Congratulations to the 2017 FLATE Award Winners!

FLATE and the Florida Association for Career and Technical Education (FACTE) are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 FLATE Awards! The Awards represent FLATE’s efforts to recognize leaders who have been at the forefront of manufacturing workforce education and training. This is the tenth year of the Awards program, and is one of FLATE’s many efforts to showcase and recognize the contributions of educators and industries in advancing technician education and training on a regional and statewide level.
The 2017 FLATE Award recipients are:

James Maynard, Teacher and Director of the Manufacturing Academy at Pine Ridge High School, will receive the Secondary Educator of the Year Award.


Sam Ajlani, Associate Professor and Program Manager for the Engineering Technology degree at the College of Central Florida will receive the Post-Secondary Educator of the Year Award.

Robert Adamiak, Executive Director of the Mid-Florida Regional Manufacturers Association will receive Distinguished Partner Manufacturing Service Award of the Year Award.

Maynard, Ajlani, and Adamiak will be honored and receive their awards later this month at FACTE’s Annual Conference and Trade Show in Orlando, FL.

Following the announcement of their prestigious win, FLATE reached out to this year's awardees for a Q & A. Their response is outlined below:

Why do you think manufacturing education is important?

SAM AJLANI: For over 30 years there has been a lack of training for manufacturing technicians and technologist.  This is because of the advent of computers in secondary schools across America in the mid 80’s and early 90’s.  It was a low cost venture as opposed to high cost consumables in the industrial trades.  That is where most of the technicians in manufacturing came in from, the industrial trades.  On top of this, educators tried to steer students away from those type jobs and recommended college degrees.  Today we are struggling to find qualified technicians and technologist.  Adding to this, the “Baby Boomers” are retiring and are the last generation until now that were trained in the industrial trades.  Naturally manufacturing is scrambling to fill positions with the skills needed to maintain and run complex systems.  This makes manufacturing education extremely important!

ROB ADAMIAK: Manufacturing is extremely important to the economy. Wealth is only created by growing, mining, or manufacturing something. All other industries just move that created wealth around. Manufacturing also has the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector—for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.81 is added to the economy. The need to maintain and grow manufacturing is vital to maintaining or improving the standard of living that we have in this country.

The greatest challenge that we have in manufacturing is a supply of trained employees. This challenge is growing due to the growing number of employees retiring. Additionally technology is evolving at an exponential rather than at a linear pace. This requires not only new hirers to be trained but current employees to be trained in these new technologies. I cannot see a more important initiative to save our economy than to expand training in manufacturing and technology.

Automation and other technologies negate the low wage advantage that other countries like China and Mexico have. These technologies reduce the over-all number of employees needed but increase the level of training needed for the remaining employees to program and maintain this equipment.

The manufacturing industry in Florida is extremely fortunate to have an organization like FLATE to develop the statewide Engineering Technology programs in the state colleges as well as supporting programs in the high schools.

JAMES W. MAYNARD: The growing skills gap, retirement of the current knowledgeable workforce, preparing for reshoring of advanced manufacturing as increases in productivity offset low foreign labor costs, etc. And while all are true, to me its importance is the chance to ensure craftsmanship endures. Fewer and fewer of our kids actually know the value of being able to produce something tangible, the critical thinking involved, the benefit of failing well, and using what they learn to improve. Even if their ultimate path leads them away from a manufacturing career, these skill will serve them well and make them more valuable members of society.

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?

SAM AJLANI: For me, I have been teaching on and off for fifteen years.  I came out of manufacturing and have over 30 years of experience.  I was also a technician before obtaining my Engineering degrees and I recognized the value of hands-on practical application early in my career.  The issue was finding technicians to maintain equipment and keep production running at maximum efficiency.  The pool has been shrinking for years.  Once I started teaching, it was my goal to not only supply manufacturing with technicians and technologist, but to provide the highest competency possible.  Therefore I have strived to build programs that produce highly cross-functional individuals that can immediately make an impact.  Over the fifteen years I have built several programs from obscurity to local, state, and nationally recognized programs.  Students are immersed in practical applications and have competed and won or placed at state and national competitions.  Some of these students have reset the bar or standards in competition with the highest recorded scores and fastest times in those competitions.  Most importantly, these programs have placed hundreds in the manufacturing workforce to fill the gap for highly skilled technical positions.  Moving forward, the next phase is incorporating national certifications which will embrace the skills these students are currently learning.

ROB ADAMIAK: I sit on the industry advisory committees for the College of Central Florida (CF) President’s executive committee, the CF Engineering Technology program, the CF Logistics program, the manufacturing related programs at the Withlacoochee Technical College and the Marion Technical College, the Marion Technical Institute, the Marion County Superintendent of Schools Workforce Planning Committee and other committees supporting education in the region. I am also on the hiring committees for filling open faculty positions for all these programs.

One of the current programs that I am very excited about is one in which I convinced the owner of a local manufacturer to turn his warehouse operations over to a local high school to use as a logistics academy. The students will graduate with real world, on the job experience!

I approached Machining-Training-Simulation, MTS, and the representative from the FL DOE Apprenticeship department to use the MTS program as a basis for a three year registered apprenticeship program. In less than a year, the program with curriculum and competency benchmarks was completed and approved by the state. The FL DEO would like to see it expanded throughout the state and the US DOL Apprenticeship department would like to see it go national.

I convinced CF to open its credit classes which are part of their AS degree in Engineering Technology (ET) and certificate programs to students as non-credit classes. This allowed working employees to take classes in PLC programing, motor controls, blueprint reading, etc. without going through the process of registering as a student. It also eliminated the need for minimum size classes to hold training for these people outside the AS program. Many of these students who had previously not considered going for a college degree changed their mind after taking a class and now are registered students in the ET program with some moving on to their bachelor degree and PE certification.

JAMES W. MAYNARD:  Some of my career highlights:
·         I am one of the founding instructors of the NIMS program at Daytona State College
·         I have a twenty year career as a Florida business owner focusing in custom automotive design and fabrication
·         I founded the training Dept. at AO Precision MFG
·         I helped to design and implement the Manufacturing Program at Pine Ridge HS
·         First Year Teacher of the Year at Pine Ridge HS
·         I won the grant to be the first Greenpower USA race team in Florida
·         I also received several First and Second place finishes in Regional races and engineering competitions in our first full year as a program
·         Recognitions by the city of Deltona, Volusia County School Board, and a State Senator for innovation and leadership
·         Piloted the growth of the Manufacturing program into an Academy including partnerships with local industry to be a resource for R&D, prototyping, and small run production.

Award recipients 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. Maynard, Ajlani, and Adamiak were selected from a pool of distinguished nominees who have each made a mark in manufacturing. The FLATE team recognizes the contributions of all the nominees and winners and would like to congratulate them for their role in advancing manufacturing education and training in Florida.

For more information about the FLATE Awards please visit our webpage here, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

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