Invitation from FLATE’s Executive Director to Attend the 34th Engineering Technology Forum

Many Engineering Technology (ET) educators in Florida would never miss an ET Forum if at all
possible, neither should you!  The ET Forum has met at 18 of the 28 states and community colleges in Florida. The past 33 meetings have typically had representatives from 12-16 colleges attend. This spring we will be adding Florida Keys Community College as the newest college to the list of ET Forum hosts. We were excited to welcome Florida Keys faculty at the spring 2013 Forum, who at that time, immediately appreciated the value of the meeting and worked with us to host our upcoming spring 2015 Forum at their college on Stock Island from April 8-10. With special support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the 34th ET Forum will include an additional day of “pre-Forum” workshops on Wednesday April 8, 2015. 

With this extra support from NSF and the pre-forum workshops, for the first (and, most likely, the only time) the ET Forum will have an official online registration for logistics of holding the hotel rooms, headcounts, etc. Florida engineering technology educators are eligible for lodging support on a reimbursement basis, but we welcome anyone from anywhere to our meeting if you are interested in engineering technology education.  The 34th ET Forum and workshops agenda is posted with links to both the Forum and hotel registration at We look forward to working with you all there!

The ET Forum in Florida is a group of tightly connected educators and other stakeholders interested
in engineering technology education in Florida.  Although an effective community of practice, the group is loosely knit unofficially with no official officers, no dues, no membership, no official registration and no bylaws.  However, its attendees soon become tightly knit friends and colleagues that are extremely passionate about the value of this semi-annual meeting. The group meets twice per year and does have a “permanent Chair” and a temporary co-Chair, with the co-Chair slot temporarily filled by someone from the institution that is hosting the upcoming meeting.

What is the ET Forum? Back in the mid 1990’s the faculty, program managers, and deans working in electronics and related technologies got together to work on one of the first Florida statewide articulation agreements for Associate of Science (A.S) degrees. The small group of interested and concerned stakeholders was excited about the prospect of transferability of what was then, a “non-transferable degree.” That articulation agreement was implemented and has now been superseded by the Florida legislation that made all A.S degrees transferable with “2+2” alignments to Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degrees. Curriculum has continued to evolve as have the definitions of different degrees in our state, but the core group of educators who met at the then “crisis,” continue to meet. This was the genesis of the “Forum on Engineering Technology”—better known today as the Florida “ET Forum”.

Since 2004, FLATE has facilitated this meeting to increase the impact and effectiveness of the event.
Today, the Forum is an important professional event with news and updates pertinent to the participants from the Department of Education, Career and Technical Education division. Current workforce issues and industry practices are brought to the Forum via an industry and economic development panel that works closely with the host college. The host college also enjoys the opportunity to “show off” its facilities via a tour, and update the Forum on technology and/or related programs, including corporate and customized training initiatives. 

A vendor showcase and vendor-led discussion are also permanent items on the agenda as well as
updates and outcomes from related grant projects. The remainder of the half to two-day Forum is exactly that – a Forum with issues and topics submitted to the Chairs with the expectation that the submitter will lead that discussion. There are occasional formal presentations, but they are not the norm. The host college provides space and technology support. Our regional equipment and education vendors generously cover meals during the Forum in exchange for displaying their products and services. 

Over the years, our Forum has matured and evolved to become more focused on action items and outcomes. We have closer interactions with the DOE and other organizations. It has become a strong voice for Engineering Technology Education in Florida, and a place and a space where ET educators can find help, support and be informed about anything from recommended equipment and curriculum, course loads, scheduling, and even sticky administrative issues that arise from time to time at all institutions. So, if you are interested in how a technical education Forum “works” this spring, then the 34th Engineering Technology Forum and Workshop event at Florida Keys Community College might be the perfect time and place to see the Florida ET Forum in action.

