From the Executive Director's Desk: Deeper Dive into the Manufacturing Ecosystem

Last month FLATE Focus introduced the idea of a manufacturing ecosystem particularly focused on workforce elements of the ecosystem. Successful manufacturing workforce development systems require detailed attention to components of the “talent pool pathway” with different ecosystem entities focusing on select components from different perspectives and with varying intensity depending on their mission. As a reminder (but not a test), the four components, or attributes, are: work-based learning; internships and apprenticeships; skill certification; and talent pipeline development.

FLATE has also identified four organizations that have overlapping missions around the development of Florida's manufacturing workforce. These are: the Florida University System, the Florida College System, the Workforce Agency (CareerSource Florida) and FloridaMakes, the Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Service (MEP). This month the ecosystem connection points between FLATE and the University of Florida Innovation Station Sarasota are reviewed.

The University of Florida’s Innovation Station in Sarasota has a focused economic development mission for the Sarasota bay region in Florida. Their strategy is to unite economic development efforts with the State College of Florida and the University of Florida to optimize technology and manufacturing investment in the region. One platform of that strategy is to increase the number of engineers that are from and come back to the greater Sarasota area to enhance the local business and industry. This increase in the manufacturing talent pool also includes the development of the required support technical workforce.

An important goal for the Innovation Station is to strengthen the presence of engineering education in the State College of Florida (SCF). Their approach is to establish a strong physical presence on the SCF Venice campus. This includes a standalone building that provides advising and engineering career promotion events. The program will identify students for a cohort and then provide mentoring, industry interactions, and cohort study and social opportunities. Cohort members are also simultaneously enrolled in the University Of Florida Engineering College with all of the privileges and academic responsibilities of any engineering student enrolled on the UF campus in Gainesville.

The Innovation Station attributes presented above represent the "what's in it for me" element of their organization. The key to a strong ecosystem is to have each partner organization keep their "for me" components and then add important "what's in it for us" elements. It is not necessary for every organization in the ecosystem to have "in it for us" for every ecosystem partner, but collectively all of the "in it for me" components advance the goals of that ecosystem.

The illustration below 
demonstrates this concept. It highlights FLATE and Innovation Station "in it for me" qualities. However, the important idea that projects from the graphic is the overlapping qualities. In this case FLATE and the Innovation Station will both benefit if we share resources that address many project activities. This list includes: new apprenticeship initiatives, industry recognized credentials (MSSC for example); high school graduates directed toward technical careers; and various K-12 STEM outreach initiatives.

The graphic highlights only some of the mutual interactions. It suggests that the State College Partnerships connection is toward FloridaMakes. This is the case since the SCF Venice campus is also the home of the SCF A.S. Engineering Technology degree program. The Innovation Station engineering career pathway activity complements the manufacturing career options and pathways of the A.S. ET degree as well. One exciting part of this FLATE/Innovation Station connection is the Innovation Station intention to expand the interactions between engineering and technology students and the technology program’s extensive "hands-on" laboratory space. This activity is a specific example of a high benefit partnerships activity that easily fits within the Manufacturing Ecosystem model. 

For more information on UF's Innovation Station, please visit their webpage here.

I now invite you to read the rest of the articles in the March edition of the FLATE Focus. We have a special story highlighting MSSC CPT Training in Florida, and several new additions to our "Announcements" sidebar. Please send us your thoughts by commenting below each blog post, or connect with us on our social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

MSSC CPT Certification on the rise in Florida

The Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) is an industry-led training, assessment and certification system focused on the core skills and knowledge needed by the nation’s top production workers. The nationwide MSSC System offers entry-level and incumbent workers the opportunity to demonstrate that they have acquired the skills needed in the technology-intensive jobs of today. MSSC offers two certifications: a Certified Production Technician (CPT) and a Certified Logistics Technician (CLT).

The CPT Certification addresses the core technical capabilities of higher skilled production workers in all areas of manufacturing. MSSC awards a full Certified Production Technician (CPT) Certification to individuals who pass all four course modules: Safety; Quality Practices & Measurement; Manufacturing Processes & Production and Maintenance Awareness. A CPT Certification equates to 15 college credits. 

