Beyond MFG Day/Month: Keeping the Conversation & Interest in Manufacturing Alive

For the past six weeks, we at FLATE have been very busy coordinating and organizing “Made in
Florida” Industry Tours for K12 students across the state to celebrate Manufacturing Day/Month. It’s been demanding, but rewarding at the same time. We know that this effort makes a difference. The most recent ‘manufacturing perception’ survey conducted by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte captures a high level impact/correlation between ‘being familiar’ with manufacturing and the likelihood for considering a job/career in the field. Family members who are familiar with manufacturing are twice as likely to encourage their child to pursue manufacturing (“Overwhelming Support: U.S. public opinions on the manufacturing industry”, 2014 Deloitte Development LLC).

And, what better way to “get familiar” with manufacturing than a guided tour by passionate people who work in manufacturing. We have been tracking our own impact from Manufacturing Day in Florida with annual, summarized statewide student, educator and tour hosts surveys. Most recently, we published a new white paper “Manufacturing Day Tours: Student Feedback Shows Huge Impact which took an in-depth look at nearly 1500 comments from students who attended Manufacturing Day tours in Florida in 2014. Categorized written responses were grouped into seven major themes: Hands-On, Interactive, Real Life; Machines, Assembly Line; Image, Importance; Careers; Tour Guides, and Other. An overwhelming 42% wrote positively about impressive, expensive and high-precision equipment and machinery. Eleven percent commented positively on the “great tour guides,” who “were knowledgeable,” and loved the work they were doing and sharing it with the students. Students were impressed with the cutting-edge technology, the intricacies of components, the complicated scheduling and tracking systems and the universal laser focus on quality. Please check the link above to review the white paper and see exactly what students said. We should not be surprised that many of the people they interacted with made big impressions on the students. 

But what’s next? How can we keep students engaged and interested in manufacturing? High
profile robotics teams and competitions are certainly one way; programmatic school “academies” is another, while mentoring and job shadowing are also important ways to keep students interested and engaged. The SkillsUSA technical competitions are yet another good way to keep students engaged. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Participation in SkillsUSA also helps each student excel in his, or her technical and workplace skills. The organization provides educational programs and events as the competitions that support career and technical education (CTE) in our nation’s classrooms.

Fall is the time for school teams to start planning for spring regional and state competitions for 2016. For schools and colleges with manufacturing related programs, there are a number of technical competitions to choose from. Here are just a few:

Visit competitions at the SkilsUSA website list for descriptions of some of the manufacturing competitions. Many equipment vendors support these competitions including pre-competition training.  If you are interested in helping prepare for a competition, or need help connecting to equipment vendors, please contact FLATE at

I now invite you to read the rest of the stories in this edition of the FLATE Focus. This being Manufacturing Month, we wanted to highlight some of the ongoing manufacturing day/month related activities that our statewide partners are hosting across the state. Mark your calendar for one of these events and attend an open house or a career fair in your region. Stepping away from the limelight of manufacturing month, we also highlight the achievements of students from North Florida Community College and Nature Coast High School who have stepped up to get industry certified. Given all the events happening across the state, social networking has definitely taken a center stage in keeping the conversation alive. Read the story about our footprints on various social networking sites, and how you can stay connected with FLATE. While you’re at it, take a crack at this month’s sTEm puzzle 49! This and many more stories in this edition of the FLATE Focus. We’d love to hear your comments, or questions if you have any, so tweet us @Made_InFlorida using the official hastags of the month: #‎FLMFGMonth15 (statewide) #‎MFGDay15 (national).

Manufacturing Day/Month Events Draw Widespread Participation in Florida

Manufacturing Day/Month is once again in the headlines as month long celebrations are in full swing in
Florida and across the nation. 2015 marked the third year for Manufacturing Day to be observed and celebrated. As in previous years, FLATE and its networks of statewide partners that include Regional Manufacturers Associations across the state, Florida TRADE, Manufacturers Association of Florida, school districts and manufacturers across the state led a comprehensive and unified Manufacturing Day strategy that resulted in thousands of middle and high school students participating in the Made in Florida industry tours for manufacturing day. Several counties and cities issued proclamations marking Oct. 1 and 2 as the official kick-off day for Manufacturing Day in Florida, and marking October as Manufacturing Month.

