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.

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