NSF ATE PI Conference

The annual NSF ATE Principal Investigator’s Conference, organized by the American Association of Community College (AACC), was held in Washington DC in the Omni Shoreham Hotel.  The conference had two showcasing events during which all projects were required to share their work in a visual display. There are currently over twenty funded NSF ATE Projects in Florida and all were in attendance. The conference provides a great venue for learning collaborations among projects as well as opportunities for the NSF program officers who oversee the various projects to review progress directly with the PI’s and project personnel.

FLATE congratulates all the Florida projects (22) P.I.’s and their teams at 14 Florida Educational Institutions for stepping forward to meet their own local technician education challenges with innovated solutions. Florida Colleges showcasing and/or presenting include those in the list below.

In addition to the showcasing sessions, the conference had a variety of session types including demonstrations, synergy sessions, forums, and discussions.  There were also inspiring keynote speakers, student poster sessions and a special program of events for alumni and students of ATE programs. Typically, over 60 students from across the country attend the annual meeting (sponsored by both AACC and the ATE College program that they attend) and are recognized by the leaders of the National Science Foundation.

In addition to its popular annual showcase, this year FLATE organized a session on advanced manufacturing, process control and instrumentation. As industries become more automated, quality gets integrated into production, and artificial intelligence creeps into all manufacturing operations, discrete industry sectors are using more and more of the same technologies in their production processes.  Joined by experts from ATE projects at Central College (NE), South Arkansas Community College (AK), and Florida State College at Jacksonville (FL) and nearly 100 conference attendees, FLATE’s panel explored the new and emerging needs of the broad chemical processing industry technician workforce. You can find the slide from the panel posted on FLATE’s wiki.

FLATE also participated in its partner’s sessions including a synergy session for Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work which focused on how we can engage technician education regional forums around emerging skills; PathTech LISTEN’s discussion session which is tackling the issue of tracking students after graduation to learn more about what kinds of career positions they move into; and the early morning Round Tables for Integrating Necessary Skills into our education process and Needed Math to define the skills needed and how to make math a more integrated and holistic part of the technician education.

Overall, the NSF ATE Principal Investigator’s Conference showcases the edge of advanced technician education, inspires and energizes all attendees, and provides promising practices for the ongoing improvement of technician education supporting emerging industry needs across the United States.

For more information about the conference and posted presentations, please visit the AACC website. For more information about the NSF ATE projects in Florida, visit FLATE’s website.

Orange Technical College Awarded Grant for Mechatronics Program

Congratulations from the FLATE Team to Orange County Technical College Mechatronics Program!  Duke Energy and the OCPS Foundation recently awarded Steve Bowman, Instructor at Orange Technical College Mid Florida Campus a $5000 to help support after school programs in robotics.  Outside of the traditional program, Steve runs robotics teams for underprivileged, at-risk, and under-represented students who would not have this opportunity at their home school.  These students work with him, as well as other industry representatives, to build competitive robots based on their education and skill levels to compete at regional, state, and international competitions.  The money will be used to buy some of the materials needed for middle school and high school teams.  All students on these teams are allowed to participate no matter their socio-economic status and they rely on corporate donations like this to cover the cost of tools, materials, and travel to events.

Reposted from MACF Weekly Updates

Round-Up of Manufacturing Day Industry Tours in Pasco-Hernando Counties

Manufacturing Day/Month just concluded on a high note with hundreds of students and educators across Florida touring high-tech manufacturing production facilities to learn about STEM-related educational and career pathways in manufacturing. In Pasco-Hernando counties, Manufacturing Day has historically drawn significant participation. FLATE’s manufacturing day strategy for organizing industry tours for students, engaging educators, the school districts, manufacturers and the community at large has paid rewarding dividends. In that, over the years this strategy has enabled regional manufacturing day teams like the one in Pasco and Hernando counties to take lead in formulating their own manufacturing day strategy that is customized to build inroads between manufacturers, community organizations, school districts including educators and students. To that effect Pasco-Hernando counties has been successful in using FLATE’s initial model for industry tours for Manufacturing Day to create its own sustainable ecosystem.

