From the Executive Director’s Desk: STEM Ecosystem Has National Focus

The development of a national perspective and respect for STEM's role as a national priority is expanding from its traditional haven within academic programs that produce the nation's mathematicians, engineers, technicians and scientists. The bellwether notes about US lower rankings in international STEM-related tests and the tendency of some to dismiss STEM-based information has led to the creation of the STEM Ecosystem. This industry, community, and government coalition is driving the discussion about equitable STEM education and federal STEM policy while addressing the critical issues about the number and STEM knowledge and skill quality of high school graduates. The strategy is to build all students’ STEM knowledge and expertise by integrating and reinforcing the efforts of schools, out of school programs, businesses, institutions of higher education, and STEM-rich institutions such as museums.

This national STEM Ecosystem approach shifted into high gear when STEM Ecosystem leaders

convened at the White House last month. At this workshop, these 27 inaugural groups selected by the STEM Funders Network appreciated John Holdren's, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, challenge “The President has called for all of us to think of creative and effective ways of getting all of our students engaged in STEM education.” And kudos! “It’s heartening to see so many communities working locally and together in response to the President’s call to action.”

Other speakers included; Ted Mitchell, Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Education; Megan Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer; Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Roberto Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant to the President for Education Policy. A panel of Federal, Place-Based and STEM initiative representatives fielded questions about the resources (including some grants) that their programs offered. In addition to the offices listed above, the other organizations represented included the Economic Mobility, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Corporation of National Community Service, and the National Science Foundation. The underlying theme from these participants is the inception, development and expansion of STEM Ecosystems projects to optimize the impact of the many formal and informal STEM education programs to provide broader accessibility for all students by utilizing four strategies:
  • Cultivate Cross-Sector Partnerships
  • Creating and Connecting STEM-Rich Learning Environments
  • Equipping Educators
  • Supporting Youth Pathways

FLATE was invited to participate in the White House meeting as a member of the “Tampa Bay STEM Network”. This Network is spearheaded by the School District of Hillsborough Country and includes a wide array of partners including MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry, as a co-lead), the Florida Aquarium, the USF College of Education, the Coalition for Science Literacy, and the local STEM Funders Network member. The “Tampa Bay STEM Network” will use its first year seed funds to develop a plan of action for the community and determine how Hillsborough County can best leverage the many and diverse resources, organizations, and funds to create an effective and motivating STEM ecosystem to provide STEM educational content to all children and support educational pathways to STEM careers.

As an NSF ATE Center, one of FLATE's goals is to create, identify and emphasize efficient career paths through A.S. programs to rewarding careers in manufacturing. For us, providing energy and expertise to the “Tampa Bay STEM Network” is a win-win situation. We recommend that other ATE centers check out their nearest STEM Ecosystem because you will also have resources and expertise that is well invested in their efforts. The full list of inaugural STEM Ecosystems is available at: This site also provides information about the goal, adjectives and projects of these ecosystems.

Now let’s get to the other good stuff in this holiday edition of the FLATE Focus. We bring

you many exciting stories as we look to round off the year. Of TOP interest to you might be the story summarizing post event data from MFG Day 2015. We are proud to hold the #1 spot in the nation (once again) for hosting #FLMFGMonth15 and #MFGday15 industry tours and events, and would once like to thank our statewide partners for joining us in this effort. This month we are also resurrecting our mini-series on new engineering technology faculty, and have two stories about women educators who are doing their part in educating and training the next industrial athlete of the future. = This month’s sTEm puzzle, a special ‘North Pole Addition’ is hilariously challenging. Do get your ribs tickled while taking a crack at solving the puzzle! This and many more updates and stories in this edition of the FLATE Focus.

From all of us at FLATE, have a holly, jolly, happy and safe holidays & a prosperous 2016!

At the Top of Our Game: Florida Ranks #1 in the Nation for 2015 Manufacturing Day/Month

Official figures for MFG Day/Month for 2015 are out and with that we are tooting our
horns. For the third time in a row (past three consecutive years), Florida ranks Number 1 in the NATION for hosting MFG Day tours and events. 2015 was another banner year for Florida, as FLATE and its network of statewide partners worked cohesively to organize and host 238 manufacturing day/month events across Florida. Since the conclusion of 2015 MFG Day/Month, FLATE has been working on compiling statewide data that provides an in-depth snapshot of the tours and events and the impact it had on all participants. Let’s look at some of the impressive stats and figures from 2015 MFG Day/Month which once again placed Florida as the LEADING STATE IN THE NATION to host manufacturing day tours and events.

Overall Statewide Data

Out of the 238 events, 159 comprised of industry tours; 79 were non industry tours and
events like open houses, career fairs, movie screenings etc. The number of students participating in a “Made in Florida” industry tour rose to 4,770. This increase in participation reflects a dominating trend for the last two years with 2,331 students in 2013, and 3,150 students going on industry tours for 2014 MFG Day/Month. Here in the Tampa Bay area which included Hillsborough & Pinellas Counties, more than 660 students and 88 teachers and parents participated in a Made in Florida industry tour. In Pinellas County, 390 students and 52 teachers and parents toured 13 industry sites across the county. Statewide the overall number of educators, parents (chaperones) and tour hosts participation saw a sharp increase. The number of tour hosts across the state witnessed an all-time high at 636 in 2015 compared to 88 last year and 72 in 2013. The number of educators accompanying students on a tour almost doubled to 318 (compared to 174 in 2014; 110 in 2013); the number of parents increased more than double from 113 last year to 318 in 2015.

