Promoting Manufacturing Renaissance through Youth Engagement in STEM

FLATE’s outreach efforts have a multi-faceted role in reaching out to diverse populations across the state. Over the years, FLATE has partnered with a wide cross section of institutions and individuals from all socio-economic backgrounds to facilitate and promote technician education and training throughout Florida. Most recently, FLATE assumed a principal role in implementing this “Dream It, Do It” (DIDI) campaign strategy in Florida.   

As part of this effort, FLATE together with the Manufacturing Institute and South Florida Manufacturers
Association (SFMA) hosted the Young Manufacturers Academy (YMA) at Miami Lakes Education Center. The initiative was funded through the National Partnership grant through the Motorola Solutions Foundation Innovation Generation program. The program is aimed at engaging youth in STEM and represents an extension of Motorola’s “Supporting a Manufacturing Renaissance” efforts. The camp also aligns closely with FLATE’s own summer robotics camp initiative said Executive Director of FLATE, Dr. Marilyn Barger.

The academy was held July 28-Aug. 1 and was offered to 16 middle school girls from Honey Shine Mentoring program in Miami Lakes, FL. Honey Shine, is a local non-profit organization that provides services and mentoring to under-served girls in the community. “This provided an opportunity to reach out to students that might not normally find out about, or have an opportunity to participate in programs such as DIDI YMA” said Melissa Fernandez, camp teacher who also played a leading role in facilitating the program in the Miami Lakes region.

Activities centered on hands-on projects and simulation-based learning that focused on developing skills
needed to prepare students for today's high-tech workplace. During the camp students learned about latest manufacturing concepts, CNC manufacturing, and got an overview of high-tech, high-paying jobs in Florida. Participants also engaged in a mock career fair capstone event, and went on industry tours featuring on-site interaction with manufacturers and get a first-hand view of high-tech manufacturing operations. Phil Centonze, SFMA member and FLATE’s external evaluator also attended the tour and talked to campers about manufacturing in the Miami area.

In addition to hands-on activities, campers also got to meet Patrick Claeys, senior mechanical engineer at 
Motorola who volunteered to serve as a guest speaker. “His visit early in the week introduced the girls to jobs, products, and ideas they didn't know existed” said Fernandez. Following his speech, campers were able to make connections between what they were doing to the real-world. A noteworthy aspect of the camp, according to Melissa, was to observe how students adapted to the “vocabulary” and were able to discuss CNC operators/programmers, engage in manufacturing processes and then operate a make-believe manufacturing factory.

Then too, one of the most significant camp successes came at the end when six of the campers separately approached the camp instructor to ask for more information regarding high school programs that emphasized STEM and/or offered CTE programs in engineering. Other successes included introducing the students to 3D CAD by way of using SolidWorks to create small custom key chains. “In this way students were introduced to 3D CAD, rapid prototyping, casting, and additive manufacturing” Melissa said. 

The Young Manufacturers Academy introduces students entering grades 7 – 9 to all facets of the
manufacturing industry. The Academy is part of the "Dream It! Do It!" initiative, a national career awareness and outreach campaign designed to promote a positive image of manufacturing that is sponsored by the Manufacturing Institute in Washington, D.C. The primary goal of the program is to grow and develop the manufacturing workforce pipeline in the middle grades, a critical juncture in need of particular attention, with an emphasis on addressing girls and minorities from underserved districts with underachieving students. “Florida has a diverse manufacturing industry, and FLATE is excited to offer a student summer manufacturing experience in south Florida” said Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE.

For more information on FLATE’s STEM camps, or to be involved in upcoming manufacturing day tours contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at, or visit and

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