From the Executive Director's Desk: Defining Career Pathways for the 21st Century Workforce

For the past several years, there has been increased emphasis on career pathways by the Federal Department of Labor,
including the Career Pathways Initiative, the Workforce Innovation Fund Grant, the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants programs (TAACCCT), and most recently the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).  The WIOA legislation promotes career pathways as the primary strategies for workforce development design and implementation for most of the agencies they oversee.

How are career pathways defined in this new 21st century environment?  Built on a couple of decades of experience across the country, WIOA defines a career pathway as having these characteristics:
  • Alignment with the skill needs of industries in the economy of the state or regional economy involved 
  • Prepares an individual to be successful in any of the full range of secondary or postsecondary education options, including apprenticeships
  • Includes counseling to support an individual in achieving the individual’s education and career goals
  • Includes, as appropriate, education offered concurrently with the and in the same context as workforce preparation activities and training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster
  • Organizes education, training, and other services to meet the particular needs of an individual in a manner that accelerates the educational and career advancement of the individual to the extent practicable
  • Enables an individual to attain a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent and at least 1 recognized post-secondary credential
  • Helps an individual enter or advance within a specific occupation or occupational cluster
In early March, I was invited to participate in reviewing the draft of an update to the current 2011 version of the Career Pathway Toolkit.  The “Career Pathway Champions” review team was a group of 20 professionals from various agencies around the country who are working closely with career pathways and anxious to learn the impact of WIOA on their work.

The new version of the Toolkit is more comprehensive and will provide guidance and resources for all service provider organizations that participate in any way and/or related activities. The “Champions” team worked in small groups to review the draft Toolkit and provided a number of suggestions for improvement and increased usability for the wide audience that the Toolkit would have. The small working Champion teams also unanimously encouraged alignment of metrics among the various workforce agencies and educational institutions.  The impact of the new career pathway system will be difficult to determine unless some common metrics are defined. This message was made crystal clear to the leadership of the Departments of Labor and Education, who joined the meeting virtually for the last two hour session of the workshop. Implementing this suggestion implies significant challenges in data infrastructures, but offers the hope of simplifying both work required of agencies and processes of the users of the systems. In the long term, data and metric alignment will be able to provide solid and strong evidence of successful implementation.

Stay tuned for the fully downloadable 2015 Career Pathway Toolkit this summer on DOL’s ETA website. The work
is organized under these Six Key Elements of Career Pathways, which are strategies to guide local and regional implementation. Many of you will recognize some of these strategies to:
  • Build cross-agency partnerships and clarify roles
  • Identify industry sectors and engage employers
  • Design education and training programs
  • Identify funding needs and sources
  • Align policies and programs
  • Measure systems change and performance

In developing our Florida Engineering Technology Career Pathway aligned with the A.S. Engineering Technology degree, FLATE and its partners have used all of the strategies listed above. We have built a comprehensive framework that allows someone to enter and exit at a number of places along the pathway to the A.S. degree, and ultimately earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology. There are opportunities to articulate from secondary and post-secondary education as well as workforce training. It’s aligned to industry credentials which also provides for accelerated completion. We look forward to the opportunities that WIOA will offer to increase usage of our ET pathways in Florida to even better support our manufacturers. For more information visit  

…And now I invite you to read the rest of the stories in this edition of the FLATE Focus. Spring is dotted with many webinars so be sure to stock up your professional development toolkit! Manufacturing Day 2015 may appear distant, but it is already in our planning horizon. In keeping with our ongoing efforts to promote this national event, we have several stories one outlining some valuable comments and feedback we received from last year’s event. FLATE and its statewide partners, you will note, have been highly successful in engaging and implementing a statewide strategy that has left a national footprint, and we invite each of you to participate in whatever capacity you can for MFG Day 2015. In this edition we also bring you a story about our partnership with the Florida Energy Systems Consortium and our role in the Smart Grid Technician Education program. Our ongoing outreach effort to educate students about STEM continues, so does our attempt to highlight and remain connected with past FLATE awardees. We also have a new sTEm puzzle that is sure to challenge your. Do post your answers on, or jot it down below the blog post itself. If your schedule permits mark your calendar to attend the  2015 HI-TECH conference in Portland later this summer.