Additionally, there were MFG Day/Month events in 50 counties across Florida (compared to 39 last year). The number of county and city proclamations marking Oct. 2 as MFG Day and October as MFG Month also doubled from 27 in 2014 to 54 proclamations in 2015. The number of educators going on a MFG Day/Month and/or Made in Florida industry tour almost doubled from 174 to 318. Number of parents nearly tripled from 113 last year to 318 this year, and tour guides from 264 to 636 in 2015.

Post MFG Day Industry Tour Survey Data

A defining component of MFG Day/Month, one that is almost exclusive to Florida, is the effort to survey industry tour participants across the state. Since the inception of MFG Day/Month, FLATE has spearheaded and lead this initiative to survey statewide industry hosts, educators, tour guides and students participating in the Made in Florida industry tours. This effort, while time consuming and tedious, has not only helped FLATE define and streamline its outreach efforts to educate students, teachers and community at large about the role of manufacturing in the local/state economy, but has also given deeper insight to regional manufacturers, educators and manufacturers associations across Florida in developing tools for a customized outreach strategy in their region.

Following up on this successful model that FLATE has established over the years in Florida,
FLATE surveyed all participating students. Of the 4,770 students that participated in a MFG Day and/or Made in Florida industry tour, FLATE received 2,076 student surveys from across the state. Based on the tabulated the surveys, nearly 98% of the students stated the tours helped them learn about technologies used in advanced manufacturing industries and manufactured products. Approximately 96% of students agreed the tour gave them new information about careers in advanced manufacturing. Nearly 92% of the students surveyed also agreed that the tours helped them understand how STEM subjects are put to work in advanced manufacturing industries.

In analyzing gender-based responses, there was approximately 116% increase in the number of girls compared to approximately 56% boys considering a career in advanced manufacturing before and after the tour. In terms of ethnicity, Hispanics topped the list at 718 students participating in the industry tours statewide, followed by 706 White and 356 Black students. Total male students (1452) outnumbered more than half the number of female students (623) which reiterates the need for more outreach to women and girls to be engaged in STEM and manufacturing.

In addition to students, there was an overwhelming positive response from educators and
parents who accompanied students on the industry tours for MFG Day. One hundred percent of teachers and parents agreed the tour helped them understand high-tech jobs and careers available in Florida. The same percentage also agreed that they would recommend the tour to other students, and would promote careers in advanced manufacturing for students. Approximately 96% of teachers and parents agreed they were able to see the applications of STEM in high-tech industries.

Industry hosts were also among those surveyed by FLATE. Thirty three manufacturers who hosted the MFG Day “Made in Florida” industry tours responded to a short survey designed by FLATE to gauge industry hosts’ perceptions about the overall impact of the tours. An impressive 100% of industry hosts and guides who responded to FLATE’s survey stated that the tour was a good use of their company time and resources. One of the hosts stated that the tour was a good use of company time as it is an “investment into the future of technical education programs as well as teaching the next generation the value of American manufacturing.” Another also stated the tour was a good use of company resources and time as “it exposed area students to our industry. It gave them a better perspective about manufacturing environment, and us the opportunity to give back to the community in which we live, work and play.” Following the tours, 100% of the industry hosts also voiced their interest in setting up partnerships with local/regional schools.

October 2, 2015 and the entire month of October were special for manufacturers around the
country and throughout the state of Florida. Manufacturers, school districts, professional organizations, and many individuals contributed to the local and regional events to showcase high-skilled, high-wage jobs available in Florida. FLATE has mailed a summary of surveys to all participants across the state, and would like to once again thank all involved for making 2015 Manufacturing Day/Month a grand success!

For more information on FLATE’s statewide strategy for manufacturing day/month visit To host/organize a Made in Florida industry tour for your students, and other STEM-related initiatives contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at, or at 813.259.6578. 


Industry tours serve as an effective tool in educating students and the community at large
about manufacturing. This year, manufacturers like Southern Manufacturing Technologies, a high-tech manufacturer based in Tampa hosted Made in Florida industry tours for 183 middle and high school students and educators from Hillsborough County. 

Following the tour Roy Sweatman, president and CEO of SMT received thank you notes from 20 Gaither High School students who thanked him and SMT for the amazing experience."This is the first time we received something like this" said Sweatman who was thrilled to receive the thank you notes. (Enclosed in the picture is just one of the the many hand-written thank you notes sent by the students). Indeed a great partnership and a wonderful way to thank manufacturers in our region who went out of their way to open their doors to the students. 