As in previous years, FLATE implemented a statewide strategy to survey all tour participants that
includes students, teachers, industry hosts/manufacturers, FLATE staff, parents and chaperones who were involved in the statewide Manufacturing Day tours. We will tabulate these numbers and statistics from the statewide Made in Florida industry tours and will provide a comprehensive report to all our partners and stakeholders across the state. Stay tuned for these stories that will be published in the upcoming editions of the FLATE Focus.

Aside from the student tours, there were and are many events happening in October across the state to mark manufacturing day and month. In the Tampa bay area which includes, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Polk, Sarasota and Manatee counties, FLATE and its network of partners that include the Bay Area Manufacturers Association, Upper Tampa Bay Manufacturers Association, Sarasota and Manatee Manufacturers Association, Florida TRADE at Pasco-Hernando College, Career Pathways at Polk State College, and the School Districts of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco-Hernando, Polk, Sarasota-Manatee School counties worked cohesively to host various manufacturing day related events and activities.

Outlined below are a list of event hosts/coordinators and list of manufacturing day/month events that took place and/or are scheduled to take place in October in the greater Tampa Bay region.

In addition to the MFG Day/Month events in the greater Tampa bay region, FLATE’s partners across the state took a leading role in hosting similar events for students and their local community members. Outlined below is a snapshot of statewide events for manufacturing day/month that happened across the state. 

Manufacturing Day/Month has kicked off to a promising start. FLATE would like to acknowledge and thank all our statewide partners who have played and continue to exert a pivotal role in making Manufacturing Day/Month a tremendous success. As of October, Florida is once again leading the nation in hosting the number of tours and MFG Day/month events. Ofcourse this would not be possible without the active participation and support from our statewide partners. Stay tuned for an in-depth report on the impact the Made in Florida industry tours made and continue to make on students, educators and industry hosts.

We would love to hear your stories/events that happened in your community on Manufacturing Day/Month. Do send us your thoughts and comments via email (, or sound off at any of our social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) using the hastag of the month #FLMFGMonth15 #MFGDay15. 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 

APT Program at North Florida Community College Helps Students Get Industry Certified

In the previous story we highlighted the success of students at Nature Coast Technical High School. In
this story, we look at students from North Florida Community College (NFCC), and how they fared in earning the Manufacturing Skill Standards Counsel (MSSC) Certified Production Technician (CPT) certification.  Before delving into those specifics, let’s take a brief look at the program itself. The Automation and Production Technology (APT) program is a new program at NFCC that started with its first cohort of students in January 2015 with the receipt of a round three TAACCCT grant. The APT program is broken down into four completion points, with a targeted goal to prepare students to earn their MSSC CPT certification in the 18 weeks that this PSAV program runs. The program is designed to meet industry needs within the college district, and is targeted to provide relevant workforce training that includes industry-recognized credentials. (Source: NFCC Website). Course frameworks for the APT program follow FL DOE’s guidelines and add the opportunity to earn the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) (CPT) certification. NFCC has the commitment of numerous manufacturing industry partners to provide program support including the provision of tours of manufacturing facilities, guest speakers and content lecturers, conducting mock interviews, and providing hiring opportunities to students who successfully complete the course.

