with FLATE to add PBL to the Center’s toolkit.

For more information on the DPBL project and upcoming PBL based workshops contact Dr. Jane Ostrander at jostrander@tmcc.edu, or visit http://www.learnpbl.com. For information on FLATE and its STEM based resources contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit www.madeinflorida.org and www.fl-ate.org.

Key Themes Emerge from Recruiting Girls Post Workshop Survey

Back in the July edition of the Focus, we brought you a synopsis of FLATE’s STEM workshop for educators. Fast forward five months, and FLATE has compiled analysis/feedback from the workshop that sheds light on strategies educators can/have employed in engaging girls in STEM. An impressive 57% of educators that included elementary, secondary and post-secondary educators/administrators from 13 counties responded to the survey. Outlined below are a few themes that emerged from the workshop.

Starting with areas of interest, survey data identified engineering and any mathematics/science degrees,
environmental/agricultural science, clinical laboratory technology, healthcare, information technology, engineering, robotics and computer science as targeted fields for educators to increase female participation in STEM. Given the importance of role models in shaping career choices, survey respondents considered showcasing women in STEM as an effective mechanism in drawing female students. “I would approach female professors from USF who teach biology or earth sciences to serve as speakers” noted one of the participants. Another attendee pointed to the Great American Teach-In as a useful resource “I will involve them by having them come in and speak to my class, model lessons, and share careers that use their skills set.”

Another dominant theme that emerged from the workshop was incorporating teaching strategies targeted at
encouraging, challenging and empowering girls. To that end, educators suggested offering on-site training for educators, starting an “all girls” STEM club, offering professional development workshops as helpful resources in staying current and ahead of the game. “I think having a club that gives girls one-on-one time to explore STEM careers will serve as an encouragement” noted an educator. Another said “having a poster of male and female students as scientists” has helped students identify themselves with their role models.

Collaborating with stakeholders was also one of the strategies identified as a useful. Potential stakeholders included parents and family members who are already engineers, engineering students and educators, mentors, guest speakers, media, and industry leaders/experts. “We will be inviting environmentalists from TECO & Mosaic and agriculturalists from hydroponics gardens to speak to our science classes” said a respondent. Another respondent hoped to invite female science teachers and community women to serve as guest speakers and possibly mentors for students.

Continuous education/training for teachers to stay abreast of new technologies was deemed highly important
in the educator STEM puzzle. “I will continue to remain abreast of the current research being conducted by scientists, particularly females, which will help me to encourage girls to pursue STEM careers” noted a respondent. Some educators were inspired by the workshop to present their findings about attracting girls to STEM at the Florida Association of Science Teachers (FAST) conference which was held in October 2013. Additionally, respondents also saw the need to highlight the array of STEM based career opportunities that are available locally and regionally.

Check back with us in Spring 2014 to get updates on some of the STEM educators efforts in their local schools. To learn about FLATE’s award winning STEM curriculum and professional development resources visit the FLATE Wiki page where you will find a wealth of resources. To attend, or host an educator workshop contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit www.fl-ate.org and www.madeinflorida.org.

Answer to sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #37: Machine System Performance

The Problem
A Certified Process Technician, CPT, has reviewed the data taken from Run Charts for two Machine Systems, System #425 and System # 638, to assess their performance and determine if either, or both system’s preventive maintenance schedules should be interrupted with an unscheduled maintenance check. The plots summarize system performance by presenting daily average radius measurements performed by the Tech. After studying this information the Tech has made a decision. This puzzle is an open-ended opportunity to present, discuss, and manipulate Run Charts. 

 The graph presents agglomerate measurement data, but does not include any performance limit expectations. A discussion of a more formal presentation of Run Chart information is certainly an easy next step for this puzzle. However, even with the graphic limitations in the plots provided it is clear that one of the systems is not performing as expected.

The technician decided that both systems are operating as expected. NO                      

Workshop Defines the Nuts & Bolts of Machining Education in Florida

Machinists are in high demand. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that job opportunities for machinists are “excellent as employers continue to value wide-ranging skills of these workers.” This data directly correlates to what industry experts and educators are saying about machinists and need for skilled technicians in factory floors across the nation. To meet the demand for skilled machinists, many manufacturers are increasingly turning to educators to train the next generation of machinists.

