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

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