Technology Student Association Leadership

The Technology Student Association (TSA) is a national career and technical student organization (CTSO), supported by the Department of Education, with focus on the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) career cluster. The organization’s mission is to “enhance personal development, leadership, and career opportunities” in those areas. This is accomplished both in and out of schools with a mix of curriculum resources, competitions, and other programs.

Something unique about TSA is their focus on supporting teachers as well as the student members. TSA is supported by educators, parents, and business leaders who believe in the need for a technologically literate society. Together, TSA chapter members are committed to a national service project and work on competitive events, learn and apply leadership skills, and may attend conferences and competitions at the state, regional, and national levels. To learn how to start a TSA chapter join TSA.

TSA high school competitions and middle school competitions are categorized by careers in Architecture and Construction Technology, Communications Technology, Computer Science and Information Technology, Leadership, Manufacturing and Transportation Technology, STEM (General), STEM and the Arts, and Technology and Research. TSA competitions are offered in a traditional format in the classroom and virtually.

Florida support at the 2021 National TSA Conference

More than 5000 middle school and high school Technology Student Association (TSA) members from across the country participated in the 2021 National TSA Conference on October 4-8, 2021.  According to Ebrahim (Ebe) Randeree, Associate Dean at Florida State University College of Communication and Information, board member of TSA and the Florida Association of Industry and Technical Educators (FAITE), and longtime FLATE partner, 

“Having our college students engaged in developing the next generation of tech leaders, mentoring middle and high school, and practicing their leadership and communication skills is important for the success of our college students. The link with TSA is very important to our outreach efforts in the State and our goal to recruit more STEM students. These students are very talented, and they will drive Florida’s economy as they graduate and launch businesses and create jobs. It is our job to mentor them and to keep them here in Florida, in Florida universities, and launching Florida businesses.

Five college students from FSU under Ebe’s mentorship, attended and presented their best practices at the 2021 conference in Orlando.

It is part of FLATE's mission and goals to engage and support students and educators to be the best in their advanced technology and/or STEM careers. Students not only develop leadership qualities through TSA participation, but also their specific technical skills, professionalism, and teamwork skills as demonstrated in the local, regional, state national and international competitions.

The Technology Student Association (TSA) and other student organizations, like Skills USA, need subject matter experts and judges for their regional, state and national competitions.  Please save the dates of the upcoming state competitions that need your help!

TSA State Conference and Competition dates: FEB 23 – 26, 2022 in Orlando

Conference and competition dates: April 18 – 21, 2022 in Jacksonville

To learn more about student organizations and how you can help, visit 

Unraveling Florida Credentials & Certificates

According to a ManpowerGroup survey, talent shortages in the U.S. have more than tripled in the last ten years, with 69% of employers struggling to fill positions, up from just 14% in 2010.  As organizations across all sectors transform, the top hardest to fill roles in the U.S. are changing fast with technology skills being now the second hardest to find. In a post-COVID economy, we can expect emphasis on healthcare, advanced manufacturing, IT, and Florida’s other “essential” sectors (Florida Chamber, 2030).

Essential technical skills can be attained in a short and efficient way by educating and training the next generation of skilled high-tech workers via industry recognized certification and stackable certificates.

Understanding Credentials

A credential is official documented credit that verifies an individual's qualification or competency in a specific skill. Credentials are earned and awarded by completing a course of study, successfully passing an assessment or meeting specified skills requirements that verify competency. The term credential includes non-degree certificates, certifications, and licenses designed around a specific occupation or discrete set of skills. See the table below for quick facts about certifications and certificates.




Awarded by

Industry or professional association, test publisher or business Usually an educational institution, but also some professional associations



Vary – like degrees, earned on completion of a defined curriculum




Established skill standard

Always – the basis of the certification exam Rarely, though expected learning outcomes may be set out
Certifications are awarded based on an individual demonstrating, through an examination process, that the individual has acquired the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform a specific occupation or job. DOE Industry Recognized Credentials: The Florida Career and Professional Education (CAPE) Act was created in 2007 to provide a statewide planning partnership between the business and education communities to attract, expand and retain targeted, high‐value industry and to sustain a strong, knowledge‐based economy. The CAPE funding list includes industry recognized certification attainment by secondary and postsecondary students. The table below provides types and descriptions of CAPE certifications, certificates and courses available for secondary students. Click here for Florida CAPE Industry Certification for Manufacturing.

Type of Certification/Certificate/Course


CAPE Digital Tool Certificates

Grades: Elementary & Middle School

Assessments of digital skills
in the following areas: word processing; spreadsheets; sound, motion, and color presentations; digital arts; cybersecurity.

CAPE Industry Certifications

Grades: 6-12

Industry certification that either do not articulate for college credit or do articulate for up to 14 college credits based on a statewide articulation agreement.

CAPE Acceleration Industry Certifications

Industry certification that articulates for 15 or more college credits based on a statewide articulation agreement.

CAPE Innovation Courses

Courses combine academic and career performance outcomes that will result in embedded industry certification and college credit attainment.

