FLATE’s Regional Workforce Workshops

FLATE, the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence for Manufacturing Education in Florida, in partnership with FloridaMakes, the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), successfully convened twelve regional workshops through the Florida Regional Manufacturing Association (RMA) Network.  Between mid-April and mid-October, twelve events were hosted by RMAs involved 390 educators, manufacturers, and a few other stakeholders. The objective of the collective events was to craft the foundation of a statewide community of practice among two-year degree manufacturing programs, regional education partners and the regional manufacturers to support advanced manufacturing education in Florida.  A number of opportunities and challenges were extracted from these meetings and prioritized based on commonality for a state report and summary.  Some challenges were specific to individual regions and have been noted for follow up opportunities.  However, there were several common themes from the convenings related to workforce challenges that deal with talent development, skills gaps in exiting students, as well as the need for increased collaboration and communication between employers and educators.

The FLATE Regional Workshops were a first step in building a more sustainable talent supply that is relevant and reflects the skills and curriculum to support current and future regional manufacturing talent needs. The twelve events lasted 2-3 hours each and there were no formal presentations. Each event ended with the participants identifying a 90-day project that would begin or strengthen communication and collaboration between the employers, workforce partners who supply training funds and the educators to resolve a regional issue. The lively discussions were guided by FLATE facilitators who worked their way through topics on (1) past successful partnerships, (2) what manufacturers need from educators, and (3) what educators need from manufacturers, (4) assets on both sides, (5) barriers on both sides, and (6) ultimately defining a short-term project that would help to start better engagement between the educators and manufacturers. Each project is co-led by one manufacturer and one representative from the state college’s manufacturing program. Watch for details about some of the outcomes and successful projects in upcoming issues of the FLATE Focus.

FLATE would like to thank FloridaMakes for organizing the events with the RMA’s and also the following participating Regional Manufacturers’ Associations who hosted these events. For more information, contact Dr. Marilyn Barger (barger@fl-ate.org).

Manufacturing Day in February

Celebrate manufacturing in February by introducing your students to the industry through one of FLATE’s lesson plans! FLATE’s lesson plans are organized by grade level and can be coordinated around manufacturing industry tours, the “What is Manufacturing” presentation, the “Made in Florida” and the “Women in Manufacturing” videos. Some of the lesson plans FLATE recommends for teachers is the Scavenger Hunt” and “Comprehension Instructional Sequence Model (CIS) Lesson Plans”.

“What is Manufacturing” presentation provides an overall explanation of what is manufacturing while introducing students to FLATE, career opportunities, and the ever-advancing world of technology in the industry. After this presentation, FLATE recommends teachers to use one or both of the following lesson plans: “Scavenger Hunt” or “CIS Lesson Plans”.

“Scavenger Hunt” is a research activity where students are tasked with searching for resources related to STEM fields and learning about manufacturing companies in Florida! After completing the lesson, students should be able to pinpoint items made in Florida, identify careers in manufacturing, gain knowledge on career pathways, and describe how some objects are made!

“CIS Lesson Plans” is a series of eight lesson plans that take approximately 4 days each to complete!
The lessons let the students dive into the different processes and aspects of manufacturing through interactive activities, reading articles, watching videos, and having the students write reflections on what they have learned. The current subjects available to review are as follows: Assembly, Automation, Electronics Assembly, Materials Selection, Product Design, Quality Measures: Metrology, Subtractive Machining, and Fabrication: Welding.

After completing either the Scavenger Hunt or the CIS Lesson Plans, watch FLATE’s Made in Florida or Women in Manufacturing video! The Made in Florida video showcases some of the many manufacturing companies in Florida and is organized by the region the companies are located at. Meanwhile, the Women in Manufacturing video offers a new perspective on girls in manufacturing careers to help inspire the next generation of girls in STEM by interviewing various women in their fields of expertise! Both videos include an activity sheet for students that helps them to track interesting facts and a manufacturing perceptions survey that teachers can use to access what the students know and what they have learned after the lessons.

Enhance your student’s experience in their lessons by sharing FLATE Manufacturing Day and Month 2020 graphics and reports. The graphics can assist in grabbing student’s attention while learning more about the impact of manufacturing day! In addition, this year FLATE decided to make Florida’s very own unique logo which will also be used on this year’s t-shirt design. View some of the amazing statistics from last year or download some of our free resources by visiting the FLATE PB-Wiki Industry Resources Page!

