From the Executive Director’s Desk: A Focus on Employability Skills in Manufacturing

This year, FLATE partnered with the Center for Occupational Research and Development
(CORD) on a new curriculum development initiative. Necessary Skills Now: Teaching Employability Skills through Sector-specific Integrated Scenarios, the project is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program and is aimed at improving the employability skills of our nation’s technicians in the manufacturing and cyber security sectors.

Many of us still regularly hear from employers and researchers that there is an ongoing, serious lack of employability skills in today’s technical workforce. The Necessary Skills Now project is working with teams of faculty and employer subject matter experts (SMEs) to develop curriculum that integrates technical content and employability concepts within existing courses in advanced manufacturing and cyber security. The outputs of the project will provide opportunities for faculty to teach employability skills prioritized by industry within existing technical courses by using authentic workplace scenarios as the context for instruction.

The project will create self-contained instructional projects aligned to critical junctures within associate degree programs of study and will address six major categories of employability skills repeatedly mentioned in workforce surveys and research reports:

1) Teamwork

2) Problem Solving

3) Verbal Communication

4) Written Communication

5) Dependability/Work Ethic

6) Planning & Organizing.

Two weeks ago, 12 subject matter experts (six educators and six industry professionals) met with the CORD leadership team at Moraine Valley Community College (IL) to begin designing the proposed projects for advanced manufacturing. I was proud to have many Florida educators and their industry partners participating.

  • Meer Almeer (Eastern Florida SC) with Mike Ennis (Harris Corporation)
  • Lara Sharp (St. Petersburg College) with Mike Brewster (Monin)
  • Roxana Melendez (Palm Beach SC) with Terry Iverson (Iverson & Co)
  • Margi Lee (Florida Gateway College) with Richard Schwien (MVCC)
  • Dan Horine from Virginia Western CC, a close partner of our Florida team also participated with his industry partner, Josh Bittinger (Dynax)
  • Sam Knotts (Wayne CC, NC) with Chris Knotts 

The six advanced manufacturing teams left the workshop energized and ready to work. Having developed their topic areas for their authentic, integrated project at the workshop, the teams are scheduled to complete their modules by the end of 2016. After the expert curriculum development team at CORD reviews, formats and edits the six modules they will be available for pilot testing in the summer and fall of 2017, before broad dissemination.

Earlier in June, FLATE was invited to join the MSSC Advisory Council and to present at the
MSSC Executive Briefing in Atlanta, GA. Over 230 attendees participated in the 1.5 day event to hear and share best practices of implementing MSSC in high schools, community and technical colleges, adult education, workforce and military programs. I presented with Kathie Schmidt, formally from St. Lucie Schools on their early adoption of MSSC in Treasure Coast High School’s advanced manufacturing academy. Tallahassee Community College workforce team also presented to the group on how to work (or not work) with a local prison system to provide MSSC training. The FLATE team was really proud to be part of the large group from Florida engineering Technology Forum community who also attended the event to raise the awareness of credential-based education and enjoyed good and focused networking opportunities.

I now invite you to read the rest of the stories in the July edition of the FLATE Focus. Do write back with your thoughts and comments about our stories, or tweet us @MadeIn_Florida using the Hashtag of the Month #STEMTasticSummer.

Congratulations 2016 FLATE Awardees!

FLATE and the Florida Association for Career and Technical Education (FACTE) are pleased to
announce the recipients of the 2016 FLATE Awards. The Awards represent FLATE’s efforts to recognize leaders who have been at the forefront of manufacturing, workforce education and training. The Awards program has been in effect since 2007, and is one of FLATE’s flagship efforts to showcase and recognize contributions of educators and industry in advancing technician education and training on a regional and statewide level.

The 2016 FLATE Award recipients are:
  • Elizabeth Simpson, Engineering STEM Academy Lead Teacher at Greco Middle School in Tampa will receive the Distinguished Manufacturing Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award 
  • Kevin Finan, Machining Instructor at Atlantic Technical College and Technical High School in Coconut Creek will receive the Distinguished Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award. 
  • Jerry Custin, President, Upper Tampa Bay Manufacturers Association will receive the FLATE Distinguished Partner Manufacturing Service Award 
Prior to the recognition, each Award recipient was interviewed by FLATE. Outlined below is a brief snapshot of the Awardees’ contributions and role in advancing manufacturing education/training in Florida.

Why do you think manufacturing education is important?

Simpson: Manufacturing education is important because it is the driving force in the American economy.