In Florida, community organizations are working with economic development organizations to provide MSSC CPT Training for their clients. Given the statewide need for skilled manufacturing workers, many of the participants of these programs are securing jobs in manufacturing facilities and are now part of the Florida's manufacturing workforce.

Recently, the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast (EDC) has aligned with eight local churches to celebrate recipients of MSSC CPT Certifications. The EDC and a local group called The Pastor’s Community Alliance had nine graduates with CPT and IPC soldering certification. Six of the nine received jobs at a local manufacturing company. 

Also in Florida, The Centre for Women located in Hillsborough County is offering a CPT Training course for women who wish to become CPT Certified. The course is intensive and lasts three weeks. The class is hosted by the Women’s Centre in partnership with Hillsborough Community College, which identifies companies that will hire the women after they earn their certification. The program is part of an initiative by the Manufacturing Alliance of Hillsborough County, with the help of local manufacturers, to build a pipeline of much-needed talent in the area’s manufacturing sector.

According to Glenn Goonis, instructor from the Women’s Centre CPT Training course, “the program was offered at the Centre to provide a nationally recognized certification in manufacturing to a group who were looking to upskill and reenter the workforce in a sector that offers far better wages and benefits than the average sectors in our great state. The course was paid for through a partnership with the Manufacturing Alliance of Hillsborough County."

Goonis also shared some stories about notable students: “Two of our learners, who were Puerto Rican and, as non-native English speakers faced some language challenges -- 
Photo by Julie Branaman
had extensive manufacturing experience from employers in Minnesota, and their colorful stories brought to life some of the concepts we were studying. They were currently working at a local hotel as valets and in the kitchen, and brought in food every morning to share with the class. They also worked nights and weekends to make up for the time they were spending in class. Their work ethic and sense of community set the curve for the class. One of our learners was new to the United States. Originally from Nigeria, she was an attorney in her home country. Unable to find work in her field here, she was hoping to start a new career working in manufacturing. Her stories of Nigeria and the challenges there were awe-inspiring.”

To read more information about the EDC and Pastor’s Alliance partnership, please click here. To read more information on the Women’s Centre and the CPT courses offered there, please click here. For more information about MSSC and how to become certified, please visit their certification webpage, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director for FLATE, at Visit FLATE’s webpage regarding MSSC Training here.

Success at Florida's first Industry and Academic Forum about Supply Chain Automation (Mechatronics)

FLATE and the National Center for Supply Chain Automation (SCA) joined efforts to have the first industry and academic forum about supply chain automation (mechatronics) in Florida. The event took place in the brand new Walmart Fulfillment Center in Davenport, FL. The objectives of the forums included: an introduction from both centers, how to focus on Educational resources, how to facilitate Industry/Academic Connections, clarifying Supply Chain Management vs Supply Chain Technician (SCT), comparing and contrasting Career Awareness vs. Career Pathway, providing SCT Occupational Context- SCT Industry Needs meet Academic Solutions, and sharing Best Practices/Solutions (for example, internships). Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE, presented the ins and outs of the statewide Engineering Technology A.S. degree, home of mechatronics education in Florida, and offered at many state and community colleges across the state. Florida colleges that offer A.S. ET participated and met new supply chain professionals from their regions to partner with. After the presentations, the group was given an "insiders" tour of Walmart's 2.2 million square foot e-commerce facility in Davenport, FL.  

Highlights of topics discussed included the popularity of e-commerce, automation & technician demand trends, building ecosystems- SCT workforce development, and describing engineering technology & supply chain educational programs in Florida. After the industry and academic forum, participants traveled back to Hillsborough Community College (HCC) Brandon campus for a lab tour. HCC Engineering Technology faculty conducted the tour of the facility and lab area. Participants were engaged and asked questions relating to equipment and ET program.

Two planning partners of the forum, Elaine Gaertner, Education Consultant for Supply Chain Technology Education, and Steve Harrington, industry liaison for National Center for SCA, thanked FLATE for partnership and state that the forum  “was probably our most successful yet.” 