Now for the rest of the stories in this February edition of the FLATE Focus—I encourage you to read the stories, but more importantly watch the new Made in Florida video. Also this month we debut a new series that tracks some of our past FLATE awardees and what they’ve been up to. Chime in your thoughts about the new STEM puzzle, and jot down a thank you, a welcome, or a congratulatory note as we acknowledge important milestone of some of our colleagues. Last but not the least, tune in to our story about past and upcoming workshops on programming a NAO humanoid robot. This and much more in this edition of the Focus! Happy Valentine’s Day!

New Made in Florida Video Gives 360 Degree View about Manufacturing in Florida

In a world where digital resources and graphics are taking center-stage, engaging students and getting them interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), or how these concepts are integrated in modern, high-tech manufacturing settings, is challenging and a science in itself. Educating students about manufacturing and identifying it as a lucrative career option requires an innovative and engaging strategy. Teaching, however, is only one piece of the awareness and recruitment puzzle. There is also a greater need for parents and the community at large to be part of the dialogue, that manufacturing provides state-of-the-art, intellectually challenging yet rewarding careers that are high-tech, high-skilled and high-wage. To address these common concerns among manufacturers and to engage, educate and excite students and this larger audience about careers in manufacturing, FLATE has produced a dynamic, 30 minute, Made in Florida” video that discusses the breadth and scope of manufacturing in Florida.

FLATE and the FL TRADE Consortium produced the NEW, Made In Florida video, version 2.0,
to highlight the world of manufacturing right here in Florida. Working with regional manufacturers and partners across Florida, FLATE identified approximately 50 high-tech manufacturing facilities that would be featured in the video.  Samuel DuPont, Ph.D. and Audrey Buttice, Ph.D., from Scientific League LLC worked very closely with FLATE and FL TRADE to write the script, film and compose the Made in Florida 2015 video. These companies “warmly welcomed us into their facilities film take photographs, film their products and everyday operations, and interview their employees” said DuPont. “These hard working Floridians,” noted DuPont, “are the backbone of our local economy and have skills that allow them to produce an outstanding collection of consumer and commercial products that are Made in Florida.” 

The new MIF video is geared to provide a 360 degree vision of manufacturing in Florida. The video explores eight different sectors of manufacturing in six regions (Northeast, Northwest, Central East, Central West, Southeast, Southwest) across Florida, and spotlights the diversity of Florida-based, production industries that manufacture an array of products. The video also serves as an educational tool in highlighting some of the high-tech, high-wage jobs that are challenging, offer a secure future and are financially rewarding as well.  “Having received Ph.Ds in engineering, it was amazing for us to see the variety of cutting edge technologies being used in these robust manufacturing facilities” said Buttice. 

A unique aspect of the 2.0 version of the Video is its focus on manufacturing companies and
industries that are specific to each region. For example, the video showcases how Central East Florida is synonymous with the aerospace industry, or how in the Southeast, companies like Nipro Diagnostics and Hoerbiger Corporation among others are attracting high-tech manufacturing in a region that is largely known as a tourist hub. These segmented sections can be viewed separately, by each region, online as well as on the DVD. The MIF video also taps into some historical data about regional manufacturing-related activities, and how modern manufacturing in Florida differs from the bygone era. “We have been honored to work with FLATE and FL-TRADE to be a part of this journey and hope this video helps uncover the vast employment opportunities in Florida’s manufacturing industry” DuPont said. 

FLATE debut the Video during its annual National Visiting Committee meeting at AeroTurbine Inc., in Miramar, FL, and will be actively using it in various events to disseminate information about high-tech manufacturing in Florida to a state and national audience. A streaming version of the video is currently available for viewing on FLATE’s award-winning, outreach website, FLATE is also working with DuPont and Buttice from the Scientific League to write and develop a career exploration based curriculum that compliments the video, and potentially another video focused on women in manufacturing. The curriculum and the DVD are available upon request. For more information email Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at

A Look at Past FLATE Awardees—Where Are They Now?