Engineering Technology Professor at PBSC Proves her Mettle as an Engineering Advocate

‘Women in STEM’ has been a defining theme of many FLATE initiatives. The FLATE Focus has served as a platform in highlighting the distinguished credentials and professional portfolios of several women, both in industry and education, who have made their mark as a trailblazer, paying it forward, for many more women to be engaged and assume leadership roles in STEM. Back in 2014 we started a series, highlighting a distinguished panel of educators within the consortium of colleges in Florida offering the A.S. degree in Engineering Technology (ET). We are resurrecting this effort, and starting a mini-series focusing on new faculty that have joined the ET faculty ranks.

As part of the kick off to our mini-series on new ET faculty, featured in this article is an

educator who has played a remarkable role in educating the next generation of high-tech workers, and inspired a whole new generation of women engineers. Professor Roxana Melendez is a Colombian electrical engineer and engineering project management specialist with a master’s degree in electrical engineering. She is also currently a Ph.D. candidate at Florida Atlantic University. She became a new full-time faculty for the new Engineering Technology program at Palm Beach State College (PBSC).

As a professor at PBSC, Melendez continues being an engineering patroness and advocate since her energy and dedication towards engineering are undoubtedly her best reference. She has been working in the engineering field since she was twenty-one years old, teaching Engineering Technology (ET) courses since 2008. On the industry side of the continuum, Melendez had the opportunity to support many technical personnel and other engineers with field training for projects related to electrical engineering.

Power Systems, Renewable Energy Systems, Electrical Facilities, Electrical Circuits, Introduction to Engineering, Technologies for Power Generation, Electrical Substations, Electronics and Digital Circuits are among the courses and topics Professor Melendez teaches. At PBSC some of these courses are a key component in the academic and professional growth of her students “since the material and hands-on practices covered in class are akin to the current state-of-the-art engineering and technology standards in industry.” Professor Melendez describes herself as a strong woman whose passion and excitement for engineering is evident through her classes.

Melendez describes herself as an “Engineering Advocate.” She is credited for designing and
conducting her courses to be informative while engaging and encouraging students to think critically. As an educator she is always concerned on how to improve her classes and to professionally connect with students’ interests in engineering technology areas by offering mentorship, challenging students, and inspiring them to strive for continuous self-improvement. Because of these aspects she has found a great fit in her position at PBSC’s engineering technology program and its curriculum. “At PBSC I also have found great support from other professors and deans, we work together towards student success” Melendez said.

The PBSC ET program currently offers specializations in Renewable Energy Systems and Electronics and Advanced Manufacturing. You can connect with professor Melendez at, or contact her at 561-2075727. You can also visit the Engineering Technology program at PBSC at, or visit the Made in Florida ET page at and/or or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at

Your Opinion Matters: Take the ET Student & Alumni Survey!

Periodically FLATE asks ET faculty and program managers to share two short surveys with their incoming ET students and ET alumni.
This year's surveys are posted at:
The information is compiled by FLATE and shared with all ET colleges. For instance, FLATE shared this information at the 2014 PanamaCity and Polk ET Forums:

Incoming ET students reported “solid employment opportunities” (45.8%) and

personal “strong technical skills and abilities in related areas” (45.8%) as being equally important.

50% of responding students (n=12) plan to work for a Florida manufacturer upon graduation from the ET program. 41% (n=10) plan to continue their education.

For ET Alumni
91% (20 out of 22) of students reported using the technical knowledge acquired from the A.S. Engineering Technology degree in their job
91% (20 out of 22) are earning good wages (which is typical promotion point for manufacturing jobs)

This kind of information is great to share with industry in support of the important work we do. Please help us collect these important data for our ET students by sharing the survey links below.

Thank you for your time!

sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #50: Special North Pole Addition

As if getting all those toys ready for q bright flight night this year is not enough, the elves had
to apply for a FAA Drone Dispensation document that allows Santa’s sleigh air space access in the big cities. To complete that application, one night the FDA stopped by the workshop to measure if Rudolf’s nose was bright enough for the seasonal flight. (The first page of their fifteen page report is provided below).

In addition, now that Rudolf is flying as the sled's guiding light he does get to play in all those reindeer games any time that he likes. Naturally, as you would expect of any self-respecting playful reindeer, Rudolf’s nose gets a bit dusty and the elves might have to polish that red nose to make sure it will shine so bright. Upon examination of the FDA report, the lead technician elf observed that there were two frequencies (blue and red) of light shown in the data. Now, without turning to the report’s page two, the elf knows if it is necessary to polish Rudolf’s nose.

Rudolf’s nose does not have to be polished. Yes or No. Post your answers to this special holiday edition of the sTEm puzzle below the blog post, or visit

New Engineering Technology Professor at PHSC Brings Real World Expertise & Knowledge into the Classroom

In keeping with our miniseries about engineering technology faculty in Florida state and community colleges, we travel to Pasco Hernando State College (PHSC) where another female educator has just embarked upon a teaching career. “I'm still very, very new to the academic world” says Professor Jessica Bennett who recently transitioned from industry into academia. Bennett has a B.S in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida and an M.S in biomedical engineering from the University of South Florida. Currently she is an instructor for engineering technology at PHSC teaching all the ET curriculum courses.