So what are some of the skills set and educational credentials for a machinist? Ted Norman, state supervisor
for manufacturing, transportation, distribution & logistics, and engineering & technology education at the Florida Department of Education says machinists need a strong foundation of knowledge in mathematics, 3D modeling, metallurgy, and computer programming. To get a deeper look into the issue, one has to look at the courses and curriculum framework that forms the foundations in building these skills set. As in most cases, “any good occupational technical curriculum should start with a well thought out functional job analysis that matches industry needs” said Jerry Lancio. Both Lancio and Norman were presenters at the one day machining workshop hosted by FLATE.

During the workshop, participants were given an overview of the curriculum frameworks for the machining
program in Florida, and learned about new requirements/changes for the 2014-15 school year. “My aim is to provide a good understanding of the frameworks” that will enable educators to create a solid curriculum pathway for students who are graduating from high school and going to college said Norman. Workshop participants also learned about the DACUM (Developing a Curriculum) process that starts with a functional job analysis, crosses over to mapping learning outcomes of courses and course sequence, and finally building a master curriculum outline. “I hope business and industry can see how curriculum framework process works, and educators can also see how curriculum can be built to meet industry needs” Norman said.

Indeed, feedback from workshop participants was highly favorable. “I learned a lot, and found some terrific resources at the workshop” said Dr. Jill Flansburg, program coordinator for the Florida TRADE grant. Flansburg said she enjoyed hearing experts talk about the continuum of education and training opportunities in the state, learning about skills and knowledge that can be built upon to create a career ladder in machining, and how educators and industry can work together to make a statewide articulation plan. Dennis Battistella, director of workforce development for the South Florida Manufacturers Association said the workshop served as an opportunity for technical, high school and post-secondary educators to review requirements of the current technical/machining curriculum for high school and adult education programs. It also gave educators an opportunity to draft a proposal for new high school machining curriculum to be submitted to the Florida Department of Education for review.

In addition to curriculum frameworks, the workshop focused on defining stackable academic credentials
aligned to national standards and an overview of the NIMS certification which is a nationally recognized, portable, NAM-endorsed certification which works and plays well with other industry certifications in creating a logical path. “What I learned at the workshop will help in my current job because it has given me a better idea of how to align curriculum with credential requirements, and what resources are available to me” said Flansburg.

For more information on the machining workshop visit www.fl-ate.org and www.madeinflorida.org, or email Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org

Save the Date! 2014 FESC Community College Workshop

Following the success of the 2011 and 2012 Florida Energy Systems Consortium Community College
Energy workshops held in Gainesville and Cocoa, FL, respectively, next year’s workshop will be hosted by Palm Beach State College on January 31, 2014. Participants will be treated to a range of presentations by a diverse selection of speakers. The afternoon session will include an energy-themed professional development activity designed to bring to life some of the content being talked about during the presentations as well as exposing attendees to technology they may not have had the opportunity to get up close and personal with before.

These workshops are intended to bring educators and industry people from all over Florida together to learn and share ideas and knowledge about energy education and energy industry workforce needs. Please visit www.fl-ate.org to learn more about the workshop and to register online.

Fall Conferences Highlight Importance of STEM & Advanced Technological Education

FLATE participates in a number of conference venues every October to disseminate our work, share our
expertise, and celebrate advanced technological education. Part of our mission is to share the good work of our partners and stakeholders, and mentor others looking for guidance. The October conferences we participated in as part of the NSF ATE Centers joint dissemination efforts include the National Career Pathway Network (NCPN, www.ncpn.info),  National Collation of Advanced Technology Center (NCATC, www.ncatc.org) , the National Council for Workforce Education NCWE, www.ncwe.org), the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Principle Investigator Conference (NSF ATE PI, www.aacc.nche.edu).  Each venue serves a unique collection of stakeholders and provides valuable opportunities for professional growth, networking, dissemination, partnership and fellowship. This fall I presented on various aspects of our Engineering Technology degree program including the details of its flexible structure and the FLDOE frameworks that define the program and its alignment to MSSC CPT that provides an accelerated completion pathway. I also presented a Toothpick Factory workshop to over 50 technical educators eager to learn new active techniques to help students learn and adopt the subtle intricacies of teamwork. 

In Washington, at the NSF ATE PI conference, FLATE had its Center showcase display as well as two
student displays for Mercedes Ramirez from Hillsborough Community College and Afrad Mahamed from Polk State College. Mercedes’s showcase focused on her work with our FLATE Summer Robotics Camps and its alignment to our Engineering Technology technical courses. Afrad shared the story of our Iberian Partnership program from his student participant point of view and how much the experience impacted him at many levels. Conference participants were very impressed by both students. NSF ATE recognized both as outstanding ATE student/alumni at an awards breakfast, where they networked with 60 other ATE students and alumni from around the country. 

