From the Executive Director: Nominations Open for 2014 FLATE Manufacturing Educator and Manufacturing Industry Service Awards

Nominations are now open for recognizing 2014 FLATE manufacturing educator and manufacturing industry
service awards. This will be our seventh year of recognizing outstanding secondary and post-secondary classroom educators as well as industry and community partners who support the advanced manufacturing industry in Florida.  Twenty one outstanding and dedicated educators and advanced manufacturing professionals from all over the state have been recognized to date.

For 2014, we have improved the process to make it easier to nominate deserving colleagues.  Here is how the 2014 FLATE award process will work:
  • Brainstorm a couple of deserving nominees
  • Visit the FLATE awards website:
  • Click on Nomination Form I
  • Enter your nominee’s name and contact information as well as your own
  • Hit the submit button (and you are done with part 1)
  • In a couple of days, you and the nominee will get an email from FLATE with an award nominee code and a link to Part II of the nomination process (Note: this part pertains to only nominees)

Part II of the Online Application to be completed by Nominees Only (Due by Sep. 30, 2014)
(Form can be downloaded at:
  • Enter your name and name of two references
  • Draft a maximum of 250 word statement outlining importance of manufacturing education
  • Draft 250 word (or less) statement stating how they have impacted manufacturing education and/or engineering technology education and training for students, educators and community at the local/state/national level
  • Click "submit" button
Selection committee will announce winners by November 1, 2014. FLATE Awards are reviewed and judged by our Industry Advisory Committee using a point leveled rubric and score tally sheet. They return their recommendations to FLATE after reviewing all the completed nomination forms. We hope that the two-step process will make the nomination process easier for everyone. By bringing the nominee into the process, the nominee can help document his, or her own accomplishments.

As in the past, FLATE Awardees will be recognized at the Annual Manufacturers Association of Florida (MAF) Annual Summit and Global Marketplace this December. We encourage everyone to celebrate manufacturing and manufacturing education by nominating a colleague or two for one of the FLATE awards. You can learn more about FLATE awards and all of the past FLATE awardees on our website at

As you wind down for summer, I encourage you to sit back and take a moment to read the stories in this edition of the FLATE Focus. As always we have great stories focused on engaging women in STEM and also our outreach efforts that culminate into camps for students and educators around this time of the year. Send us your thoughts and comments via email (, or post them right here below the news stories on the blog, or across our social networking platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) using the #STEMtastcSummer .

From Pageant Queen to (Future) STEM Aficionada: ALL Girls Robotics Camp Bolsters a Switch!

Engaging girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is a topic of national interest. A recent Verizon commercial stated “66% of girls in 4th grade like math and science, but only 18% of all college engineering majors are female.”  Take for instance, Kaitlyn Pankoe a 6th grader at Terrace Community Middle School in Tampa. Pankoe likes being challenged in her work, but while growing up Pankoe, like some girls her age, she wanted to be a pageant queen. All that changed when she attended the All Girls robotics camp this summer.

Indeed, the rationale and need for girls and women in STEM is clearly apparent, and is one of the many
areas FLATE has been targeting to propel women towards STEM related professions. One of the many successful dissemination vehicles employed by FLATE is the robotics camps, particularly the All Girls Robotics Camp which historically kick starts camp season every year, and is targeted to capture the interest of Girls in STEM starting at the middle school level. “The camp has got me thinking” said Pankoe. “I now want to be a veterinarian and use technology to heal animals” she said ruminating upon her switch and new found interest in STEM and robotics.

Pankoe was not alone in raving about robots. She was one of 22 girls enrolled in FLATE’s All Girls robotics camp; all were aspiring to become either a marine biologist, a doctor and even a journalist reporting on technologies of the future. The “hook” for these future STEM professionals was provided by robots, and programming it to follow specific commands to complete challenges.

The robotics camp served as a platform to fire campers’ interest in STEM, and explore their knowledge of STEM/roboticss. “I like robots because they are versatile and in general can do tasks better than humans” said Anna Seerey. To that end, the camp featured, for the first time this year, the all new Lego® Mindstorms® EV3 Robot system. From the bottle touch challenge to rainbow dash, camp curriculum was primarily designed to enhance campers’ skills needed to succeed in high-tech, STEM-related careers using a modern manufacturing setting. “This was my first time programming robots. I liked that they were fun and challenging” said Avery Surrency.