For more information about FLATE, please visit fl-ate.org or contact Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE, at mbarger@fl-ate.org

2020 Women in STEM Role Models

Image by CNN, Cable News Network, 20 Dec. 2019 of Miss
Virginia Camille Schrier's Talent Performance
It has been an awesome few months for women in STEM! We have some great important new demonstration” with young gilrs and boys everywhere.
national role models for young girls everyone should know about. The recently crowned 2020 Miss America is a scientist, graduating from Virginia Tech with honors with 2 Bachelor of Science degrees in biochemistry and systems biology plus a minor in chemistry. She is also pursuing Ph.D, also at Virginia Tech. Share her Miss American “

In January, NASA astronaut Christina Koch, “who has spent nearly 11 months in orbit on the longest spaceflight by a woman. The Soyuz capsule had been at the International Space Station (ISS) and “touched down southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, last Thursday. Her 328-day mission was the longest spaceflight by a woman and the second longest spaceflight ever by an American.  Among her other duties at ISS while in space, Koch participated in six spacewalks, conducted research in microgravity on Mizuna mustard greens and studied the behavior of fire in space.  You can find out more on NASA’s website.
Image by NASA of Christina Kroch

Everyone needs to help bring strong role models to young girls to help them get over what perceived barriers to STEM careers.  Here are 2 national examples to share for 2020.  There are so many others even right here in Florida! Be sure to share and promote the possibilities to every young girl and woman you meet. FLATE has some resources to help which you can find our wiki resource site. For any help or more information – you can contact Dr. Marilyn Barger (barger@fl-ate.org)


Almasy, Steve. “Miss Virginia Camille Schrier Is Crowned Miss America 2020.” CNN, Cable News Network, 20 Dec. 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/12/19/entertainment/miss-america-2020-trnd/index.html.

40th Annual Hillsborough Regional STEM Fair

The 40th Annual Hillsborough Regional Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Fair, held at the Tampa Convention Center on January 28th and 29th, 2020, is the largest academic competition in Florida and one of the largest in the nation with more than 100,000 students in grades k-12 competing at their schools in order to qualify for the regional fair.

Every year FLATE supports the Hillsborough County Public Schools by serving as a judge for the Junior/Senior division of the Annual Hillsborough Regional Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Fair. During the event, more than 600 STEM professionals around the Tampa Bay area served as a regional judge reviewing 1500+ elementary-senior students. Only 26 projects will represent Hillsborough County in the 2020 Florida State Science and Engineering Fair, where over $200,000 worth of scholarships and awards will be provided to students.

Students experience firsthand the creativity and perseverance required for the high-level achievement, and guests have the opportunity to see future STEM leaders in action. Danielly Orozco, Associate Director for FLATE, was part of the environmental engineering judges and had the opportunity to review and interview the best final junior and seniors’ projects.

Larry Plank, the director for K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education, said, “This is not a single day event. Students have spent months or even years working on their projects. The 40th Anniversary #STEMFair included thousands of site-based winners who competed at the regional level for an opportunity to win cash and prizes. For the middle and high school students, an opportunity awaits to continue the journey at the state and international levels.”
Even for those many students who do not “win”, STEM, Science, and/or Engineering Fairs are important triggers for our youth to become hooked on STEM.  These fairs and competitions encourage STEM hands-on explorations, creative thinking, engagement with industry professionals and communication skills development. They provide an avenue for students to learn outside the more traditional classroom experiences which might be all they need to start a love for STEM.    FLATE encourages everyone to support these events their communities.
 FLATE thank the sponsors as well as all judges and volunteers who assisted during three days at the Tampa Convention Center.

2020 STEM fair sponsors: STEM Hillsborough County Public Schools, the Tampa Bay STEM Network and Florida Foundation to support Future Scientists.

For more information about FLATE, please visit fl-ate.org or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE, at mbarger@fl-ate.org.

2019 Manufacturing Day and Month Educator's Perspective

Manufacturing Day and Month continues to be a defining event for manufacturers across Florida as they get a chance to showcase their state-of-the-art production processes, facilities and the products that are “Made in Florida.” Manufacturing Day and Month also presents opportunities for educators to connect with local manufacturers and work cohesively with statewide partners to educate students about STEM-related educational and career pathways in high-tech manufacturing. In Florida, FLATE, the National Science Foundation Regional Center of Excellence and its statewide network of partners, have successfully created a Manufacturing Day and Month statewide outreach strategy that is geared to promote manufacturing across the state. One of the outcomes of this strategy has led to the culmination of industry tours bringing manufacturing into the classroom. It has also enabled regional manufacturers organizations, manufacturers and school districts across Florida to form strategic industry-education partnerships that have evolved into developing workforce-related feeder programs at the secondary and post-secondary levels.