For more information about The National Center for Supply Chain Automation, please view their webpage by clicking here. To view the SCA Power Point presentations, please click here.

For more information about FLATE, please visit or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE, at

Enroll now for the 2017 Robotics Camps!

STEMtastic Summer is right around the corner, and FLATE has new and exciting camps being offered. There will be three different camps available for middle and high school students this summer:

June 5-9: Intro EV3 Robotics Camp for Middle School. No experience required.
June 12-16: Intermediate EV3 Robotics Camp for Middle and High school. Experience required.
June 19-23: Engineering Technology Camp for High school. No experience required.

At the Intro and Intermediate EV3 Robotics Camps, students will have the opportunity to build and program the all new LEGO MINDSTORMS® EV3 Robot system, participate in team challenges, tour an advanced manufacturing facility, and learn about the science, technology, engineering and math used in today’s high-tech industries.

At the Engineering Technology Camp, high school students will have the opportunity to use 3D modeling and CAD to design a functional robotic device, engage in 3D printing process using additive manufacturing techniques, and tour an advanced manufacturing facility. In addition, students will be able to keep the Arduino microprocessors and servo monitors.

The summer camps will run Monday- Friday from 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m., and will be hosted at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) Brandon campus in the Student Services Building, room 218 (BSSB 218). The address for HCC Brandon is 10414 E. Columbus Drive, Tampa FL 33619.

The Intro and Intermediate EV3 Robotics Camps will cost $175 per week. The Engineering Technology Camp will cost $200 per week.

Registration forms can be downloaded here.  
Once downloaded, please mail the forms to:
Florida Advanced Technological Education Center HCC Brandon
10414 E. Columbus Dr.
Tampa, FL 33619
OR fax the forms to 813-259-6576.

For more information please contact Janice Mukhia, Project and Outreach Manager for FLATE, at, or 813-259-6581, or visit FLATE’s 2017 Robotics Camps webpage here.

Some photos from 2016 Robotics Camps: 

Final Florida Manufacturing Day 2016 Statistics

Due to inclement weather, some Florida Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) 2016 tours originally scheduled for October were postponed until January 2017. Now that Florida MFG Day/Month 2016 has concluded, fresh data tabulations from additional surveys received by FLATE in January and February reveal a surge in the numbers compared to those reported in December 2016. The numbers are exciting and show much growth from Florida MFG Day/Month 2015.  

Some key points in 2016: 
  • Student participation rose from 3,787 students in December to 4,846 students in February, once final surveys were compiled. 
  • Industry tours increased from 161 to 195 tours. 
  • Parent and teacher surveys rose from 62 to 68 surveys.
  • Of the industry tour hosts that responded to FLATE’s surveys, 100% stated the tour was a good use of company time and resources.

A special thank you to all of our Florida MFG Day partners from around the state. MFG Day is a huge effort, and such a successful MFG Day would not have been possible without your contributions of great student tours and events. These tours and events showcased some fabulous Florida industries and manufacturing careers to the next generation workforce.

For more information on FLATE's statewide strategy for Manufacturing Day/ Month, please visit, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE, at

Highlights from Hillsborough County STEM Fair

Every year FLATE supports the Hillsborough County School Board and the Florida Foundation for Future Scientists by serving as a judge for the Junior/Senior division of Annual Hillsborough Regional STEM Fair. The Hillsborough Regional STEM Fair has grown to be the largest in Florida and one of the largest in the nation, with over 1,900 entries from 2,500 students in grades K-12.

During this event judges assisted to select twenty-six projects that will represent Hillsborough County in the 2017 State Science Fair, where over $200,000 worth of scholarships and awards will be given. The event involves approximately 1,500 projects from the brightest K-12 Hillsborough students in more than 190 public, private, charter, home, and virtual schools. Winners go on to compete at state and national levels.

