Tracing the Evolution of Manufacturing Day Student Tours in Florida

The Early Years
Manufacturing Day marks the kick-off for a month-long celebration of manufacturing and manufacturers contributions in shaping the face of modern manufacturing. Manufacturing Day is an opportunity for manufacturers to step out of the shadows and spotlight their role in transforming innovative ideas into real-world products. For a long time, the word ‘Manufacturing’ conjured negative images of a dying industry with limited opportunities and potential for growth. In reality, manufacturing is the lifeline of an economy, any economy for that matter! In that respect, Manufacturing Day earmarks the trailblazing moments of the manufacturing industry, the role of manufacturing in germinating groundbreaking ideas and converting them into tangible products, and showcasing what manufacturers do on a daily basis to inspire the next generation of innovators.
On the national level, the Manufacturing Day initiative kick started in 2012 and was orchestrated primarily by Fabricators and Manufacturers Association International and its cohesive network of partners that at the time included NAM, National Manufacturers Association, the Manufacturing Institute (MI), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). This network of founding partners have been highly successful in rolling out the idea of celebrating Manufacturing Day on a national platform and in working with a vast network of statewide organizations that have hopped into the bandwagon to celebrate Manufacturing Day on a local level in various pockets and capacities across the country.

MFG Day from a Florida Perspective
Here in Florida, FLATE, the National Science Foundation Center of Excellence for manufacturing, took the initial lead in spearheading and formulating a statewide strategy for Manufacturing Day focusing on students and student tours to manufacturing facilities. FLATE’s involvement with Manufacturing Day and raising awareness about this national effort started in 2012. FLATE’s task to get all statewide stakeholders—manufacturers, school districts, community organizations etc—on the same page was colossal. Calls to raise awareness and get statewide stakeholders involved in the manufacturing day initiative started out small with an article first published in the October 2012 edition of the FLATE Focus. 
By 2013, the idea had taken flight and FLATE had set the stage for an official first kick off of Manufacturing Day in Florida. During the initial years, FLATE took a leading role in working with statewide partners that included manufacturers, manufacturers associations, trade groups, school districts, colleges and universities, to organize the logistics for industry tours for students across the state. FLATE also worked with local partners to get the local, county and state government on board to issue proclamations marking the first Friday in October as Manufacturing Day. In addition to arranging industry tours for students, FLATE spearheaded the campaign for industry partners to sponsor T-Shirts and lunches for students, teachers and chaperones who participated in an industry tour for manufacturing day. Not to leave the marketing part out, FLATE worked with regional “Manufacturing Day Teams” to arrange media publicity and coverage on a regional and statewide basis.  
With all the physical aspects of organizing a manufacturing day industry tour in place, FLATE took on another monumental task to single-handedly develop an effective strategy to survey all Manufacturing Day participants that included students, educators, chaperones and industry hosts. At the conclusion of Manufacturing Day, FLATE single-handedly compiled the data and distributes customized reports to each of the partners earmarking the impact of tours on all participants in their region. 2013 also marked the start of a formal curriculum for manufacturing day that FLATE developed for educators to use as part of their Manufacturing Day industry tours. 
By the time 2014 rolled around, Florida, under the leadership of FLATE, was leading the nation in organizing industry tours for manufacturing day. Florida was earmarked the national leader in implementing a statewide strategy for National Manufacturing Day. Number of students who participated in a Made in Florida industry tour rose from nearly 2000 in 2012 to over 3000 in 2013. Number of counties involved increased, cities and towns issuing proclamations experienced phenomenal growth too. Marketing efforts were stepped up and integrated with social efforts to get the community at large engaged in fun and innovative campaigns like the “MFGDay in Florida Selfiethons.”  FLATE also expanded its Manufacturing Day curriculum to include one for elementary students and for 7th to 10th graders. 
2015 marked the apex of Manufacturing Day in Florida. It set a new precedent as Florida led the nation in organizing the highest number of industry tours and related events in the nation. FLATE and its network of statewide partners had led an immensely successful blockbuster campaign that ranked Florida in the top spot in the nation for two consecutive years. To accommodate the overall rise in participation, industry tours were expanded and scheduled throughout the month of October, making it, for the first time, a month-long celebration. For educators the curriculum expanded to include a Manufacturing Day in Florida poster that they could use as a curriculum tool and/or to decorate their classrooms. 
Over 4,700 students participated in manufacturing day industry tours in 2015. The number of tour hosts across the state was at an all-time high, with the number of educators/chaperons and parents participating in an industry tour doubling compared to the previous years.  The total number of stakeholder surveys (students, educators/chaperones and industry hosts) also witnessed a dramatic increase in 2015. 
Noteworthy media and social moments included a retweet from Congressmen David Jolly, from the 13th District in Florida who acknowledged FLATE’s role in MFG Day/Month in the United States Senate. Then, United States Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzer also gave FLATE a major social kudos on Twitter with National Day Manufacturing Day organizers at the Manufacturing Institute also acknowledging FLATE’s media and social efforts. In 2017 FLATE partnered with FloridaMakes and NIST to conduct Facebook Live session to mark the official kick off of Manufacturing Day/Month. Live videos were streamed on the FLATE Facebook page outlining students/educators and industry professionals’ experience while touring a manufacturing facility. 
In the years to follow, Manufacturing Day continued to garner statewide support from all quarters. Statewide manufacturers consistently rated Manufacturing Day as a valuable investment of their time and resources, while students and educators continued to rate their industry tour as a helpful mechanism to understand Florida’s high-tech jobs and careers in manufacturing. Although the overall statewide participation slightly dipped in 2016 and 2017 in part due to hurricanes barreling through the state, by 2017 additional events such as Manufacturing Expos showcasing local products,  Job Fairs interviewing local candidates, Manufacturers Awards acknowledging contributions of local manufacturers/educators, Manufacturing Fundraisers to support manufacturing education, STEM festivals at local state and community colleges became more common and were added to the glossary of events for Manufacturing Month. 
2017 also marked the advent of virtual industry tours for students whereby students who could not tour a manufacturing facility had the opportunity to learn about its manufacturing operations and processes remotely and by using the FLATE Manufacturing Day curriculum. The numbers rebounded in 2018, with overall participation increasing to over 5,000 students and nearly 140 educators touring 126 industry sites in 21 counties across Florida. Manufacturing Day/Month continues to make a tremendous impact in raising awareness about manufacturers’ contributions to the state and national economy. Over the years it has served as an effective vehicle in educating the next generation about importance of manufacturing, but more importantly it has steadily helped build the much-needed pipeline of high-skilled workers for Florida’s diverse manufacturing economy.  