Without knowledge of manufacturing sectors and high skill jobs students will not seek many high paying and rewarding careers they are well suited for. There are multiple trade skill jobs for each job that requires a college degree and those jobs are equally as fulfilling and rewarding in the manufacturing sector.

Manufacturing education is important. As a teacher I try to introduce students to many exciting projects learned that showcases how these processes are directly related to manufacturing. A great example is robotics education. The first type of robot that students learn about in my classroom is an articulated arm hydraulic robot which is programmed using an x,y coordinate plane. This type of technology is exactly like those used in a variety of manufacturing platforms all around the world. Students learn about these real0world robots while exploring their own robot and creating programs. It is very easy to find connections between engineering topics and manufacturing because of the simple fact, without manufacturing nothing in the world would get made, it touches every aspect of our daily lives and should be taught through a course, like the one she teaches, so students learn of the multiple opportunities they have to succeed in life.

Finan: I believe technical education IS NOT vocational training. Manufacturing is a critical
component of this country’s strong economic foundation; thus, a machining classroom/lab should reflect the real work environment through theory and practice-based instruction. Training must connect directly to students’ lives and genuinely engage them to prepare for employment in their career.

My teaching style opens pathways that allow students to accomplish their manufacturing goals. The establishment of a hands-on, real-world component allows my students to understand how manufacturing provides an important, non-exportable service. As a result, a major focus of my program is to develop students’ knowledge and skills that meet industry requirements. Machinists must be accomplished to perform technical tasks. As an instructor I regularly assesses what industry requires for employment and what students need to know to be successful in the field. With the responsibility of being the only program in the county, I am dedicated to my profession and for my students to receive the best instruction possible.
I work closely with the South Florida Manufacturers Association to academically prepare students’ graduation from the District’s first Machining Apprentice program. Apprentices come from different sectors of the manufacturing industry. I ensure the apprentices learn skills that can be translated and applied into many machine types. The best outcome of all my endeavors is that my students/machinists will have higher-paying career opportunities in the future, and that my instructional approach has prepared them to achieve this goal.

Custin: There is a 'gray tsunami' coming in the manufacturing sector with the average age of

skilled workers approaching the mid to late fifties. The manufacturing sector is an important economic driver in the region, state and nation. The recruitment, training, placement and development of a modern manufacturing workforce is a critical element, perhaps the single most critical piece, in maintaining, sustaining and expanding this vital industry sector.

Our students and their parents must be introduced to the challenging and rewarding career opportunities in modern manufacturing at the earliest grades. Basic traits including work ethic, interpersonal relationships and teamwork and the excitement of applying theory to actual production are key elements to triggering the imagination and developing expectations of success. Core cognitive skills including applied mathematics, principles of electronics, basic computer operations and the ability to train other computers to achieve productive results are the major pillars of advanced manufacturing.
The point that modern manufacturing is more driven by brains than brawn, and ingenuity and innovation more than assembly line production is important in adjusting the goals and lesson plans of our educational process. Students must be excited, encouraged and empowered to develop their skills in pursuing their life and career goals. Techniques such as job shadowing, mentoring, on the job work-study, internships, externships (to train the next generation of trainers) and apprenticeships are all important to integrate into the fabric of our educational processes as is academic achievement.

As a Nominee, can you outline some of your contributions to manufacturing and/or engineering technology education and training at local, state and/or national level?
Finan: As an educator I have written and published several articles focused on machining and engineering. These include, among several others, articles in the FLATE Focus newsletter, the Sun Sentinel, a daily publication in Broward County. I have been interviewed by the Florida Department of Transportation, and coordinated several industry tours for my students to include some of the big name manufacturers like MSK Precision, Hoerbiger, Propulsion Technologies International and HEICO.

In 2015, I received the Teacher of the Year Caliber awards. I also played an integral role in several Atlantic Technical College Civic and Community Involvement projects that include: the Apprenticeship Program developed with SFMA; and securing the HAAS Technical Education Centers, Machining Talent Scholarships for ATC students. (

Simpson: At the heart of it all is my classroom, where I am an Engineering Technology teacher who teaches 6th – 8th grade at Greco Middle School. Within those grade levels students learn by doing hands-on, minds-on activities, research projects, and team work. Some of the projects include building earthquake towers, catapults, designing cities of the future, creating CO2 cars, mechanical machines, EV3 Robotics, 3D printing, and underwater robotics.