Another hands-on component of the camp was also a tour to a high-tech manufacturing facility where
students got a real-world view of what it takes to become a STEM professional and how that translates in a high-tech manufacturing setting. Campers got a taste of STEM-at-work during their visit to Publix Diary factory in Lakeland, FL. “It was interesting to see how machines and robots are programmed to work together in a production line” said Seerey . “I never thought I’d like robotics and physical sciences, but now that I am doing it I really like it. I think I will keep doing it as it’s a lot of fun” said Seerey.

In addition to an invigorating STEM experience, FLATE partnered with Suncoast Credit Union Foundation and the HCC Foundation to offer 11 scholarships, for the first time, to students from low income families to attend the All Girls camp. The scholarships were awarded on a first- come, first-served basis, and were geared to encourage/expose girls to careers in science and technology.  “Those are careers of the future and it is important for these young ladies to have those skills set as they progress on their educational/career path” said Mary Tlachac, executive director of Suncoast Credit Union Foundation.  Donna Wolski, director of development for HCC Foundation, agreed that the camp was effective in sparking student curiosity/interest in STEM, robotics and technology in general. “I would love to see some of the campers return to HCC to pursue STEM related educational pathways once they graduate from high school” Wolski said.

Response from parents of campers has been equally positive. “I was very impressed by the structure and
quality of the program as well as the enthusiasm of the girls at the camp” said Colette Glover-Hannah. In a follow-up email to FLATE’s camp director, Collette stated that the camp has helped her daughter, Elois who shared the video of her robot with her science teacher, to grow in the field of STEM.  Ramona Smart-Smith another parent wrote saying that she is thankful her daughter, Jordana had the opportunity to attend the camp. “She is a hands-on learner and it helped her engage more with her peers and work together as a team to accomplish a project” wrote Ramona. She noted “the program was structured, informational and had great teachers who sparked her interest to work harder to create a satisfactory project.”

For more information on the camps visit, and, or contact Desh Bagley, FLATE outreach manager and camp director at For a follow-up of the remaining camps and a behind-the-scenes look at camp instructors and assistants who inject their expertise and knowledge to make the camps run smoothly throughout camp season, stay tuned for a story in the August edition of the FLATE Focus. 

Fun at FLATE CAMP for Teachers

FLATE’s annual Summer Camp for Teachers provides educators with a variable topic 3-day professional
development workshop each summer. The camp is now in its 5th year. This year’s topic was “Keeping the “T” and “E” in sTEm Curriculum.” FLATE research has exposed the fact that while science and math resources are widely available for STEM curriculum, there are fewer resources available to introduce K-12 students to technology and engineering (T & E). FLATE’s summer camp for teachers was developed as one way to help fill the gap.

On day one, teachers participated in a focus group for a new FLATE Industry Connected Lesson Plan exploring and applying LED technology for a hands-on project. The lesson
presented to the group, Light Up with Technology, was focused on “T & E” and included concepts of safety and tool using, planning and making a circuit, adding a switch, and introducing conductive thread. Valuable teacher feedback included advice about vocabulary and diagrams, including higher order, inquiry-based questions, and clarity for objectives and instructions. The majority of teachers felt that they would be able to use LED concepts in creative ways with students, and at the end of day one, everyone had a hand made creation.

Day two: Run for the bus! It was discovered that for the first time, the daughter of a teacher attending the
workshop was attending FLATE’s All Girls robotics camp. Facilitators of both workshop and robotics camp made it possible at the last minute for Bhagyashree Kulkarni, to accompany her daughter, Pragnya Kulkarni, on a tour to Publix Dairy in Lakeland, FL. Kulkarni who is a chemistry teacher at Sickles High School said she was surprised by the curiosity of the students and the thought processes of students and their ability to rationalize beyond what was being shown and their ability to make critical connections which she notes is an important part of STEM. “We are heading towards a new future and we need girls to be engaged in STEM, but we also need boys to be part of the STEM workforce” said Kulkarni.

Meanwhile, teachers explored the high tech Engineering Technology lab at HCC, gained a better
understanding of the importance to today’s students for consideration of technical careers, and packed their curriculum toolkit with free resources. In the afternoon, teachers worked in groups using the engineering process to integrate sTEm into mainstream curriculum. “I can definitely see, after talking to my colleagues how I can integrate it to the curriculum for lower grades” said Danielly Sindelar, K-8 gifted program teacher at Turner Bartel Middle Schools. “We do a lot of STEM design challenges and I think this workshop presented some pretty interesting ideas” Sindelar said.

