Inspiring the Next Generation of Florida Manufacturers Starts with MFG Day Student Tours

Since 2012, MFG DAY/Month has grown across the nation. A central focus of the celebration is to introduce Advanced Modern Manufacturing to young people in order to attract them to careers in the industry.  In Florida, FLATE and its many partners that include regional professional and business associations, Workforce and Economic development organizations, educational institutions of all levels have organized student tours and other events to celebrate the industry and introduce the community, especially students, to manufacturing and its many great careers. It’s time to plan for MFG DAY/month in FL 2018.

I encourage ALL manufacturers to host student tours.  100% of the feedback we have gotten over the past 5 years from company hosts is incredibly positive: that the tours were a good investment of time and energy; their own workforce was jazzed by experience of having student visitors, and a few had direct hires. The vast majority said it was also great for company morale. Overall, its been all great!  Here is what you need to get started:
1.      In most areas of the state, there are regional coordinators, you can find a pretty up to date list of these folks here:
2.      Coordinators do their best to help identify a middle or high school for you.
3.      PLAN!
Þ    Most tours happen on MFG DAY, Oct 5.  If that day doesn’t work for you or your school, no worries, you tour can be any day in October (Mfg Month!) [We all get more publicity if a bunch of tours happen on the same day, so many areas try to have most of the tours on the official date.}

Þ    Most tours happen in the middle of the day (10-1:30) to take advantage of school buses for transportation. Many coordinators work directly with the school district, which schedules the buses and covers the cost of the buses.
Þ    Provide lunch (pizza/drinks), inside or outside if at all possible. This is a great time for employees to connect with students AND for students to complete a short tour survey that FLATE will provide (and will tally as well). Allow 30 min.
Þ    Review FLATE’s “Tour Tips” to maximize your impact.
Þ    Plan the tour, engage your employees. You don’t have to show it all.
Þ    Post your tour on – and let everyone know about your event.
Þ    Report your tour info to FLATE (
Þ    Invite the press, local officials, etc to share the opportunity.

FLATE provides a number of resources for Manufacturing Day in Florida. In an effort to make a statewide impact, we have developed and posted teacher lesson plans (to help prepare students for tours), outreach materials like special MFG DAY – FL logos; classroom poster, graphic for MFGDAY-FL 2018 t-shirts, web buttons & banners, how to booklets and handouts, recorded webinars about these resources, and more.  All resources can be found on FLATE’s wiki: – look for the tour and MFGDAY button to access these free resources. FLATE also has posted the Florida student tour surveys as an online survey or downloadable pdf files.  There are also links to surveys for company hosts and educators /parents accompanying students.

We want to keep Florida on the national manufacturing map as an active and enthusiastic participants. Its time to get start planning your student tour and other activities or events.
If you are new to MFGDAY in Florida (or even if you are not new), don’t hesitate to contact us at FLATE with any questions.

FLATE partners with the Able Trust High School High Tech for Student Summer Activities

During recent years, FLATE has partnered with the Able Trust High School High Tech (HSHT). This program is designed to provide high school students with all types of disabilities the opportunity to explore jobs or postsecondary education leading to technology- related careers. HSHT links youth to a broad range of academic, career development and experiential resources and experiences that will enable them to meet the demands of the 21st century workforce.
HSHT is a community-based partnership made up of students, parents and caregivers, businesses, educators and rehabilitation professionals. It has been shown to reduce the high school dropout rate and increase the overall self-esteem of participating students.  

This summer, FLATE hosted two Hillsborough County HSHT students as interns working with our summer camp instructors as camp teaching aids. They were a great help for the camp instructors helping to set up the camp room and robots, working with the camper student teams, and helping to keep order during all camp sessions. You can read their comments and feedback from the experience in this month’s story about the FLATE summer camps.  Elizabeth Simpson, Summer Camp coordinator said “the HSHT interns were invaluable and added to this summer’s success.

FLATE also helped the HSHT group from the Arc in Jacksonville during their summer trip to the Tampa Bay area.  In a whirlwind 3 days, the group, under the program coordinator, Sara Clifton, visited MOSI, the Florida Aquarium, Busch Gardens, and USF St. Pete.  FLATE set up a visit and tour to the highly automated Valpak Manufacturing facility in Pinellas County.  Sara said that “facility really appealed to my students that are more mechanically inclined, which is most of my boys anyways. It was a really great tour! Thank you so much!”  We hope the HSHT student groups around Florida will participate in MFG DAY tours this year visiting manufacturing facilities around the state.
You can find information about the Able Trust’s HSHT program on their website. 