Aside from the student activities and showcases FLATE co-led a panel on mechatronics highlighting our
partnership with SCTE, the Supply Chain Technology Education Center (Dr. Ned Young of Sinclair Community College) with two of our business partners. The panel discussion focused on comments and questions from our partner and NVC member, Bill Mazurek, director of continuous improvement at Conmed Linvatec in Largo and SCTE’s partner, Gary Forger, senior vice president of professional development, materials handling institute. Our industry partners engaged forty-nine participants including Dr. Celeste Carter, lead program director for the NSF ATE program. The common skills supporting manufacturing and supply chain (and many technologies) epitomized the work that many of our ATE graduates are and will be engaged in. There is more work to do to better the jobs that support these technologies.  Additionally, FLATE was highlighted in Dr. Will Tyson’s PathTech presentation about its important research project studying pathways between high school programs and our ET degree.

In Florida, Dr. Boyette was presented a Best Practice Award at the Florida Career Pathways Network
Symposium (FCPN, http://www.ftpn.org) for her presentation on FLATE’s strategies for professional development. Earlier in the month, Nina Stokes, FLATE’s FESC project manager, shared our curriculum work on the industrial energy efficiency technology with attendees of the Florida Energy Summit in conjunction with our FESC partners. 

Catch up with more news with November stories that check in with one participant of our Recruiting Girls for STEM Pathways workshop last June, Christine Danger, who has already put strategies learned at the event into play; get up to speed with biotechnology program at Palm Beach State College; make sure you and your industry partners are signed up for our machining education workshop; step into the final STEM puzzle of 2013; and, last, but not least, meet our 2013 FLATE Awardees: Roy Sweatman, Alex Anzalone, and Dale Toney. 

FLATE Awardees: A Synergistic Alliance to Educate & Train Florida’s High-Tech Workforce

FLATE’s outreach strategy encompasses working with industry leaders and educational partners across the
state. These synergistic alliances have enabled FLATE to expand its outreach initiatives, streamline curriculum, and offer professional development opportunities that have established crosswalks between academia and industry. While these strategic initiatives are spearheaded by FLATE, there are many individuals who over the years have collaborated with FLATE in its mission to promote, educate, and train Florida’s high-tech workforce. These individuals deserve special mention, and are recognized by FLATE each year during the Manufacturers Association of Florida, Manufacturers Summit.

This year’s awardees join a distinguished group of educators and industry professionals who have made significant contributions in enhancing technician training and education in Florida. Starting on the secondary education level, Dale Toney, recipient of the 2013 FLATE Secondary Educator of the Year Award, exemplifies qualities sought in an educator. Toney who is the robotics and automation teacher at Marion Technical Institute (MTI) in Ocala has been teaching engineering technology for several years.

Toney transfers his passion for engineering by finding creative ways to capture students’ interest. He has
established strong partnerships not only with local industry, but with teachers and community college educators across Florida. His program at MTI is aligned with the industry driven, MSSC CPT certification which has added to the skills set of his students, making them better qualified for higher paying jobs. Toney is big on hands-on projects, and regularly takes students on local industry tours, or invites industry professionals to provide first-hand, real-world perspective to students. Most recently, he won a scholarship to attend the HI-TEC conference in Austin where he participated in conference sessions about new technologies, student recruitment/retention, and strengthening industry/workforce partnerships.

On the post-secondary education level, Dr. Alessandro Anzalone, professor and director of the A.S. degree in engineering technology (A.S.E.T), has been a leading factor in driving enrollment of students into the A.S.E.T program at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon. “Dr. Anzalone’s excellent teaching, mentoring and outreach efforts have done much to dramatically expand the ET degree and certificate program at HCC” said Sabrina Peacock, dean of Arts & Sciences at HCC. Under him, enrollment into the A.S.E.T program has sharply risen from two students to 180, and is steadily increasing every academic year.

Anzalone believes the strength of the A.S.E.T degree lies in its industry-centric focus which has helped all
graduates to either get a better job, or climb up the corporate latter. “The degree is also adaptable and flexible, and offers transferability of skills and knowledge across various engineering sectors.” He credits FLATE for being a driving force in ensuring the success of the program at HCC and those offered at 13 state and community colleges across the state. “The most important contribution of FLATE is transforming manufacturing technology into engineering technology” said Anzalone. “This has not only dispelled negative connotations attached to old world manufacturing, but aligned it with engineering so students/parents view it in a slightly different perspective” Anzalone said.