2015 Manufacturing Day Planning Webinar. Join the Movement!

FLATE-the Florida-based, National Science Foundation Regional Center of Excellence in Manufacturing, is
 taking the lead in organizing 2015 Manufacturing Day events. Given the Center’s successful launch of Manufacturing Day strategy for the state of Florida for the past two years, FLATE is sponsoring a webinar for regionally coordinated Manufacturing Day events for 2015. The hour-long webinar hosted by MATEC (Maricopa Advanced Technology Education Center) is geared to share not only FLATE’s experiences, lessons learned and how-to’s, but also to showcase other collaborative efforts around the country including the ‘Tour of Manufacturing in Minnesota,’ which represents another statewide Manufacturing Day effort led by the 360 Center of Excellence in Bemidji, MN.

Registration & Call-In Info

Statewide industry hosts, school districts, regional manufacturers associations, or anyone interested in hosting, participating, or learning about Manufacturing Day and/or statewide efforts are  invited to join FLATE’s general planning session webinar on April 17 from noon to 1 p.m. EST by registering online at:

The goal of the 2105 Manufacturing Day Planning Webinar is to promote participation by explaining the processes of building collaborations and effective partnerships. During the webinar, FLATE and its guests will share best practices for establishing industry-school partnerships, share ideas for seeking support form government agencies to provide increased attention to manufacturers in respective communities, and resources for providing impactful outreach to students. Webinar attendees will also get in-depth perspectives from national Manufacturing Day organizers, leaders and supporters.

FLATE’s ongoing efforts are focused on leveraging the promotion of the national organization and its efforts, and amplify its work nationwide using best practices implemented in Florida, and create a common platform to encourage increased participation in Manufacturing Day 2015. Highlights of discussions will include:
  • An overview of the 2014 Florida and Minnesota processes for national manufacturing day
  • Sharing common experiences and best practices from industry hosts and participants from previous manufacturing day
  • Provide resources that are available for anyone interested in manufacturing day tours.
  • Chart a timeline for 2015 Manufacturing Day events
Manufacturing Day 2015 is targeted to help build in-roads between manufacturers, RMAs, educators and students, and establish a multi-pronged strategy to change perceptions about manufacturing on a
national level, stir interest and engagement in high-tech manufacturing education/careers. Through cohesive partnerships with industry, educators, regional manufacturers associations and the community at large, FLATE hopes to drive a spike in the number of “Made in Florida” industry tours for students and once again position Florida as the national leader in hosting manufacturing day events and industry tours.  FLATE also hopes to inspire others to ’Join the Movement,’ and engage manufacturing stakeholders across the country to celebrate Manufacturing Day.

To register visit For more information on regionally coordinated Manufacturing Day 2015, visit the Made In Florida page at where FLATE will post information as it unfolds on MFG Day 2015. You can also email Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at and Desh Bagley, FLATE outreach manager at 

Student Feedback from Manufacturing Day 2014 Shows Huge Impact

Since 2005, the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence (FLATE) has facilitated close to 400 tours to 234 high-tech, manufacturing facilities throughout Florida, for 
over 10,000 students, and almost 1,000 educators and parents. These tours provide students, teachers and parents with the opportunity to have their eyes opened to the exciting and lucrative world of manufacturing and the many, varied careers the industry offers. One of FLATE’s goals has been to provide students with exposure to real Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) workplaces, primarily those in manufacturing. Students are surveyed after the tours so data can be gathered to discover what the students experienced from their own point of view and to help streamline and improve tours in the future.

Backgrounder on MFG Day
Manufacturing Day 2014 was the second annual year FLATE coordinated statewide events on Manufacturing Day/Month. FLATE worked with partners and collaborators around the state including a number of Manufacturers Associations, Colleges, Workforce Organizations and Florida 
TRADE consortium. It was a fantastic success and did much to place Florida firmly on the national manufacturing map. More than 3,000 students from 39 counties toured 88 facilities across Florida.

The inaugural National Manufacturing Day was held on Oct. 3, 2012, and has continued to grow every year. The event is supported by a group of industry sponsors and co-producers and strives to improve the manufacturing industry’s image problem while at the same giving manufacturers a chance come together and voice concerns associated with training and recruiting future industry employees.

