From the Executive Director's Desk: ATE PI Conference Alludes to Emerging Technologies as Agents of Change

FLATE is part of a national network of National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Centers of Excellence in Advanced
Technological Education (ATE). Last month in October, in Washington DC, over 800 educators and administrators of two year technician education programs participated in the NSF annual ATE Conference. The NSF ATE PI meeting is an annual event. FLATE was one of nine Centers that participated in a conference session focused on emerging technologies. The nine, six-minute presentations provided a “what’s coming next” preview of new technologies that mesmerized the audience. These near future technologies cover everything from manned space exploration and commerce, 5G communication speeds, smart sensors, “IoT” (Internet of Things), trends in nuclear power industry, integrated photonics, virtual and augmented reality and more. For what’s new in manufacturing, FLATE focused the audience on the implication of new technologies for manufacturing enterprises. From manufacturing’s perspective there are two important points to emphasize.
  • First, if new technologies are to make an impact, manufacturers have to ultimately make these new technologies to support their adoption in high volume production, or create the actual technology-driven product to meet an expected commercial, or consumer demand.
  • Second, manufacturers have to innovate and design how, and then adapt to where new technologies can improve their existing highly automated and high speed manufacturing facilities. Integration of new technologies must eventually meet the top line goal of bigger profit margins, so they must make products even faster (more quantity) and better (higher quality) to remove rework and/or recall situations.
To emphasize these points, I offered two examples that are related to FLATE manufacturing partners in Florida. These companies, Qorvo and Tampa Armature Works, provided products that support consumer products as well as manufacturing processes. These companies also need each other’s technologies to improve their production.

Qorvo was selected because it has manufacturing facilities in Florida and other states, is a member of the

ManufacturingUSA Institute, PowerAmeria, as well as an employer of University of South Florida engineering graduates (USF’s Engineering College is FLATE’s engineering college partner). The company is also dealing with the technician skills gap issue. Thus, FLATE is involved in all phases of technical education for this product sector. Tampa Armature Works was included for two reasons. It is a nationally known Florida-based company that has electric motor product options that are of interest to a national customer base. It represents a company that will use new technology to produce process final control elements (products) that directly impact manufacturing processes.   

Qorvo is an industry leader in the design and development of high performance RF solutions and products that support the operation of current and next-generation mobile devices. Their partnership with PowerAmerica (Watch the PowerAmerican YouTube Video) involves developing and implementing the best technology to safely provide more power in smaller circuit packages for communication, “IoT,” and other commercial and industrial applications. The coming global 5G network will require faster, more efficient, and  low power management circuits not just for “smart” consumer applications like cable TV, mobile devices, smart homes, but also for important military and defense applications, satellites and space explorations, automotive, optical networks and more.  All of these applications require devices with state-of-the-art wide band gap technologies that can be manufactured to meet specific customer expectations.  You can find out more on the Qorvo, and PowerAmerica websites.

Tampa Armature Works (TAW) is a commercial motor producer that will take full advantage of new technology interface
circuits. TAW is looking at the new and emerging device developments for smarter interactions with motors (also known as final control elements responsible for mechanical energy insertion into a manufacturing process).  Implementation of more direct drive motors provides significantly more variable power options to the process without requiring a gearbox. These motors are more efficient and eliminate friction from belts, chains and mechanical connections. (Fewer moving parts mean lower maintenance and less vibration, and therefore, less down time and fewer required noise abatement subsystems). As TAW uses Qorvo’s  newer, faster, higher band-width devices to add communication and intelligence to its direct drive and stepper motors  (pick and place applications), more manufacturing processes will take advantage of  higher torque at low rpms; lower inertia which translate to faster response to sensors; and no process hysteresis motor control systems.  All these reasons lead to the thing about tomorrow’s technologies (smaller, faster, quieter, cooler, longer-life equipment for automated processes) that is really exciting for today’s manufacturer.