College Credit Certificates (CCC) Include a series of college credit courses that prepares students for entry-level employment in specific career fields or for career advancement. These certificates can be completed in six months to a 1 year because these programs focus on one discipline and lack the general education studies required by degree programs. Upon completion, students generally receive a certificate of completion or certificate of achievement, not a degree or diploma. Candidates may be able to transfer college certificate credits to degree programs at other colleges, depending on the institution and degree program. CCC must be part of an AS or AAS degree. Click here for the list of 2021-22 DOE career certificates programs under manufacturing cluster.

Career Certificates consist of a series of vocational courses that prepare students for entry level employment in specific career fields. The programs vary in length from 40 hours to more than 1,500 hours. Career Certificates are primarily offered at Florida’s technical colleges. For the FDOE full list of career certificate programs click here.

PathTech LISTEN Releases Research Briefs

As the need for a skilled technology workforce continues to grow, understanding pathways to and from technician education programs and the technology workforce is vital to sustain workforce development, improve student/worker life chances and stabilize local economies. The goal of the PathTech LISTEN project is to track advanced technology degree students' post-enrollment outcomes and how programs facilitate technician education experiences and transitions into the workforce.

FLATE has partnered with PathTech for more than 10 years of research on educational and employment pathways into advanced technology degree programs and careers. All three PathTech projects have been led by Principal Investigator Dr. Will Tyson from the University of South Florida (USF) Department of Sociology and Co-Principal Investigators, Dr. Lakshmi Jayaram from Inquiry Research Group and Dr. Marilyn Barger from FLATE.  Other FLATE team members involved in PathTech projects include Danielly Orozco-Cole, Dr. Marie Boyette and Teresa Potter.

PathTech TampaBay (2011-2015) examined pathways into high school and community college engineering technology (ET) programs, and to and from the local workforce through interviews with 175 students, teachers and employers from high schools, community colleges and industry. 

PathTech LIFE (2015-2019) was a national survey of students enrolled in community college advanced technology programs, including 3,216 students from 96 colleges in 38 states and 3 U.S. territories. 

PathTech LISTEN (2018-2022) is a mixed method longitudinal investigation using a diverse sample of PathTech LIFE survey participants. To track students' post-enrollment outcomes over time, two in-depth surveys were planned for 2019 and 2020 with a final survey to be designed based on knowledge gained from the interviews. With the global pandemic beginning in March 2020, an additional COVID-19 interview was added to the project. 

The first round of interviews (Wave 1) for PathTech LISTEN were completed in 2019, the COVID-19 interviews (Wave 2) were completed in 2020, and the final round of interviews (Wave 3) are in progress now. Analysis of the data collected in these interviews is ongoing. Preliminary analysis from the PathTech LISTEN research team is being released through a series of one-page Research Briefs. The first set, which includes preliminary findings from both Wave 1 and Wave 2 interviews, are available now through the PathTech website:
  • Perspectives from the Field: Industry Pilot Survey Results
  • Preliminary Results: Technical Programs Lead to STEM Careers
  • Wave 1 Preliminary Findings Yield Several Interesting Themes
  • Work-Based Learning in Technician Programs
  • Job Search Pathways
  • Developing Strategies for Tracking Community College Alumni
  • Covid-19 Pandemic Impact on LISTEN Participants
  • Perspectives from the Field: Wave 2 Vignettes

Additional research briefs on all three waves of the project will continue to be released over the coming months. Once the Wave 3 interviews are complete, the final survey will be developed using information from the three interviews and will be sent to participants in 2022. For more information, please contact Lakshmi Jayaram at

Made in Florida MFG Month Industry Tours – 10 Years of Sharing Manufacturing Careers with Students

2021 was the 10-year anniversary of FLATE working with a network of organizations and partners to celebrate National Manufacturing (MFG) Day/Month in Florida. As part of the FloridaMakes network, FLATE continues to work with Florida’s Regional Manufacturing Associations (RMAs) to lead the Florida MFG Month campaign. Thank you to all the organizations and partners who have played a vital role in the statewide outreach campaign to promote manufacturing education in Florida, including industry/manufacturers, The Able Trust, CareerSource, state colleges, school districts and the community.

Made in Florida Manufacturing (MFG) Day/Month industry tours addresses common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is, and positively change the public perception of modern manufacturing.

Preliminary Data
TSE Industries - October 22, 2021

Since some Manufacturing Day tours and events were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, any that take place by the end of the year will be included in our totals for 2021. And in 2022, we will begin celebrating Manufacturing Month on January 1st and continue throughout the year, whenever events can be rescheduled with schools and students.

However, preliminary data for Manufacturing Month 2021 shows success in getting students across the state exposed to Manufacturing Careers. As of November 16th, 2,438 middle and high school students from 101 schools, 171 educators, and 150 parents and chaperones participated in a Manufacturing Month student experience.