FLATE Awards have served as a platform to acknowledge dedicated educators and distinguished industry leaders across Florida. The awards not only stand as a testament to the outstanding contributions of each of the awardees, but as a legacy to what they continue to do to make a significant impact on technician education and training. Starting this month, we will feature some of our past FLATE awardees and highlight the work they (continue) to do, to promote technology education and career awareness in support of manufacturing in Florida.

Adrienne Gould-Choquette was the recipient of the 2012 FLATE Post-Secondary Educator of the
Year Award. She was also the former program director, instructor and advocate of the Engineering Technology and Construction Management Technology program at the State College of Florida. (You can read about her and the Award in the December 2012 edition of the FLATE Focus). Choquette says the Award ‘was one of the most rewarding recognitions I could have received for my time and dedication.’ Then too, all the rewards that came with teaching were not enough to sate her true passion for practicing engineering. After five years of giving advice to students to become innovators/job creators in the community, Adrienne took that advice herself and applied what she preached into practice. In 2013 she passed her P.E. exam and got professionally certified. In 2014 she stepped out of academia and joined the corporate world, not as an employee, but as an employer.

Today, Adrienne is the president of her own company which she started in 2014. She is the President of Adicot, Inc.—a full service provider of mechanical engineering services based in Venice, FL. “I have dreams of growing my one person company into a bustling firm, and part of that firm would include community training and education” said Choquette.  For more information on Adrienne visit, or email Adrienne at

Peeking over to the industry side of the continuum, FLATE’s partnership with industry leaders and colleagues have been instrumental in bringing manufacturing into the classroom and/or promoting technician training of incumbent workers. Michael Ennis was one such individual who spearheaded many initiatives to facilitate industry-technical education partnerships. Ennis received the FLATE Distinguished Service Award in 2009 and continues to be an advocate for technician education and training. Ennis is a manufacturing engineer for Harris Corporation’s Government Community Systems, and currently supports Harris Facility Operations in the construction of a 464,000 sq. ft office space for its engineering and technical disciplines. He also teaches, Harris employees as well as the general student body, two engineering technology courses every semester at Eastern Florida State College.

Ennis has always maintained close ties with FLATE assisting and serving the Centers in many
capacities. In 2012, Ennis was part of the FLATE-led Iberian Partnership for Technician Excellence that supported the collaboration between FLATE and the Basque government training in renewable energies. He is a certified Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) Instructor and a member of MSSC’s curriculum development team. Given his integral role and contribution to the Harris employee training program, Ennis also received the Industry Appreciation Award from Eastern Florida State College (formerly known as Brevard Community College), and teaches several classes to help Harris employees earn MSSC certification.

In 2013, Ennis received the HI-TEC Industry Recognition Award at the High Impact Technology Exchange conference. The Award recognizes key industry personnel for outstanding contributions to promote technology education and career awareness at a state and national level. In addition to these accolades, Ennis has been instrumental in coordinating and setting-up several tours for local high schools and community colleges to tour manufacturing facilities as part of National Manufacturing Day in Florida. He is also a current member of the Space-TEC National Visiting Committee and the FLATE National Visiting Committee, and most recently received special recognition for his service at the 2014 NVC meeting at Aeroturbine, Inc. in Miramar, FL.

Looking ahead, Ennis plans to continue supporting the A.S.E.T degree at EFSC, and push forward
with efforts to convince EFSC to support the Bachelor of Science degree in engineering technology. ‘It is the next logical step for our state college to support the wide array of manufacturing companies in the space coast of Florida’ said Ennis. For more information on Ennis, you can contact him directly at

FLATE Awards are geared to recognize both secondary and postsecondary educators and industry leaders for their outstanding contributions to promote manufacturing in Florida. Since 2006, FLATE has recognized 16 secondary and postsecondary educators and eight industry leaders. For information on the awards and/or submit a nomination for the 2015 FLATE awards contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at, or visit

sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #45: Battery Recharge Expectations

With spring training just around the corner, we can use Yogi Berra's quote "déjà vu all over again," and return to the puzzle posted at the end of last season. You may recall that a major customer of a high performance battery manufacturer has a critical mission specific performance expectation from the lithium batteries they purchase. The quality technician for the manufacturer can only authorize shipment of all of the batteries from each manufactured lot after a statistically valid sampling and subsequent testing of all the batteries in that sample have been performed. If just one of those tested batteries does not at least meet the minimal charge/discharge specifications established by the customer, none of the batteries in that manufactured lot will be shipped to this customer. Three different charge/discharge tests are performed. A range of expected battery performance as indicated by these three tests is shown in the performance graphs below.