Windell Krimm Technical High School touring GETS USA
Today Pasco-Hernando counties have taken the lead in reaching out to local manufacturers and school districts to organize industry tours for students across the two counties.  “Our goal is to enhance the awareness of job opportunities and the impact of manufacturing in our counties” said Kelly Castro, youth coordinator for Pasco-Hernando chapter of CareerSource who has spearheaded the Manufacturing Day initiative in Pasco-Hernando counties since 2016. This year was no different.  On October 4, students across the two counties participated in national Manufacturing Day tours and activities. Approximately 370 students and 24 educators from 13 schools (12 high schools and 1 college) toured 13 manufacturing facilities in Pasco County.
Participating schools in Pasco County included River Ridge High School, Cypress Creek High School, Wendell Krinn Technical High School, Pasco High School, Zephyrhills High School, Hudson High School, Sunlake High School and Land O’Lakes High School. Other schools included WC Auto, Marchman Technical College and Pasco Hernando State College. Manufacturers and local organizations that hosted a tour included Facts Engineering, GETS USA, Leggett & Platt, Metler Toledo, Monster Transmission, Nestle Waters, Old Caste, Pall Aeropower Corp, PharmaWorks, SeaWay Plastics, TRU Simulation and Training Inc., Welbilt and AMSkills.

Cypress Creek High School touring FACTS Engineering
In Hernando County approximately 236 students and 18 educators from 5 educational facilities ( 3 high schools and 2 educational centers) toured six manufacturing facilities. Participating schools and programs included Nature Coast Technical High School, PACE Center for Girls, Central High School, Hernando High School and HVAC. Participating manufacturers included Accuform, Alumni-Guard, Brooksville Airport, Cemex, Interpid and Monster Transmission. Manufacturers in both counties sponsored Manufacturing Day T-Shirts and lunches for all participating in the industry tours.
Regional planning for Manufacturing Day represented a collaborative effort between multiple agencies. This year Castro, who was joined by Wendy Villa from Pasco Hernando State College, served as the lead coordinators to devise an effective strategy for Manufacturing Day in Pasco Hernando counties.  “We want our students to learn about local careers, wages and what it takes to get into manufacturing. We also want our manufacturers to recognize and learn about the skilled talent that is being produced out of our local colleges as well as our high school career academies so that we can continue to pair our manufacturers with up and coming skilled workers” Castro said. Key regional partners included: Pasco Hernando District Career and Technical office, Pasco Hernando Chambers of Commerce, Nature Coast Manufacturers Association and local manufacturers.

Pasco-Hernando Proclamation
In addition to industry tours that served as a first-hand learning experience about high-tech production processes and careers, schools were also given a video created by Nature Coast Television. The video highlighted local heroes in manufacturing. Students were also directed to the Made in Florida Manufacturing Day website to access additional STEM-related resources about educational and career pathways in manufacturing.  Castro and Villa in partnership with the local manufacturing day teams also worked with local government officials to issue proclamations recognizing October 4th as the kick-off of a month-long celebration of manufacturing and manufacturers across the state. There was one proclamation in Pasco and two in Hernando County this year. One of them was issued in September at the Mayor’s office and the other at the end of September at the Chamber breakfast where the proclamation was presented by John Mitten, County Commissioner for District 1.

Indeed the Manufacturing Day initiative in Pasco-Hernando counties is poised for growth and success. According to Castro, the goal each year is to add one, or two additional manufacturing tour sites. This year the outreach was extended to include college students, home school groups and youth from the PACE program as well. Castro also hopes to increase donations to support the event and add 25 new students per county to public tours.  “We want to thank FLATE for its ongoing support. We look forward to planning and growing this event and making it bigger and better year after year” Castro said.