2019 MFG Day Efforts
2019 is poised to be another banner year for Manufacturing Day in Florida. Across the state new Manufacturing Day teams have emerged to lead regional efforts for Manufacturing Day. Check with your regional manufacturers associations to get an update on how to get involved in Manufacturing Day industry tours and related events. In terms of FLATE, it has completely revamped its Manufacturing Day site. The FLATE Wiki is now your one-stop-shop for all information and resources needed to successfully plan Manufacturing Day industry tours and events, access Manufacturing Day STEM-based curriculum, download instructions for media outreach, and download pre and post Manufacturing Day surveys. The FLATE Industry Tour Best Practice Guide is also another great place to check while planning your Manufacturing Day tours and events.  
Manufacturing Day is indeed one of the banner events for manufacturers here in Florida and across the state. It has and continues to make a tremendous impact on statewide stakeholders, as it gives them an opportunity to learn not only about the products that are made in their backyard, but the technologies involved in making a product and the career pathways available to be part of a high-tech workforce. On a broader scale Manufacturing Day continues to build inroads between schools and local businesses as they look towards building sustainable partnerships. Indeed, statewide Manufacturing Day partners have contributed to expanding the scope and reach of this statewide event and are invested on many levels to make this a successful endeavor every year. FLATE would like to thank all its partners for their participation, sponsorship and involvement in Manufacturing Day efforts and for making it a grand success. We look forward to continuing this partnership and collaboration with each of our partners to position Florida as a national leader in the Manufacturing arena. 
For more information on FLATE’s statewide strategy for manufacturing day/month, visit and the FLATE Wiki. You can also contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at, or at 813.259.6578. 

Second Annual Advanced Manufacturing Regional Research Academy Florida State University and Chipola College

On September 20, 2019, Florida State University, Chipola College, and FLATE leadership were joined by representatives from Gulf Coast State College, Pensacola State College, and Tallahassee Community College for an advanced manufacturing (AM) Regional Academy to examine research results and evidence-based best practices for linking curriculum to employer expectations.

The Regional Academy was sponsored by the team’s National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) research project, Assessing Educational Pathways for Manufacturing in Rural Communities: An Investigation of New and Existing Programs in Northwest Florida (NSF 1700581). This full-scale three-year research project, led by PI Marcia A. Mardis (FSU), Co-PI Charles R. McClure (FSU), Co-PI Faye R. Jones (FSU) and Co-PI David Bouvin (Chipola) includes an annual Regional Academy to share findings, recommendations, and lessons learned from research conducted with Panhandle participating institutions.