Some 2021 events were typical in-person student tours of manufacturing facilities, but there were also a variety of virtual student events, some localized to a community and some with students from all across the state. These are some of this year’s events:

In-Person Student Events

Many manufacturers and Regional Manufacturing Associations (RMAs) hosted in-person student or educator experiences for Manufacturing Month including:
  • Seal Dynamics, Hillsborough, September 30 - Educator Tour
  • MFG Month Design & Build Competition at Custom Metal Designs, Orange, October 15
  • Southern Manufacturing Technologies (SMT), Hillsborough, October 19 & 20 - Student Tours
  • JBT Aerotech, Orange, October 21 - Student Tour
  • TSE Industries, Pinellas, October 22 - Student Tour
  • Mitsubishi Power Systems, Orange, October 21 - Student Tour
  • JBT Aerotech, Orange, November 2 - Student Tour
  • Custom Metal Designs, Orange, November 4 - Student Tour
  • Sy-Clone Internations, Duval, November 10 - Student Tour
  • Datagraphics LLC, Orange, November 12 - Student Tour
FLATE at Roboticon - October 2
In some cases, the manufacturers went to the students to share information on their companies:
  • Atlantic Technical High School
  • Roboticon, October 1-3, 9-10, 16-7, 23-24, Manufacturer booths at Competition
  • Johnson & Johnson, Duval, November 19 - Visits Englewood High School

Virtual Student Events

In many cases where in-person events were not possible, virtual manufacturing panel discussions brought Florida manufacturers to students and educators across Florida.  Some were recorded and are available on demand.

MFG Month Panel - October 1st
First Coast Manufacturers Association (FCMA), CareerSource NE Florida & Jax USA Earn Up
Students attended from Duval, Clay, St. Johns, Putnam & Baker Counties (91 students, 12 educators)
Manufacturers Presenting: BAE, Collins Aerospace, FRCSE & Vac-con

Great Manufacturing Day Teach-In - October 19 & 21
MFG Month Teach-In

Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA)
Manufacturers provided a Plant Tour video of their facilities for students to watch before the event and then each manufacturer spoke to the students & was available for Q&A in a live virtual format on the day of the event.
Students from Hillsborough (nearly 200) & Pinellas (150) Counties
Hillsborough Manufacturers: Electrochemical Solutions (EMS), Seal Dynamics, Microlumen, Mettler Toledo, FCDI & AMRoC FAB Lab
Pinellas Manufacturers: CME, MasterCut Tool Corp, Molex, Monin, Omnicell and TSE Industries

MFG Month & DEAM Virtual Panel - Discover Great Careers - October 28
FLATE, The Able Trust, High School High Tech
Students from 33 High School High Tech programs from across the state - 495 students
Manufacturers: Trividia Health, Southern Manufacturing Technologies (SMT), Seal Dynamics and JBT Aerotech.

USF Stavros Center Global Literacy Series: How it's Made and How it can be Made Better
Two-part Series - October 4 & 11
Dr. Marilyn Barger of FLATE and local Florida businesses, Monin and Givaudan provided a window into “How it’s made” in Florida for Florida educators. Monin & Givaudan discussed the production process  as well as problems that their industries are trying to solve.

Recording coming soon for Part 1 - Monin.  

Save the dates for 2 Spring Sessions of "How it's Made in Florida" on February 28th and March 7th. 

Polk County MFG Month Panel
Polk State College, Polk County Public Schools, FLATE
Students from 13 Polk County middle and high schools.
8 Manufacturers from Polk County

It's never too late to share the Manufacturing story with students!  Please keep us posted as you plan student events in 2022.  Email the FLATE team at

2021 National ATE PI Conference: Panel Discussions & FLATE Project Updates

The American Association of Community Colleges, with the support of the National Science Foundation (NSF), hosted the 28th National ATE Principal Investigators’ Conference virtually on October 18-22, 2021.  The theme: Broadening Impact Through Innovation. The conference brought together more than 1,000 NSF ATE grantees and their project partners to focus on the critical issues related to advanced technological education. Conference participants represented community colleges, business and industry, secondary school systems, and four-year colleges covering projects in a wide variety of areas.

Currently, there are twenty-five active NSF ATE grant projects being implemented in Florida's state and community colleges in various areas of technology areas. You can find them listed here. Multiple FLATE projects were highlighted at the conference, through panel discussions and project update videos, including the following:

Demonstration Panel Discussion on Technician Trends Visualized – An Interactive Data Tool Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE, served as a panelist along with Bill Mabe, Chief Data Scientist at Practical Data Lab and Michelle Van Noy, Associate Director & Assistant Research Professor in the Education and Employment Research Center at Rutgers University, for the During this panel discussion, they demonstrated a newly created (free) data visualization tool that allows users to view data trends of technician graduates in various community colleges programs nationally. The tool includes all two-year colleges and programs by CIP code. Users can review graduation trends in varying degree programs by state or across states from 1995 to 2019. 

ATE PI Conference Spotlight Session 7: Doubling Down on Mechatronics Dual Enrollment was This Spotlight session panel focused on the ins and outs of dual enrollment programs for mechatronics, the special issues that must be addressed for a strong program alignment, and innovative practices to ensure student success.  The panel was facilitated by Marilyn Barger with additional Florida representation by Doug Brauer, Dean of Engineering & Industry at the Florida State College at Jacksonville.  Additional panelists included Doug Laven, Mechatronics Program Instructor at South Central College (MN), Doug Pauley, Associate Dean Training Development at Central Community College (NE), and  Andrew Robertson, Coordinator of Workforce Development at Gadsden State Community College (AL).  