About the 2018 FLATE Award Winners

As was reported in our last FLATE Focus edition, the 2018 FLATE Awards represent FLATE’s efforts to recognize leaders who have been at the forefront of manufacturing workforce education and training. This is the eleventh year of our FLATE 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. In this edition FLATE would like to share with you a little more about the 2018 FLATE Award recipients and celebrate their well-deserved awards:
Distinguished Manufacturing Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award: Ted Madison Missildine, Freeport High School, Freeport, FL. 

Mr. Ted Missildine is an MSSC certified instructor at Freeport High School in the manufacturing and pre-engineering academy. He holds a Master’s degree in secondary education and worked in private industry before entering the education field in 1994. He is the Key Club sponsor and is also a licensed Merchant Mariner which he uses to run a successful fishing charter business. When not teaching, mentoring students or charter fishing, he spends his spare time diving and cooking.

Why Ted thinks manufacturing education is important: “College graduation has long been considered the benchmark of success. But with more options in our education system students today have increased opportunities for success. Manufacturing education allows students to gain certification in high school and enter the workforce, go on to advanced training at a technical college, or pursue degree options in college. This varied approach is opening the door to true career success for young people today. No longer is a college degree a guarantee or the only pathway. Careers in manufacturing are rewarding students at all levels based on their desire to achieve. The old adage “The more you learn, the more you earn” Is still true, but the way students can learn and earn has grown. The system by which students can learn and earn is now more than ever tailored to meet their individual desires and needs. Manufacturing education has optimized student options and student performance. It has allowed industry to begin to capitalize on a resource that has been underutilized due to stigmas and stereotypes. Manufacturing education has given students the opportunity to explore, grow and mature as students and potential employees with true marketable skills. Manufacturing education is allowing them the time to explore career options as high school students and choose a path that is suited for them.  And it does not penalize them based on those choices. Manufacturing education is truly developing lifelong learners and a skilled workforce.”

Distinguished Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award: Shirley Dobbins, Hillsborough Community College, Tampa, FL. 

Shirley Dobbins has been an educator for over 23 years. She has over 14 years of experience in higher education, and has focused the last 2 years on teaching in the Engineering field. She is presently the Department Head of the Engineering Technology Program at Hillsborough Community College Brandon campus. Shirley holds a master’s degree from the University of South Florida in Computer Engineering, a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s of science in Mathematics from Spelman College.  She serves on the board of HRE, a non-profit health education resource organization. Shirley is passionate about exposing all students to a STEM education. When not engaged in teaching or managing the Engineering Technology Program, she devotes her engineering expertise to the community by inspecting robots at the FIRST competitions. In addition, she engages in robotic camps and mentoring engineering students. Shirley's work life balance enables her to enjoy spending time with her supportive husband and five children.

Why Shirley thinks manufacturing education is important: “An education in Manufacturing is needed today because most good jobs require some expertise beforehand. The older internship and apprentice programs have almost disappeared and now the prospective student needs good basic fundamental teaching. They need it from experienced educators to be successful in today's world.”

Distinguished Partner Manufacturing Service Award: C.A. Vossberg, Electron Machine, Umatilla, FL.

Mr. Carl “C.A.” Vossberg, IV, is President of Electron Machine Corporation, a family-owned business. He has served in the capacity of Electrician, Project Engineer, and in 2005, was named Vice-President/General Manager. Mr. Vossberg is also managing partner of a wholesale tree nursery business, a 2010 graduate of Leadership Lake County, as well as an Instrument Rated Commercial Pilot. Mr. Vossberg has served as officer and member of many local community Boards and Committees, including President, Umatilla Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Member, Lake County Chamber Alliance. He holds an M.S. degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Florida. He has been awarded the 2013 Governor’s Innovators in Business Award: Export Excellence in a Major Market and the FLATE 2018 Distinguished Partner Manufacturing Service Award.
Why C. A. thinks manufacturing education is important: “Manufacturing education allows students to apply themselves, and hopefully excel, in areas not normally associated with pure academics. A student who may otherwise be frustrated with traditional academic programs, in some cases, can find a rewarding path in the lifelong pursuit of manufacturing products and then make connections and sense of the academics as they are integrated into the technical field of manufacturing.  The Millennial generation is particularly well suited for the fast-evolving technologies that are being applied to manufacturing.  Once a student grasps the key skills within this industry, they can efficiently expand their development to new technologies at a rapid pace using a practical approach.  Ultimately, when this personal fulfillment can be used to provide consumer value in the marketplace, society in general benefits from quality-of-life improvements on personal, organizational, and cultural levels.”

