2013 National Manufacturing Day in Florida A Resounding Success

National Manufacturing Day in Florida was one of the biggest events coordinated by FLATE this year, and
made a big splash across the state. On Oct. 4, as part of national manufacturing day in Florida, over 2000 middle and high school students toured nearly 80 high-tech manufacturing facilities across Florida. The Made in Florida tours were made possible by FLATE (Florida Advanced Technological Education), the National Science Foundation Center of Excellence, Regional Manufacturers Associations, manufacturing-related professional organizations, school districts, plus many manufacturers and educators across the state. The manufacturing day tours celebrated more than 14,000 manufacturers across Florida, and served as an educational opportunity for students to expand their knowledge about high-tech careers & educational pathways available right in their backyard.

Activity varied across the state, but some regions took Manufacturing Day in Florida by storm, led by a
regional organization, college or school. Regional partners that coordinated local efforts included Bay Area Manufacturers Association (www.bama-fl.org), Northwest Florida Manufacturing Council (www.nwfmc.org);  the First Coast Manufacturers Association (www.fcma.org) in the Jacksonville area; Marion Regional Manufacturers Association (www.mrma.org); Sarasota-Manatee Manufacturers Association (www.sama.org); Pasco-Hernando Community College (www.phcc.edu); Tallahassee Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Center (www.tcc.fl.us); and South Florida Manufacturers Association (www.sfma.org) partnered with FLATE to organize great experiences for hundreds of students in their regions. A full list of schools and manufacturers that participated are listed at http://madeinflorida.org/manufacturing-day.  

In a bid to appreciate and expand knowledge about the value manufacturing brings to Florida’s economy
and to showcase the high-skilled, high-paid manufacturing jobs available in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott took a leading role in declaring Oct. 4 as Manufacturing Day in Florida. Several counties through individual County Commission Proclamations also declared Oct. 4 as “Florida Manufacturing Day.” Pinellas and Sarasota counties issued county proclamations in September, Hillsborough County issued the county proclamation on Oct. 3, Manatee County on October 4, with several proclamations announced in Marion, Santa Rosa, Escambia and other counties across the state. For a complete listing of county proclamations visit Made in Florida website.

In addition to arranging tours for students, FLATE in partnership with industry partners sponsored T-shirts
for many of the students who went on tours. FLATE also worked with regional “Manufacturing Day teams,” to arrange media publicity, designing and delivering t-shirts, and surveying students to assess the overall impact of tours. The t-shirts served as a tangible and long-time reminder of the significance of manufacturing in Florida, and, of course, helped put the “fun” in manufacturing. Given the number of tours by FLATE and its partners across the state, FLATE was contacted by National Manufacturing Day organizers and acknowledged on a national arena as a key partner in making the national event a huge success.

Although the tours are complete, pizzas are gone, and tee-shirts are “in the wash”, manufacturing Day in
Florida 2013 is not over. Over 2000 students who visited manufacturing facilities in Florida were surveyed to gauge the impact of the tours on them.  That data will be compiled and distributed to FLATE’s regional manufacturing day partners to assess regional impact, and also to note improvements for future events. FLATE will also share manufacturing day in Florida photo galleries which will be posted on our Facebook profile, Facebook page and on Twitter. Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and subscribe to our Twitter handle @Made_InFlorida. A special Manufacturing Day curriculum piloted in Hillsborough County will also be evaluated for future use in more regions, and plans for a debriefing is in the pipeline.

FLATE would like to extend special word of thanks to all its industry partners, educators, and sponsors who
opened their facilities and generously contributed to make Manufacturing Day in Florida a resounding success. Your participation and contribution has gone a long way towards changing the image of manufacturing and raising community awareness about its high-wage, high-skill careers as well as all the awesome things that are “Made in Florida”. Together we have also positioned Florida as a leader of technician training and education.

Wow – a personal “thank you” to everyone who participated in manufacturing day in Florida!  It has been a huge project for FLATE, and we could not have done it without our regional partners all over the state. Read more about our big day continue to check the Made in Florida webpage for photos, press, local proclamations and tallies of student survey results. For more information on National Manufacturing Day visit the Made in Florida site. To arrange tours to local high-tech facilities for middle and high school students in your region contact Desh Bagley, FLATE outreach manager at bagley@fl-ate.org or (813) 253-7838 and Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director at barger@fl-ate.org.

