ATE Leadership Caucus Looks to the Future

In mid-December, the new “Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work” project hosted its advisory committee and Principal Investigators from ATE centers, coordination networks and projects in Alexandria, Virginia to explore anticipated impacts on the “future of work” on the advanced technicians graduating from our programs.  This event kick-started the four-year ATE special project focused identifying what skills and knowledge the technician workforce will need in the coming decades and how we can best deploy them. The project advisory committee met the day prior to the Caucus and those 10 industry representatives joined the ATE Caucus to share their industry perspectives.  The funded “Preparing Technicians” project is providing an important opportunity for the ATE community to come together and look toward the future of technician education and what we will want and need to change in our educational systems to best prepare students for the jobs of the future.

Several NSF program officers from programs focused on the NSF’s “Big Idea” focusing on the Future of Work at the Human Technology Interface. This program spans the breadth of the National Science Foundation’s programs including the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program.  And, it is one of ten “Big Ideas” (see the Big Ideas webpage) that the National Science Foundation is promoting to prompt scientists and engineering researchers to investigate interdisciplinary and cross disciplinary topics and applications of emerging technologies. The ATE Impacts Blog has a recent post from the Caucus event that highlights the presentations from these NSF program officers at the Caucus.
You can join the Preparing Technician’s community by signing up on its website,, and/or read the posted article from the December Caucus, which summarizes the amazing presentation by Mehran Gul, Lead for Digital Transformation Initiative at the World Economic Forum (Geneva, Switzerland).  This presentation gives a thought-provoking historic and global perspective of work and anticipates the future. You can also find the project’s monthly podcasts as well as other resources.

The fast pace of technological change, the power of artificial intelligence, G5 communication platforms, flexible manufacturing and virtual / augmented reality will affect how many workers do their work every day. We must do our best to anticipate what industry will look like for working technicians.  FLATE looks forward to sharing news from the Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work project as it explores the technology workforce and workplace of the near future.  For more information about the Preparing Technicians projects, contact the project P.I., Ann-Clair Anderson ( or Marilyn Barger, Executive Director, FLATE (

Catch the Wave of career Pathways with the 2019 Florida Career Pathways Network (FCPN) Symposium

The Florida Career Pathways Network hosted its Annual FCPN Symposium “2019 Catch the Wave of Career Pathways” in the beautiful Hutchinson Shores Resort and Spa, in Martin County, Florida on January 16-18. FCPN is part of the National Career Pathways Network (NCPN), a membership organization dedicated to the advancement of Career Pathways, career technical education (CTE), and workforce development initiatives. FCPN serves as a platform for educational practitioners and leaders to collaborate on initiatives targeted to prepare students at the secondary and postsecondary level for the 21st century high-tech, high-skill and high-paying jobs. FCPN supports excellence in the planning, implementation, evaluation and improvement of career pathways, career and technical education, and education-related reform initiatives across Florida. Its cohort of members and partners who include educators, administrators, and employers have been effective in pooling an extensive array of information aimed at providing a network of communication and resources for new and existing programs. As every year, the 2019 FCPN symposium offered a true collaboration of outstanding educators and business partners from across the state of Florida, who strive for educational best practices and excellence.
The pre-conference “Integrating Robotics and Coding” hands on workshop focused on the importance of increasing robotics and coding a crossed grade levels, the need to prepare the future workforce for careers and the relationship to computer, reviewed industry certifications that apply to coding and robotics, and available professional development resources. A total  of 18 participants took advantage of the hands on robotics activities, some of the activities involved the use of EV3 robot programming platform to build and code a robot.  Learn the basics, then build and program a robot to perform a specific task.