Outside his role as an educator, Anzalone is involved in a number of high-tech projects. Anzalone is well-connected with other institutions of higher education, local manufacturing industry. He has been working on an innovative project at USF to design, build, and test prototype of a product that can be used primarily in developing countries. He is also involved in the ETAM educational project partnering with Polk State College, Tallahassee Community College and State College of Florida. “I believe this cross pollination between schools is very important as it leads to a better streamlined curriculum that prepares students for the workforce.”

On the industry end of the continuum, Roy Sweatman, president and CEO of Southern Manufacturing
Technologies, a leading high-tech manufacturer in Tampa, has been a prominent figure in representing the voice of local industry, and establishing a platform for industry to engage with students as well as educators. Sweatman has hosted many “Made in Florida” industry tours for middle and high school students in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties. Through these tours, Sweatman has met, hired as well as mentored many students for part time work giving them a real-world view about manufacturing careers. Sweatman is on the advisory committee of the Pinellas Technical Education Center’s machining program, the Florida West Coast Apprentice Board, and several other local workforce and education advisory committees. “Sweatman has promoted a very open and receptive culture, making SMT a warm and welcoming place for students to get a first-hand view of advanced manufacturing operations and careers supports industry at all levels” said Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE.

At the national level, Roy Sweatman is an appointed member of the U.S Department of Commerce’s
Manufacturing Council for the past two years as well as that organizations’ subcommittee for workforce development. In that capacity, he and 24 other industry leaders advise the Secretary of Commerce on all aspects of competitiveness and respond to regular input/ request from Florida manufacturers and regional organizations to represent their interests at the national level. Roy has also served in numerous leadership roles in the National Tooling and Machine Association (NMTA) for over 20 years, focusing on both the manufacturing industry and its workforce issues. Within Florida, Roy participates in the Manufacturers Association of Florida (MAF) annual meeting, and focuses on impacting/ influencing state legislators for manufacturing friendly policies and regulations.

2013 marks the seventh year of the FLATE awards. Since the implementation of the awards program in 2006, FLATE has recognized 14 educators in secondary and post-secondary educational institutions, and seven industry partners. For more information on the FLATE awards, or to nominate an awardee for next year, visit www.fl-ate.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org/813.259.6578.

FLATE’s Educator Workshop Spurs Development of K-8 STEM Curriculum

FLATE’s curriculum and professional development tools are geared to equip educators, students, and industry with knowledge and skills that promote technician education and training. One of the focus of FLATE’s professional development efforts have centered not only on a regional, but a national push to engage girls in STEM. This has culminated over the years in a number of workshops that have enabled educators to refine and/or certify their knowledge base within manufacturing, and develop STEM based curricula for their schools that have long-term impact on technical education.

Christine Danger, STEM resource teacher and elementary science teacher at Hillsborough County Public
School was one such person who took advantage of the resources offered by FLATE. According to Danger, FLATE’s “Recruiting Girls to STEM Pathways” workshop offered in June served as a turning point in her quest to get more students engaged in STEM. “The research about why girls choose particular career pathways served as an eye opener for me” says Danger. In that it helped her get a better perspective why most girls choose a career where want to make a difference. The information presented during the workshop led her to show her students, particularly girls, how “being an engineer can help (or possibly even save) lives, animals, and the earth.”

The SEM, or the Science, Engineering, and Mathematics in STEM, are all interesting, but what really gets students excited about these subjects is “technology,” or the “t” in STEM. As a teacher, Danger found children love to play with technology. Armed with the knowledge she gained at the STEM workshop, and as part of Danger’s role as the first science resource teacher for SDHC, Danger set out to formulate a K-8 STEM program at Turner Elementary School and Bartels Middle School in Tampa.

As part of this effort, Danger has set-up engineering design challenge centers in all K-5 classrooms at Turner
Elementary School that integrates STEM concepts and engineering challenges into mainstream curriculum. “Our goal is to add connections to STEM careers into all subject areas” said Danger. Danger is creating a STEM lab where students can engage in hands-on engineering activities that complement science standards they are learning in class. Danger is also developing a robotics elective at Bartels Middle School and plans to start a robotics team in the school, and working on integrating technology into language arts by creating video games, and using technology to create presentations and videos. My long term goal is to help teachers understand how to teach engineering, and to get students and encourage students to exercise their creativity.”