The ET program at PHSC is extremely new as it was opened to students earlier this Fall. 

Bennett’s industry background in research and development adds a positive dimension to students’ learning experience This has not only given her the opportunity to inject her professional experience into the classroom and curriculum, but she brings with her the added advantage of being fully conversant with latest technologies that are currently being used and integrated in the real world, high-tech industries. “I love engineering, solving problems, and creating new things.” She brings her experience and expertise from industry right into the classroom, where many of her students are directed study students. “I try to give my students real-world examples that I have experienced, or know others who have, to solve, discuss and contribute towards projects” says Bennett. 

As an educator she introduces innovative strategies to keep curriculum relevant and students engaged in the program. To that end, Bennett remains strongly connected with area manufacturers which has enabled her to set-up field trips for her students. For instance, she recently had students enrolled in the Safety class visit a manufacturer in Brooksville to perform a safety audit which gave them an opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge about safety regulations into practice in a real-world setting. She hopes the courses prepare students to be successful out in the real world be it as technicians, or as future engineers. Since the course material is something she is passionate about, it’s easy for her to stay excited and enthusiastic about the subject matter at hand, which in turn she says, greatly helps while trying to get students involved in the classroom. “I encourage discussions in the classroom, and the students teach me a lot about current technologies from their niche interests and try to incorporate their interests in relevant examples” Bennett said.

Echoing the sentiments of educators across the board, Bennett points to some common factors

for students to be successful in ET related courses and programs. Besides staying motivated and involved in the courses, she stresses the importance of networking among peers right even within the classroom. “Students should show up on time, be organized and able to present thoughts and work in a comprehensible and professional manner.” Critical thinking and the ability to solve problems are some other skills that all students, especially those in the STEM based fields need to embody, Bennett said. For more information on Professor Jessica Bennett write to her at, or visit  For information on FLATE’s statewide, award winning A.S degree in engineering technology visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at

Machining Program at ATC Propels Girls to Engineering & Become Better Engineers

As manufacturing industry experiences a rebound, the demand for high-tech machinists who are conversant in using automated machines and computer-based systems in high production environments are also on the rebound. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s, Bureau of Labor Statistics, nationally there is tremendous demand for skilled machinists as the current pool of workers look to retire. This surge in demand has not only defined a need for skilled machinists, but is changing the demographic composition of machinists as more women and girls educate and train themselves to join the workforce as machinists.

“I am the only girl in my class and I love it” said Eileen, a senior at Atlantic Technical College &
Technical High School (ATC) in Coconut Creek, FL, who plans to major in aerospace engineering at the University of Central Florida. Eileen, Bolatito, Lily and Jessica are the only girls out of 21 high school students currently enrolled in the machining technologies program at ATC. “I like the hands-on aspect of machining” said Bolatito. For Lily it was the critical thinking and precision involved in machining that stoked her interest in pursuing the program. 

All four girls are resolute in their resolve to pursue an engineering related academic program once they graduate from ATC Technical High School. Kevin Finan, their instructor at ATC Technical High School who heads the machining technologies program points to their chosen majors as a natural transition/choice for most machining students. Finan says machining is very much linked to engineering. He says machinists make better engineers as they are hands-on, have critical thinking and troubleshooting skills which are some of the defining skills set of all engineers.

In fact 90% of the high school students that are currently enrolled in the machining program at ATC have plans to pursue mechanical, or electrical engineering degrees in college. Eileen, who is the only senior among the four girls who are all sophomores, has already gotten accepted into the University of Central Florida where she plans to major in aerospace engineering. Lily plans to go to college and major in mechanical and/or computer engineering, Bolatito plans to pursue computer engineering as well, Jessica is unsure what she will major in, but says whatever degree she chooses will have some aspect of machining in it. “Everything that you use and see, has, to a certain extent, been machined, or needs machining” said Bolatito. Enrolling into the machining program, she says, has enabled her to see the impact, use and integration of machining in mass production processes and in everyday life.

The machining technologies program is a 1500 course hour program that takes 14 months to

complete. The program comprises of specialized classroom instruction along with projects and lab experiences that involve machining of metals and plastics. Classes are divided into theory and a hands-on, project-based curriculum module which is “the fun part” for most students. The program is unique, in that it offers programs for both high school and community college students, and enables ATC high school students to earn college level credits and industry certifications as well. Eileen, Bolatito, Lily and Jessica are MasterCAM certified and have the ability to get NIMS certified too. “What we are trying to do is expose students to hands-on engineering which is the best way of learning” Finan said.

