Spring into Action with FLATE’s Summer Camps and Workshops!

Last month we talked about evaluation from a high level. With summer right around the corner, FLATE is
working hard getting ready for our summer programs for students and faculty.  One aspect of that is how our projects and activities impact student learning. We try to get a handle on this by administering a pre and post survey for all campers about some of their experiences with science, technology, engineering and math skills, and knowledge they will encounter during the camp as well as information about career pathways in manufacturing. We also survey parents after six months asking if their children’s interests change (for instance, more interested in STEM subjects and activities). It’s certainly challenging to get this information back with all of us very busy, however, every bit that we do get back helps to piece together an impact “story” of our student camp activities. For our professional development workshop, we ask teachers how, when and where they will be able to use the materials, resources and information in their classrooms as well as what they actually learned. Surveying participants and reviewing what they say are important parts of our evaluation and continuous improvement efforts (that I talked about last month).

This summer we have some big news for robot campers here at HCC Brandon. This year’s campers will get
to work with the brand new Lego EV3 robots. The new bots are built around the Intelligent EV3 Brick with a new, more powerful processor, and have additional sensors and a lot more capabilities. To be ready for the campers, FLATE’s camp instructors will be training later this spring. In addition to our summer robotics camp we are happy to announce that FLATE will partner with St. Petersburg College in Clearwater, FL, to offer two sessions of a “3D Printing SolidWorks camp for high school students that will focus on developing 3D modelling skills, rapid prototyping, metrology and finishing. More information about these camps will be available after March 17.  We are very excited to be adding this “additive manufacturing” opportunity to our camp portfolio. Finally, through a special partnership with the local school district, we will offer an energy focused camp to children in the local AVID program.

For teachers and educators, this summer’s professional development opportunities are growing every day. Shortly after school is out, we will be offering one/two-day workshops for advanced biology/biotechnology and another for programming LEGO robots. We will also be offering the   5th year of FLATE’s famous teacher camp which will focus on “Mainstreaming STEM” for three fun days. We have partnered with FACTE (Florida Association for Career and Technical Education) who will provide travel support for teachers to attend the robotics programming workshop; with Hillsborough County Schools and HCC for the biotech workshop and teacher camp. 

Later in the July we have partnered with FACTE again to offer our very successful “Recruiting Girls to
STEM careers” one-day workshop in conjunction with their annual conference which will be in Wesley Chapel. FLATE has arranged to bring an incredible opportunity for teachers the week of August 4-8. The Guitar Building Workshop (another great NSF ATE funded project) will be held at Erwin Technical Center, during which each teacher will build a guitar AND learn how to integrate STEM topics involved in guitars and music into their programs. (Teachers will get to keep their self-made guitars.) We are also working on setting up several one-day workshops for Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) at different locations around the state.  You can find out more about each of these events on the home page of our website at www.fl-ate.org, where they are listed by date.

Certainly, we hope to simulate the minds and hearts of many teachers and students; help all make new connections between STEM topics and the real applications especially in manufacturing; and many to get hooked on manufacturing as the ultimate STEM experience. For now, enjoy this issue of the FLATE Focus which is draped with many stories about our curriculum, outreach and professional development efforts. Don’t forget this month’s sTEm puzzle! We’d love to hear from you, so send us your comments/thoughts about the articles and events.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Manufacturing Visits FLATE at HCC Brandon

Manufacturing is a hot button topic and has been a recurring theme in many of President Obama’s speeches. This push to bring manufacturing to the forefront of the economy is not solely relegated to the national agenda, but is of top priority even in the sunshine state, home to more than 14,000 manufacturers. On the statewide level, Gov. Rick Scott has taken several measures in the last few years to encourage a favorable climate for manufacturers in Florida, and according to a study conducted by the Governor’s office Florida is “poised to capitalize on a national movement to reinvest in manufacturing by growing jobs and opportunities faster than any other state.” (Source: www.flgov.com). 