FLATE is closely involved and has been a longtime member of the organization. As part of its ongoing involvement with statewide Career & Technical (CTE) programs, every year FLATE attends the FCPN symposium to share ideas and best practices. This year FLATE together with the Hillsborough County Public Schools facilitated a pre-conference “Integrating Robotics and Coding” hands on workshop held on January 16, 2019. In addition, FLATE participated in two sessions at the FCPN Symposium held on January 17.
FLATE typically provide satisfaction surveys at the end of workshops to provide a means of continuous improvement and to ensure FLATE is meeting the needs of attendees. Fifteen respondents to the survey agreed that the format, presentation and overall activities of the workshop were excellent, 100% of the respondents plan to use the information presented in the workshop, will share something learned with colleagues and peers, and will definitely recommend this workshop to others.
Session 1: Industry Tours: A Strategy that Works to Spark Girls’ Awareness about STEM Careers. This session presented how women representation in STEM fields continues to be low in USA. Field trips/industry tours activities provide students with the opportunity to visualize and integrate the “T and E” in STEM subjects by experiencing real high-tech world industry workplace.   During this presentation, FLATE demonstrated how its outreach campaign “Made in Florida” Industry Tours positively impact the perception of students.

Session 2: Manufacturing Day Student Tours: A Great Way to Celebrate STEM and CTE Pathways. This session introduced FLATE’s Made in Florida outreach campaign “Manufacturing Day/Month”, and shared how FLATE has organized a statewide effort, carried out by local stakeholders, to get students into manufacturing facilities for tours in October.  Participants learned how STEM /CTE disciplines can help to expose students and the community to manufacturing and all the high technologies and great careers.

FLATE receives Florida Career Pathways Best Practices Award for its outstanding dedication and leadership in support of Florida’s Career Pathways Initiatives, demonstrated through its Florida Best Practices.
During the 2019 FCPN Awards luncheon, Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director, FLATE, Danielly Orozco-Cole, Associate Director, FLATE, and Elizabeth E. Simpson, Supervisor, Industrial and Technology Education, Hillsborough County Publics Schools Career and Technical Education were recognized for their dedication and leadership received two Best Practices Awards.

The best practice presentations are now available for download on FLATE’s Wiki/presentations.

SAVE THE DATE for the National Career Pathways Network Conference on October 11-13, 2019, Renaissance Orlando at Seaworld, Florida. For more information visit

News from FloridaMakes

We are excited to report that Florida manufacturers who received services through FloridaMakes have reported a combined total of over $721 million in measurable impacts (total survey data through Q3, 2018). 
The results break down to include:
  • Increased or retained sales: $475 million
  • Total cost savings: $70.6 million
  • Total investments: $175.7 million (equipment, new products, skills and other)
  • Jobs created or retained: 5,236

The survey results represent data from 241 firms. On average, $3 million in total impact and over 21 jobs were created or retained per firm.

Heroes of American Manufacturing Video:  ACR Electronics, Inc.
FloridaMakes and the South Florida Manufacturers Association are proud to announce that ACR Electronics is one of two manufacturing firms selected nationally for the Heroes of American Manufacturing video series sponsored by the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP part of the US Department of Commerce.  Watch the Video Now!

Save The Date! May 31, 2019
MAKE MORE Manufacturing Summit
The MAKE MORE Manufacturing Summit is a leadership-focused meeting designed around connecting ecosystem stakeholders with the needs and realities of industry leaders from the manufacturing sector. Host sponsors include AIF, Florida Chamber Foundation, Florida Makes, and Career Source Florida. Please join us for the second annual event.  More Information!

FloridaMakes is a statewide, industry-led, public-private partnership operated by participating Regional Manufacturers Associations with the sole mission of strengthening and advancing Florida's economy by improving the productivity and technological performance of its manufacturing sector, with an emphasis on small- and medium-sized firms. It accomplishes this by providing services focused on three principle value streams: technology adoption, talent development, and business growth. For more information, visit

Florida remains #2 in MSSC Credentials for 2018

MSSC has released its cumulative data for its assessments and awarded credentials. To date, MSSC has delivered 197,000 assessments and awarded 144,000 credentials to 89,000. Here are the top ten states with the most MSSC assessments and credentials  Indiana,  Florida,  South CarolinaOhio, Wisconsin, Texas, Illinois, California, North Carolina, and Kentucky.