Teachers and chaperones who consist of parents, career counselors and school administrators who accompany students on industry tours form a core part of the Manufacturing Day and Month experience. Educators, school administrators, and parents serve as key decision-makers in helping students make educational and career choices. Educators, in particular, prepare students for the industry tours in advance and also develop a STEM-based curriculum to enhance students' understanding of manufacturing production processes. Educators and parents are also important in helping students strike a connection between STEM-based subjects/concepts and how they are applied in real-world settings.

In looking at post-event survey data, approximately 98% of the teachers and chaperons stated that the tour helped them see how STEM subjects learned in school are put to work in high-tech industries. Hundred percent of those who responded to the survey stated they would promote a career in advanced manufacturing to students. The same percentage also stated they would recommend other students have the opportunity of the industry tour. “My class is more aligned with the engineering, design and manufacturing planning portion of the tour which was great” stated one of the respondents. Of the teachers/chaperons who responded to the survey, 100% also stated that they found the tour helpful in expanding their understanding of high-tech jobs and career opportunities in Florida. Some of the comments following the tour included:

  • “This tour was OUTSTANDING - the students really enjoyed themselves. I wish I had this opportunity as a student!
  • 'Loved the tour! Information was excellent and you could see the kids really thinking and enjoying. I even had a few tell me that this kind of work sounded way more interesting than they originally thought it would!
  • Students were excited when the staff talked about education and job opportunities in manufacturing. It was a fantastic tour!”

Indeed, Manufacturing Day and Month continues to make a tremendous impact in sparking awareness about STEM-related educational/career pathways in manufacturing. FLATE's experience in developing and leading a statewide strategy for Manufacturing Day and Month has culminated into various best practices for organizations across Florida to emulate. FLATE has also developed an extensive portfolio of STEM-based resources for educators, industries and anyone interested in participating in Manufacturing Day and Month in general. In addition to educational resources, FLATE has also developed a comprehensive marketing toolkit to help promote Manufacturing Day and Month on a local/regional level.

To access these resources visit the FLATE Wiki and the FLATE Manufacturing Day and Month page on www.madeinflorida.org/manufacturing-day. You can also contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org, or at 813.259.6578

HI-TEC: A National Conference on Advanced Technological Education

Supported by the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) program, HI-TEC is a national conference on advanced technological education where secondary and postsecondary educators, counselors, industry professionals, trade organizations, and technicians can update their knowledge and skills. Charged with preparing America’s skilled technical workforce, the event focuses on the preparation needed by the existing and future workforce for companies in the high-tech sectors that drive our nation’s economy.

HI-TEC explores the convergence of scientific disciplines and technologies including:

  • Advanced Manufacturing Technologies
  • Bio and Agricultural Technologies
  • Energy and Environmental Technologies
  • Engineering Technologies
  • Information, Communications, and Geospatial Technologies
  • Learning, Evaluation, and Research
  • Micro and Nanotechnologies
  • Security Technologies
  • Workforce Diversity
Attendees have the option to choose from approximately 15 preconference workshops and industry site tours during the first two days, followed by the two-day main conference featuring keynote speakers and 60+ breakout sessions. There will also be an awards luncheon and an exhibit hall with an exhibitor reception and more!

Who Should Attend HI-TEC?

  • Community College and University Educators
  • High School Educators
  • Workforce Development Advocates
  • Trade Organizations
  • Industry Professionals
  • Technicians

HI-TEC is produced by the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) community.

Future Technician Preparation - Education Systems

A classic process control first step procedure is to identify the forcing functions in play and subsequently characterizing the corresponding response functions. This is not an easy task for processes worth controlling and the preparation of future technicians that must work with new technologies in the workspace is an excellent example of this type of situation. For two-year community college programs that focus on technician preparation, three forcing functions immediately come to mind: the education system; the teaching approach; and faculty professional development needs. Our Future of Work Series offering this year address each of these items as a contributing effort for the NSF-ATE funded project (DUE 1839567) with its goal to provide insight and recommendations related to future of work issues that impact two-year college technician educations programs.  Since baseball season is just around the corner, using the Abbott and Costello routine (January Blog) as the thread for these forcing function presentations seems appropriate, useful, and, hopefully, a bit entertaining. Thus, let's begin with last month's candidate for "Who's on First?"