FLATE’s Marilyn Barger provided the keynote address for the inaugural Regional Academy; the agenda also included presentations, discussions, and hands-on employer interview and syllabus
review activities led by the project team. The day’s agenda was based on the team’s established learning pathway research into documenting and strategizing recruitment, retention, and placement of AM students throughout the Panhandle and in surrounding communities.

Discussions were followed by training workshops that in which participants engaged with strategies for systematically collecting data about competency needs from employers. All events were captured recorded and will be shared with the NSF ATE community at the Principal Investigators’ Conference in Washington, DC October 23-25. Check out the videos from this and past Regional Academy events at

For more about the AM Pathways project and the teams’ related IT Pathways project, visit or contact Marcia A.  Mardis ( or David Bouvin ( Tweet at or follow us @TechnicianPath1!

Made In Florida Industry Tours Proved Positive Impact to Spark Students' Perception of the Industry and its Career Options

Since 2005, the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence (FLATE), has conducted and facilitated over 855 tours to Florida manufacturing sites, introducing more than 25,200 students and 1,600 educators to the world of modern manufacturing.
These tours provide manufacturers the opportunity to open their doors to show students, educators, and the community what the real-life world of manufacturing looks like today. Tour participants are exposed to some of the challenging, exciting, and lucrative careers options available in the world of manufacturing.
One of FLATE’s goals has been to provide students with exposure to real Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) workplaces, primarily those in manufacturing. Students are surveyed after the tours so data can be gathered to discover what the students experienced from their own point of view and measure the impact on the students’ perception of the industry and its careers options. Survey data includes quantitative data (part 1) and write-in responses (part 2).

Quantitative data-Part 1

Survey data collected from 2018 Made in Florida Manufacturing Day/Month student tours were analyzed and illustrated in Table 1 below.

Results show that of the 1,237 students’ post event surveys received: 
There was an impressive 131.5% change in girls considering a career in advanced manufacturing after the tour compared to 61% boys. 
Nearly 88% of the students who responded stated the tour helped them understand how STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are put to work in advanced manufacturing industries. 
90% stated they would recommend that other students have the opportunity of this tour, 97% said that this tour gave them new information about careers in advanced manufacturing. 
Overall there was a 77% increase in consideration of a career in advanced manufacturing for boys and girls after the tour. 

2015-18 Cumulative – “Made in Florida” Industry Tours Advanced Manufacturing Perception Impact. 
Cumulative students’ post event surveys responses from 2015 thru 2018 are presented in table 2 below.
The perception impact or percentage of change is evaluated by comparing questions 1 and 7. Data from years 2015 thru 2018 reflects a strong positive impact on the students with a consistent positive change for both boys and girls considering a career in advanced manufacturing before and after the tour. 67 % of the 2,076 responses in 2015, 80% of the 1,746 in 2016, 67 % of the 2,202, and 77% of the 1,237 in 2018 strongly agreed that the tour gave them important information about manufacturing careers and after the tour they are considering a career in advanced manufacturing. Additionally, just over 80% of this group agreed or strongly agreed that they would recommend this tour to other students. Student responses to other survey questions also indicate high levels regarding their perceptions of the relevance of the tour and heightened awareness of the importance of manufacturing skills.

Results clearly show that “Made in Florida” Industry Tours provide a positive impact sparking students’ perception of the industry and its career options. Tours to Florida high tech manufacturing industries expose not only students, but also their parents and teachers to the positive aspects of advanced manufacturing careers, and the education needed to obtain these careers. 
Tours should be integral parts of the secondary and post-secondary manufacturing and technical courses and programs. Working together, school and industry partners create a win-win situation, providing authentic, well integrated connections between technical jobs and the education needed to obtain them. The sowing of these seeds through activities such as tours will attract tomorrow’s skilled technical workforce to the industries which need them, and to ensure the success of American advanced manufacturing.

2019 Manufacturing Day Industry Tour Pictures from Creative Sign Designs (Top left), Southern Manufacturing Technologies (Top right and bottom left), and Atlantic Tec (Bottom right).

