FloridaMakes Announces the 14th Annual FLATE Manufacturing Education Excellence Awards

This is the fourteenth year that FLATE has recognized educators at the secondary and postsecondary level and industry partners for their outstanding contributions to promote manufacturing education across Florida. “The Awards represent FLATE’s effort to showcase and recognize the contributions of educators and industries in advancing technician education on a regional and statewide level” said Executive Director of FLATE, Marilyn Barger, Ph.D. Awardees were selected from a distinguished pool of nominations submitted from across the state and were judged by an independent Awards Judging Committee.  "FloridaMakes is proud of the 2021 FLATE Awardees for their work in manufacturing education in Florida," said Kevin Carr, FloridaMakes CEO. "It is important to continuously build our pipeline of youth entering the manufacturing industry and recognizing excellence in manufacturing education is one way we can do this.”  The 2021 Awardees come from across the state and have exhibited exemplary work promoting manufacturing education and career pathways. The 2021 Awardees are:

  • Selena Lewis, Educator for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship for Project Lead the Way at Young Middle Magnet School in Tampa, FL, will receive the Distinguished Manufacturing Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award

  • Mike D. Cannon, Associate Professor at Pensacola State College in Pensacola, FL, will receive the Distinguished Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award

  • Thomas A. Mudano, President & Chief Executive Officer of AmSkills, Inc. in Holiday, FL, will receive the Distinguished Manufacturing Organizational Partner Service Award

  • Peter Cirak, Quality Assurance Director at Seal Dynamics in Tampa, FL, will receive the Distinguished Manufacturing Partner Service Award

Awardees will be recognized at both the Florida Association of Career and Technical Education (FACTE, www.facte.org) Conference in Orlando July 19-20 as well as the FloridaMakes MakeMore Summit during the virtual Talent Development segment, July 27-28.  The awardees will also serve as “manufacturing ambassadors” across the state during the coming year.  The 2021 FLATE Manufacturing Education Excellence Awards are sponsored by Jaeger Education, SES Labs, Northwest Florida Manufacturing Council (NWFMC) and the Bay Area Manufacturing Association (BAMA).

For more information about the FLATE awards, visit the FLATE awards webpage or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger ( Marilyn.Barger@flate.org).

Department of Defense Developing a National Model for Manufacturing Technician Education: Reviews FLATE for Best Practices

Massachusetts’ Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative (AMC) was recently awarded a $3.2 million grant (MassBridge) from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Manufacturing Technology Program (DoD ManTech) to develop and test a manufacturing technician training program and career pathway model for manufacturing technicians. The MassBridge program will boost training opportunities for technicians to better meet the workforce needs of employers. 

The program’s key deliverable is an integrated, statewide program that will provide a stackable set of programs to create connections from existing technician training programs to the skillsets that meet the demands of Massachusetts’s manufacturing sector. The program will work with existing vocational programs, high schools, community colleges, and supporting universities, to connect and engage students to encourage them toward careers in Manufacturing USA technologies.
After months researching successful technician education models and career pathways, MassBridge reached out to existing programs to learn more. FLATE, the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center, part of the FloridaMakes Network was one of three invited to share their success stories, answer questions, and offer advice to Massachusetts Community Colleges involved in the MassBridge project. “FLATE’s success in building a strong community of practice among the twenty-three Florida State and Community College programs that support manufacturing is often showcased as a best practice model for discipline focused technical education. It’s important to keep the community of educators and industry communicating regularly about skills and knowledge needed today as well as new skills (especially Industry 4.0 technologies) that will be needed in the near future.”, says Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE. Dr. Barger began this effort over fifteen years ago with grant funding from the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) program to create a Regional Center to support manufacturing technician education in Florida. Today, the FLATE Center with its network of colleges is an integral part of FloridaMakes, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Center in Florida (www.FloridaMakes.com) with support from the Florida Department of Education and NSF ATE projects. Dr. Barger regularly mentors manufacturing programs, faculty and colleges in Florida and around the country.
To view the FLATE presentation to the MassBridge team, click here.

For more information about FLATE, Florida’s Engineering Technology degree and College network, visit the website here or contact Dr. Barger.