The study not only points to a thriving economy, but echoes overtones of the sentiment relayed by Chandra
Brown, deputy assistant secretary for manufacturing at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, DC. Ms. Brown recently visited the sunshine state, in lieu of a special invitation from Roy Sweatman, president & CEO of Southern Manufacturing Technologies in Tampa. “Chandra was interested in the school tours and since I am on the Workforce Development Subcommittee, I thought taking her to see some of the schools that have manufacturing related programs would be appropriate.” Sweatman who is a champion of manufacturing in Florida represents the voice of local industry and has served as a conduit in establishing a platform for industry to engage with students as well as educators.  “It never hurts to get that kind of exposure at a national level” said Sweatman who is an appointed member of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Council and a winner of the 2013 FLATE Industry Service Award.

Ms. Brown’s trip to Hillsborough Community College was characterized by her visit to FLATE at HCC in Brandon. Brown toured HCC’s engineering technology lab and got an overview of the A.S. degree in engineering technology currently offered at 14 state and community colleges across Florida. “FLATE is the pride and joy of HCC” said Dr. Carlos Soto, president of HCC’s Brandon campus. Soto earmarked Ms. Brown’s visit as a recognition not only of its state-of-the-art programs like the A.S. degree in engineering technology, but to the campus and the HCC’s efforts to work with local industries, the National Science Foundation and the Department of education to devise programs that meet the skillset and workforce needs of local manufacturers.

Of particular interest to Ms. Brown were FLATE’s “Made in Florida” industry tours. The MIF tours, for 
middle and high school students, have been an effective vehicle in stimulating students’ interest in STEM and manufacturing. To date, more than 4,472 students and 533 educators and parents have toured over 87 high-tech manufacturing facilities across Florida. “Thanks for the work you do. I have been impressed by the scale of investment that has and is currently being made in some of the places that I have visited during my tour” Brown said. These investments, she notes, in terms of new machinery, new plant/equipment and tours “reflects impressive growth and expansion” which according to Brown is “where the future lies,” and in turn could inspire 10 and 12 year olds to follow educational and career pathways in high-tech manufacturing.

As part of the trip and to capture a broader attempt to monitor a range of programs and oversee best practices in manufacturing education and training across the nation, Ms. Brown also toured the high-tech facilities of Southern Manufacturing Technologies in Tampa. She visited East Lake High School where she got a first-hand look at the Engineering and Manufacturing Academy. She also got an up-close look at Pinellas Technical Education Center’s Machining and Training apprenticeship program and Middleton Magnet High School’s Pre-Collegiate Academy for STEM. “I have been incredibly impressed with the quality and caliber of the people that I have met and their passion in what they are doing particularly helping raise/inspire the next generation of skilled workforce in manufacturing” Brown said.

Ms. Brown also addressed a group of local manufacturers. During a luncheon meeting, organized by Roy Sweatman, she addressed common concerns faced by manufacturers in Florida and across the nation, and outlined the need to change negative perceptions about manufacturing by educating parents, families, and teachers about manufacturing as a viable career option. “Manufacturing and a high-tech workforce is critical to the success of the manufacturing industry and stand as the pillars of our economy” said Brown. She underlined the critical role manufacturing plays in sustaining a strong economy and projecting it as an area that promises growth and expansion.

For more information on FLATE and its multi-pronged outreach to industry, educators and students visit www.madeinflorida.org and www.fl-ate.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org. For information on Roy Sweatman and Southern Manufacturing Technologies contact Roy at Roy@smt-tampa.com, or visit www.smt-tampa.com.

New ET Faculty Spotlight!

In a continuing bid to highlight contributions and qualifications of educators in the engineering technology (ET) consortia in Florida, last month we brought you a story highlighting new ET faculty at Gulf Coast State College. This month we journey up to the state capital to Tallahassee Community College (TCC) which has a new ET faculty who recently came on board. Dr. Gideon Nnaji, who is originally from Nigeria, has a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from his native country where he worked in construction engineering before moving to the United States of America. He earned his master’s degree and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Florida A&M University and Florida State University College of Engineering.