Manufacturing day euphoria has certainly hit FLATERLAND, but we have a full line-up of STEM events this fall. In this edition of the Focus, listen in to some members of our FLATE Industrial Advisory Committee, and if interested in joining just attend a meeting, or contact me. The season for robotics competitions are heating. You can read all about it in this edition of the Focus, and sign up and/or attend a robotics event in your area. Meet our STEM Superhero friends and partners, the Scientific League, and not to worry, the answer to STEM puzzle # 36 can be found in this issue.

Industry Input & Engagement Crucial to Defining CTE Curriculum

Industry input is an important part of all career and technical education across this country.  Every three
years all of Florida Department of Education’s (FL DOE) curriculum frameworks are required by Florida statute to be reviewed by a panel of educators and industry representatives.  This process is conducted under the guidance of the state supervisors of each industry clusters. Each spring, state supervisors contact institutions that offer the programs to be reviewed and request participation. An easy-to-use review document is distributed and participating institutions then recruit industry partners and educators for other institutions to participate in the review. Often the framework review document is distributed via email, and the committee chair consolidates the input. To produce the consensus document that the FL DOE requires, a final meeting, remote or face-to-face, is often conducted with all participating committee members.

This year, the specializations of the Engineering Technology (ET) degree, the secondary and post-secondary Automation and Production Technology (APT) frameworks were both reviewed by committees around the state.  Many specific benchmarks were clarified, some were deleted, others consolidated, etc.  The consensus documents will be distributed to all institutions around the state that offer the degree specialization, or college credit certificates that come from the specialization to be sure that they are aware of the changes and possibly provide additional input. The 2014 version of the frameworks posted on the FL DOE website will include all the updates.

This process is just one of many opportunities that industry in Florida will get to participate in the content of technical education programs. The curriculum frameworks define student learning outcomes (knowledge and skills) for each technical program of study. Other avenues to participate are to review the state’s funding lists for industry certifications, and suggesting new ones to add and existing ones to remove from the list. This process takes place annually and is also done through the educational institutions.  Educators should be asking their industry partners for input about important credentials for their industry sector.

Another way industry can get involved is by participating in focus groups and /or DACUM processes for establishing new technical programs. The genesis of new technical programs starts with industry approaching a secondary, or post-secondary institution with a need. It might come directly from a company, a consortium of companies, a related professional, or economic development organization, or some combination of the three. No mater how it starts, the process is typically the same. The local, regional and state needs for an educational program in the proposed technical, or career area is established; industry is brought together to define the skills and knowledge in a focus group, or DACUM process; and the state curriculum framework for the new program is defined based on these results.  Once a framework is approved by the FL DOE, institutions across the state are fee to adopt it and offer it if there is a workforce need for completers in their area.

FLATE is happy to note that this year so many Florida manufacturers opened their doors to expose students to manufacturing as part of national manufacturing day in Florida. In addition to the tours and outreach activitites, manufacturing education programs need industry help with curriculum that is taught in the classrooms. While the energy is high, please consider joining an industry advisory committee of a local manufacturing education program in your are, or partner with local schools, technical institutes and colleges and thereby participate in Florida’s career and technical education curriculum processes and continue to make an impact in keeping/maintaining world-class standards of our manufacturing education programs. Your participation in any of the processes mentioned above (or others) really helps keep materials that educators teach up-to-date and relevant. It’s your future workforce we are educating; we always need and want your input.

For more information, or to participate in one of our industry driven initiatives contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org. You can also visit www.madeinflorida.org and www.fl-ate.org.

Superhero Training Network Enhances Engagement of Elementary Students in STEM

Scientists and engineers are considered true superheroes in society. They develop ideas and build things that
are fun and interesting, and provide us with knowledge to extend human life and our capacity for exploration. As much as they can improve our lives they can also do considerable harm. It is this bifurcation of the idea of science and engineering in education, and the opportunity to show students the “power” of what they are learning as well as the responsibility to use that “power” for the betterment of humanity that led Audrey Buttice and Samuel DuPont to create Scientific League LLC, a company which aims to deliver science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM-related knowledge primarily to elementary aged students.