The American Academy of Community Colleges Community College Daily reported on this panel discussion in their article "3 Approaches to dual enrollment mechatronics program." 

Douglas C. Brauer, dean of engineering and industry at Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ), shared information about the Early College Academy of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering at Englewood High School. It is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., which provides paid summer internships for the students. Students must have a 3.0 GPA to be considered for the selective program. “Eighty [junior and senior] students throughout the year come to the FSCJ downtown campus Advanced Technology Center (ATC) to take the courses led by FSCJ faculty,” Brauer explained.  The students move in cohorts through the “laboratory-intensive” engineering and industry programs. Academy graduates have “priority interview status” with Johnson & Johnson. However, with so many high-tech manufacturers in the region, the students “are seeing all the companies looking to hire people with these mechatronics skills…. The program is really exposing the students to what are the opportunities that are very real in high-paying careers in the automation technologies.”

         Click here to read the Community College Daily article.

Principal Investigators of ATE grant projects also provided 90-second video summaries of their projects which were shared with all conference attendees.  Use the following links for a short minute and half update for these FLATE-related projects:

Engineering Technology Forum - Fall 2021

The 47th statewide Engineering Technology Forum was supported by FloridaMakes at theMakeMore Manufacturing Summit in Orlando. This is the 25th year for the Engineering Technology Forums that began in 1997 at Seminole Community College. There were 31 in person and 20 virtual in attendance for the Forum, representing 20 state and community colleges. Representatives from two state universities and 6 vendors also participated. The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress hotel provided an excellent setting for the Forum and the Vendor showcase.

Sam Ajlani, Director, Engineering Technology at the College of Central Florida, facilitated the program agenda and discussion topics. 15 colleges participated in the round table providing updates about their program. Most ET programs reported stable or increased enrollments for 2021-2022 over last year. Several colleges have gotten new equipment to support advanced manufacturing and supply chain automation programs.

Bob Blevins, State Supervisor for Engineering & Technology Education; Manufacturing; Transportation, Distribution & Logistics; Career and Technical Education, FLDOE, reported that the curriculum frameworks related to all the A.S. Engineering Technology Degree programs will be reviewed 2022. The ET core and Advanced Manufacturing Specialization will be reviewed in person at the Spring 2022 ET Forum with the Specializations reviews being virtual. Bob also provided information regarding HB 1507 but warned that a lot of Florida Department of Education policies are still being developed and will be rolled in the coming months. His presentation is available on the ET Google drive.

Activity from the curriculum committee (please contact Ron Eaglin if you have any input to any of these:
  1. Start thinking about changes you and your industry partners need/want to the frameworks for 2022.
  2. A curriculum committee discussion focused on a new DOE requirement that all A.S. degree programs include at least one course from each general education category: math, communications, social science, natural science, and humanities. It was suggested that the ET programs consider developing a recommended list of courses. Anyone willing to share their general education requirements for ET Degree should send them to Ron Eaglin in the coming weeks so they can be compiled. The committee will share these and lead a discussion if it would be possible to adopt and/or recommend a common general education set of courses.
  3. FLATE will explore options to share new proposed programs so colleges that are might be interested could connect with the lead college and participate in the new program development. (This might be working directly with Bob Blevins or the Council for workforce Development, CWE).
  4. Ron Eaglin is also exploring a new marketing tactic for the College Credit Certificates: “AA+Skill” (e.g., college credit certificate). This could be a good pathway for A.A. graduates not articulating to bachelor’s degrees and will report on this next meeting. Could the ET Forum colleges suggest some ideas with the CCC’s under the A.S. ET degree?
Marilyn Barger said that there would be 3 or 4 professional development webinars starting in November as part of the ET Tech Talk series. Here is the lineup:
  • November 18, 2021 - Robots and Automation: What's Next with Cobots?
  • January 21, 2022 - An Industry 4.0 Case Study: Tool Condition Monitoring for CNC Machining
  • February 18, 2022 - Machine Learning in Smart Manufacturing
Full details and registration links can be found at

The meeting ended with Mori Toosti moderating the Industrial Panel with Peter Cirak, Director of Quality, Seal Dynamics and Kon Champavannarath, CIO, Pallet One.The panel discussed the expectations of graduates with 2-year and 4-year Engineering Technology degrees. The panel discussed the basic work ethics, the communications skills and customer service requirements of graduates. The new technologies are affecting their industry and the need for graduates to have general programming, network, and cyber security knowledge is essential. The graduates should not be afraid of failure, and they need to be team players. The graduates need to be engaged with their job and engaged to solve problems. The 4-year graduates should have a basic understanding of business and how companies operate in the business world.

The recording of this meeting and separately the Industry Panel are available in the ET google drive The meeting was adjourned at 11:50 with all attendees invited to luncheon sponsored by the MakeMore Summit and FloridaMakes.