The tables below show the breakout of the Florida assessments and credentials in 2018 and cumulative since 2007.  Congratulations to new Florida CPT and CLT credentialed workers! You can learn more about MSSC on their website,
Florida Assessment Delivery & Certification Attainment

Future Technician Preparation (Bio-technology)

With the start of the new year (happy new year to all), FLATE Focus continues with discussion of our "Work to do for Future Technician Preparation theme".  The National Science Foundation is extremely interested in what technician education should "look-like" because new and near future advancements in science, engineering, and technology are changing American industry.  As suggested in the December FLATE Focus, math is the heart and soul of STEM.  It is imbedded in every significant achievement in science, engineering, and technology.  Thus, mathematics might have new and future advances to contribute to new technologies.  However, "future of work" technologies will also demand the technical workforce to have a secure knowledge of and comfort level with specific subsets of existing STEM connected math concepts.  The National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF-ATE) program involves partnerships between academic institutions and industry to promote and execute improvement in the education of technicians.  The ATE program's focus includes, but is not limited to, advanced manufacturing technologies, agricultural and bio-technologies, energy and environmental technologies, engineering technologies, information technologies, micro- and nanotechnologies, security technologies, geospatial technologies, and applied research on technician education.

The "bio-technologies" part of NSF-ATE agricultural and bio-technologies technician education mission is another example of what new specific contributions from science, technology, and engineering combined with some great new applications of mathematics has and continues to do.  Although the agricultural sector (see last month's Focus for discussion) does at least have bigger and more fancy farm equipment to suggest the presence of future of work technology, the incredible changes in the bio-tech sector are not apparent to much of the public.  These new technologies have "borrowed" their innovation from a variety of mathematics, science, and technology sources to make it even challenging for educators in the field to pinpoint this STEM contribution and impact.  Actually, it is not even clear who is willing to step up and define biotechnology so that a discussion of future of work issues on biotechnology can stay focused on that topic.

When all else fails many of us just default to Webster (now-a-days: Merriam-Webster) for any definition.  

 "The manipulation (as through genetic engineering) of living organisms or their components to produce useful usually commercial products (such as pest resistant crops, new bacterial strains, or novel pharmaceuticals) also: any of various applications of biological science used in such manipulation."

Using this Webster definition, it is possible to identify the two important segments of the bio-technology sector; components to produce commercial products and applications of biological science to accomplish the task.  As new technologies become embedded in both of these segments, technician work expectations change.  One mathematics impact example for each segment is provided as "food for thought" to trigger more in-depth study of technician education in this sector. 

For the laboratory-based technician, the introduction of more sophisticated metrology tools triggers the need for the tech to understands statistics beyond result interpretation from the classic visual (microscope) interrogation of manipulated bacterial strains.  New instruments provide data, graphs, and/ or spectra to report their interrogation of a sample.  These information formats inevitably require statistics to clarify and characterize the reported results.  The technicians and advanced operators assigned to these instruments will need a secure knowledge of at least Gaussian based statistics to evaluate the significance of the means and variances of the actual sample and the sample population.  They will be expected to deal much more data and the interpretation of many data sets. 

 For the technician involved in the commercial manipulation of living organisms or their components, the new technologies are automating these operations.  As with any automation, the technician’s role morphs to meet the new situation.  Inevitably production automation introduces the mathematics of process control to the technician and advanced process operators.  Even the simplest math concepts in PID (proportional, integral, and differential) control of a process stream are not typically presented to today's bio-technology student.  Most likely these same future technicians do not today receive any exposure to the practical mathematics of calculus associated with integration and differentiation.  