Award winners were honored and received their awards during the awards breakfast at The Florida Association for Career and Technical Education’s 52nd Annual Conference and Trade Show held at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, FL. on Tuesday July 17, 2018.
FLATE would like to congratulate the recipients of this year’s awards once again and thank them for their contributions to the manufacturing industry.
For more information about FLATE Awards and to nominate a candidate for one of the three 2019 awards, visit our webpage here, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

52nd FACTE Annual Conference& Trade Show at ChampionsGate, FL

The Florida Association of Career and Technical Education (FACTE) and Florida Association of Industrial Technical Education (FAITE) partnered up with FLATE to provide a pre-conference workshop and a full multi session day at the FACTE summer conference and trade show in July 16-18, 2018. This year’s conference hosted approximately 800 participants representing all areas of career and technical education. The Conference provides three days of intensive and informative general sessions, workshops, focus sessions, open forums and business meetings.  The Trade Show presents an opportunity for all attendees to see first-hand and hands-on the latest materials, information, equipment, and services that will help fulfill and enhance their professional responsibilities.

FLATE-FAITE Preconference-Technical Tours

FLATE and FAITE co-hosted their annual “Tech Tours” day. The preconference industrial and technical tours were held on July 16 and included tours to MidState Machine & Fabrication in Lakeland and Polk State College in Bartow. Eighteen participants, mostly educators, signed up for the tech tours and got a first-hand look at the industrial and technical operations in each of the sites.  During the tour at MidState Machine & Fabrication, participants had the opportunity to tour the facility that uses the largest machining equipment in the Southeast US, the its “Clean Room” Gold certified new state of the art laser scanner and more. At PSC, participants learned about PSC’s innovative ‘Open Entry, Early Exit’ (OEEE) self-paced hybrid NSF sponsored ET degree program offering a direct‐assessment and a hybrid competency‐based program combining theory development with hands‐on open lab assignments. They also toured Polk State’s impressive 3-D labs, machine shop and process control lab.  As always, tours are eye-opening experiences for educators providing snapshots of the real world working environments that they can share with their students.

Sessions included panel of FLATE 2018 Award Winners and their best practices. This panel shared their experiences in areas such as economic development, industry, education, administration and presented their best practices and significant contributions toward innovative programs in support of STEM, Engineering Technology, and industrial/manufacturing education in Florida. Presenters: Shirley Dobbins, C.A. Vossberg, Ted M. Missildine.

Communication and Leadership: Teachers building their communication skills to help their students. Teachers networking to promote their program. Speaking at events to promote the school to help fund special programs. Toastmasters provides a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth. Presenter: Kim Burt.

FAITE Membership Meeting: participants learned about all the benefits of joining FAITE.
Factors Affecting Engineering Technology Pathways – Sharing real students' perspectives to help increase recruitment and retention in your program: The purpose of this session was to present the results of an NSF sponsored student survey that will help educators, counselors, and career pathway representatives to understand how Learning, Interests, Family, and Employment (LIFE) experiences of two-year college students in Florida impact their decisions to enroll, return for further coursework, go to work, or complete an associate degree. It starts in high school. This session included the presentation of the survey, preliminary findings, and will end with a breakout discussion of how targeted research findings can be applied to program development, career pathways best practices, and ultimately share strategies that will help increase CTE recruitment and retention. Presenters: Marilyn Barger & Danielly Orozco-Cole.

FACTE conducted a short survey after each session to gauge the overall experience and feedback of attendees. One hundred percent of respondents deemed the overall professional development value of the tours as excellent and would recommend the conference to colleagues.
The 2019 FACTE Annual Conference will be held at July 15-17, 2019, at the SeaWorld Renaissance in Orlando, FL. Registration forms, presenter proposal forms, and award nominations will be posted online in January 2019.