On the final day, the grant writing presentation examined strategies for funding sTEm classroom activities. One repeat camper from 2013 told how she had written a successful grant after last year’s camp! When asked why she wished to repeat the camp since the grant writing presentation was the same, she shared that she “enjoys talking to other teachers in the open atmosphere of the camp, looks forward to  integrating STEM into the regular classroom, and was looking for additional tips in grant writing.”  In fact, networking with others and the grant writing portion of the workshop was the most popular among participants “I enjoyed the discussion and input from all the participants. I am taking back many ideas for engagement for my students. I also learned some new vocabulary for engineering.”

The workshop ended with a robotic arm competition. Teachers were tasked with homework: to build a
working robotic arm from “found items” such as coat hangers and paper towel tubes. Complete lesson plans for the “the arm” are provided to take back to the classroom. One teacher who had worked on a similar project prior to the camp stated that he took “found items” a step further by asking students to use only recycled items! Finally, teachers are surveyed on a scale of 1-5 (overall workshop: 4.0 - very good) and are asked what other workshops they would be interested in attending. “Robotics” is the most popular response. We invite you to keep an eye our web page where upcoming workshops are posted, and we hope to see you at a FLATE professional development workshop.

sTEm–at-Work Olde But Goody Series Puzzle #41: Water Filter Performance Test

A water quality technician has collected and graphed the back flow test data for a carbon nano-tube (everybody has to do something with nano, so FLATE’s puzzle team is no exception) based membrane technology water filtering system. When the water to be sold under the companies PDS (“Purer then Driven Snow”) brand passes one way through the filter, the water is purified and then sent to the bottling facility. The tech periodically back flushes the membrane and if the filter is clogged replaces it. The tech runs the back flow test by disconnecting the forward flow and then pumps purified water through the filter in the opposite direction. If the filter is not clogged, the black flush test pattern has a similar shape as the forward flow plot but it has higher flow rate values for each pressure.
After reviewing both the forward and back flush pressure vs. flow rate plots below, the tech knows if the filter is clogged. She has determined that this specific filter is not clogged. 

The orange plot is the filter's back flush data plot.  Yes or NO.  Submit your answers below the blog, or post it at

STEP Awardees Urge Next Generation of Women to Pursue High-Tech Manufacturing Careers

Last month we brought you a story about two STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production)
awardees from Hoerbiger Corporation of America in Pompano Beach Florida. In our continuing series highlighting the role and contributions of women in manufacturing, this month we highlight three additional STEP awardees from Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems America, Inc. in Orlando, FL. The women awardees, in this story, hail from different points of the corporate continuum, each characterizing their unique contributions to MHPSA’s successful operations and production.

Jessica Glover started working as an intern, part-time at MHPSA, while working to earn a degree in
industrial engineering from the University of Central Florida. She has been working at MHPSA for the last 7 years, but has always harbored a passion for manufacturing which she says “requires strong problem-solving skills and team work.” Ivonne Pacheco is in charge of clerical administration control and has been at MHPSA for approximately two years. Lisa Gilkinson was the third employee from MHPSA to receive the 2014 Women in Manufacturing STEP Award. Gilkinson, who is the global sourcing manager for MHPSA’s power generation services department, says manufacturing has been a core part of her life especially since she grew up in the rust belt. Over the course of time, Gilkinson has watched industries die. Against that backdrop, innovation and investment in new technology, she says are cornerstones for success and sustainability in a global market.

No matter the exposure, the STEP awards have a made a huge impact in each of their lives and carries the overarching theme of empowering women in manufacturing as well as passing the baton for future women to pursue careers in STEM. The award “proves that women do not need to follow society’s stereotypical expectations of what careers to pursue—women can succeed in any career” even in a male-dominated work environment said Ivonne. “The STEP award to me means inspiring the next generation of talented young women to pursue careers in manufacturing,” and empowering women to be the best that they can be no matter the career path said Jessica.

The awards ceremony and recognition banquet added to the sense of achievement and spirit of the awards. “I loved meeting so many inspirational women from all different places, career paths and walks of life” said Jessica. Getting to meet and spend the day with a diverse group of women was a real honor too. Lisa recalls sitting next to a father of one of the honorees who shared the same passion for manufacturing as his daughter, but noted her innovative spirit that created opportunities and fueled business growth.