Audrey Buttice, Ph.D. and Samuel DuPont, Ph.D., chanced upon the idea while working on their Ph.D.’s in chemical engineering at the University of South Florida. Through STARS (Students, Teachers, and Resources in the Sciences), a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded program, they visited Florida elementary schools where they provided instruction and performed experiments with students and teachers. The experience satiated Buttice & DuPont’s passion for educating young students and teachers in STEM related topics.

Buttice and DuPont thereon came up with the idea of developing lessons using multimedia. They toyed with many ideas (Pirates, Clowns, Lab Rats, and even Detectives), and finally struck upon the idea of Superheroes while standing in line for a ride at Walt Disney World. Soon after, Buttice and DuPont cracked open the idea for the next project, their company’s first creation, the Superhero Training Network.

The Superhero Training Network is a series of materials and resources designed to enhance student 
engagement in STEM-related topics and provide trainers (teachers) with a solid network of educational support. In its superficial form it is a series of videos and printed materials designed by people with a solid background in STEM, and created with a focus on engaging student interest and enhancing a teacher’s ability to convey core STEM concepts. Superhero Training Network materials follow both the Sunshine State Standards (current Florida education standards) and the new Next Generation Science Standards. One of the goals of the program is to form a community of educational professionals that have various degrees of experience in educational techniques and STEM related subjects which act as resources for the educational community without requiring an unreasonable time commitment.

Primary modes of instruction include full video lessons, small video segments, textbook/reader style “Training Manuals”, activity kits, and paper-based puzzles, quizzes, and challenges. “Our country, and the entire world, will rely heavily on STEM careers in the future. Encouraging students at a young age to fulfill this need will ensure a strong workforce for our country as the world continues to make vast strides in technological advancements.”

To date, they have produced six full episodes, lasting 20-30 minutes, which include science-based interviews with the cast and segments on science in the community. “We plan to continue production after the core series, developing videos that focus on a specific topic in its entirety” Buttice and DuPont said. Additionally, they plan to create more “segmented” videos which tackle basic concepts in a short and meaningful manner to encourage students to be excited about STEM concepts.

Use of Superhero Training Network materials have greatly expanded since its inception. In 2011, the initial year, STN materials were used in four Hillsborough County schools. This year, 24 Hillsborough County schools will be using the materials. “Our hope is that students recognize how fun STEM topics can be and prime their minds to learn so that they develop a life-long passion for STEM learning and activity.” Of the students who have used the program, over 80% reported an enjoyable experience and 2/3 expressed desire to access STN themed materials from home. On curriculum relevant topics, an overall average increase of 15% in student knowledge has been noted.

The goals of FLATE are closely aligned with Science League as both organizations are focused on
encouraging students to explore STEM based opportunities. Science League has been working with FLATE on a variety of video production projects aimed at encouraging students to pursue technical and manufacturing workforce. These videos will also provide students with an idea of the types of jobs available to them in their state as well as what these corporations look for when hiring new technical employees. “We have really enjoyed working with FLATE and plan to continue partnering with them on other projects that our multi-media expertise can benefit” Buttice said.

For more information on the Scientific League and the Super Hero Training Network visit http://www.scientificleague.com/, or contact Sam DuPont (sam@scientificleague.com) and Audrey Buttiice (Audrey@scientificleague.com). For more information on FLATE and STEM based projects visit www.fl-ate.org and madeinflorida.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger@fl-ate.org.

sTEm–at-Work (Answer Puzzle #36): Gasket Response to an Applied Test Pressure Pattern

To be fair to long time puzzle followers, sTEm-at-Work Puzzle 36 does violate the rules for sTEm-at-work puzzles. The solution to the puzzle is supposed to be provided in the combined information presented in the puzzle text and the puzzle plot(s). For puzzle 36, the reader needed to also know that when pressure is applied to a fluid the fluid demonstrates a capacitive like effect. The magnitude of that "RC" effect depends on the properties of the fluid, and when necessary, can be reduced but not eliminated. This valve does leak, but the "RC" rounding of the edges of the square wave shape is not because the valve leaks. The rounding is because of the capacitive effect of the hydraulic fluid. This is the reason for the suggestion in last month's answer text that sTEm-at-Work puzzle 36 represents a great segway for lessons on related RC time constant concepts including the material properties and mathematics that generate and predict an RC response, respectively. Since a material's "RC" type response to an applied forcing function like pressure, or voltage is so common, taking the time to have students explore the concept in as much detail as can be assimilated is good use of instructional time.