Students experience firsthand the creativity and perseverance required for high-level achievement, and guests have the opportunity to see future STEM leaders in action. Danielly Orozco, Associate Director for FLATE, was part of the environmental engineering judges and had the opportunity to review and interview the best final ten projects (two seniors and eight junior’s level). Some of the best topics were: Water purification by controlling turbidity using natural coagulants, microbial fuel cell for electricity production, pollution reduction analysis utilizing phytoremediation for storm water outfalls in the Hillsborough river watershed, enhancing energy efficiency in the Sunshine State by assessing the impact of the material and color of roof tiles, and microbial fuel cell for electricity production.

The first place winner in the Intelligent Machines, Robotics, and Systems Software category was Arko Ghosh. He was also first place overall, the Best of Fair. He received a $500 cash prize from MOSI and advanced to the State Science and Engineering Fair.

Dariya Bagley, 6th grade, earned 2nd place in the Intelligent Machines, Robotics, and
Systems Software category at the STEM Fair. Her topic was Reliable Robot to Robot Communication Using Sensors. Dariya also won the Jr Division Bay AreaManufacturers Association (BAMA) special award which includes a $100 cash prize.She'll attend the awards dinner this summer. FLATE and the Hillsborough County School District allowed Dariya to use the NAO Humanoid Robot as part of her scientific experiment. Programming the NAO to communicate with the EV3 robot challenged her immensely. 


Deshara Bagley, 5th grade, earned an Outstanding in the category of Math, Computers, and Engineering for her project on Surface Area and Electro-Magnetic Fields. 

The 62nd State Science and Engineering Fair (SSEF) of Florida will take place March 28-30 at the Lakeland Center. For more information on the fair and a schedule of fair events, please click here

For more information about FLATE, please visit or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE, at
For more information about the awards won, please visit

Answer to sTEm-at-Work Puzzle #58: Signal Analysis for a 3D Printer Inductive Leveling Sensor

The puzzle:

Analysis: This puzzle provides an opportunity to understand the relationship between the output voltage and output current signals provided by a level sensor that uses an inductor in its measurement circuit. In this case it was a level measurement however, in any case,

an inductor will always have a shift in the shapes of the voltage and current signals (the voltage signal always leads the current signal). This time concept of a wave being ahead of or behind in time is confusing to students. The puzzle provided graphic information is enhanced to help lower that learning curve issue. In this case this graphic allows a repeat discussion (see puzzle 56) of one of the leading vs lagging options.

The graphic below emphasizes the fact that at 10:01:05 AM the current value is already decreasing while the voltage value is just increasing as it crosses zero volts. The data collected below represents the signals this one level sensor does provide during the level measurement. Thus, this sensor has the current leading the voltage. This is not the expected behavior of an inductor based sensor.

Question: Does the technician think that the Inductive Sensor is functioning correctly?

Answer: No. The technician knows that the sensor is not operating as expected.

ASEE Survey Reveals Interesting Nationwide Trends in Two-Year ET Programs

The Engineering Technology Division of the American Association of Engineering Education (ASEE) supports a listserv. Recently the ETD Listserv at Texas A&M University posted a survey about Engineering Technology Education. The results were posted on February 22 and are shared below. The results reveal some interesting nationwide trends in two-year Engineering Technology programs.

A note from Lou Frenzel, department head at Texas A&M University:  Some percentages do not add up to 100% because not all questions were answered and/or multiple choices were given per question. The outcome of the survey is interesting and hopefully this current picture of electronic technology programs will help you improve your own program.

1.     The enrollments in my ET program are:
               a.      Up              28%
               b.      Down            38%
               c.      Flat            28%
* Program closed.  Still teach several electronic courses as part of
other programs.
*  Program has been suspended.

2.     Have you added any new courses or programs recently?
               a.      No              45%
               b.      Yes      55%
Courses/programs added:  Internet of Things, SCADA, process control, mechatronics, alternative energy, PLCs, motor control, avionics, senior project.

3.     What electronic specialties do you teach?
               a.      Computers (PCs)                 45%
               b.      Networking                      34%
               c.      Communications/wireless         45%
               d.      Industrial                      55%
               e.      Other   What?
Specialties taught: Generic electronic tech, PCB fabrication, wind energy, power generation, DAQ.