“Bye-Bye” Baby Boomers and Employability Skills: Get Ready for the Future of Work

The impact of Future of Work issues on technician work and therefore, technician education is a current hot topic. We immediately think of the manufactures who are adjusting to new technologies affecting their manufacturing processes and practices. A first step to understanding what the impact of new technologies is to project what the nature of work will be for manufacturing technicians. A current workforce concern, like the wave of baby boomers leaving the workforce, is not a Future of Work issue. In addition, the collection of skills and behaviors that we tag as employability or professional skills today will evolve to something different as the nature of work changes in the new future.  

Baby boomers leaving the workforce have been a recognized challenge for modern manufacturing.  Industry has long understood two subtle effects of the G.I. returning home from Europe and the Far East in 1945.  First, these WWII veterans and then their subsequent children (the baby boomers) would represent an abundant labor supply for a long post-war period of time.  Second, that labor supply would begin to diminish by the 1980s.  Today's Manufacturers have not ignored this reality.  Most industries have been developing a chronologically and culturally diverse workforce to diminish if not avoid such labor force swings in the future.  Thus, bye-bye baby boomers isn't a future of work issue but the skills the replacement worker really needs is most defiantly import to modern manufacturing facilities.      

Future of Work issues are evolving from the recognized need for new workers possessing strong employability skills. The evolution has to recognize and respond to the rapid and unpredicted injection of computer intelligence and technology into industry as well as our culture.  Artificial intelligence, automation, advanced computer-based process control, robotic assistance, smart sensors, and "big data" are being injected into manufacturing at a fast pace. New workers with skills to interact with this "brave new manufacturing world" is the focus. Will our concept of work evolve to be less task oriented? How will they work? What will they be doing? As for employability skills, it is clear that expanding the development and demonstration of these skills in all stages of the education system is today's task. However, understanding the impact of smartphones, instant communications, and constant social networking habits will have on those future worker's behavior is indeed a Future of Work issue.

FLATE’s 2018 Summer Camps, Another Successful Year Promoting Robotics, STEM & Manufacturing Education in Florida.

Every summer a number of schools and organizations partner with FLATE to offer fun and motivating camps to middle and high school students across Florida.  Camps were held at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa; Lake Sumter State College (LSSC), Sumter Center in Sumterville; North Florida Community College (NFCC), IHMC in Pensacola and Ocala facilities; and Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology in Jacksonville.

Robotic Summer Camps were modeled after FLATE’s summer camps, used FLATE curriculum, and served as a mechanism to reach out to a broader range of students across the state. The camps also proved to be a sustainable and effective mechanism to get middle and high school aged students from all socio-economic backgrounds interested in STEM and robotics education and related career pathways.

FLATE hosts several Robotics and Engineering Technology Camps at Hillsborough Community College’s (HCC) Brandon campus in Tampa for middle and high school students. This year FLATE offered four camps for middle and high school students. Over 100 middle and high school students attended these. During the five-day camps, students programmed and built LEGO® Mindstorms® EV3 Robot systems, participated in team challenges and learned how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are used in today’s high-tech industries. Being in the camp “helped me learn more about robotics that I will probably continue exploring in middle school” noted one camper in a post-camp survey.

Most camps also take students on an in-depth exploration of some of the most recent technologies used in high-tech manufacturing environments. The summer camps are a challenging, but exciting way for students to explore and learn about robotics and STEM in a high-tech manufacturing context. Here is what our volunteers say:
·      “My experience at the robotics camp was an experience that I could write pages about, it was truly amazing and memories were created. During the duration of the camp, I was a volunteer with the campers, I was about to learn and help the campers with EV3 programming, 3D printing, Arduino programming and that was only the beginning. By volunteering, I was able to learn skills such as leadership, communication and public speaking which are skills that I will be able to use when I get further into my career of being a civil engineer. My favorite part of camp was watching the campers grow throughout the week, seeing them learn about the world we call robotics.  I am grateful for the opportunity of being able to volunteer at the camp, and overall it was a great experience!” stated a volunteer-camper.