Dr, Nnaji has been a professor of engineering technology at TCC since Fall 2013. Since coming on board he
has taught a number of ET related classes that include manufacturing processes & materials, industrial safety as well as construction materials, methods and management in the construction management program. Like most of his colleagues, Dr. Nnaji is big on hands-on, minds-on education that centers on real-world situations. “Engineering is not only about ideas and principles, it is about translating ideas that culminate into a physical application and/or product” says Nnaji. It is this same philosophy that stirred his interest in engineering technology and led to his passion for teaching.

The A.S.E.T program offered at TCC is the Advanced Manufacturing specialization which provides broad, transferable skills that require an understanding of engineering technology and industrial applications such as: manufacturing materials and processes, quality assurance, computer-aided drafting, electronics, mechanical measurement and instrumentation, safety and systems that drive manufacturing and industrial processes. TCC also offers a pneumatics, hydraulics and motors for manufacturing certificate and the engineering technology support specialist certificate. (Source: TCC Advanced Manufacturing Program website)

Dr. Nnaji says students have to be disciplined and be willing to explore new technologies in order to
succeed. To ensure relevancy of the course/curriculum, Dr. Nnaji has been working closely with colleagues in devising program mapping tools that give students a better idea about the A.S.E.T degree, its outcomes and expectations. He is also excited about integrating lean and green concepts, relevant to any high-tech setting, to current curriculum. “Trying to impart knowledge to improve/expand students understanding is a rewarding aspect of my job. My particular joy lies in the realization of ideas to actual products and applications that can be used in a real-world setting” Nnaji said.

For more information on the A.S.E.T program at TCC contact Dr. Gideon Nnaji at nnajig@tcc.fl.edu, or visit http://tinyurl.com/l88gxf8. For information on the statewide A.S.E.T degree visit www.madeinflorida.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org. 

sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #39: Vacuum Pump Performance

The technician that works in the semiconductor, micro-electromechanical system and nano technologies manufacturing sector must work with various pressure ranges that are below atmospheric pressure. A technician experienced in vacuum technology is reviewing previous test data conducted on a single stage vacuum pump and a two-stage vacuum pump that she is now responsible for. The tech expects the two-stage pump to “pull” a better vacuum that a single stage pumps. That same technician also understands the concepts of outgassing and a vacuum leak.  The tech is very knowledgeable, understands the operation of the pumps under test and has reviewed the data plots shown below very carefully.    

Does the technician suspect that the performance data recorded below is mislabeled.Yes or NO. Join the discussion and submit your answers below the blog post, or on www.fl-ate.org.     


Get Social! Invitation to Join LinkedIn & Connect with ET Community

FLATE has launched a brand new initiative to create a common communication platform on
LinkedIn. The initiative represents FLATE’s efforts to reach out to engineering technology graduates, educators, industry partners/professionals, create a common space to share ideas, knowledge, and for ET graduates to tap into the expertise of educators as well as industry colleagues/professionals.

To kick start the effort, FLATE has created a site that interfaces with users’ LinkedIn profiles.

Joining this exclusive network offers several benefits:
  • ET grads, ET educators/program managers and industry professionals can connect with ET Degree grads, alumni and industry colleagues
  • Share success stories and best practices & expand your professional network
  • Learn about local/regional job opportunities, engage in vibrant discussions, and stay on top of the latest high-tech manufacturing and/or engineering technology related news

To be part of this exciting ET network just follow these steps below:
  • Visit http://madeinflorida.org/e-t-alumni
  • Under the “to be part of this exciting network” section click on
  • Click on “Join Group” link
  • If you have a profile on LinkedIn you will have to use your LI log-in credentials to be connected to ET Degree Alumni page.
  • If you DO NOT have a LI account, you will need to register & create LinkedIn profile
  • Once you log-in and/or create a profile you will be taken to the ET degree Alumni page on LinkedIn
  • Click on Join to be part of the ET Degree Alumni network
For more information, or if you have any questions please contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at 813.259.6578/barger@fl-ate.org and Janice Mukhia, communications specialist at news@fl-ate.org/813.259.6581

