From The Executive Director's Desk: Don’t do it alone: “Get your partner and …”

Last month, the NSF ATE-funded Centers Collaborative for Technical Assistance (CCTA) presented a webinar named “Developing Stakeholder Partnerships Internally and Externally for Successful Grants.” I participated with two other Center directors for both the webinar and a follow-up online question and answer session with participants who wanted to dig in deeper. Some important summary points surfaced as an end result of this Q&A experience:
(a) when starting to consider working together for common goals, it’s important to stop and consider why partnerships and collaboration are desirable, needed and important. Remember that good partnerships can grow into working collaborations; (b) when approaching new, potential partners you may want to develop a script AND possibly send a hand-addressed letter (not email).

In all situations, however, before engaging in any way, it's critical to be fully prepared. Here are some “to do’s”: (1) have a clear and concise “ask” – (know what you want); (2) learn what you can about the potential partner especially where your missions overlap (the working space); (3) define concrete benefits for each; (4) be prepared with alternatives; and, (5) take the lead in all follow-up communications. In summary, when starting the conversation, remember that all good and strong partnerships have the following common characteristics.

Engage in candid communication
Cultivate strong personal connections
Listen intently to each     
 Value and acknowledge the relationship
Compromise for consensus
Appreciate each other’s motivation & culture

Partnerships typically have specific goals, deliverables and, possibly, metrics. Good partnerships are strong and can deepen with time if they are successful in making progress towards or achieving the common goal. Partnerships goals can be extended and expanded with time often making it possible to achieve much more than any one partner might be able to accomplish alone. Ultimately, partnerships require “high-touch” relationships.  When they reach this level, partners that continue to have overlapping interests and goals, may become true collaborators. Collaborators work in and with each other although both parties may not benefit from an activity, but happens to have the expertise. 

Mission alignment
Common values
Like-minded goal
Focus on outcomes
Benefit for every partner
Capacity to deliver
Resource sharing

Although the CCCTA webinar and the follow up Q&A session was focused on developing partnerships in the context of existing or potential grants for educational institutions, the fundamental elements and characteristics of partnerships are universal are good practices – no matter what the context. Our partnerships are typically among Industry interest in hiring skilled technicians and include, but are not limited to the list below:

      Trade Organizations
      K-12 and University Educators
      Other ATE or TAACCCT Projects
      Scientific and Professional Organizations
      Educational Organizations
      Government Agencies
      Certification Boards

Last month's webinar was the third in a four-part series about writing a successful grant proposal for NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. The other webinars have tips for adhering to the requirements of the program; defining measurable outcomes and strategies to be sure those outcomes are evaluated and measured. These are all important issues, but proposed work in this area cannot be done alone! The ATE program is grounded in partnerships to grow the 2-year advanced technology technician workforce in the United States. Qualified, talented advanced technicians that also meet employer’s needs is ATE’s high level goal.

The webinar's recording offers many rich examples of various internal and external partnership situations and just how these work in the “real world”. It also explores just how to get partners to “commit” and what does commitment mean at that stage of a partnership. I recommend that anyone considering submitting a grant to NSF ATE in the fall 2017 review this webinar and the rest of the series early in your proposal preparation phase. The recordings and slide decks can be found on the 2017 recordings here:

Good luck in your exploration of partnerships! If you have any questions or ideas, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Here at FLATE, we are proud of our many partnerships and collaborations that exist in a tangled web of complex multilevel relationships as well as singularly focused 2-party, deliberate working partnerships for singular tasks.

I now invite you to read the rest of the stories in the April Edition of the FLATE Focus. This month we have an article highlighting several outreach events FLATE has participated in this spring, as well as information regarding upcoming robotics events. Please send us your thoughts by emailing or commenting below each story in this blog. Also, please connect with us via social media on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Robotics Events this Spring

Robotics Open House 

To celebrate National Robotics Week (April 8-16) FLATE is hosting a robotics open house at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon. The open house will be on Thursday, April 13 from 3-6 p.m., and will feature a number of activities and stations geared to spark local students’ interest in robotics and STEM education and related career pathways.

Featured activities include: programming a robotic arm and EV3 robots, learning to operate a 3D printer, watching a demo of an electric car, meeting local robotics teams-including a demo of a 6ft humanoid robot, learning about the engineering technology program at HCC and other Florida colleges, meeting local manufacturers- including members from FIRST VISTA, and getting up-close and personal with Jane, FLATE’s humanoid robot. Plus, enter a raffle drawing for a chance to win a FREE week of the FLATE robotics summer camps!

To RSVP for this FREE event visit our Eventbrite page, or contact Janice Mukhia, FLATE’s Project and Outreach Manager, at

Summer Camps 

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

June 5-9: Intro EV3 Robotics Camp for middle school.

June 12-16: Intermediate EV3 Robotics Camp for middle and high school.

June 19-23:
Engineering Technology Camp for high school.

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 motors.

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. For more information, visit FLATE’s 2017 Robotics Camps webpage here.