FLATE applauds the steps Castro and her team have taken to lead Manufacturing Day efforts in their regions and would like to thank all its partners for their participation, sponsorship and involvement in making Manufacturing Day a big 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 www.madeinflorida.org/manufacturing-day and the FLATE Wiki. You can also contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org, or at 813.259.6578

Things and the Internet

The FLATE Focus Future of Work Series has introduced overview connections of Future of Work issues in technology sector headings 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.  In the October 2019 blog, we began to think about specific examples of technologies in these specific ATE education sectors.  That practice continues.

When one asks what impact, new technologies will have on technician education the Internet of Things (IoT) is often the first or at least in the initial set of impactful technologies that must be addressed.  This is a broad classification to be sure and the IoT impact on society has already become apparent.  However, what is or will be its influence on technician education?

Bypassing, this month at least, the IoT’s connection to the information technology technician, an immediate connection of IoT and the Future of Work is the access to new sensors that operate using extremely high frequencies.  Not long ago, with specific exceptions such as applications in some 24-GHz industrial fluid-level sensors, the Gigahertz frequency range was not practical because of challenges with sensor required components, materials, layout, and production tolerances.
 Today this is not the case.  Companies such as Texas Instruments are providing sensors that target robotics and automation applications within the 60 GHz (5 mm wavelength) range.  This higher frequency range also means a new generation of frequency analyzers to verify sensor performance as well as the conformation of output response to an edge computing environment or (for consumer applications) the cloud itself.  These new analyzers are certainly not your grandfather’s oscilloscopes nor will current low frequency analyzers satisfy the technician’s IoT related sensor manufacture, installation, connection, and troubleshooting needs.
The continued increase access to more gigahertz sensors and their application in all the ATE related technologies leads to future technician preparation questions.  Are the classic skills taught in RF electronics courses or in standalone modules in other programs for technicians going to be adequate for the technician working in advanced manufacturing or micro & nanotechnologies?   Do new applications that require technicians to be involved in sensors and measurements that integrate significant analog and digital signal-processing capabilities represent the edge of their skill set or just “business as usual”?   If it isn’t going to be “business as usual”, what advanced skills should the new multiple frequency technician have, how are they to be taught, and are faculty prepared to teach them?
As characteristic and to be honest the fun part of this blog series, it is time to shift gears.  Returning to our operating premise:  "The work to do starts with you."  Your views of both present and future skills related to EHF, Extremely High Frequency, technology in your field is EI, Extremely Important!  A nationwide strategy for technician education needs national input.  Industries in various regions of the country will have different EHF skill use expectations for their technicians.  The goal is to identify the core skills that are the foundation for all EHF applications including, of course, IoT.  NSF-ATE is listening and can put its resources into action in response to what it hears so now is the time to speak up.  Think about the skills needed and the optimal time (place) to learn them. Contact us.  Send us your thoughts gilbert@usf.edu.

PathTech LISTEN Early Findings from ATE Impact Blog

Researchers conducting PathTech LISTEN (NSF #1801163) interviews have found that most of those who completed technician education programs are “extremely pleased” with the education they received and have found their training to be “100%” relevant to their jobs.

The PathTech LISTEN project is a mixed-methods, longitudinal investigation of post-college experiences of alumni from AS/AAS degree, certificate, and license programs. It grew out of PathTech LIFE: A National Survey of LIFE (Learning, Interests, Family, and Employment) Experiences Influencing Pathways into Advanced Technologies (#1501999). Will Tyson, associate professor of sociology at the University of South Florida, is the principal investigator (PI) of both of these Advanced Technological Education (ATE) targeted research projects. The Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE) is a PathTech partner.

More “early findings” from PathTech LISTEN will be shared at the 2020 ATE Principal Investigators Conference. The theme of this year’s conference is Innovation and Impact: ATE for the Future. The significant role that ATE projects and centers play in creating and implementing successful career pathways will be the focus of most sessions. For more information visit the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)'s ATE PI Conference pages.

During a phone interview for the ATE Impacts Blog, Tyson and Lakshmi Jayaram, co-principal investigator of the PathTech projects, pointed out that these early results based on 94 interviews conducted between June 1 and September 30, 2019, are just the first phase of the LISTEN longitudinal study that aims to follow the careers of 100 to 120 students.