Repeating our mantra for this series of briefings; "The work to do starts with you."  What do you think the bio-technician interface to laboratory and commercial processes should look like?  Can both segments of biotechnology be covered in one A.S. degree program to service the industry?  What should mathematics training be for these technicians and how can it best be done?  Will the same future bio-tech technician be expected to work in the testing lab and the production floor?  These are complicated questions with perhaps convoluted answers. The first step is to just get the discussion going.  Please let us know what you think.

Understanding Engineering Pathways

EDUCATORS MUST KEEP UP:  A new report from the National Academies asserts that "U.S. engineering education must continuously adapt both to advances in science and technology fields—especially computing and data science, which provide tools that engineers in all disciplines must learn to use—and to the changing needs of industry, society, and workers themselves."  The report points out: "The disciplinary foundations of engineering are expanding with the growing influence and incorporation of computing, the life sciences, the social and behavioral sciences, business management concepts and skills, and entrepreneurship." Also: "Advances in the understanding of how people learn engineering, corresponding evidence-based innovations in pedagogy and technological tools for the education of engineers, and the digital fluency of incoming generations of students are all creating new needs and opportunities for engineering education to adapt. These curricular changes both improve graduates’ professional and lifelong learning skills and attract more women and underrepresented minorities to the field."

What is the value of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Certifications?

Since 2006, all Florida secondary and post-secondary technical education professionals have been thinking about the value of Industry-validated credentials as assessment tools to define student competencies in all career clusters.  It’s a challenging exercise to embed the skills defined by industry credentials into High School, post-secondary and baccalaureate technical programs and to be sure that the credential competencies are met in the bigger educational context.  Other than the monetary premiums that the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) provides to schools if/when students are successful completing the certification assessments, there is always the question of the “return on investment” for students and educators.

A recent article in the Journal of Engineering Technology (JET) asks the question about the value of computer-aided design (CAD) vendor-specific credentials. Several commercial design software programs offer credentials to both professionals and students.  The small study focused only one of these, SOLIDWORKS. During recent years, SOLIDWORKS (like other design software vendors) has developed an array of Certifications at various levels from student level Associate to Master and Expert with some focusing on specific discipline specializations. 
Adoption of SOLIDWORKS by educational institutions has continued to grow since their first certification was granted in 2008.  Approximately 204,000 people worldwide have passed the CSWA {Certification of SOLIDWORKS Associate), the entry-level credential which costs $99. The most prestigious and highest-level SOLIDWORKS credential is known as the SOLIDWORKS Expert and, represents a significant investment.

The small research study by Rustin Webster and Rudy Ottway (Journal of Engineering Technology, Fall 2018) were interested in determining what the value of SOLIDWORKS credentials for students in both Engineering and Engineering Technology programs.  They also surveyed working professionals learn if they had found their SOLIDWORKS credentials beneficial and valuable in getting their position. The research team identified 156 credentialed SOLIDWORKS at the Professional and Expert levels (all working professionals) of which 58 responded to their survey conducted in several Midwest states.  91% of the respondents agreed that obtaining a SOLIDWORKS credential is, in general, valuable and beneficial.  For students applying for internships, co-op positions or open new positions, holding a SOLIDWORKS Associate or Professional certification was beneficial during interviews and during the whole job-seeking processes.  More details can be found in the published article.

Although the Webster and Ottway study was small in scope and focus, its results suggest a benefit for engineering and engineering technology students.  There are few evidence-based research studies on the value of industry certifications for students or workers in applying for or being selected for new positions in any field.  More research in this area would help educators support continued use industry-valued credentials in academic curriculum. Despite the lack of evidence of the benefits of obtaining credentials in technical programs, industry credentials are increasingly being aligned to academic Career and Technical Education (CTE)programs at all levels. At a different level, the use of credentials in academic curricula has helped industry professionals and educators to communicate better about student competencies and skills using the same vocabulary. In the short term, many academic STEM programs at the secondary, post-secondary and baccalaureate levels will continue to benefit from using nationally vetted credentials to better align curriculum and programs to local, regional and national industry needs. 