At the heart of manufacturing education is also participation in Manufacturing Day where students complete a three-day lesson about manufacturing that culminates with a tour of a company in conjunction with national manufacturing day. I have also played a leading role in partnering with FLATE to develop curriculum for Manufacturing Day/Month that is used by educators across Florida. Another important connection is the 8th graders capstone project which involves students developing innovative ideas and through manufacturing, engineering and entrepreneurship brings the idea to life and presents to a group of judges at the end of the school year. At the district level, I have developed curriculum, written course scopes and exams for a variety of middle school and high school Industrial Technology education courses that are taught in Hillsborough County. For many years I have also served as the lead robotics teacher for the FLATE robotics summer camps at HCC teaching EV3 Lego Robotics to middle school students.

Custin: As a leader the local manufacturing community, I have for over ten years been working to identify key issues and challenges faced by small manufacturers and identifying the resources needed to effect change. Over time I have built a relationship base within the regional manufacturing sector as well as the broad array of public sector agencies and organizations that can impact change within the sector. Eventually this culminated in the formation of the Upper Tampa Bay Manufacturers Association as a committee of the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce and its eventual formation as a separate not-for profit corporation which currently serves over 450 subscribers with a monthly newsletter as well as an educational meeting.

Over the years I have built strategic partnerships with regional educational, economic development, and workforce development community. I have also established inroads among local and state elected officials to develop a common vision and goal for regional manufacturing, as well as changing the underlying delivery systems critical to advancing that effort. I serve on various advisory boards including St. Petersburg College, Hillsborough Community College, the Hillsborough Manufacturing Alliance and the American Skills Initiative program. The Upper Tampa Bay Manufacturing Association has also gained statewide recognition and early this year hosted Governor Scott at his request to meet with a handful of his Board of Directors prior to the 2016 Legislative Session. I also helped organize the Pinellas Chambers Business Delegation to lobby for various initiatives including successfully eliminating the sales tax on manufacturing equipment purchases.

FLATE received a record number of nominations this year. Award winners are selected by the FLATE Industrial Advisory Committee members following a review process, and using a standard rubric to guide their selection from the information that nominees submit. Simpson, Finan and Custin were selected from a pool of distinguished nominees who have each made a mark in manufacturing. We recognize the contributions of each of the nominees and would like to congratulate the winners and the nominees for their role in advancing manufacturing education and training in Florida.

For more information about FLATE Awards visit FACTE’S award page.For more information visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

#FLMfgMonth16: Help MAKE FLORIDA #1 Again!

It’s that time of the year when we start focusing our efforts on Manufacturing Day. We invite
each of you to join forces with FLATE to promote and celebrate Manufacturing Day (MFG DAY)/Month 2016! Last year FLATE and its network of statewide partners worked cohesively to coordinate and organize industry tours for hundreds of middle and high school students and teachers. This strategic partnership between FLATE and its partners, enabled students and educators across Florida to visit local manufacturing operations on Manufacturing Day and throughout the entire month of October. It also helped place Florida at the #1 spot in the nation for hosting total number of tours and events for the 4th consecutive year!

FLATE recognizes the hard work and dedication of all its statewide partners. Manufacturers, Manufacturers Associations, school districts, professional organizations, and many individuals contributed to the local and regional events at almost 150 manufacturing facilities in 50 counties to show students, teachers, counselors, and public officials that high-skilled, high-wage jobs are available in Florida. This year we’re hoping to do even better and we need your continued support and participation to make that a reality.

Here are a few of the ways you can participate and be part of this national phenomenon:

  • Host “Made in Florida” student tours and provide student lunch 
  • Survey student attendees (FLATE will provide surveys and summarize all state data)
  • Host an Open House or other open event for the community
  • Get a local and/or regional proclamation for MFG DAY and/or MFG Month
  • Donate to MFG DAY student tours and tee-shirts
  • Schools/Districts can provide transportation, teacher substitutes and chaperones for students
  • Publicize/promote regional events
  • Use manufacturing lesson plans in classrooms

FLATE will help coordinate “Made in Florida” manufacturing tours for students taking place across the state on Friday, October 7th. Although we recommend that a company try to host tours on October 7, any tours taking place during October are considered Manufacturing Day Industry tours. In addition, FLATE will work with regional “MFG DAY teams”, helping to connect schools with companies, supporting media publicity, designing and delivering student tee-shirts and student surveys. We will also assess the impact of tours on students regionally, and statewide.

Student Incentives
Having lunch (e.g., pizza) and tee-shirts for the students gives them an extra incentive to turn
in the necessary school tour paperwork. Lunch provides time for the students to interact directly with manufacturing employees after a tour. The shirts are a tangible and long-time reminder for the students and their families of the significance of manufacturing in Florida. And, it all helps put the “fun” in manufacturing!