Many still believe that manufacturing consists of crowds of workers counting widgets in dirty, run-down factories for little compensation – a far cry from current reality! As a result many parents and schools do not encourage their kids/students to pursue manufacturing careers, resulting in a complete lack of understanding, awareness and interest among the next generation of workers. All this at a time when the shortage of skilled workers continues to increase rapidly and the need is greater than ever. People don’t realize that careers in the world of modern manufacturing provide opportunities to do life-saving work, put men on Mars, and are high-tech, highly-skilled, rewarding and lucrative.

By giving manufacturers the opportunity to show tour participants first-hand, what the real-life world of modern manufacturing looks like, these widely-held misconceptions about manufacturing can be eliminated in a highly effective way. Students are also exposed to some of the challenging and exciting careers available in the manufacturing industry and manufacturers are able to address the prevalent skilled labor shortage that the industry and their companies are facing.

FLATE’s MFG Day Strategy in Florida & Impact
FLATE has developed and implemented processes for organizing and deploying effective student tours of manufacturing facilities and determining the impact they have on students and educators. Data collected includes anecdotal evidence based on feedback from students, industry hosts, staff, and teachers as well as aggregated survey results from eight years of student tours of manufacturing facilities. Survey data collected from 2014 Manufacturing Day student tour surveys was analyzed and is illustrated in the table below.

Pre & Post Tour Feedback/Analysis
Before going on the tour, 46% of the students had never considered a career in manufacturing, 60% said that the tour made them think about careers in advanced manufacturing and student data indicated that over half (55%) were now considering a career in the field. Eighty-one percent of students reported that they learned about technologies used in today’s advanced manufacturing industries and 74% of students felt that the tour help them understand how STEM subjects they learn in school are put to work in advanced manufacturing industries. These are significant findings and provide strong evidence to reinforce that fact that manufacturing facility tours are an invaluable and significant tool to help dispel misconceptions about what today’s manufacturing industry really looks like, and the exciting, high tech and high wage careers it offers.

In addition, this year’s analysis was conducted with an added emphasis on parsing out “themes” of student feedback to the question: “What did you like most about the tour?” These are shown in the table below along with some examples of comments in the different theme categories.

This student feedback is hugely powerful and details the great depth of impact these tours had on the participants. Students took the time to give detailed feedback about what the tour experience meant to them. Findings overwhelmingly support the importance of exposure to real-world work environments
and real people doing real jobs for the next generation manufacturing workforce. Educators were also significantly impacted and articulated that the tours gave them a deeper insight into today’s manufacturing industry and the careers it has to offer their students, as well as helping them to integrate STEM throughout their curriculum materials. Manufacturers expressed that industry tours provided a highly effective way to aid in educating and/or creating a talent pool for a future workforce. They expressed that the tours as served as a conduit between manufacturers and local educational facilities opening a pathway for partnership which “could lead to future internships and employees”.

Clearly tour experiences are a “win-win-win” for students, educators and manufacturers and are invaluable in contributing to the goal of creating a new and positive image of modern manufacturing – one based in reality rather than widely-held stereotypes. It is hugely gratifying to read students’ feedback relating to how the tour impacted their view of manufacturing, “It was very informative on manufacturing it made me consider a career in manufacturing”, “The factory was clean and looked like others can be a good opportunity to work with a good company”, “I liked how we were actually allowed to walk around and see how a lot of the machines work. I also thought how we were allowed to see how much they actually earn, because in all honesty, people don’t really think they make much and this put a whole new perspective in my eyes”.

Tours should be central components of secondary and post-secondary manufacturing and technical courses and
programs. Educators can easily integrate tour experiences into their classroom curriculum with a little assistance from the industry tour host. Tours can be tailored so that they align well with student learning objectives. They effectively aid educators in the integration of technology and engineering into mainstream and STEM course objectives. They provide students with the opportunity to see real-life examples of what they have learned in the classroom translated into actual practice in a manufacturing facility (Survey data from 2014 Manufacturing Day tours indicated that 74% of students felt that the tour help them understand how STEM subjects they learn in school are put to work in advanced manufacturing industries). Tours can “spark” students’ interest and lead to them considering a future career in the manufacturing industry - student feedback reinforces this: I liked that I got to learn more about manufacturing and machinery. It taught me about new opportunities”, “I would like to apply here when I turn 18”, “The show of the company was very cool and I might want to intern here”.