You can find out more about SOLIDWORKS credentials at and you can find the article by Webster and Ottway on  Information about the Engineering Technology Division of the American Society of Engineering Education (ETD of ASEE) and their Journal of Engineering Technology, please click here. To learn more about the use of industry-validated credentials in CTE curriculum in Florida, visit the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) website.

Shaluly Foundation Donates to Education Fund

The 4th Annual Manufacturing 5K Run or Walk for Education was held on Sunday, October 28, 2018. More than $6,000 of the proceeds were donated to SME Tampa Bay by the Shaluly Foundation. Thank you!

The annual event raises funds for deserving future engineers and other manufacturing workplace individuals. Proceeds are distributed to the following manufacturing organizations: Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Bay Area Manufacturers Association, Upper Tampa Bay Education Foundation, and Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs.

Thank you Mike and Mia Shaluly, Mastercut Tool, event sponsors and participants for investing in manufacturing student education. We couldn't do so much for so many without you!

Nominate a Manufacturing Rockstar for the 2019 FLATE Awards

Nominations for the 2019 Distinguished Manufacturing Service Recognition program or FLATE Awards are now open. For over a decade FLATE Awards program has been an effective vehicle in recognizing outstanding educators and industry professionals who have made sizable contributions to educating and training Florida's high-tech workforce. Since the implementation of the Awards program in 2006, FLATE has recognized 26 educators at the secondary and postsecondary level and 13 industry professionals across the state. This elite program has evolved over the years with FLATE partnering with the Florida Association for Industry and Technical Education (FAITE) and Florida Association for Career & Technical Education (FACTE) to jointly announce, nominate and host the Awards program.  This awards program helps us meet some specific objectives: (1) raising the visibility of manufacturing careers pathways; (2) publicly recognizing outstanding manufacturing educators for daily work; and (3) celebrating the dedication of industry and community partners to manufacturing education.

Awardees are selected from a competitive pool of distinguished nominees across Florida, and will be selected for the:

Distinguished Manufacturing Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award
Distinguished Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award
FLATE Distinguished Partner-of-the-Year Award

The FLATE Distinguished Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award recognizes a community college, or technical school educator for outstanding contributions to manufacturing and/or engineering technology education and training of today’s advanced manufacturing workforce. Nominees for the award must have demonstrated an impact on technology education at the local, state, and/or national level. The FLATE Distinguished Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award recognizes a community college, or technical school educator for outstanding contributions to manufacturing and/or engineering technology education and training of today’s advanced manufacturing workforce. Nominees for the award must have demonstrated an impact on technology education at the local, state, and/or national level. The FLATE Distinguished Manufacturing Partner Service Award recognizes key personnel for outstanding contributions to promote technology education and career awareness in support of manufacturing. The award includes nominees working in any manufacturing area such as economic development, industry, education, and administration.

Outlined below is the Awards Timeline
December, 2018:        Criteria published at

April 12, 2019:           Nomination form I: To be completed by nominators.

May 1, 2019:              Nomination form II: To be completed by nominees.

May 1, 2019:              Nominations close.

May 31, 2019:            Award selections are made by FLATE IAC-FACTE Award Committee.

June 4, 2019:              Award recipients and principal nominators are notified of their selection.

July 16, 2019:            Award ceremony during the FACTE Conference & Trade Show
The award represents FLATE’s commitment to recognize colleagues who have made significant contributions to the outreach, education, and training of today’s advanced manufacturing workforce. Each of the nominees are also expected to demonstrate exceptional devotion of time, effort, thought, and action in furthering FLATE’s mission. Nominations should be submitted via an online application located at Awards will be presented during the 53rd Annual FACTE Conference & Trade Show from July 15-17, 2019, at Renaissance Orlando at Sea World in Orlando, FL. For more information about the FLATE Awards program, or to submit a nomination contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, 813.259.6578, or at