Visit our webpage on the “Made in Florida” site for more MFG DAY in FLORIDA information. We will be posting resources, tour hosts, events, proclamations, participating companies and organizations. Please share this information your organizational membership, colleagues and anyone who may be interested. We look forward to working with our statewide partners (existing and new), and thank you for your support as we prepare to celebrate the 5th annual Manufacturing Day and Month this October. Let’s make this year our best ever!!!

For more information on MFG Day and how you can get involved visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at

Focus On FLATE Operations – A Closer View: Good Management Also Means Sustainability

The Florida Sterling Model (the Baldridge Model in Florida) drives FLATE’s Management Plan. The essence of FLATE’s application of the Sterling Model, is the people assigned to execute the Center’s activities as monitored by associated Effectiveness Measures. The Effectiveness Measures establish Center progress with respect to Center objectives and provide the information that supports long-term impact of products and services. This task-targeted, reflective, and successful completion process keeps FLATE personnel efforts on FLATE's mission as established by Center goals. For us, the process simply simmers down to: “Say specifically what you will do, do what you say, and always document what is done along the way".

Monthly Leadership Team meetings combined with weekly staff meetings keep all active

projects and intended objectives at the forefront. Although all FLATE activities are team efforts, one FLATE team member accepts leadership responsibility and that person reports activity progress and impediments at each meeting. Sustainability activities represent a single exception. The Sterling Model expects all personnel to focus on sustainable practices all the time. For FLATE, the irony within the fact that Sterling insists that all organization activities have clear strategies that promote organizational, long-term survival within manageable growth cycles is striking.

FLATE, as a NSF-ATE funded Center, has to sunset.

FLATE has developed its Project Sustainability Status Tool to keeps the Center's focus on this important and (from the Sterling perspective) counterintuitive final outcome (to work very hard to do the best we can so we can go out of business). This Tool is also used by FLATE’s NSF appointed National Visiting Team to assess the Center’s annual progress as reported directly to the NSF-ATE Program Officer. The Project Sustainability Status Tool uses FLATE's Guiding Principles to evaluate the significance of the project and correlates the project with possible entities that are candidates to adopt, or adapt the project into their culture. Projects that have potential in our Curriculum, Professional Development, and Outreach work streams are tracked and monitored and the candidate group, or agency becomes involved as the project matures to completion. The Sustainability Status Tool allows FLATE's Leadership Team to track, act, and report on such projects.

As examples, single rows from the Tool’s Outreach, Profession Development, and Curriculum Tables are presented below. Each row of the Project Sustainability Status Tool highlights an Effectiveness Measures monitored project to be sustained. The specific OUTREACH entry shown is the FLATE Awards Program. This very important recognition effort annually identifies educators, organizations, and manufacturers that provide significant contributions to developing the advanced technical workforce in Florida. The project is very successful and includes recipients receiving a letter of recognition from the Governor of Florida.

The remaining columns in the row indicate the progress of this project to a sustained mode that will not require continuous FLATE support. The last column, “Post-it” is reserved for comments that indicate an ultimate fate of the project. In this specific case, the FLATE Awards, as of this month, have been transferred to a Statewide and State supported organization, FACTE, that will ultimately: collect and evaluate nominations, manage sponsor funding, and present the award. However, FLATE will continue to assist in this transition and maintain its legacy because of its inclusion in the Award Title.

The example PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Sustainability Status Table row also summarizes a successfully completed project. This project is a CTE and STEM related teacher development skills and knowledge effort related to Florida’s semiconductor manufacturing as supported by vacuum technology. The project was initially a partnership with Lucent Technologies. After meeting its Florida delivery target for Lucent, the project was successfully transferred to a partner with a related national audience. 

The CURRICULUM example reflects a current industry credential articulation project as well as an important strand of work for FLATE. The essence of this work is to match the skills within the credential, submit that cross mapping to a rigorous independent outside expert(s) review, and then work with a partner college and the Florida Department of Education (FL DOE) to include the Curriculum Framework defined expectations into the curriculum and then complete the statewide articulation process. 

Currently, FLATE is using its three input table (Curriculum, Professional Development, and Outreach) Sustainability Status Tool to monitor approximately 25 active projects. Each of these FLATE created and nurtured projects is in some stage of transfer to a stable statewide impactful organization, contributing to technician education and training in Florida’s A.S. and CTE programs: building Florida’s 21st Century high-tech workforce.

Stay tuned for more updates in upcoming months!