Planning for this year’s Manufacturing Day is already well underway. FLATE is working hard to grow participation as well as increasing the impact of tour experiences by working closely with teachers pre-tour to make sure they are comfortable using the pre-tour lesson plans and associated activities provided to them. Teachers and parents accompanying students on tours will also be surveyed as these individuals are instrumental in providing accurate and up-to-date information about what the manufacturing industry has to offer their students/children. To extend the scope and deepen the impact of the tour experience, teachers will be encouraged to have a debriefing discussion with their students post-tour, as well as utilizing follow-up lesson plans and activities. Additional efforts will focus on adding new tour locations and increasing student participation through regional organizational partnerships.

As the critical need for a skilled manufacturing workforce increases at an alarming rate, it is essential that educators, parents and manufacturers work together as one, to raise awareness and to promote advanced manufacturing and the wealth of incredible careers it has to offer. Manufacturing industry tours are a proven and highly effective tool for achieving these goals. For more information on MFG Day 2015 visit and .

Stalwarts of Manufacturing: FLATE Awardees Remain Laser Focused on Making a Difference

FLATE awardees serve as a testament to Florida’s high-tech future. Each awardee’s commitment to manufacturing matches their legacy to ensure Florida has an educated and well trained high-tech workforce. In looking back at some past awardees, as we have been these past few months, Art Hoelke stands firm as a stalwart of manufacturing.  Hoelke is the vice president and general manager of Knight’s Armament in Titusville, FL, and was recipient of the 2010 FLATE Industry Distinguished Service Award which recognizes industry leaders for their outstanding contributions to promote technology education and career awareness in support of manufacturing.

Hoelke’s connection with FLATE dates back to the early years. “FLATE has been a leader in manufacturing
education and training, and is a leading resource for manufacturers in the greater Tampa bay area.” While, he considers it an honor to be associated with FLATE, and is inspired by all that the Center has been able to accomplish in the past 10 years, Hoelke’s connection with FLATE is rooted to a common purpose to expand and leverage influence on manufacturing on a state and national level.  

From the outset Hoelke was a prominent voice for affecting positive changes at the industry, education and legislative levels. In the five years since he received the award, Hoelke has accomplished, by his own account “10 times more than what he had back in 2010.” A core part of his leadership strategy has been his tireless efforts to establish strategic crosswalks between education and industry. “I want to make sure there is symmetry between high schools and local industries, and students have the opportunity for advancement in our industry.” His commitment has prompted Hoelke to remain actively engaged in the educational arena forging partnership with Space Coast High School, Brevard County school system and Eastern Florida State College. He also works closely with students from Astronaut and Titusville high schools. Through the TIES program, he has also reached out to local high school teachers inviting them to work at Knight’s  Armament’s engineering department to get an insider’s understanding about manufacturing operations and learn real life skills that they can take back to the classroom.

Hoelke is a mover and shaker in his own right. Working with local business leaders, politicians and educators, Hoelke envisions opening a manufacturing institute in the near future that will be housed at EFSC. "I know the value of hands-on education and training as it gave me the opportunity to learn 
real life skills” reflects Hoelke. He invests considerable time training current and incumbent workers, and leverages his position to offer the same opportunity to local students. In synch with his sustained commitment to education, Hoelke remains laser-focused on making a difference. “Right now manufacturing is a sexy word” notes Hoelke. Everybody, he says is talking about it and understands its importance, but the way to ensure growth, he says is “to invest in an educated and well trained workforce,” and in infrastructure that is critical in supporting/providing a talented pipeline of high skilled workers for manufacturers in Florida.

Hoelke has been a driving force for many Knights Armament initiatives that has fetched top recognition for him and the company. In 2015 Knights Armament was recognized by Women in Defense for its commitment to education. He also serves as a member in the Council of Women in Defense working closely with them on various educational and STEM-related initiatives. Art also played a pivotal role in Knights Armament being nominated, every year, by Space Coast High School and recognized as a valued business partner by the Brevard Chamber of Commerce.  Affecting positive changes and witnessing students transform into successful individuals and transition into lucrative careers is highly fulfilling for Hoelke. On that token, he underlines the importance for all engaged in manufacturing be it at the industry or education level to speak the same language and outline common goals that are not geared to promote individual agendas, but target benefits for the manufacturing community at large. 

