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).

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