As for your near future exciting interaction with technology, please take the time to direct and deliver the appropriate amount of energy required to engage the “click” final control element of your choice that selects each of the other interesting items in this issue of FLATE Focus. As always send in your thoughts/comments at You can also jot down your thoughts on our social networking platforms on Facebook, LinkedIn and on Twitter @Made_InFlorida #FLMFGMonth16

Made in Florida Industry Tours for MFG Month Inspires Next Generation of Engineers

Manufacturing Day/Month was celebrated and observed on a wide scale basis across Florida as manufacturers across the state once
again braced for one of the biggest events of the year that defines the strength of American Manufacturing. FLATE, the Florida-based National Science Foundation Regional Center of Excellence, together with its network of statewide industry partners, FloridaMakes, and Hillsborough Manufacturing Alliance worked cohesively to coordinate industry tours and events across the state. RMA’s that partnered with FLATE included Bay Area Manufacturers Association, Upper Tampa Bay Manufacturers Association, Manufacturers Association of Central Florida, Mid-Florida Regional Manufacturers Association, Sarasota Manatee Manufacturers Association, and Southwest Regional Manufacturers Association. Other organizations that partnered and took an active role in organizing MFG Day/Month events included: Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council, Florida TRADE at Pasco Hernando College, AMSkills, Career Pathways at Polk State College, Atlantic Technical Center, Hoerbiger Corporation, and Goodwill Industries. Additionally school districts across Florida that worked closely with FLATE and its network of industry partners to coordinate tours and arrange transportation for students, chaperones and educators to and from industry sites. These included School District of Hillsborough County, Pinellas School District, Orange County Public Schools, Brevard County Schools, Lake County Schools, Osceola County Schools, Marion Schools, Sarasota County Schools & Career and Technical Education, Manatee County Schools, and Lee Schools.

FLATE’s commitment and rationale behind MFG Day/Month initiative is crystallized in a broader perspective. In that it involves an
inclusive strategy to build, support and empower each of its stakeholders to champion causes that are geared to sustain a long-term commitment to MFG Day initiative, position manufacturing industry as a vital part of the economic engine, and attract the next generation of high-tech workers to consider manufacturing as viable and lucrative career pathway. This year MFG Day in Florida was eclipsed to a certain extent by the effect of hurricane Matthew which hurled through the state at the kick off of MFG Day/Month. Then too, there was widespread participation and interest from school districts and industry partners alike to participate in MFG Day with a number of industry tours and events taking place in Florida throughout October, into November, December, and some even scheduled for January 2017. In looking at the preliminary numbers from statewide industry tours, as of October 2016 over 4700 middle and high school students, 55 parents/chaperones and teachers across Florida participated in approximately 160 Made in Florida industry tours to 115 high-tech industries. Counties and cities across Florida issued proclamations acknowledging October 7 as the official kick off to MFG Day and October as MFG Month.

A cornerstone of FLATE’s MFG Day initiative lies in its strategy to survey ALL industry tour participants to include students,
teachers/chaperones and industry hosts. The surveys serve as a yardstick for measuring the impact and effect of the industry tours, and gauging opportunities for improvement for next MFG Day. Of the 451 student surveys received so far, there was a  77.5% increase in consideration of careers in advanced manufacturing. Nearly 97.6% of the students who responded stated the tour helped them understand how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is put to work in advanced manufacturing industries. Approximately 94.5% of those surveyed also stated they would recommend that other students have the opportunity to go on a similar tour. Nearly 96% also agreed the tour gave them new information about careers in advanced manufacturing. In looking at gender-based demographics, 59% of the students were girls compared to 40% boys. 

In addition to the student surveys, industry hosts also regarded the tours as a valuable investment of their time and
resources. Of the industry tour host surveys received so far, 100% stated the tour was a good use of company time and resources. “It was an opportunity for us to share what our company is about and to show the kids that manufacturing is and can be a great career choice” stated one of the respondents to the survey. Another industry tour host also stated that the tour was a “nice way to show future generations the type of equipment that many manufacturers use for quality control. Most of the students didn't know anything about the equipment and were excited to see it in action.

FLATE also surveyed educators/chaperones and parents to gauge their response to the tours and the curriculum. Of the surveys
received by FLATE from educators/chaperone, 100% of the respondents stated they would recommend other students have the opportunity to participate in a Made in Florida industry tour. Nearly 95% of educators and parents stated they found the tour helpful in understanding Florida high-tech jobs and career opportunities. As in previous years, FLATE also designed and distributed MFG Day T-shirts to statewide stakeholders participating in an industry tour, and designed a MFG Day poster and curriculum that educators could use as part their everyday curriculum. FLATE will compile additional/remaining surveys and tabulate results and report on the impact of remaining tours in subsequent editions of the FLATE Focus. 