·      “My experience at the Robotics camp was spectacular!  During my time as the summer camp assistant, I got to learn and help campers learn about 3D printing, coding, robots and so much more.  I got to help the kids with the computer programs that they used and building their Lego Robots.  I was able to assist the camp teachers with setting up the camp room and robotics courses that the kids would use during their challenges.  I also witnessed the kids become friends and how they worked together to solve the problems they were given” stated another volunteer-camper. Each camp presented students with hands-on activities that were geared to develop real-world skills in programming, and give them a hands-on exploration of STEM-related topics in robotics. Students also get to learn about 3D modeling and printing, and how all of these concepts are applied in everyday manufacturing operations.

Other partners that were IHMC in Pensacola and Ocala facilities offered a number of camp robotics summer camps at multiple levels plus a session for STEM teachers.. Here some of the quotes from campers attending one of the IHMC camps: “I attended the robotics camp at the Boys and Girls Club this summer. I had a great time building the robots. The best part about the camp was watching the robots move.” “Having been here this week I have decided that I would like to become a mechanical engineer. I will use the skills that I learned in this camp to help me design and build new technology” stated one camper.

Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology in Jacksonville with high school campers learning CNC machining in partnership with Terry Iverson, president of Iverson & Co and chairperson of FLATE’s National Visiting Committee.  The students made brass and plastic parts with a 0.00005 accuracy gang tool Hardinge Quest CNC Lathe and then measure the parts with an Oasis measuring system. Check out their video!
The Women's Solar Power Camp at Lake Sumter State College (LSSC) offered a unique solar power camp for middle and high school female students. A total of 19 students, grades 8 through 12 participated in this camp. This event was sponsored by the national science foundation which goal is to promote and recruit girls in the STEM field. During the camp, the girls had the opportunity to explore the innovative engineering technology field of solar energy. This four-day camp was free of charge STEM-themed program for the students, topics included a variety of activities to engage the minds of the next generation of engineers, a field trip to Duke Energy’s solar array at Walt Disney World, building a solar-powered car model. “Everyone had fun while learning about solar energy and working together in teams to assemble two separate projects such as the PV cell phone charger and the solar-powered model race cars. One high light of the camp was Mr. Gabe Gabrielle who presented the NASA presentation entitled "To Infinity and Beyond!" Gabe inspired all of us at the camp for sure!!” expressed Bob Seigworth, LSSC’s Director / Program Manager of Energy Technology Programs.

North Florida Community College hosted 3 camps: middle school robotics,  high school engineering technology, and high school mechatronics. Bill Eustece taught all three single handed with an average of 10-12 students per camp.  The high school camps both yield new students into his Advanced Manufacturing program already!  He is starting the year with 16 students including 2 employees of one of his area industry partners, Nestle Water.  

FLATE would like to thank ALL our regional, educational, and industry partners and sponsors for their role in helping promulgate the importance of STEM, its applications in high-tech manufacturing and the latter’s role in positioning the US as a global leader. For more information on FLATE’s summer camps, please contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE, at You can also visit FLATE’s camps webpage at

Florida Community Job Growth Grants are Supporting Advanced Manufacturing in 13 State, Community and Technical Colleges!

In 2017-2018 the state of Florida offered Community Job Growth grants to Florida educational institutions to support local and regional communities.  Many of the award proposal submissions were to communities for infrastructures projects, however a number of state and community colleges and technical colleges received funding for training and educational programs. The good news is that many of these educational awards will support advanced manufacturing programs across the state!  Congratulations to all of those colleges awarded funds for advanced manufacturing program development and training.  See the table below for a list of colleges awarded funding for advanced manufacturing, the programs they were funded to support and the total award amount. We look forward to reporting on their programs and projects in the coming year.
Don’t miss out!  The solicitation for 2018-2919 is published and proposals are already being posted online: .

The 2019 STEP Ahead Award Nominations are open!

2019 STEP Ahead Award nominations opened August 1 and close October 5. Consider nominating a female  peer or colleague for this prestigious award by the Manufacturing Institute. Recipients of the award receive not only national recognition but also an invitation to attend a two-day leadership program in Washington, DC that focuses on enhancing both the skills they need to continue succeeding, as well as the tools to mentor the next generation of women in manufacturing. To date, 802 women who are making a difference in their companies and communities have been recognized since 2012. Visit to learn more about the Institute’s STEP Ahead Awards and to find more information on nominations for the 2019 awards.