One battery under test had the following recovery characteristics:
  • It recovered %80 percent after it was 100% discharged and recharged 500 times
  • It recovered %75 percent after it was 50% discharged and discharge/recharged 600 times and
  • it was 30% discharged in less than 30 minutes and recovered %70 percent  after 1,200 charge/discharge cycles.

The Tech did not authorized shipment of this lot of batteries to the customer. Yes or No. Submit your answers below this blog post, or on          

FLATE-ISTEC Partnership Facilitates Interactive NAO Humanoid Robot Training

FLATE has partnered with a number of international organizations, like ISTEC (Ibero-American
Science & Technology Education Consortium) to work on projects to promote innovations in Advanced Technological Education, partner on education and training workshops, and support student and faculty exchange. Most recently FLATE partnered with ISTEC to offer a NAO workshop. The workshop was help in December 2014 at the University of South Florida (USF). ISTEC’s mission is to foster sustainable socio-economic development in Ibero-America by carrying out various programs including one focused on advancing the state of higher education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).  

The workshop was attended by FLATE staff, secondary and postsecondary educators from the
University of South Florida and Greco Middle School, a graduate student from USF, and three professors from the University of Technology de Loja-Particular in Equador, and facilitated by a technical instructor from Aldebaran Robotics. ‘The NAO training sponsored by ISTEC was phenomenal’ said Desh Bagley, FLATE’s outreach manager. During the training, Holly Morris, Alderbaran instructor provided the most recent upgrades for both our robot and the software. The training also provided professional development on the use of the Choregraphe software to program the NAO robot to speak, walk, and interact with its environment.

In addition to learning how to use Choregraphe, Morris also provided training on using Python and the Python libraries. The professional development included training on the use of NAO’s feedback sensors and gave examples of activities that teachers could use to help students better understand state machines, motors and controls, and Boolean logic programming. ‘Thank you for the opportunity to expand my knowledge in order to provide professional development to educators in Florida and STEM outreach to students in middle and high school’ Bagley said.

For more information about ISTEC visit For information on future and/or upcoming NAO-based training for students/educators visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at

Of Farewells, Thank You’s & Welcomes!

‘Tis the time it seems for welcome, thank you’s and farewells. This month we take a moment to pause and congratulate two of our colleagues on their retirement and celebrate their illustrious careers.

We start with Dr. Carlos Soto who recently retired from his position as the campus president of
Hillsborough Community College in Brandon. Dr. Soto who served in this capacity since 1999 was reputed for his role in promoting strong education programs, and his support of FLATE. Under Soto’s guidance, FLATE flourished and is today considered the go-to organization for excellence in manufacturing and advanced technical education not only in Tampa Bay, but in Florida and across the nation.

Dr. Soto was at the helm of many key decisions affecting the Center since it was established in 2004. Dr. Soto served as a member of the FLATE Industrial Advisory Committee as well as the National Visiting Committee. He was also a liaison between FLATE and manufacturing communities in the region. He was also a champion of the statewide A.S degree in Engineering Technology developed by FLATE and offered at HCC and 14 colleges across Florida. Soto viewed FLATE as a ‘high prestige endeavor’ that enabled HCC to reengage people in manufacturing,’ and encouraged students to pursue careers in advanced manufacturing.

As Dr. Soto bid farewell to FLATE and HCC, we wish him the best in his personal and professional
endeavors and likewise acknowledge the quintessential role he played, especially during FLATE’s infancy years, in securing a strong partnership between FLATE, HCC and the broader academic community in Florida. In that same breath, FLATE would also like to extend a warm welcome to the new Brandon campus president, Dr. Nancee Sorenson. FLATE looks forward to working with Dr. Sorenson and the entire HCC community to impact manufacturing and technician education throughout Florida.