Educators get one–on-one with Robots & Manufacturers @FLATE Summer Institute

Robots are ubiquitous, and the notion of them as a character in science fiction movies has altogether, but faded to oblivion. Robots are here and now, and have morphed into mainstream everyday life paving the need for STEM educators to be conversant with robots, and also learning strategies to integrate robotics technology as part of their regular STEM curriculum. Given the widespread integration of robotics and the growing need for qualified educators in this field, FLATE recently hosted a Robotics Summer Institute for teachers. The workshop held last month was attended by educators across Florida, with generous travel support/reimbursement for educators sponsored by FACTE through an FDOE Perkins grant. 

“Robotics engages students who are already interested in STEM, but also helps build critical
thinking, problem-solving and team building skills which are beneficial across all industries” stated Bill Eustace, who teaches advanced automation technology program at North Florida Community College and was attending the workshop to get ideas on starting a robotics camp similar to the one hosted by FLATE. “I might be involved in my school’s robotics program so I wanted to learn more” said Greg Stewart an eighth grade engineering teacher at East Lake Middle School Academy in Tarpon Springs, FL. Janice Katz, an elementary school teacher who works at the Davenport School of Arts in Davenport, FL, attended the workshop in an attempt to get ideas on how to start a robotics program at her school as well.

Indeed the workshop met the needs of various educators in different capacities. It gave middle

and high school teachers an up-close, and hands-on training in robotics that featured sessions with a variety of robots including an industry tour of CAMLS, an advanced medical learning and simulation healthcare training center in Tampa. “The tour of CAMLS was very interesting and is the kind of activity that I’d like to engage my students in” said Greg Stewart. The tour also enumerated how robots are affecting changes in healthcare industry and the larger question addressing the need for skilled technicians. “I was fascinated to see robots in action in real life” said Laurie Hamil who teaches Arts & Communications at Rowlett Academy in Bradenton. Hamil, who has attended previous FLATE workshops, stated the tour of CAMLS provided real-life experience on how robots and robotics surgeries are changing the lives of injured servicemen.

Additionally, educators got to watch FLATE’s newest “Women in Manufacturing” video,

currently posted on FLATE's YouTube page. “It was great to see women feeling empowered” said Beth Boland, a 7th grade engineering teacher at East Lake Middle School Academy in Tarpon Springs. For many attendees, men and women alike, the video also keyed into the fact that women are more detail-oriented and better multi-taskers. A characteristic, Boland noted, observed even in the classroom where her female students are methodical, better at planning, and emerge more successful in completing tasks than boys. “I was particularly impressed by the knowledge shared by Elizabeth Simpson who has a great foundation and a good curriculum that I’d like to model” said Boland.

Besides giving a real-world perspective on the use of robotics technology, FLATE also hosted a

luncheon with robots and local manufacturers. During the “luncheon with robots and manufacturers,” attendees got to interact one-on-one with manufacturers and got first-hand accounts from industry professionals looking to find the incumbent workers with some of the same skills set they discussed were important in filling certain positions. “It is still good to know about the real-world connections even though the material is too advanced for my elementary students” said Janice Katz. During the luncheon, educators and industry professionals engaged in a Q&A sessions that highlighted the need for educators and industry to work cohesively to address the current skills gap. “I am so grateful to FLATE because it has given me the expertise and ideas to open up a STEM program at the elementary level that really did not exist in Manatee County” said Laurie Hamil who adds that the things she has learned at the FLATE summer camps have given her ideas and resources that she can take back and integrate as part of her classroom/curriculum. 

Post event survey show high rate of satisfaction from attendees. Approximately 94% stated the workshop was good and/or very good for overall professional development value. The same percentage also stated the workshop provided them information on using robots in the classroom. Over 80% of the attendees also rated "lunch with the manufacturers panel discussion" as good, and/or very good. 

For more information on FLATE Summer Robotics Institute visit and You can also visit the FLATE Wiki where we have posted a number of free resources for educators and students, and/or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at

NSF ATE Centers Convene to Explore Partnership Opportunities with the National Center for Manufacturing Innovation Institutes

Principal Investigators from twelve NSF ATE Centers gathered for a meeting at the American
Association of Engineering Education (ASEE) in New Orleans, LA, in late June to share current, or future partnerships with any of the national institutes. The NSF ATE lead program officer, Dr. Celeste Carter and representatives from ASEE also attended the meeting. After sharing a number of engaged partnership contract agreements, prospective interaction,  the group left the meeting with an assignment to update a developing matrix tool that itemizes the strengths of all the centers that will become a tool for identifying potential partnerships and interactions  The meeting was facilitated and sponsored by the Lift (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow) Institute and ASEE.