Students learn how to use measurement instruments, operate CNC lathes and mills, and learn how to use MasterCAM and SolidWorks to make parts. “The best engineers that I worked with had hands-on experience which in my opinion is the best way to learn/teach students” said Finan. Given his focus on hands-on learning, students are engaged in several project based learning activities. For example, one of their projects involved working in teams to showcase the applications of STEAM in a machine shop. Other projects involve like the paper punch project for sophomores and the key chain project for seniors require students to use lathes to mill holes, work with tolerances, learn how to program and use CNC machines etc. “It’s not just their maths teacher giving them a hard time,” but it’s a great way for students to learn each of these concepts and its applications in machining. Eileen agrees, in that the courses she’s taking at ATC she says, has set the stage for her to pursue a degree/career in engineering.

In all of these projects girls are out performing the boys in many respects. Then too, Finan has worked hard to recruit girls into the program. He says girls are often confronted by the stereotypical thinking about manufacturing and machining not being the right profession for them.

When the high school program started in 2006, Finan says there wasn’t a lot of interest because students nor their parents understood what machining entailed. To offset some of these challenges, Finan devised various innovative strategies to keep and/or recruit additional girls into the program. He conducted industry tours to showcase machines and machining career opportunities. To reinforce positive role models, especially for girls, he invited a female engineer from Hoerbiger Coporation in Pompano Beach who was also the recipient of the Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead Award. He’s hosted open houses and field trips to Hoerbiger, MSK, and Heico, which have served as a great recruitment and outreach strategies to girls. Finan has also set-up a precollege connection course for high school seniors which is similar to an internship where he tries to place students in local companies.

ATC student have also participated in manufacturing day for the last two years. These MFG

Day industry tours have given students, including girls, the ability to see the applications of what they learned in school being applied in real-world settings. Earlier this year Finan came up with an assignment for his students to outline why machining is a great career field. As part of the assignment, Eileen, Bolatito, Lily and Jessica put together a video that was also posted and shared across FLATE’s social networking platforms, highlighting the machining program at ATC and why it’s a great career pathway for girls. Click the video icon to watch the video that they compiled. 

Indeed the machining program at ATC has opened a great pathway for girls to be engaged in STEM based education and/or a career pathway into engineering. The program gives students a 360 degree perspective of machining which drives home Finan’s belief that “machining will make students better engineers.” For more information about the Machining Technologies program at Atlantic Technical High School visit, or contact Kevin Finan at 954.200.9956. For information on FLATE’s STEM based resources visit the Made in Florida page and the FLATE Wiki where we have posted curriculum for high school students including those targeted specifically for girls, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at

FLATE's Fall

Ok, Ok, this is not a ‘gloom and dome’ quick story about FLATE's demise. Just the opposite; the Fall of 2015 has been marked with a lot of our partners recognizing our contribution to career and technical education and we want to share our sense of pride with our FLATE Focus readers. The stories being with United States Congressmen Jolly recognizing on the floor of the U.S. House of Representative, FLATE's statewide efforts to make MFG Day the best in the nation. Watch the video posted in the sidebar of the newsletter. 

This was followed by the Able Trust Fund, a state supported organization that promotes
education and career paths for disabled citizens, awarding FLATE with its outstanding partner award. Next, FLATE received the Kuder Career Pathways Partnership Excellence Award. This was followed by the Upper Tampa Bay Manufacturers Association naming FLATE its Education Agency of Year. FLATE also had special visitors from the Gov. Rick Scott’s office to learn about FLATE and the statewide engineering technology offered at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon. Last but not least, FLATE was invited to participate in the inaugural event for the STEM Ecosystem nationwide initiative at the White House.

An exciting Fall for us and a nice indicator that FLATE does have impact and leadership roles in career and technical education. Do stay connected with us by emailing Executive Director of FLATE, Dr. Marilyn Barger at, or head on to our websites and, where we have posted a wealth of information and resources for STEM professionals. You can also stay connected with us socially: Like us on Facebook; Follow us on Twitter, and connect with us on LinkedIn.

FLATE Manufacturers Display Case Request

FLATE has a fabulous, “Made in Florida” display cabinet showcasing parts and products made by companies right here in our state. The products are rotated periodically to keep the display “fresh.” We are in the process of developing lesson plans and activities which feature the parts and products on display. Please consider donating a sample of one of your products along with a little background information so we can include it.

The visuals these products provide are invaluable in bringing manufacturing to life in the eyes of students. We greatly appreciate your support of our efforts to educate students about the high-tech world of modern manufacturing and the many exciting career opportunities the industry offers.

Products should be mailed to:

Nina C. Stokes, Ed.S.
FLATE Project Manager
Florida Advanced Technological Education Center
Hillsborough Community College
10414 E. Columbus Drive
Tampa, FL 33619
For information please contact Nina Stokes, FLATE project manager at 813.259.6587/

Thank you!

Ken Fiallos Bestowed with STEM Champion Award by Hillsborough County Public Schools

Congratulations to Ken Fiallos, Founder and Executive Director of Electrathon of Tampa Bay
and past Chair of IEEE FWCS RAS chapter, who was honored as the “STEM Champion” by Hillsborough County Public Schools. The award was presented by STEM Director, Larry Plank who awarded Fiallos with the first, Lifetime STEM Champion Award. The recognition ceremony was held on November 10, in Tampa.