Switching gears and crossing the bay over to Pinellas County, FLATE has one more colleague who is marking an important milestone. Bradley Jenkins, co-PI of FLATE and associate dean of the engineering technology at St. Petersburg College also retired last month after serving the SPC community for 40 years. Jenkins is credited with laying the foundation and spearheading several successful projects and programs. Jenkins played a leading role in laying down the foundation for the Collaborative Center for Emerging Technologies at SPC. He was also instrumental in launching the A.S. degree in engineering technology at SPC. Under his leadership, enrollment into the A.S.E.T program skyrocketed. More than 1,800 students earned their certificates and degrees, and over the past three years, enrollment in manufacturing programs at SPC rose by 20%.

In keeping with his academic engagement, Jenkins was the co-Chair of the Florida Forum on
Engineering Technology, and worked closely with the Florida Department of Education in restructuring the state common course numbering system for all engineering technologies. He served on both SACS and TAC ABET visiting teams and the engineering technology leadership committee for the America Society of Engineering Education. In addition to his role as an educator, Jenkins currently serves as co-PI of FLATE. He has served in this capacity since 2002, and is on the Center’s leadership team. Under this role, he heads up curriculum and professional development initiatives for college faculty throughout Florida. He also works with local and statewide industry organizations, economic and workforce development agencies to ensure alignment of academic programs with industry needs.

His engagement and expertise has earned him many accolades. In 2012, Jenkins received the prestigious, NSF-supported national HI-TEC Conference Educator of the Year award at the HI-Tec Conference in Denver, CO. ‘Brad’s quest to introduce innovative strategies into engineering technology related programs/courses have reshaped statewide technology education in Florida’ said Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE. FLATE extends hearty congratulations to Brad on his many successes and on his retirement from SPC. The entire FLATE team looks forward to continue working with Brad as he serves as the co-PI of FLATE and as a member of the FLATE NVC team.

Elementary School Students Dare to Dream

Congratulations to the Robotic Bears FIRST LEGO League Team! What a spectacular time everyone
had at the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) tournament, Robopalooza, last Saturday, January 10, 2015. The event coordinators, the Cornerstone School in conjunction with Forest High School, were host to over 20 FLL teams and ensured that all participants left with a sense of accomplishment. Hammett L. Bowen, Jr. Elementary School’s Robotic Bears took first place in the research category and brought home the award. GO BEARS!

Beginning in September, the team has been working hard to complete the World Class Lego challenge. FLL challenges have two components: a project and a game. The project piece asks students to think about a problem and create an innovative solution for it. Using the engineering design process, the Robotic Bears looked at how students could learn directions, i.e.: north, south, etc.…, while safely riding a bike; their innovation, the UNHoP (Ultimate Navigational Helmet of Power) was born. The UNHoP is a bike helmet with a built-in audio app which not only provides a child with his or her direction, but informs a parent of the child’s location through a GPS.

In the robotic Challenge, students programmed an autonomous robot to score points on a themed
playing field (Robot Game). Without the help of Ursula M. Schwuttke,  director of educational outreach at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, and Sam Ajlani, program director of Engineering Technology, Business, Technology and Workforce at the College of Central Florida, we would not have been able to compete. Ursula talked her colleagues into loaning the Bears two of IHMC’s robots and Sam unexpectedly called to offer his programming support.

I am so incredibly honored to be a part of the educational community of Marion County. Experiencing the County’s public schools, private schools, colleges, and the private sector supporting our children’s dreams makes it ever so possible for them to dream the impossible. To watch a video clip of the competition visit For more information contact Michelle Whipple, techer of the gifted program at Hammett Bower, Jr. Elementary School at 352.291.7900 ext.50339.

Contributed by:
Michelle Whipple
Teacher of the Gifted
Hammett Bowen, Jr. Elementary