MFG Day also stirred media attention across the state. This year FLATE worked closely with the Manufacturing Alliance of Hillsborough County and FloridaMakes on several pres-related initiatives that created quite a buzz. You can read the news stories in the side bar of this edition of the FLATE Focus. The curtain may be drawn on MFG Day in rest of the country, but here in the sunshine state there are still MFG Day/Month industry tours scheduled November through January 2017. Stay tuned for updates about these tours across FLATE's social networking platforms, or tweet us @Made_InFlorida #FLMFGMonth16.  

For now FLATE would like to thank ALL its statewide partners and its staff for their part in making MFG Day/Month a success in Florida. For more information on FLATE’s statewide strategy for manufacturing day/month visit You can also contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at, or at 813.259.6578. 

Engineering Technology Grads from Florida Offer Insights on the NSF ATE PI Conference

The National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program is geared to
improve the education and training of technicians who work in high-technology fields that drive the nation’s economy. ATE grants support a variety of programs that strengthen STEM education and promotes two-year technician programs at the undergraduate and secondary school level. There are currently 42 ATE Centers across the nation that support a variety of activities that include developing and testing innovative materials, courses, curricula, teaching methods, and/or analyzing workforce/educational needs in different technical fields, and designing programs and pathways to match current industry needs. This diverse community of NSF-funded ATE Centers convenes every year in Washington DC for the NSF ATE PI Conference. The Conference serves as a hotspot for ATE Centers from across the nation to share ideas and best practices, and features sessions, workshops and keynote addresses and best practices for advanced technological education.

Every year FLATE sponsors current and/or past graduate students from the consortium of state and
community colleges offering the A.S degree in Engineering Technology to attend the NSF ATE PI Conference. This year Ryan Alexander Horton and Alejandro Rojas, both engineering technology graduates from Hillsborough Community College, were selected to attend the Conference in Washington D.C. “My reason for going to DC was to learn about what ATE does and how they help community colleges” said Alejandro Rojas who is currently pursuing an A.S degree in Engineering Technology and working at Adams Air & Hydraulics, Inc. in Tampa. “Being invited to the ATE Conference in Washington, D.C. was one of the greatest opportunities I’ve been able to receive throughout my life” said Ryan Horton who is currently pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Central Florida.

The three day conference provided diverse opportunities for both students. “One of the best aspects was
networking with numerous company representatives and leaders, and being able to hear what they look for in prospective employees and introspectively making sure I can live up to those standards” said Ryan. Their foray into the Conference began with an informal ‘meet and greet,’ and an exploration of Washington DC. At the Student Alumni Breakfast both Alejandro and Ryan along with other students from across the nation were formally, recognized by Dr. Celeste Carter and David Campbell from the National Science Foundation, for their achievements in the ATE recognized programs. Alejandro and Ryan also participated in the ‘Industry Speed Networking’ session for ATE students. The session was designed to facilitate introductions with business/industry representatives and student participants, and provided students an opportunity to meet business professionals from a variety of background and companies.

Alejandro and Ryan’s student showcase session featured NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium
Engineering Challenge 2016 projects in robotics, rocketry, and weather balloon research, and also engineering technologies laboratory projects in electromechanical, hydraulics and pneumatics, robotics, CAD, motors and controls, programmable logic controller (PLC), and automated process control. “My experience was amazing” said Alejandro, as he learned and drew comparisons from various projects that other schools had worked on. What caught Alejandro’s interest was an app being developed to build proteins/elements for future class courses, and also drones and how they are being used to map and follow people, or objects for better information and tracking.

To round off their educationally and professionally stimulating experience, the American Association for Community Colleges (AACC) offered a complimentary tour, to ATE students and alumni, of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, the White House, Washington Monument, U.S. Capitol amongst other important landmarks around Washington, DC. “Alejandro & Ryan did a great job promoting HCC ET program and engineering club showing a variety of projects and hands-on application related to the ET program” said Danielly Orozco, Associate Director for FLATE, who took a leading role in organizing the trip for the students.