For more information about this topic refer to FLATE's "Made in Florida" Industry Tour Resources at, FLATE’s  “Industry Tour Students” best practice guide, FLATE’s white paper “Manufacturing Day Tours: Student Feedback Shows Huge Impact”, presentation at 2019 FACTE Annual Conference “What it takes Helping Girls find their way to Manufacturing and Engineering Careers” or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at Industry Tour

The Future of Mechatronics Research and Education (FoMRE)

Mechatronics is the discipline that addresses the many complex integrated systems used in many industries today, blending together mechanical, electrical and communication systems. It’s a complicated and complex interdisciplinary subject. Strategies for teaching and learning the fundamentals of each independent discipline as well as the whole of an integrated system are important in an educational program, but also presents challenging questions about what and how to teach it in a limited time program of study at any level.

FLATE recently participated in a 2-day workshop at Lawrence Technological University (LTU) in Southfield, MI culminating a series of 3 funded educational research events. More than 60 attendees from across the country gathered t to continue their work defining the skills and competencies that engineers, technologists, and technicians that design and work with mechatronics systems need to have now and what they will need in the future. One the first day of the workshop, educators from around the country were joined industry representatives to work in small focus groups. The room was filled with open and lively discussion and the groups filled over 30 flip charts of shared output that capture the salient points of each discussion group.  The workshop organizers and P.I.’s of the project will synthesize, summarize and report their findings and recommendations to the participants and the National Science Foundation Engineering Directorate which funded the series of workshops. The intent is that mechatronics educators will use the outputs to shape their current and future programs.

In addition to the academic questions of skills and competencies needed, the workshop addressed other aspects of mechatronics educational programs.  These topics included recruiting students, outreach to younger generations, diversity and inclusion issues and best ways to work with industry. Many ideas and proven practices were shared on these topics which will also be part of the project report.  The workshop at LTU was the last of three planned workshops and the final report will reflect the data and input from all three events. The group has developed a community of practice that identified some opportunities to sustain itself and will be presenting and publishing a series of papers at the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) annual conference next summer to continue the community efforts and disseminate their findings.

To find out more, please contact Dr. Marilyn Barger (

Future Technician Preparation (Agricultural and Bio Technologies)

Thus far, this FLATE Focus Future of Work Series has introduced overview connections of Future of Work issues in technology sectors heading used by the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education program: advanced manufacturing technology, agricultural and bio-technologies, energy, environmental technology, information technology, micro & nano technologies, geospatial technology, and security technologies. At this point in our series that background introduction is now in place. It is time to go through the categories again with more depth in mind.

We will come back to advanced manufacturing specifically since it may be the magnet for all future of work issues related to technician preparation and use a new process technology that forces the discussion into the first two technology sectors listed above (advanced manufacturing technologies, agricultural and bio-tech) with the “instigator” being agriculture and bio-technology. The new process technology involves pulse power applications and this topic matches the Future of Work series for important reasons: although the application of pulse power is complicated it is being adopted by industry, the STEM concepts in this technology are advanced; the skills technicians will need cross several technician categories; and it is highly likely that faculty are not familiar with pulse power. However, although the topic could get a bit out of hand it will be constrained to the world of the technician with the intent of addressing two defining questions: how does pulse power technology influence the technical workforce and what do future technicians have to do to secure knowledge of and comfort level to work in this area.

First things first: what is pulsed power? The processing of large amounts of agricultural produces to produce a target product is the fundamental of agriculture in the modern world. Juices are an excellent way for people to enjoy the benefits from a fruit. The apples industry is just one example. The agriculture objective for this specific example would be to optimize the amount of juice that can be extracted from an apple. The application of a very high electric field to the apples for a very brief time period after their initial press greatly increases the amount of juice that is extracted during the subsequent processing step. This new technology, pulse power approach is being employed in European agriculture now for grapes and other fruits. There are companies manufacturing the equipment and other companies designing and installing pulse power protocols for “big-ag” to insert into their production streams.   

 Back to the starting questions: (i) How does pulse power technology influence the technical workforce? (ii) For readers of previous articles in this series, there was no expectation for instantaneous answers to these questions. The intent is to stay with our operating premise: "The work to do starts with you."! However, we need more “teeth” in your response.

The example presented is an actual new technology that is being inserted in the agricultural and biotechnologies sectors in the United States and is already established in the European Union.  Sectors that rely on technicians to operate and maintain their processes as well as chemically and biologically evaluate the product during and after its processing will have to adjust to a really “radical” new high-tech computer-driven process. In addition, it should be quite clear that this new technology requires knowledge and skills that cross the traditional and perhaps silo technician expectations of biotech technicians. This technology is not going away. It is expanding into every corner of agriculture.  Technician education and training will have to address preparing technicians to work with it. Does this mean that the programs that currently focus on the analysis techniques will have to expand their focus or will new programs or subprograms be introduced within the agriculture technician skill space?