Indeed, it was a string of amazing and positive stories that marked the success of each STEP awardee and MHPSA has taken an extra step by highlighting these employees as well as affording them additional opportunities to inspire and expand on their expertise. MHPSA has showcased all three STEP Award recipients in the monthly newsletter that gets distributed to worldwide employees. MHPSA has also sought students pursuing engineering and manufacturing degrees, and have hired women who have expressed genuine interest in manufacturing. “It was an honor to be highlighted, and really showed me that our company values the awards and the contribution women in the manufacturing industry bring” Jessica said. Since the awards, Jessica has reached out to young women, through an online STEM mentorships program aimed at increasing career awareness/interest in STEM professions. 

All three employees also received a congratulatory note from Gov. Rick Scott. Lisa has also been engaged in the roll out of MHPSA’s ERP system and is considering working more closely with APICS and other organizations to promote STEM. On personal level, the Award has evoked positive comments from friends and family alike, and recently led Lisa to talk at a local Future Farmers of America banquet to showcase how science and technology plays a role even in agricultural careers. 

“It is important for women to be engaged in STEM and industries should take a leading role in providing work-study opportunities that encourage women to pursue careers in this field” said Ivonne.  All three women agree manufacturing offers tremendous career growth opportunities for women, and companies can take a number of steps such as sponsoring women’s manufacturing groups, offering specialized recruitment and outreach programs to attract young women to high-tech careers, help develop programs that connect science-related coursework to real-life operations, or support initiatives aimed at retaining women as part of the STEM workforce.

“Getting women interested in the ever-growing number of STEM jobs is essential to maintaining a competitive national economy” said Jessica. She says it’s important not only from the perspective of filling available jobs, but tapping into it as a resource to inject diversity of thought/ideas to the manufacturing industry and workforce.

As we wrap up this series of STEP awardees from Florida, FLATE will continue its efforts to recognize women in manufacturing across Florida nominated for this prestigious national award. We encourage you to look out among your peers and colleagues, and submit a nomination for next year’s STEP Awards. More information can be found at, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at 813.259.6578. 

Florida TRADE Sparks Collaborations Fueling the Credentialed Workforce

According to Harvard University research addressing the misalignment of education and job preparation, by
2018, 57% of jobs will require skills based training (technicians). The highly technical, knowledge based economy is already here, because the recurring theme from U.S. manufacturers nationwide is that jobs are available but skilled workers can’t be found to fill them. Skilled employees with advanced manufacturing technical training are in high demand for jobs among Florida’s 14,500 Florida manufacturing companies. For example, in Broward County alone, computer-driven machine tool work is projected to increase by 21% over the next five years. How can these needs be addressed in a cost effective and immediate manner?

Hands-on education and training in programs such as the Florida TRADE (Transforming Resources for Accelerated Degrees & Employment), a U. S. Dept. of Labor Grant, can prepare students for certifications leading to high-skill, high-wage employment. The goal: address the growing critical skilled workforce shortage faced by the state’s manufacturing industry and related industry clusters. The Florida TRADE program is designed to deliver fast-track, high-tech training for nationally recognized credentials, such as MSSC-CPT (Manufacturing Skill Standards Council-Certified Production Technician) and CNC (Computer Numerical Control) Machining. These are the automation, simulation, and advanced manufacturing machining skills needed by a skilled and educated “ready-to-workforce.”

The program helps Veterans and displaced workers reenter the labor force in a fast and effective manner, and will facilitate internships with local employers who are Florida TRADE affiliates. As well, the program will serve incumbent workers by providing high-skills training which will help them move ahead on the job. “The Florida TRADE consortium will use Broward College and 11 other community colleges to put into motion a six-priority program for reversing the decline of manufacturing in our state,” said Thomas Kennedy, President and CEO of the Manufacturing Consortium. “It will target the training and retraining of Florida workers who are Veterans, have been dislocated, or have lost or at risk of losing their jobs as a result or foreign trade.  It also will serve some workers already in the workforce.”