The Spring Engineering Technology Forum tentatively will be held March 30-April 1, 2022 at a location to be determined.

Advancing Florida’s Career and Technical Education through Entrepreneurship Education and Training

Economic growth is driven by the creative applications of new technologies and entrepreneurs that are constantly bringing new products and services to market. Communities with effective and accessible resources of learning yield educated populations, which in turn create innovative products and further economic growth. Business equity is the second largest source of wealth behind home equity, and for special populations, self-employment, and the ability to effectively create value contributes to Florida’s greater economic security.

According to the Kauffman Indicators of Entrepreneurship, which tracks and reports entrepreneurial trends in the U.S., Florida ranks second among all states on the Early-Stage Entrepreneurship Index. In 2019, Kauffman reported that more than 88 percent of all new entrepreneurs in the state created a business by choice rather than necessity, and first-year startups created an average of 6.37 new jobs.

It is vital that Florida students graduate as critical thinkers, value creators and excellent communicators,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Entrepreneurship education and training ensures for a well-rounded graduate, and this is another step toward our goal to make Florida the best state in the nation for workforce education by 2030.”

“Being an entrepreneur, or an intrapreneur – an employee who can add value from within – is a viable path to improving Florida’s economic and social mobility rates. CTE does not just prepare students to take jobs, but to create the jobs of the future,” said Commissioner Corcoran. “The idea is that we do not want to just technically train, but to also equip all students with the necessary employability skills.”

FLATE is committed to help execute the vision of Florida’s Strengthening Career and Technical
Education (CTE) for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) by providing accessible resources to support the creation of a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem for the state’s CTE students.

FLATE has compiled a list of resources focused on entrepreneurship curriculum, mentorship, and online tools with topics to include but not limited to basic principles of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship as a career, ethics in business, and the principles of marketing, financing, and managing a business.  Click here for the complete list of Entrepreneurial Education Resources. 

In addition, FLATE has prepared a list of Florida colleges offering entrepreneurship education and training (EET) and related programs.  The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) Entrepreneurship Education & Training (EET) program is designed to introduce students in CTE programs to the mindset required of successful entrepreneurs, while guiding and developing their entrepreneurial skills. Part of the EET program includes foundational entrepreneurial skills which will be embedded directly into Career Technical Education (CTE) curriculum starting Fall 2021 to assist high school students in developing labor market-relevant employability skills and inspire them to continue their training in postsecondary programs of study. Click here for the list of Florida Department of Education(FDOE) sponsored colleges offering Entrepreneurship Education & Training (EET) and related programs.

For more information click here or contact Elizabeth Winger, State Supervisor for Business Management & Administration Education at 850-245-9003.

2021 MFG Month Student Events Get Creative to Work Around Pandemic Challenges

Manufacturing Month kicked off on Friday, October 1st in Florida and around the country. Although coronavirus pandemic challenges persist and some in-person student events have been cancelled or postponed, many MFG Month coordinators have created new ways to continue showing students the many great careers available to them in the manufacturing industry.

Here are a few of the student events celebrating Manufacturing Month in Florida this October.  It's not
too late to plan your event! Share details of your event on social media - use #MFGDAY21.

In Northeast Florida, a Virtual MFG Month Panel "Making the Future in Northeast Florida" was held on October 1st.  Over 90 students participated from Baker, Clay, Duval, Putnam and St. Johns Counties.  There were students from 7 different high schools as well as from the Florida State College at Jacksonville.  The event was coordinated by CareerSource Northeast Florida and First Coast Manufacturer's Association.

In Central East Florida, the Brevard County MFG Job Fair will be held on October 7th at CareerSource Brevard. And on October 14th, the Made in Tampa Bay Expo & Job Fair will be held at CareerSource Tampa Bay.  Students from high schools and colleges in those areas are welcomed to attend.  Both will have multiple manufacturers available to talk about the career opportunities at their companies.

The Bay Area Manufacturer's Association (BAMA) in the Tampa Bay area has worked with Hillsborough and Pinellas County School Districts to create the Great Manufacturing Month Teach-In for October 19th.  On that day in both counties, teachers will log-in through zoom for ten minutes at the top of each hour for a Q&A with local manufacturers.  Each participating industry partner has provided a virtual tour of their facilities for students to watch prior to October 19th.

At least 13 schools in Polk County will be attending a virtual MFG Month Panel Discussion on October 27th.  Local manufacturers will sit on the panel to share information about their companies and answer student questions.  Videos about the companies will be available for students to view prior to attending. The event was coordinated by Polk State College, Polk County Public Schools.

And on October 28th, a MFG Month and DEAM (Disability Employment Awareness Month) Virtual Panel will be held for High School High Tech students from across the State of Florida.  The event was coordinated by The Able Trust and FLATE to share with them the great careers in Florida's manufacturing sector and the education needed to get there.