Fiallos who worked closely with FLATE to establish the BEST robotics program, and is also the founder of the Tampa Bay Robotics Alliance, a nonprofit outfit that supports HCPS robotics competitions. He played a leading role in developing Electrathon of Tampa Bay which now floursishes with competitors from HCPS, colelges, universities and interest groups. “Ken has supported our district through the development and management of multiple STEM competitions and events for our students, such as Electrathon, BizBots, and other robotics competitions” said Larry Plank in meeting minutes recorded by HCPS.

The STEM Champion Award recognizes an individual and/or organization that has a track record of supporting STEM Initiatives in Hillsborough County through direct participation, or providing support, financial, or otherwise for events and programs that make a difference in the lives of students by immersing them in STEM experiences otherwise not available to them.

For more information on the award visit

In Focus from the Executive Director's Desk: The 2016 FLATE Awards

November is usually that time of the year when we recognize educators and industry partners
who have made a difference in manufacturing and engineering technology education and training. Are you wondering when the 2015 FLATE educator and education partner awardees will be announced? The process for the FLATE Awards are still in effect; however this year we have changed it up a bit, not only in terms of the categories for the awards, but even the awards timeline. Unfortunately, there won’t be any in 2015.  However, all three awards will be back in summer of 2016.   

FLATE has been working closely with the Florida Association for Career and Technical Education (FACTE) to migrate the FLATE manufacturing educator and industry awards to the new and permanent home for the FLATE awards.  Our three awards will be added to FACTE’s portfolio of awards, all recognizing excellence in career and technical education in Florida. We have developed a transition plan, which is now in the early implementation stage. 

  • The FLATE awards will still be the FLATE Manufacturing Education Awards, but housed in the FACTE organization, and under the FAITE (Florida Association for Industrial and Technical Education) division of FACTE. 
  • FLATE award notices will be posted on FLATE’s website, and social media platforms, but link to for details (and other recognition and award opportunities).
  • FLATE’s Award criteria will not change.
  • FLATE’s Awards will still be a two step process with online submission forms.
  • FLATE’s Industrial Advisory Committee (IAC) will still serve as the judges and selection committee and welcome representatives from FLATE and/or FAITE to the process.
  • FLATE Awards will still be sponsored by our industry partners.
  • FLATE’s Awards will be presented at the annual FACTE conference in July each year.
  • January-February: Nominations open 
  • April: Nominations will close 
  • May: FLATE awardee will be selected by FLATE’s IAC Awards committee 
  • June: Awardees named and notified 
  • July: Award presentation at FACTE Conference

FLATE has been working diligently to make this important manufacturing educator and education program recognition
sustainable beyond the life of our FLATE center funding and are excited to now have FACTE and FAITE as our working partners.  Start thinking now about who you will nominate in Spring 2016.  We know that there are many excellent and exceptional manufacturing educators in your communities as well as their dedicated, hardworking community /industry partners.

There are three FLATE Manufacturing Education Awards:

1. FLATE Distinguished Manufacturing Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award

2. FLATE Distinguished Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award

3. FLATE Distinguished Partner Manufacturing Service Award

Deadlines: There are two steps to the nominations process:

PartI: for Nominators is due by March 1,2016.
Part II:For Nominees is due by May 1, 2016

For more information about the FLATE Awards visit, or email Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at and Danielly Orozco, project manager for FLATE at

Now please take a moment to read rest of the stories in this, November edition of the the FLATE Focus where you bring you an in-depth report on the "Blockbuster Success" of the Made in Florida industry tours for #FLMFGMonth15, including other events and industry tours that happened across the state. Do jot down your thoughts in the "comments section" below each article, or across any of our social networking platforms @Made_InFlorida.  

In other news we have stories about FLATE growing partnership with the Able Trust and the impact it's had on educating/training students enrolled in the Able Trust High School High Tech initiative. We also a round-up from the most recent ET Forum at Valencia College, and posted some information on free Mechatronics curriculum made available through the Department of Labor TAAACT grant. Last but not the least, do check your answers to last month's sTEm puzzle and catch up on news bytes posted in the side bar of this month's edition. 

As always we'd love to hear from you; do send us your questions and comments using the official hastags of the month #FLMFGMonth15 and #MFGDay15. 

Manufacturing Day/Month: A Blockbuster Success in Florida

Every October manufacturers in Florida brace for Manufacturing Day/Month—one of the
defining events of the year highlighting American innovation in manufacturing. 2015 was once again a blockbuster year for Florida, as FLATE, the Florida-based National Science Foundation Regional Center of Excellence in manufacturing, and its network of statewide partners (Regional Manufacturers Associations (RMAs), Florida TRADE, manufacturers, schools districts, and the community at large) worked cohesively to devise a strategy that has consistently placed Florida as one of the national leaders in hosting industry tours and events for Manufacturing Day/Month. FLATE’s involvement in MFG Day/Month encapsulates a broader perspective as it corresponds to a report published by the Manufacturing Institute that stipulates (among other factors) manufacturing has “the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector,” in that “for every $1 spent in manufacturing another $1.37 is added to the economy.” Indeed, the rationale for building support and momentum for Manufacturing Day/Month are many as the Return(s) on Investment are multi-fold.