To connect with Art Hoelke, or set-up industry tours for students, or other educational partnerships with Knight's Armament contact Hoelke at

In addition to FLATE awardees who remain active in the manufacturing diaspora, we would also like to make note of some who have veered into retirement. Norm Brahs, winner of the 2009 post-secondary educator of the year award and Dave Liner, recipient of the secondary educator of the year
award in 2010, both retired from the school system. Brahs  was the head machining instructor at Atlantic Technical Center in Coconut Creek, FL; while Litner was  the industrial education and technology teacher at Ridge Community High School in Davenport, FL. In retirement, Norm and his wife who love travelling, are making a headway in striking off their bucket list a yearly trip to visit family in Germany, and also enjoying being with kids and grandkids. We wish Norm and Dave many more adventure-filled golden years ahead!

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

sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #46: Valve Selection Documentation

Process technicians have the expected mechatronics skill needed to trouble shoot and repair the equipment in a process stream and knowledge of the operations of process Final Control Elements (FCE). A flow valve is a common and ubiquitous FCE in chemical processes. Often the tech has to select or identify replacement valves based on process specifications.

In this situation the Tech is reviewing that documentation with the knowledge that the actual value in service (in the pipe) is a "Decreasing Sensitivity" valve type. The other two popular valve types are the Increasing Sensitivity valve type and the Linear Response type.  The Tech is checking to see if the value in the process is labeled correctly. The tag on the valve indicates it is Valve 34-a. The technician knows that the valve is supposed to be "Decreasing Sensitivity" type and understands that for "Decreasing Sensitivity valves” the change in flow rate compared to the change in the valve position (stem motion) decreases as the valve becomes closer to being wide open. The tech also knows that Valve 34-b is a Linear Response type.  In addition, the Tech knows how to read the valve performance plots shown in the graph below.

The Tech decided that the valve installed in the flow stream is correctly labeled as Valve 34-a.
YES or NO. Submit your answers below this blog post, or visit

Visit to ET Lab Helps Students Make Real-Life Connections to STEM & Manufacturing

FLATE has a number of outreach initiatives that are designed to spark students’ interest in STEM
and manufacturing. As part of its ongoing effort to reach out to local students, FLATE recently hosted two onsite visits, one for students from Greco Middle School in Tampa; the other for students from the PACE Center for Girls, to tour its engineering technology lab. The initiative is part of FLATE’s engineering technology experience and is one of many ongoing efforts targeted to capture students’ interest in STEM and robotics, showcase their application in high-tech manufacturing settings, and motivate students to pursue high-tech, high-skilled, high-paying careers.

A focal part of FLATE’s engineering technology experience is the emphasis on hands-on, minds-on problem-based learning that is an essential part of today’s workplace. This strategy is not only designed to capture students’ immediate attention, but give them a realistic view of the skills needed in high-tech manufacturing operations. Elizabeth Simpson, who is the teacher of the engineering academy at Greco Middle School, could not agree more. Simpson who accompanied the Greco Middle School team on the tour stated it is important for her students to “connect what they learn in the classroom to the larger world of manufacturing.”

During the tour PACE Center students learned how to use ultrasonic sensors on LEGO Mindstorm NXT kits. They also engaged in discussions that expanded their knowledge about the ways sensors are used in manufacturing to
automate processes. The pre-engineering students from Greco Middle School had a similar enriching experience using a different set of programming software. They learned how to program the humanoid NAO humanoid robot and worked through NAO based challenges. Carlos Fernandez, an 8th grader from Greco Middle School said the most interesting thing about the tour was the “Made in Florida” video that students watched at the start of the lessons. De-Jah Brown, another student from Greco who aspires to be a biomedical technician, stated the most interesting aspect of the tour for her was  learning how to use the sensors.

Students from both schools also learned about the A.S degree in engineering technology offered at HCC and at 15 other state/community colleges across Florida. Students also learned about cuting-edge technologies and STEM based concepts like 3D modeling, additive manufacturing, motors and controls, programmable logic controllers, robotic arm and hydraulics and pneumatics that are integrated in everyday, high-tech manufacturing operations. Through it all, Simpson hopes students will see the various applications of science and technology in manufacturing a product and that this experience will help them learn about diversity of STEM-related careers options that are available to them.