The alumni who participated in the 40-to-60-minute phone interviews for the LISTEN project will be interviewed again in 2020 and then be asked to complete a survey in 2021.

“We’re going to use this experience of interviewing everyone not only to more deeply understand everyone’s experience but also to help us identify the important questions to ask and put in a survey that we can continue in a longitudinal way,” Jayaram said. Such a longitudinal study would provide information about technicians akin to that gathered for the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study.

“We think it is an important group to follow because this is the direction our workforce is expanding in, and these are the good jobs of the future. So really understanding how people get into to these jobs, and stay in these fields and grow in these fields and grow the workforce is really a relevant topic,” she said.

The LISTEN interviewees were selected by the researchers from among the 3,216 students at 96 two-year colleges who participated in the PathTech LIFE survey in 2017 and 2018. All of the survey participants were enrolled at the time of the survey in engineering technology, advanced manufacturing, micro- and nanotechnology, or energy and environmental technology programs.

Fifty-five of the 96 colleges were ATE grantees and had 2,118 students participate in the LIFE survey. Twenty-four of the colleges were ATE partners and 626 of their students provided survey responses. Seventeen colleges where 472 students participated in the survey were not affiliated with the ATE program. Students were each paid $25 for taking the 15-minute survey. Colleges with 75% response rate received $250.  The 40 colleges with a 50% or higher response rate received reports about their college’s data in addition to the final, national report that Tyson and his colleagues are in the process of finalizing this fall.

The two reasons that the 3,216 PathTech LIFE survey participants cited most often for enrolling in advanced technology programs were to increase opportunities for a better life and to expand their knowledge.

52% had children in their households.
58% had never enrolled in college before.
55% were “extremely committed” to their field of study.

Insights for Learning from Graduates

Tyson said that he was happily surprised that 74% of the LIFE survey respondents provided non-college email addresses and indicated that they would be willing to participate in a follow-up study, which became the LISTEN project.

A report on best practices for learning about program outcomes from students is another deliverable that the researchers are working on with Marilyn Barger, a co-PI of the research projects and principal investigator of FLATE.

Tyson said that he thinks including the college name in the subject line of the email invitation sent to the individuals selected for the LISTEN project facilitated its high response rate. To learn more about the experiences of populations that have been underrepresented in STEM fields the researchers explained that they “oversampled” from the LIFE survey participant pool for people in the groups of interest including women, racial and ethnic minorities, veterans, and individuals with disabilities.

“It’s a complex, busy, busy life,” Tyson said, referring to alumni and the challenges educators often encounter when trying to obtain post-program feedback. He hopes the discussion at the ATE PI conference will be an opportunity for PIs to share what they have found to be effective practices for learning about their former students’ careers.


Education, engineering, technology


ATE Impacts
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Dr. Marilyn Barger Receives Certificate of Achievement in Recognition of 20 Years of Dedicated Service to Manufacturing Education!

Dr. Marilyn Barger, principal investigator and executive director of FLATE, the National Science Foundation Center of Excellence in manufacturing, supporting high-tech manufacturing and manufacturing-related careers and technical education in Florida, received top honor certificate of achievement in recognition of 20 Years of dedicated service to Hillsborough Community College (HCC) and to Manufacturing Education in Florida. Dr. Barger received the recognition on October 10th in a ceremony held at HCC, Brandon Campus.
Dr. Barger has been at the helm of many successes. Under her leadership, FLATE was awarded the ePIE Business/Education Partnership Award, Education Chancellor and FACC Workforce Award for innovative education programs, and three Best Practice Awards for the Engineering Technology Degree program, sTEm-at-Work puzzles, and the Toothpick Factory. She has served as the Chair of the NSF ATE Centers, HI-TECH Committee, and awarded the 2010 HI-TECH Innovative Program Award.
CONGRATULATIONS and Thank you to Dr. Marilyn Barger for your 20+ yrs of dedication and constant mentoring to all the STEM-manufacturing education community. FLATE has been and will be the center of EXCELLENCE in Florida and a model to follow in the Nation thanks to your passion and devotion.