Statistical Analysis
In looking at preliminary numbers on a statewide level across Florida, 2015 witnessed record participation. As of October 31, 2015 there were a total of 57 Manufacturing Day/Month (MFG Day/Month) events in Florida. Middle and high school students, parents and teachers from 50 counties in Florida participated in 150 industry tours to 150 high-tech industries across Florida. In Florida, 50 counties issued 54 proclamations acknowledging October 2 as the official kick off to MFG Day, and/or October as MFG Month.

Following up on the successful model that FLATE spearheaded and established over the years

for Florida, FLATE surveyed statewide industry hosts, educators and students participating in the Made in Florida (MIF) industry tours for 2015 MFG Day/Month. Of the 1,046 student surveys received so far, there was a 77% increase in consideration of a career in advanced manufacturing after the tour. Nearly 96% percent of the students who responded stated the tour helped them understand how STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are put to work in advanced manufacturing industries. Ninety six percent stated they would recommend that other students have the opportunity of this tour. Out of the 1046 surveys received and tabulated so far, 97% said that this tour gave them new information about careers in advanced manufacturing.

In addition to students, participating industry hosts also deemed the MIF Industry tours valuable. Out of the 33 industry tour hosts that responded to FLATE’s survey, 100% stated the tour was a good use of company time and resources. “We feel that any investment in the future workforce is an excellent use of company time, and we look forward to forging a symbiotic relationship with our local school” said one of the tour hosts in the post event survey. When asked how the tour served as a good use of company time and resources one of the industry hosts stated the tour is an “Investment into the future of technical education programs as well as teaching the next generation the value of American manufacturing.” Furthermore, in taking a closer look at post event survey data and demographic break-up, there was approximately 130.7% change in girls considering a career in advanced manufacturing after the tour compared to 64.01% boys.

In addition to the Made in Florida industry tours for Manufacturing Day, FLATE developed an 

extensive array of resources/lesson plans, a 2015 MFG Day poster for educators that can be downloaded on FLATE’s Wiki. Following the tour, FLATE also surveyed educators and parents to gauge their response to the tours and the curriculum. Of the surveys received by FLATE to date, 100% of educators and parents stated they found the tour helpful in understanding Florida high-tech jobs and career opportunities. The same percentage (100%) also stated they would recommend other students have the opportunity of a Made in Florida industry tour, and 100% agreeing to promote a career in advanced manufacturing for students. “Our students (boys and girls) have been studying manufacturing and this tour help make a real word connection to their future educational goals” stated one of the educators in the post-event survey. 

There were several layers of logistical, tactical and strategic planning involved in rallying support/engagement on a statewide level for an event of this magnitude. As in previous years, FLATE also designed/distributed T-shirts that were distributed and/or mailed to industry hosts across the state. Thirty six manufacturers pledged support for T-shirts so students could wear them during the tour.

Role of Regional Partners for MFG Day/Month
Taking a cue from their experience last year, RMAs, regional Florida TRADE groups with affiliated colleges and universities, and school districts once again took a prominent role in hosting tours and/or adopting schools, arranging for lunches for students, and sponsoring official manufacturing day T-shirts. They also worked with local government agencies to secure official manufacturing day/month county proclamations across Florida.

RMAs that partnered with FLATE included Bay Area Manufacturers Association, Capital 

Region Manufacturers Association, First Coast Manufacturers Association, Manufacturers Association of Central Florida, Manufacturers Association of Florida, Mid-Florida Regional Manufacturers Association (formerly known as Marion Regional Manufacturers Association), Northwest Florida Manufacturers Association, Polk Manufacturers Association at Polk State College, Sarasota-Manatee Manufacturers Association, South Florida Manufacturers Association, Southwest Florida Manufacturers Association, and Upper Tampa Bay Manufacturers Association. Local TRADE group partners included: Florida TRADE at Florida State College at Jacksonville and Florida TRADE at Pasco Hernando State College. Educational/other manufacturing organizations included: Florida Gateway College, Palm Beach State College, Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, Atlantic Technical College. Additionally school districts across Florida formed strategic alliance with FLATE and its network of partners to coordinate tours and arrange transportations for students, chaperones and educators to industry sites. These included School District of Hillsborough County, Pinellas School District, Marion County School District, Sarasota County School District and Career & Technical Education programs, and Miami-Dade School district. 

#FLMFGMonth15 and #MFGDay15 Social Buzz
FLATE’s social media platforms were ablaze with activity throughout Manufacturing Month.