Snapshot of Florida Manufacturers’ Survey

The Florida TRADE (Training Resources for Accelerated Degrees and Employment) Consortium is a group comprised of 12 state and community colleges in Florida and funded through a $15 million Department of Labor TAACCCT grant. The program’s mission is to develop develop/deliver accelerated training programs that allow participants to: Upgrade current skills and knowledge; Learn new skills; Gain industry-recognized technical certifications; Earn academic credits toward college degrees, and Procure employment. The program works with displaced workers who have lost their jobs due to foreign trade, unemployed workers, incumbent workers looking to upgrade their current skills, or learn new skills, students and returning veterans who are looking to transition back into the workforce.

In keeping with its mission and design programs that cater to the needs and skills set requirement of its stakeholders, Florida TRADE recently conducted a skills analysis survey of   companies throughout Florida. Outlined are highlights from the survey.

A total of 122 companies were surveyed. A majority of the companies were located in Northeast and central Florida, and employed an average of 250-500 employees. The survey was sponsored by the Gates Foundation and was modeled after the Gates Scaled Model for Certificate Delivery. The survey did not include companies in Northwest Florida because they were conducting their own regional survey.

More than 60% of the total surveyed companies stated they had difficulty finding skilled workers leading to
higher costs, limiting long-term growth, lost revenues, and competitive threats. To address the skills gap, out of the 115 that responded, close to 90% stated they were offering in-house training for current and new employees, with 40% of participants providing financial assistance to current employees. Approximately same percentage of manufacturers also agreed providing training to employees influenced worker retention.

In terms of skills shortage, companies found it most difficult to find CNC machinists/operators, CNC programmers and employees skilled in instrumentation and automation, programmable logic controllers, production technician, welding, and electrical technician. Also very difficult to find were: shipfitters, molding experience, aviation/aerospace assemblers, programmers, electricians, degreed Electrical Engineers, maintenance people, sewing, gel coat sprayers and fine-line taping, press brake operators. Easiest to find were quality testers, production technicians, and quality inspectors.

Of the 109 companies that responded, close to 80% often relied on referrals and networking to find skilled
workers. Given the importance vested on industry certifications, companies valued the AWS Certified Welder certificate the most followed by ASQ Certified Quality & Inspectors and OSHA 30. “If there were more people with certifications, I would require it more. What certifications do is verify competency prior to employment” commented one of the participants.

For more information on the survey, data captured and results visit http://fltrade.org. To learn about industry certifications and the industry validated A.S. degree in engineering technology contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit the industry certification link on the FLATE website and on www.madeinflorida.org.

Webinar & Forum Expands Knowledge of Mechatronics

The  combination of mechanical, electronic, controls, robotics and computers is making mechatronics the high-tech career of the future as demanded by industry. Mechatronics is an educational blend of mechanical systems, electrical systems, computer and controls systems. According to Peter Buczynsky, president and co-owner of Pharmaworks in Odessa, FL, “engineers and technicians with mechatronics experience are in rare supply and highly sought after by industry.” Buczynsky predicts as more and more automated electro-mechanical systems become commonplace, and “unless we support this industry need” the United States we will fall further behind other nations that already have recognized and embraced this technology.  

Given this surge in demand for qualified technicians and educators, Buczynsky recently co-hosted
click http://tinyurl.com/mwvz399 to view video
Mechatronics Forum with FLATE at St. Petersburg College in Clearwater, FL. The half day Forum represented an industry-led initiative to raise awareness and drive alignment towards the promotion of interdisciplinary field of Mechatronics. The goal, Buczynsky said, was to bring educators, industry, career advisors, students, parents together for an informative forum with plenty of time for Q&A so participants would walk away with a clear understanding of ongoing efforts to accelerate implementation. 