43rd Forum on Engineering Technology—A Platform to Discuss Diverse Topics and Issues

The 43rd Florida Forum on Engineering Technology was hosted for the second time by Seminole State College (SSC), Lee Campus at Oviedo, FL in October 17-18, 2019.
Over 65 faculty and program administers from 13 Florida State and community colleges, 2 universities, 5 other technical educational programs, the Department of Education, industry partners as well as representatives from all the major suppliers of technology educational training equipment attended the forum.

The Florida Engineering Technology Leadership Council and the Engineering Technology (ET) Forum was established in April 1997 at Seminole Community College (now Seminole State College).  Since 1996 the ET Forum has been hosted in 23 Colleges around Florida.
The ET Forum provides a viable means for industry and educators across the state to meet biannually at different college locations to discuss common interests and issues surrounding the education of tomorrow’s advanced manufacturing workforce. Representatives from over half of Florida’s colleges regularly attend.

The Forum began on Thursday with the welcoming introductions from Dr. Cecilia Larsson, the SSC’s program manager and professor of the Engineering Technology programs, and Lenny Portelli, Dean of the Engineering and Computer Technology program. Thursday also included lunch with a distinguished industrial-workforce panel which included Kavyn Choe, Quality Management and STEM Ambassador for Siemens Energy; Matt LaLuzerne, Vice President of Greenman-Pedersen; Hank Okraski, a board member for the National Center for Simulation; Melissa Boutwell, President of Automation and Strategic Performance; and Isabel Nieto, Workforce Development Consultant at Duke Energy. Topics discussed with the industrial-workforce panel included the rising of new technologies and their impacts within the manufacturing industry, how the industry handles cultural differences between the new and old generation of workers, the new acronym STEAM and how art can be found within manufacturing, and what students can do to successfully market themselves to the industry. Majority of panelist agreed that a, “4.0 GPA isn’t going to cut it anymore. There is a need for people who have work ethic, passion, and extracurricular activities; people with soft skills; people who stand out and take initiative.”

Thursday and Friday’s sessions also included opportunities for collaboration with a vendors’ roundtable, updates about the ET Associates of Science Degree, specializations and frameworks by the FLDOE, colleges’ issues and updates, Tour to SSC-ET labs, PathTech LIFE and LISTEN updates. Some of the interesting college issues discussed during the forum included proctoring software as a pilot project, professional development opportunities and college’s specialties, Space Coast apprenticeship program.

In-depth information on presentations, workshops and sessions can be accessed on FLATE’s wiki.

Results from the evaluation surveys rated the 2019 fall ET forum’s overall professional development value at 4.7 on a 5.0 scale.  Of the returned surveys 100% stated they would use the information presented at the workshop(s) and would recommend them to others.

“The ET Forum is a great collaboration where you have successfully bound together Florida State and Community colleges to drive progressive thinking and to share new ideas and innovations.”

The spring 2020 Forum has been tentatively scheduled for April 2 - 3 at Eastern Florida College (Campus location will be announced soon).

Special thanks to the Seminole State College for hosting the Forum and for the generous support of the vendors.

For more information on the statewide Engineering Technology Forum visit http://fl-ate.org/programs/e-t-forum or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org, or at 813.259.6578.

2019 National Career Pathways Network Annual Conference a Success in Orlando, Florida

Every year FLATE supports the National Career Pathways Network (NCPN) to coordinate its fall annual conference. This national conference is held in a major U.S. city and this year Florida had the opportunity to host this great event. The 2019 NCPN conference was be held at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld, October 11–13. Participants from all over United States had the opportunity to choose from 80+ breakouts, a full day of preconference workshops, keynote speakers, networking opportunities, and an exhibit hall showcasing the latest products and services in career and technical education. This year’s theme focused on strengthening America’s future through career pathways and our nation's commitment to helping students and adults achieve success in careers and life by taking control of their futures.