Indeed, the engineering technology experience has been a successful strategy in garnering student interest in STEM and
robotics. Post event survey shows an overall favorable response from students from both schools. Approximately 92% of students agreed FLATE’s ET Experience will help them with STEM-related coursework in school. More than 50% of the students said they would use the resources posted on the Made in Florida website, and 100% percent of the students said they would recommend the ET experience to other students.  

For more information on FLATE’s STEM based projects and outreach initiatives contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at, or visit and For information on upcoming summer robotics camps, or to enroll in one this summer contact Desh Bagley, outreach manager and camp director at

FLATE-FESC Job Task Analysis for the Smart Grid Technician Program

FLATE, as part of a partnership with the Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC), will be coordinating an occupational analysis workshop for the Smart Grid Technician program in Florida. The workshop will be facilitated by the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC) and sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). This is one of many Job Task Analysis (JTA) workshops being held across the country to better inform and guide our educational communities as they attempt to meet the emerging technician-level workforce demands in the area of energy technology.

There is an immediate need to facilitate the development of a trained and skilled workforce capable
of implementing a national clean-energy smart grid and providing for the next generation of skilled technicians, engineers and managers for the electric power industry. As the aging utility workforce moves toward retirement, it is essential to address these future shortages of skilled workers whose jobs are directly related to the national smart grid.

Participants will include 6-12 smart grid content experts from the education and industry realms as well as individuals who have an understanding of how existing courses for secondary students connect to students enrolling in Electrical Power Technology and Engineering Technology programs at the postsecondary level.  The workshop will take place over two days with the goal of gathering input on the real-world tasks and functions of the Smart Grid Technician job. This effort will help inform future educational offerings as well as determining how best to target available resources to develop an education or training program that is based on local industry needs, and that will help educate our local community’s workforce.

To learn more about Smart Grid, visit  For more information, please contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at

Spring STEM Resources from ATE Centers Community

The National Science Foundation through its extensive network of Advanced Technological Education Centers (ATE) serves as a leader in improving technician education and training, vital in sustaining advanced technology industries across the country. ATE Centers work independently and in conjunction with each other to generate momentum in building a strong STEM workforce. This Spring the ATE Centers will be offering a number of resources that focus on improving curriculum, streamlining professional development efforts, and building faculty leadership and research capabilities.

On March 26, the Centers Collaborative for Technical Assistance (CCTA) hosted a free webinar outlining “Effective Approaches for Aligning Curriculum with Business Demand.” The hour long webinar highlighted a number of best practices and strategies to align college workforce programs to industry needs. Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director for FLATE was among the NSF ATE Centers presenting at the webinar, and outlined a number of systematic approaches adopted by FLATE to match curriculum frameworks with local industry needs..

ATE Central, the free online portal dedicated to highlighting the work of the NSF ATE centers and
projects is partnering with MATECNetWorks to host a free webinar on April 14. “Building Partnerships” webinar will outline mechanisms for building strategic partnerships, be it informal collaboration between peers, or more complex partnerships between organizations. For more information on the webinar contact Janet Pinhorn at, or 480.731.8325, or visit

Additionally, the National Institute for Women in Trades, Technology & Science (IWITTS) is hosting the STEM Success for Women: Empower Women Educators to Recruit & Retain more
Women in STEM. This free, online telesummit will be held April 13-16 and will feature prominent women in STEM, leading experts, academic deans, administrators and counselors who will share best practices for increasing the number of female students in STEM career pathways. Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director, Dr. Marie Boyette, associate director and Desh Bagley, outreach manager of FLATE, will be among the speakers representing a featured ATE Partner, and will be joining/sharing their expertise with a distinguished panel of STEM advocates.  For more information on this telesummit contact Donna Milgram at, at 510.749.0200, or visit

FLATE in partnership with MATEC Networks will be hosting two additional webinars later this spring. Manufacturing Day Planning webinar will be held April 17, and is geared to discuss, 
plan and share ideas with state and national stakeholders manufacturing associations for coordinating and hosting student tours for the 2015 National Manufacturing Day on Oct. 2, 2015. More information on the webinar is discussed in greater detail in this edition of the Focus. The overarching goal is to promote and boost participation in National Manufacturing Day by explaining the process of building collaborations and partnerships. Everyone including industry hosts, school districts, regional and professional organizations, or any interested partners are welcome to join the hour long webinar on April 17.

Log on to and for additional details. You can also contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at and Desh Bagley, FLATE outreach manager at, for more information

In keeping with FLATE’s ongoing efforts to boost women and girls engagement in STEM, FLATE is
also hosting the Recruiting Girls in STEM webinar. The webinar will be held May 27 and looks at unique perspective  and successful strategies employed by STEM educators at the elementary, middle and high school level, to recruit girls in STEM education and careers. For more information, or register visit and, or contact Dr. Marie Boyette, associate director of FLATE at

In addition to the extensive line-up of free webinars, the NSF-funded, Mentor-Connect project has compiled a comprehensive collection of online grant writing resources. This new, Mentor-Connect Library contains more than 200 sample documents, templates, FAQ’s, policies and procedures to assist in the process of writing an NSF ATE grant proposal. This collection provides tools for successful grant writing in accordance with ATE programs, and represents a cohesive partnership between Mentor-Connect, Internet Scout Research Group and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. For more information contact Charlotte Forrest at 

News & Updates on Regional Robotics Competition

Last month we brought you a story about local/regional robotics competitions and team wins. We have a couple more updates about the teams and new wins that bare mention in this edition.

The robotics team, the Vibots, at McLane Middle School in Tampa did an excellent job this season at the VEX

robotics competitions. According to Michael Wilson, VEX team coach, McLane hosted the largest VEX robotics state championship qualifying event in Tampa Bay. Over 42 teams from Florida competed in two divisions for a chance to earn a spot at the state championship. The McLane Vibots battled against some of the top high school teams in Florida and won both the tournament championships as well as the excellence awards. Two teams from McLane qualified for the VEX state championship with one team advancing to the semifinals. The Vex teams also competed at the Technology Student Association (TSA) state conference and qualified for the TSA National Conference that will be held in Texas later this summer, and will also be competing at the Energy Whiz Olympics at the Florida Solar Energy Center in May. Wilson states that school has planned a number of STEM activities and “looks forward to partnering with FLATE” on some of these projects. For more information email Michael Wilson at
Another team that scored big at the VEX competition was the Trinity Dragons from Trinity Homeschool Academy. The high school students, comprising of two teams, from Trinity participated at the world championship last year, and
will be competing again this month in Louisville, KY. “These students strive for excellence and are genuinely excited in furthering their robotics education” said Tonya Walters, principal of Trinity Homeschool Academy.
Given their commitment, the team has garnered several wins this past year which include among many others the State Programming Skills Award, State Spirit Award, Central Florida Skyrise Tournament Champions & Create Award, VEX VRC State Qualifier Excellence and Robot Skills Award at Lakewood Ranch, and the Greater Tampa VEX League Tournament Champion and Excellence Award. The two teams also tied first and third place for the robot skills state competitions, received a special commendation from Commissioner Al Higginbotham, and were featured on the local CBS news. You can read the news story at You can also visit the school website at, or contact Tonya Walters at

The FRC 1369 Minotaur Team at Middleton High School was awarded an at-large bid to the World
Championship in St. Louis. "This is the first time in eight years that FRC has attended the World Championship” said Rich Berglund, robotics coach at Middleton High School. Bergland states, because of everyone’s diligent work this season, Middleton has decided to accept the bid and compete at the Championship in St. Louis from April 21-26. For more information contact Rich Bergland, head coach of the FRC 1369 Minotaur Robotics team at

FLATE Sessions at HI-TEC 2015

Expand your network, acquire new high technology skills, and gain knowledge of industry trends and best practices!

Join Technological Education and National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) leaders and educators July 27-30 in Portland, OR for the High Impact Technology Exchange Conference (HI-TEC).  This premier event is a unique conference opportunity sponsored and produced by NSF ATE centers and projects.

HI-TEC, a national conference on advanced technological education, draws an audience of hundreds of secondary and post-secondary educators, counselors, industry professionals, trade organizations, and technicians. Charged with Educating America’s Technical Workforce, the event focuses on the preparation needed by the existing and future workforce for companies in the high-tech sectors that drive our nation’s economy. 

Innovators and leaders in the technology field; Michele Weslander Qauid, Chief Technology Officer for the Public Sector at Google and Param Jaggi, Founder and CEO of Ecoviate will be featured as keynote speakers.

