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

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