“There is a tremendous need going forward for skilled qualified technicians” said Bill Eustace, APT
instructor at NFCC. As an educator and a 40 year employee of the manufacturing trades, Eustace states “it is important to pass on the knowledge gained to students so they are prepared to enter the technical fields.” The first cohort of 17 students started the program in January 2015. Of the 17, ten earned full MSSC CPT which included an assessment in Safety, Quality and Precision Measurement, Production Processes, and Maintenance Awareness. Nine of those that had attained full completion rate also opted for a fifth certification in Green Production and passed that one as well. Remaining four students earned three of the four certifications needed to complete the full CPT, with three withdrawing from the program for various reasons. “It is essential to maintain a core of knowledgeable employees in the technical positions otherwise companies will outsource and jobs will be lost” Eustace said. 

Looking to the future, NFCC is working with Mentor-Connect to write a proposal for an NSF
grant. Mentor-Connect is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) project housed by SC ATE, an NSF ATE Center of Excellence in South Carolina. “These are high skilled, high wage jobs that are in demand and need to be filled” said Associate Dean for Economic Development and Technical Programs, David Dunkle. Through these programs and initiatives Dunkle hopes “to attract more young people to the field of advanced manufacturing, and change the perception that many people hold.”

If the proposal for the grant is approved, NFCC plans to pilot a dual enrollment program in fall of 2015
through a cohesive partnership with Madison County High School and James Madison Preparatory High School. Contingent on grant approval, the initial cohort will include a cross-section of students representing rural, first-generation in college, minority, and female participants. NFCC plans to include twenty students in this group. Using the Madison County students as a pilot group, NFCC will collect evaluative data and assess the project’s success. At the conclusion of the three-year project, NFCC plans to conduct a feasibility study to evaluate the possibility for expanding the project district-wide. “This prospect is especially exciting as we attempt to open more doors and pathways for our high school students” Dunkle said.

For more information about NFCC’s APT program contact William Eustace at and David Dunkle at For information on FLATE’s secondary and post-secondary curriculum visit, and, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

Nature Coast Technical High School Students Take a Leading Step in Getting Industry Certified

Industry certifications offer students and production workers a value added credential to their
educational and professional portfolio. Across the board there is a greater emphasis to connect programs to a nationally-accredited certification that gives students and incumbent employees the opportunity to get industry certified. In Florida, several schools at the secondary and post-secondary level have taken the step to embed industry-recognized certifications into their curriculum framework. The engineering and manufacturing program at Nature Coast Technical High School in Brooksville is one of many schools in Florida that has embedded training/curriculum for students to earn the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician (CPT) certification. The MSSC CPT offers manufacturing production workers the opportunity to demonstrate they have mastered the skills increasingly needed in the high-growth, technical jobs of the 21st century.

The engineering & manufacturing department at Nature Coast Technical High School features the production technology program framework. “While a student can certainly explain their abilities to a potential employer, a certification is evidence that they have achieved adequate knowledge in key areas” says Ed Fry, who is the engineering and manufacturing instructor at Nature Coast Technical High School. The program offers students the opportunity to work toward the Safety and Quality unit certificates in their first level, Manufacturing Processes & Production certificate in their second level, and the Maintenance certificate in their third level.

Fry is a big proponent for his students to get tested and industry certified. The program, which
currently has 71 students (grades 9-12) enrolled, boasts of high student success rate in earning the MSSC CPT. In the 2014-2015 school year, 12 students attained their full CPT certification. Of these students, eleven were graduating seniors and one was a junior.  Additionally, 20 students earned their Safety certificate; 32 students earned the Quality certificate; 12 students earned the Manufacturing Processes & Production certificate, and 10 earned their Maintenance certificate. “I am hopeful that this certification will help them in attaining employment as well as providing them potential college credits (15) toward an Engineering Technology associate degree” Fry said.