4.     What approach does your program take?
               a.      Theory/circuit oriented         76%
               b.      System oriented                 21%
               c.      Service and repair              21%
               d.      BSET prep.                      24%
               e.      Other   What?
Other approach:  Minimum theory/low math, maximum hands-on.

5.     Do you teach programming?
               a.      No                              21%
               b.      Yes  What language?             79%

Languages taught:  C/C++ (91%), Assembly (35%), Python (17%), BASIC (13%)

6.     Do you use virtual instruments in the lab?
               a.      Yes             55%
               b.      No              38%

7.     Are jobs currently available for graduates?
               a.      No                      14%
               b.      Yes   What field?       76%
Jobs available:  General electronic tech, mechatronics, PLCs, automation, wind and solar, avionics, drones, industrial service and maintenance, instrumentation.

8.     What is your current greatest need or issue?
*  More students, more and better marketing and outreach.
*  More faculty
*  More space
*  More funds for equipment, software
*  More jobs than interested students.
*  Potential students do not know what electronics is.

9.     How do you fulfill the need for faculty continuing education?
*  Little or no support or funds from the colleges.
*  Faculty must seek it out for themselves.
*  Some use of online courses, conferences, webinars, workshops.

10.    What major technology or employment trend do you see that should be addressed?
*  Growing emphasis on manufacturing, automation, industrial controls and communications, PLCs, Internet of things.
*  Network security issue.
*  Students with programming skills seem to progress quicker in industry.

11.    Do you still use standard textbooks?
               a.      Yes             76%
               b.      No              17%
Comments:  Textbooks have become too expensive.  The trend is to only use class notes, handouts, and online materials.  Texts¹ content often does not match up with courses taught.

12.    Do you offer online courses?
               a.      Yes             45%
               b.      No              55%
Why not?
Comments:  Some have hybrid courses, online plus college-based lab and testing.  Many instructors are not sold on the idea.  There is a problem in implementing the hands-on lab component of most courses. Online courses have a high drop-out rate.

Personal comments and opinion from Lou Frenzel:
  • I was sorry to see the collective 66% down/flat enrollment figure.
  • What is wrong?  Better marketing and recruiting are a must if jobs are to be filled. I was happy to see more programming activity as this is one skill that will take students and graduates beyond the tech level if they are interested.
  • Looks like industry and manufacturing, automation, and PLCs are the healthiest job areas.  Robots were never mentioned but they may be a part of the manufacturing and automation results.
  • I was surprised to see little or no mention of wireless.  It is currently the largest and fastest growing segment in electronics.
  • Cellular is booming with 4G LTE rollout and 5G development including continuous upgrades in Wi-Fi.  New dedicated short range communications (DSRC) systems for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) is coming soon to all cars and trucks.  The Internet of Things movement is a hot growth area. Guess the jobs are not there yet or known about.    
  • No mention of automotive electronics but it is a fast growing segment in electronics because of the development of the advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) like auto braking, lane departure, backup cameras, etc. as well as self-driving and electric cars.  The auto tech of the future will be an electronic tech.
  • Textbook publishers should heed the warnings in this survey as the book prices have gone out of sight and content does not exist for some subjects taught.
  • I am worried that faculty may not be current with the latest technologies, components, methods, test instruments, etc. for lack of continuing education.  Hopefully most faculty members are autodidacts and learn on their own.

A national report from the National Academy of Engineering offers a great deal of data on programming and gives the current status of engineering technology (ET), which practically mirrors the above survey results. According to the report, engineering technology (ET) is “an important, if overlooked segment of the nation’s STEM workforce. Our own survey employers… found that roughly one-third had never heard of the academic field called engineering technology education.” A panel from the National Academy of Engineering concluded that the proportion of black students earning four year degrees in ET “is almost three times the share of students earning four year degrees in engineering,” but women represent just 12 percent of ET degrees. Click here to read the full report.

ET degrees in Florida have been increasingly successful for the past nine years. For more information and to see a graphic detailing key milestones, click here. For more information about FLATE’s ET Degree, please click here. Please contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE, with any questions at