Florida TRADE consortium members include Broward College, Daytona Beach State College, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Gulf Coast State College, Hillsborough Community College, Indian River State College, Palm Beach State College, Pasco-Hernando State College, Polk State College, St. Petersburg College, Tallahassee Community College, and Valencia College. The grant consortium is targeted to expand and enhance access to training for Florida workers and targets closing the gap and getting skilled manufacturing workers to employers. In its statewide role to connect partners, support synergy among the advanced manufacturing community, and grow the educated technical workforce, FLATE is pleased to be a partner in the Florida TRADE endeavor.
For more information about Florida TRADE, visit For more information about the ET Degree, visit 

National Awareness of FLATE Expertise Continues to Increase

The National Academies of Engineering, Science, and Health recently hosted their first Education and 
Training Opportunity workshop in support of the Gulf Research Program. The Gulf Research Program (GRP) is supported primarily from BP gulf recovery funds. Among the workshop’s goals was the establishment of the current state of education and training pathways for the Gulf region’s middle skilled workforce in some target occupational areas related to the gulf oil industry.  This also includes the identification of perceived and real gaps between the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that successful middle-skilled workers typically now have what they need. In addition, it is important to determine the programs, activities, and frameworks needed to build capacity in the Gulf region's middle skilled workforce in these areas. To accomplish these workshop objectives, the academies have assembled 40 workforce and technology experts from the Gulf region. For Florida technical education expertise, the Academies looked to FLATE. Dr. Marilyn Barger participated on a panel focused on building capacity in the Gulf region’s middle skilled workforce while Dr. Richard Gilbert participated in the workshop activities as an invited technology subject matter expert. These FLATE team members were two of the three experts invited from Florida to participate in this National Academies workshop.

The all day event focused on what are the middle skill jobs, a common theme for our ATE projects and centers as well as all community colleges. It was interesting to see the scientists and policy professionals from the National Academies and other agencies struggle a bit with what middle skill workers actually do as well as the specific skills they need. The answers were very defined competencies that could be packaged in a community college, two-year degree, or certificate, or even a non-credit program. Training and education that is closely aligned to industry needs was identified as a high proiority and an area that needs improvement.

The GRP effort will continue throughout the summer with more workshops in other gulf locations. The data
and information collecting goals of the workshops will help the project better understand the local and regional needs with respect to three identified disciplines related to the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion: hydrocarbon technologies; environmental restoration and monitoring, and community and public health. The compiled workshop outcomes will help define the programs and activities that will be funded by the GRP to address the skills gap identified in the Gulf region.

It was great to participate in this workshop and share the good work and emerging best practices found in community and technical colleges across the country with a new audience. We look forward to the summary report of the workshops later this fall. Results should help define the skills and competencies that are needed to “close” the skills gaps in the industries selected to focus on. Once these are defined, the Gulf Research Project will be funding related educational and training projects as well as related research to these initiatives in all five of the gulf states.

For more information you can connect with Dr. Marilyn Barger at and 813.259.6578, or visit

FLATE’s Executive Director Wins 2014 SME Education Award

Dr. Marilyn Barger, principal investigator and executive director of FLATE, the National Science Foundation Center of Excellence in manufacturing, supporting high-tech manufacturing and manufacturing-related careers and technical education in Florida, received top honor at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) International Awards gala. Dr. Barger received the 2014 SME Education Award on June 9 in Detroit, MI. The Award recognizes significant contributions to the field of manufacturing engineering in the areas of manufacturing technologies, processes, technical writing, education, research, management and service to SME. It also honors the educator most respected for the development of manufacturing-related curricula, fostering sound training methods, or inspiring students to enter the profession of manufacturing.

Dr. Barger was recognized with the SME Education Award for her leading efforts, in developing
manufacturing-related curricula for the entire state of Florida, and served as a national model for other states for emulate. Dr. Barger has been a long standing member of SME, and is renowned in the national engineering education community for inspiring students to pursue manufacturing-related education and career pathways. She serves on several national panels/advisory boards for technical programs, cur­riculum and workforce initiatives, including the National Association of Manufacturers Educators’ Council. As a firm advocate and leader in engineering technology education, she has more than 20 years of experience developing curricula. She is a licensed engineer, a Fellow of the American Society of Engineering Education, and a charter member of the National Academy and USF’s Academy of Inventors.

Dr. Barger has been at the helm of many successes. Under her leadership, FLATE was awarded the ePIE Business/Education Partnership Award, Education Chancellor and FACC Workforce Award for innovative education programs, and three Best Practice Awards for the Engineering Technology Degree program, sTEm-at-Work puzzles and the Toothpick Factory. She has served as the Chair of the NSF ATE Centers, HI-TECH Committee, and awarded the 2010 HI-TECH Innovative Program Award.

For more information on SME visit For information on Dr. Marilyn Barger and her contributions to world-class engineering education in Florida and across the United States visit and