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