The Forum featured prominent industry experts and educators across Tampa Bay who shared their
perspectives on how communities have successfully implemented mechatronics programs and formulated mechatronics certifications. Maria Ferrante of PMMI (Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies) spoke of their development of the NAM endorsed PMMI Mechatronics certification (one of the industry specific TRADE certifications).  Bryan Kamm, from the Florida chapter of the German American Chamber of Commerce, presented the German dual system of education model where critical, foundational skills are taught with industry heavily involved with the hands-on element of education. Kamm also discussed the concept of local ITC’s (Industrial Training Centers) in each county—currently a hot topic amongst local legislature. Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE highlighted current Florida mechatronics program at the secondary and post-secondary levels.

In all of this, Buczynsky spoke of a fundamental need for industry to get aligned and show unified support for mechatronics programs. Doing so, he believes, will convince legislature that Mechatronics is a secure investment that will not only meet the needs of local industry, but will attract more high-tech companies to the region.

In addition to the Forum, FLATE also co-hosted an education mechatronics forum. The 90 minute webinar was part of MATEC NETWORKS series of professional webinars that featured prominent industry members who discussed the value of mechatronics knowledge and skills in high-tech workplaces. Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE together with industry leaders and educators from across the country showcased how NSF ATE centers are partnering with industry to educate incumbent and future workers in mechatronics. After attending this webinar participants gained a better understanding of industry needs and devise strategies to modify and/or create a program to meet that need. For more information, or to register for this free webinar visit http://www.matecnetworks.org/growth.php.

For more information visit www.fl-ate.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org or 813.259.6578.  

Articulation Through Florida Advanced Technological Education Center

The Florida Advanced Technological Education (FLATE) Center crafted the first-of-its-kind statewide
articulation agreement based on industry certification, which was approved by the Florida Department of Education (FL DOE) in March 2007. FLATE, working with the FL DOE Career and Technical Education team, Florida colleges, and Florida industries defined the new A.S. degree program in Engineering Technology (ET) with 10 specialization tracts and 18 technical college certificates. The program offers a variety of technical specializations built upon a common technical core that supports a wide range of manufacturing and high technology industries. The program has been adopted by 14 of Florida’s 28 state and community colleges.

To ensure the success of this unified curriculum plan, FLATE, in partnership with the FL DOE, also developed a new curriculum framework for secondary and PSAV programs that aligns with the MSSC Certified Production Technician (CPT) certification. The Automated Production Technician (APT) framework was approved in January 2009, and is available for implementation by Florida high school programs, career academies, and technical schools. The APT (with embedded MSSC) program provides a particularly potent pathway for secondary technical students as it articulates 15 credit hours towards the ET college course of study for student completers. This pathway gives secondary students a jump start on their college education while preparing them with industry articulated skills set they need for good paying jobs.

In support of secondary programs, FLATE provides free online, industry-connected resources focused on the often overlooked technology and engineering side of STEM. Complete lesson plans, career education resources, learning objects, and more are located in a special wiki site for educators and can be accessed at http://flate.pbworks.com. The wiki is accessed through FLATE’s signature Made in Florida website: www.madeinflorida.org.

For adult learners, the same program provides a pathway for incumbent workers to gain the 15 college credit hours by experience through certification. Veterans in the program have shared that the program is a good match for many of the hands-on skills learned through military service. The ET program allows “stacking” of credentials and experience, leading to enhanced career potential with Florida advanced manufacturers and related high-tech industries throughout the state.

The road does not end here! Engineering Technology A.S. degree holders can transfer seamlessly to a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology (B.S.E.T.), or to a number of Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) Degrees offered in Florida’s universities and colleges. The 2 + 2 agreements apply the 60 credit hours of an A.S. Degree directly to the 4-year bachelor’s degree (additional general education credits or technical prerequisite courses may be required). For more information on the award-winning, state A.S. E.T degree visit www.madeinflorida.org, or email Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org