The MSSC System awards the Certified Production Technician (CPT) certification to new and incumbent
workers who pass the four manufacturing-related modules: Manufacturing Processes and Production; Quality Assurance; Maintenance Awareness; and Safety. Applicable to all sectors of manufacturing, the MSSC System has the potential to certify millions of production workers against industry-recognized, federally-endorsed standards. FLATE in conjunction with the Florida Department of Education has developed a secondary program curriculum framework that is aligned with the MSSC skills standards. The articulation agreement allows high school students currently enrolled in Career and Technical Education programs in related areas that are aligned with MSSC Skills to have those credits applied to an A.S.E.T Degree anywhere in the state. For information on MSSC and the two year A.S. degree in engineering technology contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at, or visit and For more information on Nature Coast Technical High School’s engineering and manufacturing programs contact Ed Fry at ext 276

sTEm-at-Work Puzzle #49: Wind Turbine Final Quality Assurance Test

A technician working at a small wind turbine manufacturing company is performing the last of many, final quality assurance checks on a system to be shipped. The test requires that the voltage signal and the current signal be checked. When the system is operating correctly, the two signals are not in phase. (The voltage and current do not increase and decrease at the same time.) The technician expects the voltage to go down after the current goes down. That is (for the system being tested) the voltage “lags” the current. The technician uses a two channel oscilloscope to track the voltage and current signals at the same time. This measurement tool has beams (two dots on the screen) that sweep from left to right as they trace the two signals onto the screen at the same time.

In the oscilloscope cartoon below, the turbine's voltage signal is connected to Channel B and its current signal is connected to Channel A. The technician has the wind turbine shipped to the customer. (Yes or No). Submit your answer below this blog post, or at

UTMBA Recognizes Dr. Marilyn Barger/FLATE as the Education Agency of the Year

On October 1 as part of the kick-off to Manufacturing Day/Month celebrations, the Upper Tampa Bay
Manufacturers Association hosted its third, Annual Manufacturers’ Award Dinner to acknowledge the contributions of manufacturers in the region and highlight manufacturing in the greater Tampa Bay area. At the awards ceremony, Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE, was bestowed with the “Education Agency of the Year” award for FLATE’s ongoing work in bringing together educators, manufacturers, government agencies and all interested parties, and highlighting FLATE’s ongoing efforts in coordinating Manufacturing Day/Month activities in Tampa Bay and around the state. Over 160 people attended the Awards Ceremony/Dinner which was held at the Nielsen headquarters in Oldsmar, FL. 

The Upper Tampa Bay Manufacturers Association has been one of the key business ally’s for FLATE in
the Tampa Bay area. UTBMA has worked closely with FLATE on a number of projects, including coordinating and hosting the Made in Florida industry tours for Manufacturing Day in Hillsborough & Pinellas counties. For information on the Upper Tampa Bay Manufacturers Association and its current programs and membership opportunities visit, or contact Jerry Custin, director of BME at

FLATE was also named "Public Partner of the Year" by the Able Trust Florida High School High Tech. More on this honor and award in the next edition of the FLATE Focus. For information on FLATE’s statewide manufacturing-related workforce/professional development programs contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at, or visit and

Get Connected with FLATE’s Social Networking Platforms & Web Conferencing Tools

FLATE’s social networking platforms have been an effective vehicle in communicating with a wide range of stakeholders in Florida and across the nation. Currently FLATE maintains a highly interactive and vibrant presence on various social networking sites that include Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. These social media tools have given the Center an opportunity to provide and share timely news with FLATE’s statewide and national stakeholders.

FLATE is actively engaged with followers and friends alike on Facebook and Twitter, but our most recent foray into the world of social networking has been on LinkedIn. FLATE has two accounts on
LinkedIn. A profile page which works similar to a personal account and a Company page which aligns with communications initiatives of most professional organizations. The LinkedIn Company Page which was formerly the ET Degree Group page was initially designed exclusively for graduates of the engineering technology program, but now is inclusive of faculty, manufacturers/industry, and/or anyone involved in manufacturing and engineering technology education or training. The overarching idea for the Company page is to steer away from one way communication, to create a more inclusive commonplace for our stakeholders to actively interact with each other.