FLATE presented its funded exploratory project with the PowerAmerica Institute and will attend
their summer community college workshop this month with two faculty from partnering ATE Centers. In the fall, FLATE and four partner centers will convene with the PowerAmerica workforce and education team to develop a partnership model for professional development.

Want to know more?  Come to HITEC, July 25-29 in Pittsburgh. PA!  There will be an early morning meeting Wednesday, July 27, with representatives from four of the institutes to which all interested centers and project personnel are invited. Later in the day, the conference offers two technical panel sessions on the technology and workforce aspects of the institutes. The four participating institutes are Lift, PowerAmerica, AIM Photonics and NextFlex.

Find out more about the NMIIs on their website:, or contact P.I & Executive Director of FLATE, Dr. Marilyn Barger at

Educating the Educator on Alternative Energy Technologies

FLATE’s Annual Teachers Camp centers on energy production from traditional and renewable sources and technologies. “One of the biggest issues we are facing currently is climate change” pointed Susan Schleith, energy education coordinator for the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) at the University of Central Florida. According to Schleith, alternative energy technologies are going to be critical in securing jobs of the future, and will also help position Florida as a viable and productive economic power, one that does not solely rely on traditional means of energy generation. Schleith echoed one of many FLATE’s objectives in offering energy-themed, educating the educator workshops that address the need for technicians in the energy industry.

The “Alternative Energy-It’s Hot” is in its seventh year of offering. Melissa Pelaez, a physical science and physics teacher at King High School in Tampa, was among the 25 teachers who attended the three-day camp. The camp was full-bodied in providing a 360 degree perspective about energy-related topics and curriculum, professional development opportunities and also free resources that educators could take back to their classroom. Some of the topics discussed included photovoltaic cells, energy efficiency in buildings, hydrogen fuel cells and how these create, according to Schleith, “really good STEM learning opportunities in the classroom” while providing a snapshot of jobs that are available in the energy sector.

During the camp, educators learned about a number of hands-on exercises and

projects that they could use as a “hook” to get students engaged in STEM and energy-related educational/career pathways. Jennifer Rooney, Physical Science and Earth Space teacher for 9-12 grades at Durant High School in Tampa really liked working with the photovoltaic kits, and was excited about the possibility of borrowing the kits to use in her classroom. Renee Olson, ESOL English teacher at Brandon High School stated that the curriculum was rigorous and tied into the common core standards that requires students to develop/use critical thinking skills. Asked how the workshop would be of value to her as a language arts teacher and to her students, Olson stated hand-on projects compels students to communicate with each other in English, thereby increasing and improving their vocabulary which could help ESOL student understand science concepts better and potentially spur interest in STEM subjects as well.

Educators also got to hear first-hand accounts from industry experts. Kathryn Wheeler, the

State Supervisor of Architecture & Construction/Energy, and Career and Technical Education at the Department of Education, provided an overview of energy curriculum frameworks. Sheila McNamara, sustainability program manager at Hillsborough Community College reviewed some of the sustainability initiatives at HCC, and Dr. Alessadro Anzalone, dean of A.S. degree programs at HCC gave educators a tour of HCC’s state-of-the-art engineering technology lab. The camp provided “insight that I can share with my students” as these are the very concepts that are going to help pave the way of the future and our economy, stated Pelaez.

To give a real-world perspective and enhance understanding of some of the concepts they had

learned during the workshop, teachers also toured the TECO Power Plant. During the tour educators learned about energy as a manufactured product, and got to see first-hand energy generation and conservation at work. They also learned how TECO has implemented green technologies and strategies to conserve energy and reduce carbon footprint. Immediately following the TECO plant tour, educators visited the brand new, state-of-the-art Education Center Building at the Manatee Viewing Center, and also toured HCC’s Southshore LEED-certified campus in Ruskin.

Through it all teachers got the opportunity to not only add resources and content to their teaching toolkit, but also expand their own knowledge base on experiential learning, integration of STEM concepts in school curriculum to emphasize the “T & E” side of STEM, and build engaging content for their students. “If we educate students about energy conservation and efficiency they are going to be better consumers too” Schleith said. Post event surveys show over 92% of the teachers stated the presentations, handout and activities during the camp were good and/or very good. Nearly 85% of those surveyed also rated the overall professional development value of the workshop as good and/or very good. 

For more information about FLATE’s energy camp visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at For information on the two year, A.S. degree in Alternative Energy visit, or access free energy related curriculum/resources on the FLATE Wiki.