In a quest to position STEM as fun, Danger collaborated with FLATE’s partner, Scientific League of Super
Heroes (see October 2013 FLATE Focus) to develop STEM based curriculum for fifth grade SDHC students. “The superhero theme is working to attract both boys and girls” said Danger. Using the “Super Heroes theme,” she has developed curriculum where students can research different STEM careers online that they find most interesting, and corresponding skills-set, or  “superpowers” like curing diseases, reducing pollution, developing new energy sources, improving communication systems, and growing food more efficiently. In general, I found girls are attracted to STEM careers when they find out that they can be creative, hands-on, collaborative, and the work they do can help people and the planet.” Boys on the other hand she notes, love to build things and compete. Danger hopes to eventually have 50% girls and 50% boys enrolled in the robotics/STEM elective.

Given her research and experience with STEM curriculum development, Danger presented her findings about engaging women/girls in STEM at the annual Florida Association of Science Teachers conference in Miami. For more information about FLATE’s STEM based curriculum and workshops visit www.madeinflorida.org and www.fl-ate.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org. For information on the SDHC K-8 STEM curriculum currently offered at Turner Elementary and Bartels Middle School in Tampa, contact Christine Danger at Christine.Danger@sdhc.k12.fl.us

sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #37: Machine System Performance

A Certified Process Technician, CPT, is reviewing the “Run Charts” for two machine systems, System #425 and System # 638, to assess their performance and determine if either, or both systems’ preventive maintenance schedules should be interrupted with an unscheduled maintenance check. Among other tasks, each system is milling shear pins to a specified radius for use in the propeller subsystems of a marine engine the company makes. To accomplish this system assessment task, the Tech routinely randomly selects pins to measure and record their radius. Because of the knowledge and skills expected of a CPT, the technician understands the implications presented in such Run Chart data.   

The plots below summarize system performance by presenting daily average radius measurements performed by the Tech. After studying this information the Tech has made a decision.   

1) The technician decided that both systems are operating as expected. Yes or NO. Submit your answers below the blog post, or on www.fl-ate.org


PBSC Students BLAST Off their Career at Full Speed with a Degree in Biotechnology

Florida is not all about sunshine, beaches and Mickey Mouse country. The state is emerging as an incubation
hub for fostering several high-tech initiatives. Among these, biotechnology has emerged as a prominent industry cluster in the state. Recent reports published in 2013 from the University of Florida and the Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability, Florida has experienced a 60 percent growth of biotechnology industry over the past five years, and the state outpaces the nation in terms of biotechnology research and development. Within the biotechnology research and development sector, the OPPAGA identifies Hillsborough, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties that experienced greatest business growth.

Given the biotech growth spurt, the National Science Foundation through its Advanced Technological
Education initiative recently awarded a grant to Palm Beach State College (PBSC) to respond to the needs of south Florida’s emerging bioscience industry. “The goal of the Biotechnology Laboratory and Skills Training (BLAST) project is to increase student success, retention and graduation among biotechnology majors in order to meet the growing demand in our region and nation for skilled technicians in this field” said Dr. Alexandra Gorgevska, chair and professor in the Department of Biotechnology and the Department of Natural Sciences at PBSC. Gorgevska says the targeted objectives of the project are to provide: student cohort activities to increase student engagement; internal recruiting efforts; provide tutoring, mentoring and career guidance, and creating learning communities and community involvement.

Since the awarding of the grant in 2011, the BLAST project has successfully worked towards accomplishing
outlined objectives. Activities have centered on creating learning communities, offering student internships, providing venues for student presentations during conferences, hosting internal recruiting efforts, and offering professional development opportunities aimed at educating students about potential career opportunities of a career in biotechnology. “The Biotech program at PBSC provides students with amazing opportunities like the BioFlorida conference and I can’t fathom a better educational environment” said Austin Tregenza, a student at PBSC. The project also hosts an on campus bi-annual, student poster symposia, a biotech awareness week, and opportunities to attend regional conferences that give students the opportunity to present their work at meetings and conferences.

Additionally, PBSC also developed a new general biology course that emphasizes the molecular biology
basis of biotechnology. The course serves in attracting both biotech and non-biotech majors. In Spring 2012, there were 11 non biotech major students enrolled in the introductory biotech course, out of which two students took an additional biotech course. In Fall 2012, there were 15 non-biotech students enrolled in the course out of which one took an additional biotech course. In Spring 2013, there we were a total of 13 non-biotech students. Currently, after two semesters, the program has seen 11.5% of non-biotech majors retained in the program.