For more information about all upcoming Robotics Events please 
contact Janice Mukhia, FLATE’s Project and Outreach Manager,
at or 813-259-6581,
or Dr. Marilyn Barger, FLATE’s Executive Director, 

Don’t miss out on FLATE’s Engineering Technology (ET) Experience Tours

FLATE offers several outreach initiatives that are designed to spark students’ interest in STEM and manufacturing. One of FLATE’s ongoing efforts to reach out to local students is through Engineering Technology (ET) Experience Tours. These tours place an emphasis on hands-on problem based learning, and strive to capture students’ interest in STEM and robotics, give them a realistic view of the skills needed in high-tech manufacturing jobs, and motivate them to pursue high-tech and high-paying careers.

This spring, FLATE will be hosting ET Experience Tours at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) Brandon Campus. Most recently, students from Burns Middle School participated in an ET Experience Tour on March 28. The 8th grade class that visited was part of an Aerospace Technology program. This program gives the students high school credits while they are still in middle school. This was the first time Burns Middle School has participated in an ET Experience Tour.

The tour began with students being welcomed by Dr. Marilyn Barger, who gave a brief introduction of FLATE. After Dr. Barger’s opening remarks, students watched a video titled “Why Not Me,” which discussed why manufacturing careers are so great and in high demand. After the video, students were separated into two groups for a tour of HCC’s ET Lab. During the tour students were very engaged as they saw demonstrations from a 3D printer, programmed a robotic arm to conduct simple tasks, and spoke with students currently enrolled in HCC’s ET program. The students learned about the mechanics and real-world applications of these devices and machines in high-tech manufacturing operations.

Following the hands on and interactive learning, Shirley Dobbins, one of HCC’s ET program instructors, led a discussion about manufacturing careers and educational credentials. Students also watched a presentation that focused on items that are “Made in Florida.” The activity showed students a real-world view of manufacturing companies and the products are made right here in the state.  

At the end of the day, one Burns Middle School student stated that attending the ET Experience Tour will help them with STEM coursework in school because “now I’m interested in manufacturing and engineering so I will focus more in class.” Another student commented that the ET Experience Tour “showed the importance of STEM and what skills are needed in the future,” and stated that the tour was “great and fun, and very informational.”
Information gathered from surveys completed by Burns Middle School students after the tour showed that 100% would recommend this ET Experience to other students. One student commented that they would recommend this to other students “because technology is going to be a big part in our future.”

Middle and high schools in Hillsborough County with Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs are invited to visit HCC’s ET labs and learn about the college’s ET degree program. All ET tours are hosted by FLATE staff and HCC faculty and last around two hours. All costs are covered by a grant from Hillsborough County. The ET Experience Tours are a great follow-up to the Manufacturing Day tours in October. 

If you would like more information on ET Experience Tours or are interested in scheduling a tour for your students this spring please contact Janice Mukhia, FLATE’s Project and Outreach Manager, at or 813-259-6581, or Dr. Marilyn Barger, FLATE’s Executive Director, at

Send in Your Nominations for the 2017 FLATE Awards

FLATE and the Florida Association for Career and Technical Education (FACTE) are working together to coordinate the 2017 FLATE Awards and recognition program. The FLATE Awards are geared to recognize secondary and post-secondary educators, and industry professionals for their outstanding contributions to promote and support technology education and career awareness in manufacturing. Awardees are recognized under three separate categories and include individuals in many manufacturing areas including economic development, industry, education and administration.

FLATE award winners are selected from nominations submitted from across the state. Nominees are judged by an Awards Committee made up of industry representatives from FLATE’s Industrial Advisory Committee and FACTE. The Awards Committee reserves the right to select award recipients that do not meet FACTE’s membership requirements.

2017 Awards:
FLATE Distinguished Manufacturing Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award
FLATE Distinguished Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award
FLATE Distinguished Partner Manufacturing Service Award

2017 Awards Timeline:
April 15 – Online Nomination form I closes. (Completed by nominators.)
May 1 – Online Nomination form II closes. (Completed by nominees.)
May 31 – Award selections are made by FLATE IAC-FACTE award Committee.
June 5 – Award recipients and principal nominators are notified of their selection.
July 17-19 – Awards presented during The 51st Annual FACTE Conference & Trade Show.

Past winners of the FLATE Awards include:
  • Mike Ennis, of Harris Corporation, won FLATE’s Distinguished Service Award in 2009.
  • Aubri Hanson, Assistant Professor of Technology at GCSC, won Post-Secondary Educator of the Year in 2014.
  • Elizabeth Simpson, Lead Teacher of Magnet Programs at Middleton High School, won Manufacturing Secondary Educator of the Year in 2016.
  • Kevin Finan, Machining Instructor at Atlantic Technical College and Technical High School in Coconut Creek, won Post-Secondary Educator of the Year in 2016.

For more information about FLATE Awards criteria visit the 2017 FLATE Awards webpage or FACTE’S award page, or contact Jesse Kokotek, Curriculum Coordinator for FLATE, at, or Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE, at

Spring STEM Outreach

 So far this spring, FLATE has been involved in several STEM outreach events in our local Tampa Bay community. While all these events were different, they all had a similar goal: to encourage participation in STEM fields. 