The 2019 Annual Conference sponsors included the National Science Foundation (NSF), Advanced Technology Education-ATE Centers and Industrial Macromolecular Crystallography Association Collaborative Access Team (MCA-CAT).

Preconference sessions, held on October 11, included 9+ workshops and tours to choose from. FLATE coordinated the tour to Regal Marine Industries, Inc. during this tour participants were able to experience a manufacturing journey from “concept to reality” and learned how Regal boats are made.

During the weekend sessions, there were multiple NSF ATE presentations, some of the featured FLATE’s sessions included:

Florida’s Manufacturing Ecosystems Expands to Include MFG Education. This presentation shared strategies and impacts of a growing number of partnership projects and activities involving (Florida Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence, an NSF ATE funded center) and FloridaMakes, a NIST MEP (Manufacturing Extension Partnership).

Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work. Together with CORD, and Luka Partners, FLATE discussed advances in technology that are changing industries at an unprecedented pace, transforming not only tasks and occupations but entire fields. During the session attendees were engaged in a dialogue about how the NSF ATE community can prepare technicians for the evolving realities of the future of work.

Necessary Skills Now (NSN). NSN Coordination Network is an NSF ATE project with CORD. During this presentation attendees were engaged in a dialogue about how the NSN can grow its emerging community of practice around employability skills for technicians. Packed with expertise, experience, and enthusiasm, the NSN-Network is a one-stop shop that gives educators and employers access to resources and tools for the classroom. Funded by NSF ATE, the NSN-Network is dedicated to ensuring that the rising STEM technician workforce is truly "ready for work" in the 21st century.

The National Career Pathways Network (NCPN) is a membership organization dedicated to the advancement of Career Pathways, career technical education (CTE), and workforce development initiatives. NCPN’s membership encompasses secondary and postsecondary education, adult education, workforce development, economic development, workforce investment boards, correctional education, community-based organizations, and employers.

Founded in 1991 (originally as the National Tech Prep Network), NCPN assists its members in planning, implementing, evaluating, and improving Career Pathways programs across the country. Through conferences, workshops, and publications, NCPN facilitates the exchange of promising practices and innovations.

A division of CORD, the Center for Occupational Research and Development, NCPN connects people and resources, provides leadership and professional development, and helps its members discover solutions through partnering at local, state and national levels.

For Florida, the Florida Career Pathways Network (FCPN) is the membership organization for Florida educators, employer, and workforce development partners involved in the advancement of Career Pathways, Career & Technical Education, and other related education reform initiatives. FCPN partnered with NCPN for this year’s event.

FCPN assists its members in the planning, implementing, evaluating, and improving of secondary, post-secondary, and adult transition programs by pooling the resources of the state's leading practitioners to provide a network of communication and resources for new and existing programs.

For more information on ATE Community, please visit atecenters.org. For more information on NCPN and FCPN visit ncpn.info and flcpn.org or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE, at barger@fl-ate.org.


NCPN 2020 Annual Conference- October 15-17 at Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta
FCPN will be back in January 2021-stay tuned!

5th Annual Manufacturing 5K for Education - What a success!

Thank you to Mastercut Tool Corp., the Shaluly Foundation, Inc., for their hard work in organizing this great annual event to raise funds to support Manufacturing and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education in the area of Tampa Bay.

Every year Mastercut Tool Corp. and the Shaluly Foundation, Inc. with the support of The Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA), Tampa Bay Area Manufacturers association, and FLATE plan the  annual Manufacturing 5K Run or Walk for manufacturing and STEM Education. This years event was held on October 27th, beginning at 7:45 am at the Waterfront Park near Veterans Memorial Lane in Safety Harbor, Florida.

All proceeds from the event will be donated to deserving future manufacturing workforce students.   Funds collected in previous years have netted over $90,000 for deserving engineering and manufacturing students.

Unfortunately, while STEM fields are among the most in-demand and high-paying, the needed degrees are too often priced out of reach. With the help of this event and the support of sponsors we can help to change the lives of local manufacturing workforce students and provide more opportunities for skilled technical workforce to compete in the global economy.