Florida was well represented at the Conference. FLATE had a booth at the Conference showcasing
some of its award-winning innovative curriculum, outreach and professional development programs to support Florida’s manufacturing educational and workforce needs. The showcase session also provided a platform for FLATE to share its expertise and knowledge in developing a manufacturing education Community of Practice including education, government and industry partners. “Seeing all the students driving themselves forward in the numerous fields of STEM gives me pride in knowing that these are the individuals I will be working with in the future to solve the issues our nation and world face in the upcoming years” said Ryan. Alejandro’s biggest takeaway was a personal insight about the need to update and improve skills in a dynamic, technologically evolving environment.

Other Community/State Colleges from Florida that were present at the Conference included Lake Sumter
State College which had a student booth showcasing general electrical generation, transmission and distribution process of electricity as it is supplied on a daily basis, protective relay used in substation for transmission of electrical power and functions. Valencia College and Palm Beach State College also had a student booth displaying different STEM projects. Florida State University’s showcase session featured assessment of information technology educational pathways that promote deployment and use of rural broadband. Student display from Seminole State College’s EMERGE program included their work in establishing effective means to renewable/green energy. One of FLATE’s strategic partners, the USF-PathTech LIFE project based at the University of South Florida also had a booth showcasing its work with the National Survey of Engineering Technology students and its collaboration with FLATE in distributing a student survey to six partner ATE centers.

Other Florida-based showcase sessions included one from Indian River State College’s RCNET program, University of Central Florida’s OP-TEC program, the National Center for Optics and Photonics Education program, SpaceTEC, the National Resource Center for Aerospace Technical Education at Eastern Florida State College, and Daytona State College’s Advanced Cyberforensics Education Consortium. For more information about the NSF ATE projects and centers visit For information on FLATE and other NSF ATE Centers, projects and activities contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at, or visit  

Focus On FLATE Operations – A Closer View: Our Organizational Profile

This series on FLATE Operations began in July and continues this month with a review of an Organizational Profile. FLATE's
Organizational Profile is an implicit element of our Real-time Evaluation Protocol (REP) Implementation Evaluation (September FLATE Focus) element.  Our profile describes FLATE's internal working environment. It also defines the external environment in terms of partners, customers, and stakeholders, as well as the relationships with them. Profile documentation describes organizational strategic challenges and advantages and key factors to achieve success. 

FLATE's Organizational Profile has a table structure to facilitate the groupings of the focus questions and their corresponding responses in two categories: P.1 Organizational Description, P2 Organizational Situation. The first category, P.1, projects a clear indication of its question and answer content. This section describes FLATE’s key organizational characteristic.  However, the second, P.2 Organizational Situations, category's meaning may not be as obvious. This section’s focus is the organization’s strategic situation.

Section P.1 question responses drive FLATE to a self-awareness level that is founded on a declaration of its reason for existence and the assessment of resources it actually has. This includes the recognition of any constraints it has to live with. Section questions are grouped as Organizational Environment and Organizational Relationships. The former group deals with FLATE:
  • product and service offerings
  • Mission, Vision and Values
  • assets
  • regulatory requirements
  • workforce profile
While the latter group, Organizational Relationships, draws FLATE’s attention to the “outside world” with questions that address:
  • organizational structure
  • customers and stakeholders
  • suppliers and partners
Questions within these topics are detailed and designed to sharpen FLATE self-awareness. For example, the last category, Workforce, in Organization Environment, includes probing questions that help FLATE comprehend its workforce composition and skillset needs. Questions also deal with workforce education requirements and skill expectations for members of declared workgroups. Subsystems, drivers that engage the workforce groups to achieve organization objectives that lead to goal successes that support FLATE’s mission are identified.

As declared above, Section P.2 is all about FLATE’s strategic situation. Questions in this part of the Organizational Profile Table (OPT) deal with FLATE’s competitive position, changes, and data. This track is the convolution of all FLATE personals’ awareness of what we are supposed to do with the expectation that organization performance improvement will help us do the best we can. Section P.2 also deals with FLATE’s key strategic content, challenges and advantages.  Additional questions deal with business and professional ethics as well as societal responsibilities. An important component of P.2 includes the characterization of FLATE Performance Improvement System. These OPT entries include the processes in place for evaluation and subsequent improvement of organization projects and processes.

Readers are invited to explore FLATE’s OPT. The table certainly belongs in the “living document” category. It is reviewed periodically as an organizational activity by all members of the FLATE team.  The intent is to capture FLATE’s essence as we grow and change.         