If you have events to share or would like help planning your event, please reach out to FLATE at

Palm Beach State College Begins New Industry 4.0 Program: Smart Factory Training

Eva Suarez, Professor and Department Chair for Engineering Technology at Palm Beach State College (PBSC), and her team reached out to local industry partners and asked them for specifics on what knowledge,  skills and abilities future graduates should have.  As Suarez puts it, "Our degrees aren't really worth anything until they're relevant to companies, especially locally."  What they discovered is that almost all companies were looking for students trained in Industry 4.0 skills, those related to new and emerging technologies in the workplace. 

Rick Reeder, PBSC's Program Grant Coordinator, added that "the jobs are there for well-trained technicians in thh field of Industry 4.0 or mechatronics and it's up to us to qualify students for these positions."  The requirements profile that was created from these discussions with industry was used to plan a new Industry 4.0 program, including curriculum and lab equipment as well as faculty and staff.  In order to meet the needs of 47,000 students across five different campuses, the program would need to be run at two campuses, each with Industry 4.0 Smart Labs.

The grant, requested from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, was approved and the team was able to move forward quickly.  Within a few months, Smart Factory Training labs were created at both the Palm Beach Gardens and Lake Worth campuses, using Lucas-Nuelle Industry 4.0 equipment.  Suarez emphasized the importance of quality, modular lab equipment:

"The systems give students hands-on experience.  They can see the components and work with them. That came closest to our goal of students being able to start on the job immediately after completing our program without hours of additional training from the employer."

The grant funding included professors for the first phase for each campus: Dr. Robert O'Dea, PhD Electrical Engineering and Mr. Christian Acosta, a Nuclear Engineer, both with extensive industry experience. They began with beta testing while the coronovirus pandemic limited student attendance. Suarez shared that during this time "one of our very talented students developed detailed work instructions for the other students."

Through the new program, PBSC will ensure that student credit certificates and associate degrees represent Industry 4.0 skills.  Suarez states that "the college continues to improve the hands-on labs so that students will benefit from the latest technology and be ready to apply what they learned at the hiring company."  Industry partners who worked with the team on the project included SV Microwave (West Palm Beach), Keith Inc. (Pompano Beach), Trevjicos (Belle Glades) and Pratt & Whitney among many others.  Many hire PBSC students as interns and keep them as full time employees when they finish they education.

In other news, Palm Beach State College started a new concentration, Advanced Manufacturing, geared to automated and robotized industry in Florida.  Advanced Manufacturing delivers courses in mechatronics, automation, lean manufacturing and six sigma robotics, preparing the student to be a problem-solving contributor to the manufacturing industry in the area.  The college is also expanding the Engineering Technology program across the county, with classes at Belle Glades and Boca Raton, besides the already established programs at Lake Worth and Palm Beach Gardens.

Student’s Career Path Changed by MFG Day Tours

FLATE recently interviewed Austin Atwood, a Quality Assurance Technician at Southern Manufacturing Technologies (SMT). We learned that he had plans to enter the medical field like both his parents until he participated in FLATE’s MFG Day tour program when he was a junior in high school. Atwood credits his career path change 100% to the MFG Day tour.


It's kind of hard to say because a little bit of everything. At that point, I wasn’t at the level I’m at now. I was very much entry level so everything was very new to me, everything was very interesting. Before I went into the engineering academy, I wanted to be a registered nurse, because both of my parents were in the medical field. And then I got into the Engineering Academy and I started to think that maybe that wasn’t it. And then I took the tour on Manufacturing Day and I got the job at SMT a year later and then I ended up completely changing my career path and I ended up here in engineering.


Currently, I’m in my final semester of studying Engineering Technology at Pasco Hernando Community College. I’m taking the last three classes right now. But I’ve bounced around a couple of different degree paths. At one point, I was going for Mechanical Engineering at USF and then I decided that wasn’t quite what I wanted to do. It was just a little too cerebral, not enough hands-on. So, I’ve been in college about six years now, but to be completely honest, it would have been two years if I had put in the footwork and found this degree program initially and realized what it was. It wasn’t until I knew what I was looking for that I found this and said, “Hey, that’s what I’m looking for.”


I’m going to be completely honest with you. I don’t know my current title because I’ve bounced around between so many different things. At one point, I was the CNC Operator. Right now, I think the best answer would be a Quality Assurance Technician. I’ve been doing that here for about a year and a half now, but I’ve been with SMT for almost 8 years.


A lot of what I learned was on the job, but a lot of that is because of the roundabout route I took. By the time I got into Engineering Technology, I had been at SMT for 6 years and I knew what I was being taught. However, with that being said, if I had just started in Engineering Technology, just about every class had some kind of basis into what I’m doing. To the point where I took a class about Programmable Logic Controllers and I thought it would have nothing to do with my job and then I found out that they are the brains of all the machines I was running. So, I was all of a sudden sitting in class learning “oh, that’s why I need to do this combination of buttons.” Whereas, at work, it was just “you’re on the job, the machine’s waiting, this is what you need to do to get it running.” So very much so my college was more about explaining why I was doing the things I was doing. However, if I had done it the opposite way, I would have come in with a lot more base knowledge.