The transition from the group to the company page has not only broadened our reach, but given us an added benefit in gauging demographics of our followers, and providing us with additional insight about the effectiveness of our posts and impact of the content that we share online with our stakeholders and followers. On our LinkedIn company page, we post job opportunities, announcements, share our online newsletter, post manufacturing and/or engineering technology related news, or anything that is projected to help current students, alumni, educators and also our industry stakeholders in Florida and across the nation. We invite all our stakeholders to follow us on LinkedIn company page.

In keeping with current Web 2.0 trends, FLATE also maintains a presence on Facebook. If you haven’t
connected with us already, do like our page You may also have spotted our tweets   and retweets on Twitter where we are actively engaged with a broad base of state and national stakeholders. Twitter has also been an effective vehicle in generating interest in some of our internal communications campaigns like the monthly newsletter hashtags, or statewide campaigns such as the one for #‎FLMFGMonth15 (statewide) ‪#‎MFGDay15 (national). You can follow our Tweets on Twitter @Made_InFlorida.

Aside from FLATE’s social networking platforms, FLATE has also implemented some changes in our web conferencing tools. FLATE now uses Skype for Business for all web conferencing purposes. We hope the switch from Blackboard Collaborate to Skype will offer our stakeholders a better web conferencing experience and enable greater participation from online/remote participants during FLATE meetings.

For more information on our social networking platforms and web conferencing tools contact Janice Mukhia, communications manager at, and Danielly Orozco, curriculum coordinator for FLATE at

Skills USA Manufacturing Competitions

1. Automated Mfg. Technology - (This is a 3-student team) -The contest evaluates teams for employment in
integrated manufacturing technology fields of computer aided drafting/design (CAD), computer aided manufacturing (CAM), and computer numerical controlled machining (CNC). CAD operators construct the part geometry; the CAM operator generates the tool paths; and the CNC operator sets up and machines the part. Plotting is not a scored event; however the contestants must be able to generate a plot file that will be used to send their data to the plotter.

2. Electronics Technology - The contest is divided into five sections: customer service exam, written exam, soldering, breadboarding and troubleshooting. Contestants’ will demonstrate their knowledge of analog and digital circuitry; ability to troubleshoot electronic circuits; ability to construct and test experimental circuits; and, ability to design and select circuit components. All aspects of the competition test contestants’ abilities to use and calibrate electronic equipment, record and organize data, and demonstrate proper safety practices.

3. Robotics and Automation Technology (Two student team) - Challenges two-person teams to demonstrate operation of a five-axis servo-robot along with a set of sensors and motorized devices to resolve a simulated production process problem. Teams set up and demonstrate operation of a robotic workcell from a word problem. Contestants are required to create a flow chart and sequence of operation. Teams are also judged on efficiency, speed and teamwork.

4. Mechatronics requires contestants to understand the new industrial discipline of  “mechatronics,” the ability
to understand complex systems that integrate various elements in the mechanical, fluid power, and controls domain, combined with the ability to work in a team environment with people of different areas of expertise. Mechatronic specialists must therefore have well development skills in pneumatic technology, electrical and electronics systems, mechanical systems and general automation techniques and practices, including systematic troubleshooting methods. This competition consists of three events designed to measure the skills required in the modern automated manufacturing environment. Contestants will be required to assemble, adjust and test an automated machine system, troubleshoot and repair a faulty machine system and take a comprehensive written test. The contest elements have been designed to be as realistic as possible, closely resembling the tasks and activities of modern automation professionals. High school teams of two will compete in a construction phase and a troubleshooting phase. In addition, there will be an individual oral interview. College/postsecondary teams are required to provide their own PLC that will be used in the construction phase.

5. Additive Manufacturing (demonstration) Additive manufacturing embraces a wide range of materials and derivative processes building parts suitable for end-use service. The virtually unlimited design freedom enabled by additive manufacturing allows the creation of shapes and the integration of feature and function that previously required subassemblies. Employment opportunities for creative individuals are growing while industry adopts AM methods. Ready access to workstations and service providers makes the Internet a growing marketplace for public AM gadgets.