FLATE PI Receives Frank Reidy Award for Outstanding Achievements in Bioelectrics

A BIG Kudos & Congratulations to Richard Gilbert, FLATE Principal Investigator, who recently received the Frank Reidy Award 
for Outstanding Achievements in Bioelectrics. The Award was presented to Dr. Gilbert at the 2016 Bioelectrics International Conference held in Rostock Germany in September. Bioelectrics is a STEM supported discipline that develops the use of short duration, micro-to-nano second, electric fields for human and agriculture applications. Dr. Gilbert's award was in recognition of his work in developing cancer treatment protocols that have recently completed FDA approved Phase II Clinical Trials.

Dr. Gilbert, who is a professor at the University of South Florida for over 36 years, teaches chemical and biomedical engineering. His research areas include: Material Science, Biomedical Systems, Electrochemotherapy, Electrogenetherapy, Instrumentation, Engineering Education, Drug Delivery. He is also the “Mind” behind the sTEm-at-Work puzzles that has quite a following in the FLATE Focus. To get in touch with Dr. Gilbert email him at

Answer to sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #55: Signal Analysis for a Capacitance Manometer

The Puzzle

The  measurement is dependent on the change of capacitance because the pressure in the chamber has changed the distance between capacitor plates of the sensor.  The capacitor sensor shifts the current signal out of phase with the voltage signal so that the current leads the voltage.  The puzzle provides an opportunity to discuss phase shift from a visual perspective.  It also allows a discussion of the leading vs lagging options.   Students don't easily appreciate these out of phase concepts so explaining the diagram will be valuable.  Setting the visual with a 90 degree phase shift should help them see smaller phase shifts.  This specific graph emphasizes that at a time just a bit before 10:01:05 AM, the red curve current value is approaching its maximum positive while the voltage value is lagging behind.  (it has a negative value now and will have a zero value at 10:01:05 AM.)  The voltage signal become positive as it crosses the zero volt value on the blue voltage plot.  The blue curve will reach its maximum (allowing that this is just a cartoon with no precision) at 10:01:06 AM.  Thus, the voltage curve lags the current curve.  (Some of us learned about ELI the ICE man, so if you are that vintage, now is a nice time to bring that mnemonic up with your students.  If not, well it's just another pearl that has slipped out of phase with current times!)

Do the two plots below represent what the Technician expects to see in this constant pressure situation? YES or NO      

Answer: YES

Hoerbiger Corporation of America Spearheads MFG Day/Month Industry Tours in Southeast Florida

Manufacturing Day and Month is a big newsmaker as companies across America participate in hosting and organizing industry tours for middle and high school students in their region. In Southeast Florida, Hoerbiger Corporation of America in Pompano Beach, Fla. took a leading role in spearheading MFG Day industry tours and activities for students in Palm Beach and Broward counties in Southeast Florida. Hoerbiger is one of FLATE’s regional industry partners who has for a number years served as the regional industry partner for MFG Day/Month activities.

Karen Elordi, MFG Day representative at Hoerbiger says the goal this year was to have four schools participate in a tour of its
manufacturing facilities to witness their high-tech manufacturing operations. This year, Hoerbiger hosted four school tours of up to 30 students each on two separate days, as “a smaller group ensured more engaged and interested participants.” In 2013 and 2014, Hoerbiger hosted 100 students (50 each from two schools), while 2015 the company invited three schools with 25 students each. The tours were conducted on October 19 and October 26, with students from American Heritage and Dillard High Schools touring Hoerbiger on October 19, and students from Boca Raton Community High School and Stranahan High Schools touring the facility on October 26.

Elordi says establishing a close connection with schools is a long-term, committed process that entails reaching and frequently
communicating with industry partners and schools who have participated in past MFG Day industry tours and identifying how they can they benefit from learning about manufacturing as a viable career pathway. During the tour, Students were divided into three groups and were given a tour of the facility that ranged from seeing the ‘machines in action,’ and interacting with the sales, service, methods, engineering and CAD departments. Students watched a video that provided an overview of Hoerbiger operations and highlighted the roles, responsibilities and insights from engineers, some of who started working at Hoerbiger after they graduated from high school and later attended college through the company’s employee tuition reimbursement program.