FLATE worked with MAF and Florida TRADE to post constant stories, news and updates on each of its social media platforms, that included Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. There were posts throughout the month highlighting different industry sectors (Medical, Food & Beverage, Electronics, Metals, Petroleum/Chemicals/Plastics etc). Prominent posts included a Retweet from Congressmen David Jolly, Rep. from the 13th District in Florida, who acknowledged FLATE’s role in MFG Day/Month in the United States Senate. United States Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzer also gave FLATE a big social kudos on twitter stating FLATE “raises awareness of manufacturing’s economic sector.” The national MFG Day organizers at the Manufacturing Institute also acknowledged FLATE on LinkedIn stating “FLATE is preparing the educated manufacturing workforce in FL” with a hastag “#DoingItRight.” In addition to social activities, there were also some good stories in statewide press. Check out the side bar of this edition of the newsletter to read all the press related stories and a photo album of statewide Made in Florida Industry tours and other tours and events from MFG Day/Month in Florida. 

October may have ended, but there are still MFG Day/Month events happening across Florida.

FLATE will compile additional/remaining surveys and tabulate results and report on the impact of remaining tours in subsequent editions of the FLATE Focus. So stay tuned for additional updates and news. FLATE would also like to thank all its partners across the state and the FLATE staff who worked tirelessly to sustain the objectives and heighten the impact of MFG Day/Month across Florida. Truly this was a joint effort and the accolades are shared by all involved.

For more information on FLATE’s statewide strategy for manufacturing day/month visit, or read about it in the October 2015 edition of the Department of Commerce Blog. Send us your MFG Day/Month stories, or tweet us @Made_InFlorida using the hashtag #FLMfgMonth15. You can also contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at, or at 813.259.6578 and Nina Stokes, FLATE project manager at

Manufacturers & Educators Join Forces to host MFG Day/Month Events across Florida

In the previous article, we highlighted information about Made in Florida industry tours and
miscellaneous statewide industry tours for Manufacturing Day/Month organized by FLATE and its statewide partners. In addition to the MFG Day/Month industry tours in the greater Tampa bay region, there were several events for students and local community at large that took place here in the greater Tampa Bay region and throughout Florida.

Outlined below is a snapshot of statewide events for manufacturing day/month that happened across the state.

Manufacturing Day/Month has concluded with resounding success. We would love to hear your stories/events that happened in your community for Manufacturing Day/Month. Do send us your thoughts and comments via email (, or sound off across any of our social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). For information on manufacturing day/month tours and events visit the Made in Florida page at, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at

FLATE’s Partnership with Able Trust Continues to Expand and Make an Impact

FLATE’s mission to create a statewide outreach campaign has enabled K-14 students to explore
STEM based education and career opportunities in high-tech manufacturing. This outreach initiative not only encompasses students in traditional schools and colleges, but FLATE has reached out to special student and educator populace in an effort to provide a 360 degree perspective on manufacturing. Over the years FLATE has developed a special partnership with the Able Trust Florida High School High Tech (HSHT). The Able Trust HSHT program provides students with disabilities an opportunity to explore jobs, or postsecondary education through internships, leadership opportunities and/or job shadowing, leading to technology-related careers. (Source: Able Trust).

FLATE’s alliance with Able Trust HSHT program has proved to be a win-win partnership on many levels. The partnership has culminated into several Made in Florida industry tours to local

high-tech manufacturing facilities for Able Trust students, administrators and coordinators, arranged by FLATE during the regular academic year and during manufacturing day/month. Additionally, it has given FLATE an opportunity to showcase and share some of its expertise in STEM-based resources for manufacturing to local stakeholders. You can read about FLATE-Able Trust joint events/initiatives in the June 2015 edition and October 2014 edition of the FLATE Focus.

Most recently FLATE played a significant role during the 2105 Able Trust HSHT Annual Conference held in October in Orlando. FLATE facilitated an industry tour for HSHT program coordinators to Seminole State College’s Academic Innovation School of Engineering, Design
and Construction. Conference attendees visited the automotive lab with its impressive infrastructure for hands-on learning for understanding electrical/mechanical issues in different brands of vehicles. FLATE also hosted a general session featuring FLATE’s newly released “Teachers’ Guide” that compliments the 2015 “Made in Florida: What’s Made in Your Backyard?” video. The Teachers’ Guide, which was provided to all coordinators, contains five lessons with a number of teaching aids plus student activity sheets. Dr. Marilyn Barger introduced FLATE’s Engineering Technology program with multiple career pathways for high school students. FLATE also hosted a Toothpick Factory for high school educators, where a complete Toothpick Factory kit and a Made in Florida mouse pad was donated to an educator. HSHT Able Trust students also participated in the 2015 Made in Florida industry tours for Manufacturing Day where they were part of 197 students who toured ASO & OCTEX in Sarasota County.

Indeed the partnership with FLATE and Able Trust is poised for strategic growth and

expansion. In 2015 FLATE was bestowed the “2015 Public Partner of the Year” Award by Able Trust Florida High School High Tech. Plans for programs at colleges during the regular school year and possibly including summer camp program for HSHT Able Trust students are underway. Made in Florida industry tours for Manufacturing Day/Month for 2016 is also expected continue and/or expand to include students from additional counties across Florida. 

For more information on Able Trust HSHT program visit, or contact Allison Chase, Vice President for Youth Program at For information on FLATE’s outreach program for students and educators and Made in Florida industry tours visit and, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at