The impact of the project has been multi-faceted. Impacts are not only being felt within the field of biotechnology, but these contributions can be extended to a variety of other academic fields. The curriculum modifications that are being developed for general biology course has the potential to create a more well-rounded biology, chemistry, physics or engineering major by presenting them with additional applications of the basic sciences. Additionally, the creation of an advising manual has provided professional development of college advisors that can also be made available to other college programs via online access. “We have been very fortunate to have this NSF ATE grant funding. It has allowed us to initiate a variety of interactive efforts to increase enrollment, retention and success of students in our biotechnology program” said Dr. Gorgevska.

Looking to the future, Gorgevska is currently writing a new NSF ATE proposal to continue the projects
targeted efforts. “In order to determine if the activities we have implemented will have an impact on our program, we will need to continue these efforts for an additional 2-3 years collect data concerning program completers and tracking of alumni” Gorgevska said. For more information on the BLAST grant and biotech courses offered at PBSC contact Dr. Alexandra Gorgevska at gorgevsa@palmbeachstate.edu, or visit www.palmbeachstate.edu/programs/biotechnology. For information on biotech courses offered at other community and state colleges across Florida contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit www.madeinflorida.org.

ATE@20 Showcases Accomplishments of NSF's Advanced Technological Education Program

The National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program is celebrating twenty years of supporting technician education this year. 
Begun in 1993, the ATE program supports innovative efforts to improve the education of incumbent and prospective technicians, and the professional development of educators who teach them. The program focuses on technician preparation in fields vital to the nation's security such as information technology, manufacturing, agriculture, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and engineering technology. 

As part of this celebration ATE Central, a crosscutting ATE project that aims to support and highlight the
work of the 300-plus funded projects and centers, is spearheading the  ATE@20 Book + Blog project—showcasing the accomplishments of the ATE program during the past 20 years. The blog aims to reach students, parents, educators, as well as business and industry partners with articles about successful technicians and cutting-edge technical education programs. The blog will feature stories throughout the anniversary year and entries may be reprinted or reused. The book, which chronicles the program with feature stories and programmatic data infographics, will be released in October. 

Since it was created in response to the Scientific and Advanced Technology Act of 1992, the ATE program's various student recruitment efforts have meshed with the National Careers Pathway Network to encourage youngsters to enter technical careers and to improve the opportunities of underemployed adults.

Recognition that true change rarely happens in isolation led to requirements that ATE initiatives:
  • involve two-year college educators in leadership roles
  • collaborate with employers
  • connect with secondary school teachers and university faculty
Gerhard Salinger, a National Science Foundation (NSF) program director who was co-lead of the ATE program from 1993 through 2012, said the team involved in structuring the competitive grant program wanted broad and deep partnerships for a simple reason: "We could get more done if people collaborated." Collegiality among ATE principal investigators is another program hallmark. "We wanted it to be a program and not just a series of grants."

Elizabeth J. Teles, who was co-lead of ATE with Salinger from 1993 to 2009. They hoped that a network of partnerships beyond the particular college department or campus receiving an ATE grant would help sustain activities and lead to other innovations after the NSF grant funding ended."I just saw too many people acting in isolation, not realizing there were components in other projects. I had worked in a few projects at my college, and I felt like we did them, but we didn't have any idea what other people who were being supported were doing,” Teles said. She taught mathematics at Montgomery College before a fellowship at the NSF led to her employment as a program director.

The annual ATE Principal Investigators' Conference is an example of NSF investment in building a truly collaborative ATE community.  At these high-energy meetings, ATE grant recipients share their successes and challenges to improve overall practices, and build professional networks that have frequently led to other collaborations. For instance, several consortia formed by ATE centers have been awarded large Department of Labor grants.

As the NSF’s largest community college investment, ATE has broadened the federal government’s definition of STEM workforce. By focusing on the associate degree programs offered by two-year colleges—primarily by public community colleges, ATE provides technicians with a solid academic foundation that enables them to learn throughout their careers.  ATE enhancements to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses equip students to move more efficiently on career paths from high school to two-year colleges, from two-year colleges to technical careers, and from two-year colleges to four-year institutions.
The innovative ATE initiatives established throughout the nation and the free information available to anyone who wants to emulate these model educational programs improve educational practices, students’ opportunities, and ultimately the nation’s prosperity.

For more information about the ATE program or the ATE@20 Book+Blog project visit: http://atecentral.net and the ATE@20 Blog at https://atecentral.net/ate20