Answer to sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #53: Process Pressure Disturbance (puzzle #52 extended)

The Puzzle:

The tech tested three different sets of control panel settings with their three corresponding pressure versus time graphs shown below. Option 3 was not the Tech's selection nor did Option (2) provide the best results. At this point, the students should appreciate that the analysis of graphic results is not a quick glance process. Although "tuning" process mechanics is a set of simple steps, the skills involved in recognizing that the new settings are correct require a STEM knowledge base. In this puzzle, an appreciation of oscillating behavior is required. At first glance Option 2 might be considered closer to the abscissa value however, the Option 1 response is still oscillating. With more time it will "settle" closer to the set point value. Now there are pivot points in the lesson. This example presented the response to a proportional control algorithm. The main point is clear: a process will not return to set point after a disturbance. Thus a discussion of PI (Proportional Integral) Control is appropriate. It may also be time to introduce the lag concept. This leads to its impact and perhaps "feed forward" control. The instructional path and supporting math and algorithms selections depends on the current knowledge and skills of the students. 

Question: The technician selected the setting for the graphic (2) response. Yes or No

Answer: NO

All Girls Camp Ignites Girls’ Passion for STEM and Robotics

FLATE has several projects targeted to spark middle and high school students’ interest in
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and showcase how each of these concepts are integrated in everyday, modern manufacturing operations. Included in this effort is FLATE’s special emphasis on recruiting girls in STEM and manufacturing careers. The ‘All Girls’ robotics camps, which kick starts camp season every summer, is one such effort spearheaded by FLATE that parallels a national push to encourage women and girls to be a part of a high-tech workforce.

This year FLATE welcomed 18 middle school girls to the ‘All Girls’ camp, many who shared their individual aspirations to either become either an engineer, a doctor, scientist, astronauts, or even a reporter. At the basic level these are mere aspirations, but on a wider level they represent a microcosm of a diverse high-tech workforce where women/girls are increasingly exerting greater influence in designing innovative technologies and assuming leadership roles in STEM. “I have always found science interesting since pre-K and kindergarten” said Alexis who shares a common passion for robots and STEM in general with fellow campers.

Indeed, FLATE’s robotics camps have served as a catalyst in igniting middle and high school

students’ passion for STEM. “The camp was really fun and challenging” said Shreya Buragadda, who did not know much about robotics and programming prior to attending the camp. Since the inception of the program in 2007, the camps have served as an effective mechanism in creating platform for girls to explore the exciting world of robotics and its connection with STEM.

Using robotics as a platform, the weeklong camp provided several opportunities for campers to test their prowess in solving STEM based challenges. Working in teams of two’s and three’s, campers built a Lego® Mindstorms® EV3 robot, and learned how to program it to maneuver through challenges like Rainbow Dash, Bottle Touch etc. “The obstacle course was the hardest part for me, but it also challenged me to solve problems” said Jordan Fahringer. She stated running into “issues” not only taught her about problem solving skills, but opened her mind “to be an out-of-the-box thinker.”

Campers also got the opportunity to learn about motors and controls, 3D printing, SolidWorks, CAD, and Arduino microprocessors that are ubiquitous in high-tech manufacturing settings.

To get a real-world view of how some of the STEM concepts they learned during the camp

were being applied in manufacturing operations, campers toured the state-of-the-art Publix Dairy plant in Lakeland. “I learned a lot about what’s behind ice cream, and I loved eating the ice cream” said Shrika Senthil. Engineers from the Publix Dairy facility also gave an overview of career pathways that are available to students, and campers got to listen to first-hand accounts of what it takes to be an engineer/STEM professional. The tour served as an eye opening experience for campers for Esmeralda Pilar-Lopez who noted she didn’t know that manufacturing and STEM could be integrated in those settings. It provided a first-hand view of manufacturing operations and “opened my knowledge about new careers that I could consider in manufacturing” Pilar said.

The camp made quite an impression on campers and their parents/guardians alike. Most

campers walked away with new range of skills. “Before coming to this camp I didn’t know anything about manufacturing, but now this has definitely created a lot of interest in manufacturing, programming and robotics for me” said Jache Bell. Campers also learned the value of teamwork and problem solving skills that are a crucial part of being able to work collaboratively in a professional environment. Parents/guardians were equally pleased with the effect the camp had on campers. “Robotics is where the future lies and it is always good to have a knowledge base about this field” said Kumar Buragadda and Senthil Sambandam. “This camp is going to give her the needed boost of confidence as she joins the STEM program” stated Quiana Lewis, mother of Zaniah Dorn. “She comes home so excited and energized. She learned so much overall and had a very very good time” said Paul Quigley, father of Zoe Quigley. 