A cornerstone of FLATE’s manufacturing day strategy has been to survey all industry tour participants. Industry hosts, students,
teachers and chaperones who participated in the industry tour at Hoerbiger have been surveyed with many students stating they were surprised to see advanced manufacturing operations and they were glad to see some of their school lessons being used in the real world. Students also state they enjoyed talking with employees and were able to ask questions and learn from their personal stories. In terms of the industry hosts, many Hoerbiger employees commented that they were surprised that students knew as much as they did, and had access to the kind of equipment they had in school. “I wish we had that when I was in school” stated an employee. Other stated “I never got to have that experience when I was in school,” and “They are so much more advanced than when I was in school.” Elordi was also thanked for a “wonderful, incredibly well-organized day” by one of the teachers, and even though each school brought a different type of student (i.e., pre-engineering, AICE business, BRACE and Engineering magnet) they all found an interest in some area that they saw.  FLATE is currently tabulating student, educator and industry survey results. We will an in-depth report highlighting impact of tours in subsequent editions of the FLATE Focus, so stay tuned!

Looking to 2017 and beyond, Hoerbiger is already working with the Broward County Schools curriculum advisor to include more
schools and local manufacturers. “We are also throwing around some new ideas which would allow us to include more than four schools next year” said Elordi. On a similar token Elordi recommends providing short video that could show different types of manufacturing and careers to captive students’ interest. “We are glad Hoerbiger continues to take a proactive role in executing an effective manufacturing day strategy in the region” said Dr. Marilyn Barger. We hope to continue this partnership and expand the reach and scope of the tours in the next few years, Barger said.

For more information about Manufacturing Day tours in Southeast Florida and to sign up for next year’s tours contact Karen Elordi, Human Resources Special Projects for Hoerbiger at, and at 954.623.2028. For information on Manufacturing Day/Month tours, events and news from across the state visit the Florida Manufacturing Day page at, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at, and 813.259.6578. You can also visit the National Manufacturing Day site at, and/or visit the hastags #FLMfgMonth16 and #MFGDay16 to track social buzz. 

Able Trust’s Disability Employment Awareness Month Highlights Pathways to Technology-Related Careers

FLATE’s STEM-based outreach initiatives encompasses reaching out to a wide cross section of educators and students. Over the
years FLATE has reached out to students in rural communities, minority students, women and girls who remain underrepresented in manufacturing and STEM related fields. One such special partnership is the one FLATE has enjoyed for years with the Able Trust’s Florida High School High Tech initiative. This strategic partnership has culminated in providing students with disabilities an opportunity to explore careers and educational pathways in manufacturing and/or STEM related fields.

Most recently as part of the Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM), which is traditionally celebrated every October, FLATE was invited by the Able Trust to the official, public launch of DEAM. With approximately 150 participants, the event celebrated 10 years of DEAM activities. The brunch event included comments from Joseph Murray, the 2016 “Face of DEAM,” Neil Romano, former Assistant Secretary of the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, business supporters, and the Able Trust leadership. The event also served as a platform for many businesses and local stakeholders to learn about a potentially untapped talent pipeline, and highlighted the importance of having a diverse and inclusive workforce.

This year FLATE staff once again used this opportunity to network and highlight FLATE’s STEM based resources and encourage
Able Trust stakeholders to explore jobs, or postsecondary education pathways leading to technology-related careers. To promote and mark the kick-off the MFG Month, FLATE staff distributed MFG Day T shirts to key Able Trust people and participants. A delicious proposition was also presented to the FLATE management team whereby a senior management team from Monin, a manufacturer based in Pinellas County, proposed submitting a “FLATE Flavor” to their design team.

FLATE’s close partnership with the Able Trust has enabled several HSHT students to participate in Manufacturing Day events and
industry tours. In 2014, over 120 students in Orlando participated in industry tours to learn about high-tech, high-skilled STEM careers in manufacturing. Last year, as part of the HSHT Annual Conference, FLATE organized an industry tour for HSHT program coordinators to Seminole State College’s Academic Innovation School of Engineering, Design and Construction. HSHT Able Trust students also participated in the 2015 Manufacturing Day industry tours where they were part of 197 students who toured ASO & OCTEX in Sarasota County.