The Tech rejected the actuator because the test results shown below were not the same shape as the applied pressure test pattern shown above. NO   


FLATE’s IAC Serves as a Confluence of Ideas to Educate/Train Manufacturing Workforce

FLATE’s Industrial Advisory Committee (IAC) has served as a vehicle in incorporating voices of industry
and education to streamline its curriculum, outreach and professional development efforts. The IAC consists of industry partners from the manufacturing community, representatives from related professional and industry organizations, and others in the community interested in advancing technician education and training of the manufacturing workforce in Florida. Tina Brudnicki, current Chair of the IAC and a member since 2005 says the role of the IAC is “to promote and support the education and training of the current and future manufacturing workforce.” Brudnicki views the IAC as a strategic partner with local industry to lay a strong foundation for a qualified workforce in Florida.

Meetings are held two/three times a year at state/community colleges, or at a local manufacturing facility which helps area manufacturers showcase some of their high-tech operations, and make it accessible for members across Florida to attend either in person, or remotely. The Committee works largely under the guidance of Brad Jenkins, program director for the engineering technology program at St. Petersburg College and one of FLATE’s principal investigators.

Most IAC meetings serve as a dynamic marketplace to exchange ideas between industry leaders and educators. Discussions center on technology and workforce trends for technicians, industry certifications, updates from regional manufacturers associations and/or industry partners, or any topic considered relevant to manufacturers across Florida. For members like Dale Toney and Tina Brudnicki the IAC meeting represents a confluence of ideas between educators and local industry.

From his participation at the recent meeting, Toney notes a need for a game changer in terms of how
companies conduct daily business and devise a plan to reach out to the emerging talent pool. Toney, who has been a member for the past three years and an instructor at the Robotics & Automation Design Academy which is affiliated with Marion Technical Institute in Ocala, FL., says “creating awareness and cultivating interest from the get-go is key.” He makes an interesting point in noting that traditional communication tools like newspapers, journal articles, or television are less effective in reaching out to teenagers. Most teenagers he says get their staple diet of news via word-of-mouth from teachers, career counselors, and more recently via social networking. These coupled with a younger, a fresher voice he says will connect better and attract younger students to manufacturing.

Voices of educators and industry leaders like Toney and Tina play an important role in dictating IAC meeting agendas and maneuvering FLATE’s curriculum projects. Both Toney and Brudnicki appreciate FLATE’s efforts to ensure representation of educators and industry at these meetings. Then too, equally, if not more important, they say is the need  to incorporate the voices of local legislators, vocational directors, principals and superintendents who in essence function as decision makers and financial planners in the educational continuum.

For future meeting discussions, Toney hopes to see a defined/structured list of skills that educators need to
be concentrating on so they can streamline curriculum and instruction at the high school level. He also encourages industries to come to the classroom and talk to students about certifications and skills set they are looking for in current/future employees which in turn would help students align their educational goals to match industry needs. Tina, on the other hand, hopes the statewide A.S. degree in engineering technology, which represents the culmination of a joint effort between FLATE and the IAC, will eventually serve as an incentive for industry to find qualified workforce and relocate to Florida.

For more information on FLATE IAC visit www.fl-ate.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org

Season for Sports for the Mind Sizzles with Regional Robotics Competitions

As football season is heating up, line-up of robotics competitions in the region are also warming up. FLATE
Photo Courtesy: FTC Facebook
  will be sponsoring a number of local robotics teams. The 2013-2014 robotics season starts with FIRST LEGO® League (FLL) qualifying round of tournaments in November and lasts through January, 2014.There are over 500 teams registered in Florida. The FLL challenge is based on a real-world scientific topic. 
Research theme for this year is "natural disasters."