Who is going to prepare the future technician?  Not at the individual nor a particular entity level but at an organizational stage, the education system(s), the next level up. The components of this system are well known. Post-secondary technician education will remain within the domain of the community college, technical college, registered apprenticeship program, industry related certificate organization, training for profit, “on the job training” in the workplace, and industry "in-house" training operation providers. However, the expectations of technicians as driven by the skills and knowledge base for involvement in new technology clearly indicate that the days these components can satisfy future of work driven education issues and operate in isolation are numbered.

The time a future technician invests in the educational system to acquire the knowledge and skills needed is now a pointed issue. The patchwork approach used today does produces skilled technicians, but the quilts student's stitch that advertise the acquisition of those skills along the way also broadcasts the inefficient use of their education investment. The degrees of freedom (to just play in their own sandbox) these post-secondary technical education mechanisms possess will have to be dove tailed to contribute to a strategy for effective and efficient creation of new technicians at the national level.  A probe into what that dove tailing entails is a topic for a later blog. Right now, let’s start to generate some discussion about the education system itself.         

There are three systems to be considered: The U.S., an interesting Canadian experiment, and the European Union (EU) approaches.   The EU philosophy on technical education, the Bologna Process, is the target of this month’s discussion.  It has been maturing since its inception, Bologna Accord, in 1999.  It is classic and new in the same breath.  It distributes students across three main “cycles” that verbally correspond to the U.S. STEM related bachelor, master, and doctoral or equivalent programs, however it identifies "intermediate or short-cycle" qualifications as an integral part of the process.

Discussions about "'short-cycle" qualifications have been an integral part of the Bologna Process from its early stage with a focus on whether and how shorter higher education could be linked to first-cycle qualifications (the bachelor's degree). The EU higher education level descriptors known as Dublin Descriptors (2005) explicitly reference to "short-cycle" qualifications within or linked to the first "cycle" education.  By 2016/17 "short-cycle" programs are considered part of the overarching qualifications framework as defined through the European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA) protocols and half of the countries within the EHEA system follow the guidelines and recommendation associated with QF-EHEA and the Dublin Descriptors related to "short-cycle" education.

Countries that follow these "short-cycle" protocols are also required to ensure graduates progress to the next cycle of higher education (bachelor programs). Countries are not obliged to adopt these protocols, but the EU also has guidelines for "short-cycle tertiary" (ISCED 5) training not recognized as higher education. In Slovenia, for example, tertiary education consists of short-cycle higher vocational education regulated by the Higher Vocational Education Act which categories short-cycle vocational higher education separate from the EU three level (bachelor, master, and doctorial) categories. The ISCED 5 also covers advanced years of upper secondary vocational training. For example, Austria, includes the fourth and the fifth year of upper secondary vocational studies.

In summary, the EU now has a cross member nation education system with operational objectives that are equally valuable for an interstate approach to technician preparation in the U.S. The major points of these objectives that pertinent to our technicians include: the promotion of student mobility among different programs; and the development of a quality-assurance process and governing body to ensure standard qualifications and quality across all states.

Florida has a two-year Engineering Technology degree program that executes these objectives and represents a model for national adaption. Florida is also capitalizing on the new Perkins V drive to bring rigor and reporting into its funding domain. Integrating both the ATE driven platform programs and the federal funding for Perkins supported programs is an opportunity at hand. However, there is still the issue of overall time in the education system that is included in the experimental approach being explored in Canada.

That last point is a discussion item for next month since it is now time to close and emphasize, as you might expect, that "The work to do starts with you".  Remember that our motivation for this series has a twofold intent.  One is for you the other is for us.  First new technology in the workplace does generate different expectations for the technician workforce and who does the technician preparation really is important to you.  Second, engaging people interested in the development of the nation's technician workforce into the conversation as to how NSF can facilitate lowering the impact of that skills gap is important to us. NSF-ATE is listening and can put its resources into action in response to what it hears.  Now is the time and opportunity to speak up. Think about the ideas outlined above and how they might be implemented in the U.S. Contact us. Send us your thoughts at gilbert@usf.edu.

National Correspondent for Qualifications Frameworks (QF=EHEA): https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regexpert/index.cfm?do=groupDetail.groupDetailDoc&id=28734&no=15

Review of Bologna Tools: http://www.gmacbolognaproject.com/

Dublin Discriptors:https://ec.europa.eu/education/ects/users-guide/glossary_en.htm

International Standard Classification of Education: