Engineering Technology Experience Tours Spark Students’ Interest in Engineering & Manufacturing

This Spring, approximately 100 students and teachers from the School District of Hillsborough
County toured the engineering technology lab at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon. The “Engineering Technology Experience” tours are conducted on a yearly basis by FLATE, and are targeted to give students a first-hand perspective of educational and career pathways in manufacturing and high-tech careers. The tours were conducted in March and April and involved groups of approximately 25 students each.

The two-hour tours were highly informative, in that it showcased applications/integration of
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM-based concepts in everyday high-tech manufacturing operations. Middleton Magnet High School and Buchanan Middle School took the lead in participating in the ET Tour Experience. Twenty five students, 10 of whom were girls, from Middleton High school toured on March 4; fifteen (6 girls; 9 boys) from Buchanan Middle School’s Bio-Engineering Academy participated in the tour on March 10. Forty Greco Middle School students (14 girls; 26 booys) toured the engineering technology lab on March 31, with 13 students Marshall Middle School (3 girls, 10 boys) concluding the Spring round of engineering technology tours.

During the ET Experience tours, students witnessed demonstrations of the robotic arm, 3-D
printer, NAO humanoid robots, and engaged in discussions about manufacturing careers, educational pathways and opportunities that are available to them in Florida. Dr. Alessandro Anzalone, interim Dean of A.S. degree programs at HCC, Brandon, Dr. Nancee Sorenson, president of HCC Brandon provided students an overview of manufacturing careers and related educational pathways they could pursue. Students also watched two videos, Success in the New Economy: a video focusing on skills needed to succeed to the current global marketplace, and another video about the A.S.E.T degree at HCC. Nina Stokes, FLATE project manager also gave students a demo of products that are “Made in Florida,” and are currently part of FLATE’s display case. “Programming our NAO robot was enjoyable, and we learned more about team work” stated one of the students in a post event survey.

Dr. Jorge Monreal, director and instructor of the engineering technology program at HCC
Brandon spoke to students about topics that students did not have a prior understanding of, and provided demos of various high-tech machinery that are part of the ET lab at HCC. These included learning about 3D modeling, additive manufacturing, motors and controls, programmable logic controls, robotic arm, and hydraulics and pneumatics. “It's a great opportunity to explore various fields about manufacturing. It's cooler than I thought it would actually be” said a student from Middleton High School. Another stated that he was “astonished that PLCs control a lot of things.” The School District of Hillsborough County provided transportation for the students to and from HCC. All other costs were covered by a grant from Hillsborough County.

Post tour survey results showed a highly favorable response from all students. Over 92% of
students agreed the engineering technology experience will help them with STEM coursework in school. One hundred percent of the students also stated they would recommend the tour to other students. Nearly 83% of students also stated attending the ET experience helped them learn about engineering technology degree offered at HCC and other colleges across the state. ‘I learned that you can be most successful when you have the skills and education.” Another student from Buchanan Middle School stated that the tour was an eye opening experience, one that gave her a better perspective about courses and degrees offered at local colleges and universities.

For more information about the ET Experience tours contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at and Nina Stokes, FLATE Project Manager at, or visit and

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