It is much better if these questions are addressed now. This preparation with input from around the country is important for creating a well throughout planned approach! NSF-ATE is listening and can put its resources into action in respond to what it hears so now is the time to speak up and share your thoughts with specific suggestions. Think about the skills needed and the optimal time (place) to learn them. Contact us. Send your thoughts and questions:  

NEW! MSSC's Certified Forklift Technician (CFT) Credential

MSSC is proud to announce the launch on October 1, 2019 of a new hands-on training and certification program, The Certified Forklift Technician (CFT). The CFT is a nationally portable, industry-led, hands-on training and assessment certification program designed to prepare individuals with in-demand skills to maintain, service, and repair forklift vehicles.

MSSC has partnered with the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA), the nation's premier trade association for serving the business interests of the material handling industry. CFT is designed to respond to the industry's acute need for higher skilled maintenance and repair service technicians for forklift equipment.

Follow this link for more detailed information!

After School Science Brought to You by the National Science Foundation (NSF)

For generations, children’s television and other informal learning supported by NSF has sparked a lifelong interest in science.

“To the bus!” With those words, millions of children, aided by TV antennas and active imaginations, climbed aboard a shape-shifting school bus to go careening through the solar system, the blood stream – wherever "the Friz" resolved to go.

This September marked 25 years since Scholastic's Magic School Bus veered off the written page and into our television sets, bringing with it a credo that emphasized taking chances, making mistakes and getting messy. Support from the National Science Foundation helped bring the celebrated book series to the airwaves and to young viewers (like you!) sitting frog-legged on living room floors across the country.

NSF's support for children’s television programming is part of the agency’s multi- decade effort to boost science learning beyond the classroom, through television, museum exhibits, film, radio, citizen science projects, the internet, and more. Magic School Bus, 3-2-1 Contact, Reading Rainbow, Zoom, and Bill Nye the Science Guy were just a few of the early NSF-funded shows that took an innovative approach to bringing science to life on the small screen. These evidence-based programs served up science education alongside entertainment, inspiring new generations of science enthusiasts.

Today, Cyberchase, SciGirls, Peep and the Big Wide World, Peg + Cat, Design Squad and other shows continue that tradition, breaking new ground in children’s science learning through media. Peep and the Big Wide World (, for example, was one of the first programs to show that toddlers could learn basic science concepts and skills like measuring, comparing and estimating through television shows geared toward their age group. SciGirls ( launched as a response to the fact that women in the U.S. remain underrepresented in STEM, especially in fields like engineering and the computer sciences. The show engages tween viewers in STEM by following a group of real- world girls as they predict, observe, experiment and otherwise don their "scientist hats" to understand the world around them. 

Many of today's shows have also adapted to living in a multimedia world, augmenting their TV programming with innovative web content. Kids who love Cyberchase ( ), a show designed to make math fun and accessible that NSF began funding in the late 90's, can now visit the Cyberchase page on the PBS Kids website to access educational games, videos and hands-on activities. The webpage for Design Squad, another NSF-funded show on PBS, offers short videos ( on how to make everything from a two-wheel balloon car to bristle bots made from toothbrush heads. 

From NSF Updates

New Department of Labor (DOL) Competency Model Resources

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Competency Model Clearinghouse has released three new resources aimed at assisting with developing competency-based approaches to education and workforce development. Resources include the How-To Crosswalk Competency Models for Curriculum Development Video Series, the Customizing Competency Models through Convening Guide, and the U.S. DOL Competency Model Peer Learning Group. These resources highlight real-life experiences and examples, offer tips and tools, and provide a forum for peers to discuss their own competency model efforts. They are housed on the LMI Central community.

Video Series: How to Crosswalk Competency Models with Curriculum: A six-part video series that highlights the real experiences of community colleges using competency models to enrich their curricula, improve their student outcomes, and strengthen their relationships with area employers.

The Customizing Competency Models Through Convening Guide also helps you prepare to engage with employers to define competencies and develop training.  The guide provides a variety of resources, ready-to-use tools, and examples of successful regional partnerships to help as you engage in the process of convening partners to customize a competency model.

If you are interested in learning more about competency models and connecting with others in the field, join the U.S. DOL Competency Model Peer Learning Group. The PLG is an opportunity to learn about the experiences of fellow workforce development practitioners while expanding your network and finding new resources.