March 8: USF Women in Entrepreneurship Breakfast

Hosted by USF CONNECT, the Women in Entrepreneurship Breakfast is Tampa Bay’s
premier forum developed to inspire and empower women to reach their entrepreneurial goals. Around 170 individuals attended the event, which took place on International
Women’s Day and offered great networking opportunities for FLATE. The FLATE team met a great group of females from around Tampa Bay and several other Florida communities, and distributed information regarding women in manufacturing. The event provided inspiration from a panel of female professionals as they shared their experiences, trials and errors, and offered insight into the world of business.

The panelists included three very successful University of South Florida alumni who
presented their insight and achievements as female entrepreneurs. They were: Jacqueline Darna, CEO and medical inventor of the NoMo Nausea Band; Jordann Windschauer, founder and CEO of Base Culture; and Maha Sallam, Ph.D., founder and President of VuEssence Inc. The panelists discussed several topics including: finances and how all three practiced “bootstrapping” to make ends meet, marketing strategies and how to “know
your customer”, how they knew when it was time to quit their “9-5” job, how they gained inspirations for their products and businesses, how they knew who to trust with their ideas, and how to use social media. The speakers closed the event with some words of advice to hopeful entrepreneurs:

Jaqueline Darna said “Business is the business of people, not products and services.”

Jordann Windschauer said “Don’t ever be the smartest person in the room, because then you are never learning.”

Maha Sallam said “Never assume anything and always take leaps of faith.”

March 10: Greco Middle School Career Expo 

Greco Middle School’s Career Expo was the first of its kind. This all-day event was designed to expose middle school students to different jobs and careers. It was held in conjunction with a student project that was targeted to help students explore their interests and talents.

During the event, students and teachers were given flyers and information on FLATE summer robotics camps and the engineering technology tours, and other FLATE online resources. Several educators, parents and students showed interest in both the programs. FLATE was among 30 local business and industry personnel to attend the Career Expo. Other exhibitors included companies like GTE, City of Tampa, and Grow Financial.

FLATE was also able to share information with teachers and administrators about the Engineering Technology program at HCC and colleges across Florida. Additionally, Made in Florida curriculum was distributed to some educators. Around 800 students from Greco Middle School visited the expo hall and tables in groups separated by grade level. The students showed a wide variety of interests, with some being especially interested in manufacturing and robotics.

March 30: Middleton High School Seventh Annual STEM Professional Association Event 

Middleton High School’s STEM Professional Association event is held on an annual basis, and connects students, parents, educators and professionals in Tampa Bay. This year marked the 7th annual event. The goal of the event is to encourage student interest in STEM careers and share local professional resources.

FLATE was one of several organizations invited to join. Other local organizations that attended the event were Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA) and Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Tampa Bay. During a networking opportunity at the beginning of the event, FLATE was able to share information regarding our robotics open house and summer camps, and share curriculum with teachers. Both teachers and students seemed genuinely interested in FLATE’s upcoming programs and resources.

After a networking opportunity, the STEM Professional Association event began. The event started with a presentation by Middleton High School robotics club students. The students presented a PowerPoint which discussed the basics of their club and their Electrathon car, and then they demonstrated their car. The Electrathon car is completely designed and built by the students, and then raced at events throughout the state. 

After the Electrathon car presentation, the keynote speech was given by Dr. Kim Moore, principal of Middleton High School. Dr. Moore presented on the topic of “Diversity and Inclusion in STEM Education.” Dr. Moore began her speech by saying “education is the gateway for the future for our students.” However she then presented some troubling information: the workforce demographics of STEM fields have not changed much in over a decade. She stated that this problem must be changed, because “to remain competitive in this field, we must remain diverse.” Her presentation examined recent research, which especially targets overlooked talent in schools. Dr. Moore also discussed the best practices in creating diverse and inclusive STEM opportunities, especially in secondary education. 

After Dr. Moore’s speech, the event was closed by a second robotics demonstration conducted by Middleton High School robotics club students. They students had the opportunity to show several projects they have been working on, and showed projects that helped them win the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 Florida State FTC Robotics Championships. 

If you are interested in getting involved in outreach activities with FLATE, please contact Janice Mukhia, Project and Outreach Manager for FLATE, at or Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director for FLATE, at

sTEm-at-Work Puzzle #59: Monitoring devices in miniature surgery

Analysis: Data from a test evaluation of a miniature implanted pump, pump DP-3ml, for insulin delivery was obtained by a biomedical technician. In its normal implanted operation mode, power consumption (energy use) is an important characteristic of the pump. For this particular pump design, the pump is expected to use a total of 0.70 Joules of energy upon completion of the 3.5 second test. The technician knows that the energy used is the product of the power (joules per second) and the time (seconds) the pump is operating. Thus, the technician can examine the data collected and determine if the pump meets the test design criteria.

The question: Does pump DP-3ml meet test criteria? YES or NO?     

Submit your answers below this blog post, or at Answers will be revealed in the May edition of the FLATE Focus.