Yes, it very much is teaching me the background of my job. The Engineering program at River Ridge – it tried to teach you a lot of the information, but the biggest thing I got out of that was more how to approach problems, how to think like an engineer as opposed to how people normally approach problem-solving. Because of that, when I got into the ET classes, I was already in the mindset that I needed to be in order to approach the problems the correct way. And Mechanical Engineering – most of the reason I got out of that is because it was over qualifying me for what I wanted to do. I had decided that I didn’t actually want to be a mechanical engineer, so it was teaching me a lot of stuff I just wasn’t going to use.


100% it was the Manufacturing Day that cemented it in. I was kind of leaning, but I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Engineering was an interesting thing to me at that point, but it was an elective I was taking one period a day. It wasn’t until I started learning more about it through taking the tours of different manufacturing places and getting this job at SMT that really cemented it into my head that this is what I want to do.


Oh yes. I routinely tell people when they see me stressed about my job, “I’m stressed because some of the people that I work with, as you will be anywhere you work, but I absolutely love what I do.”


I’m hoping to stay with SMT. I want to move up within Quality Assurance. I found out that I very much enjoy solving problems and that’s a lot of what Quality Assurance is. You get parts and you’ve got to find out if they’re good or not. If they’re kind of marginal, you’ve got to go through all the processes to figure out why they might be good, why they might not be good, pull up all the specs. It’s very much a problem-solving process and I really like that. You’re always doing different parts, different dimensions, it’s never the actual same thing over and over again. And I really like that.




Oh yes, whole heartedly.


Keep in open mind. Because a lot of kids that age aren’t really thinking about 30 years down the line. They’re very much “Ew, that doesn’t look fun.” Maybe it doesn’t look fun, but it’s fun once you get in there and start doing it. So, keep an open mind, look at what’s going on around you and just figure out what you want to do.

CNC Rocks Virtual Manufacturing Camp Video's now Available All Year

From Terry Iverson, President/Owner Iverson & Company ( and past Chairperson of FLATE’s National Visiting Committee.

After producing a live CNC manufacturing camp in Jacksonville, Florida before the pandemic, I felt inspired to do more to help young people understand the excitement of making things and careers possible in manufacturing. During the COVID19 pandemic all the CTE community struggled with home-based and remote learning instruction. With the thought of costs of shipping machines around the country, and the need for more virtual content I decided to embark on producing videos that could be used to augment CTE, Project Lead the Way and STEM curriculum. The initiative began by filming basic manufacturing and engineering concepts to simply expose those who just do not know of the connections between manufacturing and engineering and the relevance in the products we use in our everyday lives.

The videos are categorized into three sections: beginner, intermediate and advanced. This allows the viewer to gradually build from one section to the other.  Schools can subscribe annually for $500 to use what now has grown to over 22 videos and over a total of 4 hours. Interested in the videos? A school district can purchase a district-wide license for $1,500 and a company can do the same for $1,000.00.  

Watch the Sample video and learn more: or contact Terry Iverson,

MFG Month Exposes Students to Manufacturing Careers

MFG Day is a worldwide initiative, launched every year on the 1st Friday in October, with events to promote great careers in manufacturing to students!  In Florida, it empowers manufacturers and educators to come together to address Florida’s manufacturing workforce challenges.   By highlighting what modern manufacturing looks like as well as the many, high-wage careers available, we can help our Florida communities and future generations thrive. 

By opening their doors (virtually or in-person) to students and teachers during Manufacturing Day and Month, manufacturers can address the myths that the new generation has grown up believing by showing real life examples of manufacturing taking place! Many believe the misconceptions that the manufacturing working environment is subpar, doesn’t pay well or “requires you to be a master in STEM subjects”, contributing to the ongoing shortage of high skilled workers.  

The goal in Florida is to share the reality of modern manufacturing careers by encouraging companies around the state to provide students, parents, teachers and community leaders with a behind-the-scenes look at their facilities.


School districts and educators can help to inspire the future manufacturing workforce by planning student experiences during MFG Month or at any time during the year. Educators, school counselors and parents serve as key decision-makers in helping students make educational and career choices and can also help students strike a connection between STEM-based subjects/concepts and how they are applied in real-world settings.

Every manufacturer that hosts a virtual or in person student and educator events helps to showcase the cool high-tech technologies, distinctive products and amazing careers in manufacturing.

Ready to host or take a tour? The first step is to contact your MFG Month coordinator. Click here to find the contact person for your region.


FLATE has developed a comprehensive marketing toolkit to help promote Manufacturing Day and Month on a local/regional level as well as an extensive portfolio of STEM-based resources.

  • FLATE Guide: Best Practices for Industry Tours - a step-by-step guide for planning an impactful student tour whether you are a host or a teacher
  • 'Get Ready for MFG Month' webinars on demand for industry hosts and educators
  • FLATE lesson plans, organized by grade level
  • “What is Manufacturing” - introduction to manufacturing flyer and presentation
  • MFG Month promotional graphics: posters, logos, flyers and presentations

To access these resources, visit

Tracking Results

FLATE surveys of students, educators and industry hosts after MFG Month tours show the impact of industry tours on students and allows manufacturers to understand how they can make a larger impact.