Attendees have the option to choose from approximately 15 preconference workshops and 4 industry site tours during the first 2 days, followed by the 2-day main conference featuring keynote speakers and 60 breakout sessions. There will also be an awards luncheon and Technology Showcase with an exhibitor reception, door prizes, and more! For more information visit

FLATE Sessions at HI-TEC 2015

Additionally, FLATE will be presiding a number of sessions at HI-TEC 2015. To sign up, or for more information on these sessions email Dr. Marilyn Barger at 

Tues (Jul 27) 1:00-4:00pm
½ day Workshop: Roadmap to Mechatronics: Programming with PLCs (Tues Jul 28) 
This workshop focuses on the important integrating aspect of communications in mechatronics systems. Three hands-on activities will fill most of the workshop with basic PLC programming exercises developed to demonstrate the applicability of small, affordable trainers to larger trainers and industrial systems. Ultimately, small trainers can expand delivery options of PLC courses. Currently, remote students must settle for working with online or computer-based simulations or occasional travel to a college lab for hands-on experiences. The session will close with facilitated discussions of ways to integrate this equipment into mechatronics programs and opportunities for outreach and professional development.   

(Tues Jul 28) 6:00-8:00 pm
Mechatronics Moments III
Join us for the 3rd annual Mechatronics Moment.  MMIII will bring together like-minded attendees who have a casual interest in or deep passion for mechatronics. Sign up to tell your mechatronics story in a fast paced, fun evening networking with colleagues from around the country.  Registration online required.  Refreshments will be served.

Wed (Jul 28) 10:15-11:00am
Emerging Trends in Mechatronics Education
Mechatronics is an emerging advanced technology that supports a broad array of industry sectors including energy, manufacturing, supply chain, transportation, and municipal utilities. To keep up with technology and workforce needs, traditional mechanical and electromechanical programs have had to evolve, adding a new communication layer to the already complex systems that we might call “smart machines.” A panel of educators and industry representatives will discuss emerging trends in mechatronics education. Topics will include: industry certifications, industry needs, online learning, and remote equipment access.
Marilyn Barger, FLATE, Tampa, FL; Alex Anzalone, Hillsborough Community College, Tampa, FL; David Ewel, South Central Community College, North Mankato, MN; Ernie Friend, Florida State College, Jacksonville, FL; Stephen Girard, PMMI, Elgin, IL;
Dan Horine, Virginia Western Community College, Roanoke, VA

Wed (Jul 28) 11:15am-Noon 
Tools, Resources, and Strategies to Make Your Projects Shine
Ready to take your project to the next level? Or are you considering applying for an ATE grant? In this interactive session, panelists from ATE projects and centers that offer resources and support to faculty and project managers will lead roundtable discussions and share resources and tools for managing and disseminating successful projects. Participants will select three roundtables to join to learn about newsletters, summer camps, publications, teaching, Twitter, Facebook, videos, webinars, Outreach and Social Media Kits, and lots more! You will develop a plan for taking your project from blah to bodacious!
Marilyn Barger, FLATE, Tampa, FL; Rachael Bower, ATE Central, Madison, WI; Anna Kolliopoulos, SC ATE Center of Excellence and Mentor-Connect: Leadership Development and Outreach for ATE; Mike Lesiecki, MATEC Networks, Phoenix, AZ; Anthony Manupelli, Pellet Productions, Reading, MA

Thur  (Jul 29) 9:15am-10:00am  
The New National Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation and Their Role in Current and Future Technician Education
The first set of National Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation represents the beginning of a $1 billion initiative by federal and state governments and industry to advance the commercial deployment of new manufacturing technologies to improve our economy and its global competitiveness. Workforce development, including the leveraging of the ATE and TAACCCT programs, is a specific goal of these Institutes. Representatives from a number of these Institutes will convene to discuss the work of the Institutes and provide a vision for how their resources can help educate the next generation of high-technology technicians. 
Moderators: Thomas Deits, Institute for Advanced Composite Manufacturing Innovation, Okemos, MI; Marilyn Barger, FLATE, Tampa, FL; Panelists:  Dean Bartles, Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, Chicago, IL;  John Muth, America Innovation Institute, Raleigh, NC