Based on a post camp survey conducted by FLATE over 94% of campers agreed and/or strongly agreed that the camp them better understand how science, technology, engineering and math is used in industry. The same percentage also agreed/strongly agreed programming the robot helped them see how automated systems are programmed and controlled, and the camp provided opportunities for teamwork and collaboration with others. Nearly 89% of the campers also agreed/strongly agreed that the field trip helped them make the connection between the camp activities and real-world applications. 

Outside of this STEM-ultimate experience, Suncoast Credit Union Foundation and the HCC
Foundation once again partnered with FLATE to offer scholarships to student from low income families. Since 2014, the scholarships have enabled several girls and boys to attend the robotics camps, and empower them with skills needed to join a high-tech workforce. This year the scholarship helped seven girls to attend the All Girls Camp last month, two girls to attend intro camp I, one girl to attend the intermediate camp.

For more information on the camps visit and, or contact Executive Director of FLATE, Dr. Marilyn Barger at, and Janice Mukhia, communications manager at

FLATE's All Girls Camp on WTSP 10News

Manufacturers Mixer Offers an Innovative Approach to Finding Fresh Talent

The writing is on the wall. Manufacturers here in Florida and across the nation are constantly
on the lookout to find skilled workers. Recent headlines are increasing focus on the aging workforce and its overall impact on the manufacturing industry. Given this ongoing quest to recruit and retain fresh talent, Kelly Engineering Resources here in the Tampa Bay region recently came up with an innovative approach to possibly build a crosswalk between potential hires looking for jobs and manufacturers looking to fill new positions. Dubbed the “Kelly Intern Mixer” by Kelly Services, a national workforce and staffing solutions company, the model mimics many “speed dating” shows that infest primetime television of late. Nevertheless, the event provided a new approach to finding fresh talent for local manufacturers here in the Tampa Bay area.

The Intern Mixer was attended by 17 local manufacturers and manufacturing organizations, and attracted approximately 75 students, mainly graduates and soon-to-be graduate students, from the University of South Florida (USF), USF Polytechnic in Lakeland, Hillsborough Community College, Pasco Hernando State College, St. Petersburg College, University of Central Florida, and even engineering students at Middleton High School. FLATE Principal Investigators, Dr. Marilyn Barger and Dr. Richard Gilbert were also present at the event, and got to meet local students face-to-face to provide insight about the A.S. degree in engineering technology, and the educational and career pathways available to them once they graduate from college. “It’s a simple format” said James Shedden, Engineering Products Manager at Kelly Engineering Resources in Tampa. The event is hosted twice a year, in Fall and Spring, and is sponsored by professional engineering organizations and represents a cohesive partnership between Kelly Engineering Resources and organizations like ASME, IEEE and SME.

The lightning round of the event focused on manufacturers meeting one-on-one with a student

to provide an overview of the company and a profile of jobs available to them that matches their skills set. The students in turn got to meet manufacturers/potential employees face-to-face, network with them, and get a first-hand perspective on real-world jobs and skills that employers and manufacturers are looking for once they graduate, or they could focus their attention on while in school. “Sometimes the discussions culminate into a job/internship offer and each year we have two-four job offers” said Shedden, but the overarching idea is for students to network with industry professionals.

Metrics for success were gauged not only by strength in attendance, but also by the “quality time” each student got to spend with each manufacturer. “It’s not a job fair” said Shedden, rather it’s more intimate whereby every manufacturer gets to meet and talk with four students

individually. The biggest takeaway for students was the opportunity to meet industry professionals who have a stake in the engineering community, and want to give a hands-up to engineering students as they seek to pursue/complete their engineering degree. “Our hope is that industry and students alike saw the value of networking…as there are surprising number of engineering students who are still un/underemployed, and getting their first job offer is vital to their success” Shedden said. He also looks forward to building inroads with organizations like FLATE and Hillsborough Community College’s engineering technology program in leveraging the effectiveness of Kelly’s Engineering Future’s Project that matches recent and underemployed engineering graduates with local manufacturers. “Many of our customers are looking to hire someone with hands-on experience” said Shedden. To that effect, he sees a promising opportunity to work with FLATE and the Engineering Program at HCC in hiring ET graduates…a win-win situation for students and prospective employees/manufacturers. 

For more information on Kelly Engineering Resources contact Engineering Products Manager, James Shedden at For a portfolio of FLATE’s industry-education partnership resources refer to the FLATE Partnership Best Practices Guide at, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at