Student surveys show:

  • An 80% increase in consideration of a career in advanced manufacturing after the tour
  • 96% learned about new technologies used in advanced manufacturing industries
  • 96% became more aware of new information about careers and manufacturing jobs available in their community
  • 96% would recommend that other students have the opportunity to participate in MFG Day/Month

Industry Host survey responses:

  • 100% state that the tour was a good use of company time and resources
  • 58.8% stated five or more employees participated in hosting the tour
  • 68.8% stated they have hired students as interns and employees

Educator survey responses:

  • Approximately 98% stated that the tour helped them see how STEM subjects learned in school are put to work in high-tech industries.
  • 100% stated they would promote a career in advanced manufacturing to students. 
  • 100% also stated they would recommend other students have the opportunity of an industry tour. 
  • 100% also stated that they found the tour helpful in expanding their understanding of high-tech jobs and career opportunities in Florida.

What do Industry hosts, Educators and Students Say about MFG Month Tours?

       “Always worth giving back to the community and investing in the next generation. This tour was especially a good use due to the relevance of the class’s subject matter to our industry,” (Host)

       “These kinds of events change lives . . . doors are opened that these students have never walked through before and today some REALLY liked what they saw inside.” (Educator)   

'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! (Educator)

       “I really like that you don’t need a college degree to work there and I also liked that the company itself gives classes and an opportunity to further careers.” (Student)

“I I liked being able to see a real working environment and what they get to do every day the people were very nice and they explained everything very well. Thank you.” (Student)

FLATE and FloridaMakes have partnered with manufacturers and educators across the state to celebrate MFG Day and Month every October since 2012.  Manufacturing Day and Month continues to make a tremendous impact in sparking awareness about STEM-related educational/career pathways in manufacturing. 

If you have questions or would like to share how your region coordinates Manufacturing Day and Month, contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at

Professor Brian Bell Discusses the new Biomedical Engineering Technology program at St. Petersburg College

The A.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering Technology is a new program currently offered at St. Petersburg College (SPC) in St. Petersburg, FL. Historically focused on electronics and troubleshooting, the program has evolved to include training in medical device networking, medical device security and medical device manufacturing. FLATE reached out Brian Bell, lead faculty for the A.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering Technology at SPC to learn about the program and how it is targeted to help meet workforce demands for biomedical engineering technicians. For more information about the program visit, or contact Professor Brian Bell.

WHAT IS THE FOCUS OF THE PROGRAM? Students learn to repair, maintain, and manage medical technology.

HOW MANY CREDITS? 60 credits for the A.S. degree.


Students will learn electronics troubleshooting, computer repair, how to properly use and test medical technology – infusion pump performance testing, x-ray calibration, patient monitor alarm testing.


Students work with infusion pumps, patient monitors, x-rays units, anesthesia units, oxygen concentrators, vital signs simulators, computer hardware and electronic testing equipment.


Students can work for healthcare organizations, original equipment manufactures, and third-party service providers. Students can work at a hospital or do field service and work all over the country specializing in specific devices.


The program is tied to the CBET – certified biomedical equipment technician program.


The program provides a sustainable pipeline of talent for employers.


The outlook for graduates looks great. We have a lot of opportunities in the area as medical technology continues to grow. Also, Pinellas County is home to several global and national medical device manufacturing companies and growing healthcare systems.


We certainly partner with local companies that contact me prior to opening their general hiring. Some of the companies hire graduates and host work experience, while others visit our programs and give presentations (including technical training prior to COVID). We have toured facilities such as Baycare, Mercury Medical. Other examples of companies that we currently partner with and/or serve on our current advisory board include: BayCare Health System, Mercury Medical, Concise Engineering, United Biomedical Services, Intertape polymer group, EyeKon, and Designs for the World. Additionally, Carlos Villafane one of our instructors is president of the Bay Area Association of Medical Instrumentation (BAAMI) and our students are invited to participate in chapter meetings and trainings. 


There are a few, but in general there are very few academic programs in this field. The following either offer similar programs and/or at least a certificate. These include:
  • Florida State College at Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL
  • Sante Fe College, Gainesville, FL
  • Miami Dade College, Miami, FL
  • Fort Myers Technical College, Fort Myers, FL
SPC also has articulation agreements that transfer into a fully online 4-year degree in Healthcare Technology Management at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis. We are glad to give students that opportunity through an articulation agreement.


As the field is constantly changing, I hope students have the confidence to work with and learn about medical technology. I also hope they develop the ability to learn how to manage, test and repair new technology.


I get to use engineering skills in a way that directly affects patient care. Also, there are always new devices being developed and consequently new things to learn.


During the program, students are engaged in multiple activities that include working on projects with other students, getting evaluated by industry supervisors during work experience, performing formal technical presentations in front of an audience, setting up mock interviews prior to graduation and creating digital portfolios to showcase what they have done. Students are also encouraged to use social media to market their learned skills and achievements.


St. Petersburg College BMET Program Links

Engineering Technology for Healthcare Youtube Channel

Gain access to free biomedical engineering technology educational content

Gain access to free medical device networking and cybersecurity content