For more information about the Able Trust and the HSHT initiative visit For information on FLATE’s outreach program for students and educators and the “Made in Florida” industry tours visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at

South Florida State College Awarded Department of Education $5 Million STEM Grant

South Florida State College has been awarded a nearly $5 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to launch a postsecondary Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) project called “Re-Engineering Our Future.” Similar to one of FLATE’s outreach initiatives in reaching out to a diverse populace that include reaching out to students in rural areas, SFSC’s Re-Engineering Our Future project is expected to create educational opportunities for Hispanic and low-income students in the college’s service district of DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands counties. “We at FLATE are excited to have SFCC join the ranks of state and community colleges in Florida offering the Engineering Technology degree, and are looking forward to mentoring their adoption and implementation” said Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE.

For the project, the SFSC will focus on four major activities. These will center on developing a high-tech degree pathway with
transfer into the University of South Florida and Florida Polytechnic University, to improve pre-collegiate services to better prepare low-income Hispanic students for these programs; to improve college academic support and students services to better support low-income Hispanic college students, and to create a more culturally sensitive campus culture to increase student engagement and success at the college. Funds from the grant will allow SFSC to create and adopt new degree programs like the FLATE-developed statewide A.S. ET degree, mechatronics, and biomedical science. These high-tech degree pathways are expected to make it easier for students to transfer directly into biomedical science degree programs at the University of South Florida and/or one of several engineering programs at Florida Polytechnic University. In fact, SFSC will be the first college to set up such an articulation agreement with Florida Polytechnic University.

Through the grant, $1 million worth of new, state-of-the-art technology will support these programs as well as enhance the lab sciences courses at the Hardee and DeSoto campuses.  Included will be a series of mechatronics and engineering-specific lab equipment. “This grant will enhance academic and support services for students seeking STEM degrees,” said Dr. Timothy Wise, dean of Student Services, and project director for the STEM grant. It will provide resources to hire specialists who will provide support who can assist students, such as academic advisors, recruiters, tutors, coaches. The biomedical science program will make use of a negative 80 degrees freezer, phase contrast microscope, fluorescent microscope, illuminometer, and nuclear magnetic resonant spectrometer. The college also plans to send two instructors to Berlin, Germany, for Level One and Level Two Siemens mechatronics training and certification. Siemens is known for offering the gold standard of training in the field of mechatronics.   

SFSC’s student population is 30.6 percent Hispanic, and is considered a Hispanic-serving institution. The grant will allow SFSC to
reach out to students and their families, and expand campus-based services and support for Hispanic students. For instance, the college will produce Spanish language versions of key student services materials focused on graduation and transfer. The college will create a more culturally-sensitive institutional environment through employee professional development sessions. Given the critical role mathematics plays in serving as a firm foundation for preparing students for STEM majors, a summer program called MathSteps will be available to recent high school graduates, first-year-in-college students, and dually enrolled students. It will prepare students for college-level mathematics and all the way through pre-calculus, if needed.  

Students will be able to participate in a residential program developed in conjunction with Florida Gulf Coast University so SFSC students can learn more about what engineering students do. Other student support will include expanding tutoring opportunities for the college’s Hardee and Highlands campuses. SFSC will also create a Spanish language version of its new student orientation and develop an orientation specifically for parents of potential students so families of students can learn more about the first year of college. Plans are also underway for SFSC to employ an early alert program so instructors, coaches, or support personnel can better identify students who are running into academic, or personal stumbling blocks.

Students who have graduated from SFSC and encounter the challenges of transition to a university will be able to rely upon ‘Inside Track’ coaching for support. This nationally recognized, distance-based coaching service assists students in navigating through the academic experience. “The ‘Re-Engineering Our Future’ project is a perfect example of how education and economic development can work together,” Dr. Leitzel said. To sustain the momentum of the “Re-Engineering Our Future” project, SFSC will kick start a $250,000 endowment to go hand-in-hand with SFSC Foundation’s Partnership Project. Donations to the endowment would be matched one-to-one and used to support ongoing programs and student scholarships for Hispanic and low-income students.
For more information about the SFSC STEM grant contact Erik Christensen, Dean of Applied Sciences and Technologies at, or visit For information on FLATE’s STEM-based programs and initiatives and the award-winning A.S degree in Engineering Technology visit the Made in Florida page, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at