Each challenge has three parts: the Robot Game, the Project, and the FLL Core Values. Teams of up to ten children, with one adult coach, participate in the Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game), developing a solution to a problem they have identified (Project), all guided by the FLL Core Values. Teams may then choose to attend an official tournament, hosted by one of our Operational Partners. An official listing of qualifying tournaments are listed on the Florida FLL website http://flrobotics.org/tournaments/QualSched.html.

The Florida First Tech Challenge (FTC) season in Florida just started in September and runs through
FTC Season Kick Off (Photo Courtesy
FTC Facebook Page)
February. The Kickoff for local FTC was September 21st at Middleton High School for the Tampabay Area teams. Middleton High School has FRC, FTC, and VEX. The FRC and FTC teams have had their kickoff meetings and are adding new team members. FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) is a mid-level robotics competition for high-school students that helps them learn to design and build robots with both driver and autonomous controlled behavior.  FTC robots are built with the TETRIX® or MATRIX® robot kits and are controlled by the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT Robotic System with a choice of 2 software platforms; ROBOTC or LabVIEW. Student teams develop robots that can perform the tasks defined in the Challenge, then compete with, and against, other teams in qualifying competitions and a state championship. The purpose of FIRST Tech Challenge is to give high school age students an opportunity to experience the fun and excitement of complex problem solving in a positive and supportive team environment. Visit the FTC web site for more information.

Kick-off for FRC 2014 (FIRST Robotics Competition) starts in January. FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) has been referred to as the super bowl of the mind. Over 2,500 teams compete worldwide in an annual challenge where each team must each build a remote controlled robot out of a standard kit of parts. The 2013 FRC South Florida regional will take place on March 28-30 at Fort Lauderdale Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and is expecting between 45 to 50 teams. 

Strawberry Crest High School is participating in FTC and BEST this year. October also marks the season 
kick off for BEST robotics competitions across the state. Nearly 100 robotic enthusiasts showed up at the HCC Brandon Campus in October with 12 HCPS teams lining up at the starting line for the 42 days of BEST Robotics Competition. Eleven of the teams are led by HCPS science teachers plus the 12th team of the heavily favored All Girls team, Brandon Vibots composed of alums from the McLane robotics engineering club. This year’s BEST Competition theme titled, GateKeeper, is focused on building of a 32 bit CPU using logic gates. BEST tournaments are scheduled for Nov. 1-2 at Lennard High School in Ruskin, FL. 

Additionally FIRST Coordinator Terri Willingham is promoting a Robocon, and various VEX tournaments are also being organized across the state. For more information on robotics competitions happening this Fall and Spring visit www.fl-ate.org, or contact Desh Bagley, outreach manager for FLATE at bagley@fl-ate.org, and Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org.

FLATE's Communications Line

FLATE has a dedicated group of professionals who make everyday tasks as well as complex projects appear seamless to the outside world. Janice Mukhia, FLATE's communication specialist started her 7th year with FLATE late last month. Janice accepted a half time position in September 2006 with the charge to develop a quarterly newsletter for FLATE.  Two years later, armed with her bachelors degree in communications, she joined the FLATE team in a full time position and was charged to migrate our FLATE Focus from a quarterly paper based version to a monthly on-line blog format. For the last 3 years, the award winning FLATE Focus has set the mark of excellence for newsletters of its kind. 

Although the newsletter is a joint effort of the whole FLATE team, Janice does most of the writing, interviewing, layout, distribution and data capturing. When not working on the newsletter, Janice is busy pitching press releases to local/statewide press, sending news alerts to FLATE’s stakeholders, and working on articles for other regional and national publications. She works closely not only with the FLATE staff, leadership team and stakeholders, but also with the media and external affairs team at Hillsborough Community College and consortium of our partner colleges.

Thank you Janice for taking new challenges in stride, leading us in the world of social media, and keeping us always on deadline so our message is regularly distributed to FLATE's stakeholders. Thanks for your constant smile, always being willing to help, and making all of us at FLATE "look good".