Lake-Sumter State College to Launch Mechatronics College Credit Certificate

What is mechatronics in layman's terms?
The best way to describe mechatronics is to divide the word into two parts. “Mecha” for Mechanical Engineering and “Tronics” for Electronics (Electrical) Engineering. Mechatronics is simply a combination of Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering. To be specific about the science and technology behind mechatronics, we can say that mechatronics is an interdisciplinary field that combines elements of engineering, machining, information technology, robotics, and electronics. The primary responsibilities of mechatronics technicians are to assist the design, development, and engineering staff, as well as work closely with others to install, maintain, modify and repair mechatronic systems, equipment and component parts.

Overview of the Mechatronics program at LSSC

Lake-Sumter State College (LSSC) will be offering a college credit certificate in Mechatronics starting Fall 2021. This certificate will prepare students for immediate employment and career advancement in companies that manufacture, service, sell, design, or support electro-mechanical systems that control machinery, automation, and/or processes. Students will be exposed to leading-edge technologies to give them the skills needed to be highly competitive in the workforce and prepared with the necessary foundational skills sought after by industry leaders today and for the future.

In this 30-credit house certificate program, students credit hour certificate program, students will learn
about robots, machines, electronics, pneumatics & hydraulics, electrical motor controls, sensors, computer-aided design (CAD), programming, programmable logic controls (PLC), diagnostics, computer numeric control (CNC), and other topics related to automated systems & robots. Students will learn the skills to install, troubleshoot, maintain and repair complex electro-mechanical equipment, and be prepared for a job as a mechatronics technician in this multidisciplinary, industrial field.

“One of the key components that makes our program unique is the fact that we focus not only on the college certificate itself, but we also focus on industry certifications,” said Alberto Luma, Program Manager of Engineering Technology at LSSC, “We’re very excited to be offering this new certificate in Mechatronics. Any type of student can be extremely successful in this program.”

Typical opportunities for graduates of mechatronics programs are shared in the table below.






CNC Machinist 

Industrial Technology 

Computer Aided Designer (CAD) 

Supply Chain 



Automation Technician 


Maintenance Technician 


Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technician 


Electro-Mechanical Technician 


Mechanical Engineering Technician 


Industrial Engineering Technician 

The College Credit Certificate in Mechatronics at Lake-Sumter State College offers:
  • Dedicated faculty: Faculty with industry experience as well as academic credentials.
  • Affordable tuition: LSSC has significantly lower costs than Florida's universities.
  • Industry involvement: Our industry-focused certificate programs offer excellent connections to Central Florida employers.
  • Hands-on experience: Practical, hands-on learning experiences prepare students to apply their knowledge to real-world situations.
  • Career advancement: Graduates are prepared for immediate entry into the workforce upon certificate completion.
  • Continuing education: Credits earned in this certificate program can be applied toward an Associate in Science in Engineering Technology at LSSC.
To learn more or apply for the program:

Able Trust Announces Winners of their 2021 High School High Tech (HSHT) Project Venture Competition

“Love the Launch”
At the end of every school year many students are involved in a variety of academic and entrepreneurial competitions. Some of these are based on technology and occupational skills developed through participation in CTE programs and related CTSO (Career Technical Student Organizations) like SkillsUSA Florida, the Technology Student Association (TSA) and FIRST® Robotics. But there are many others. Recently, the High School High Tech (HSHT) program under the Able Trust hosted a virtual finalist competition for Project Venture. East Ridge High School in Lake County took the top prize with their “Love the Launch” condiment launcher!

HSHT works with students with disabilities (SWD) in most school districts across the state. A program coordinator provides special resources and guidance to help students in the program become workplace ready. The goal of the Project Venture competition is to put students into a situation where they are developing real-world applicable workplace skills, including working in groups, delegating, timelines, written communications, problem solving, and “Big Picture” thinking. 

Lake Ridge HSHT winning team
FLATE congratulates all the HSHT teams across the state that competed in the 2021 Project Venture Competition.  FLATE also commends Christian Davidson, Director of Marketing and Communications at MACF (Manufacturing Association of Central Florida) for judging the finalist competition.  Manufacturers can look forward to the opportunity to participate in the next Project Venture competition by helping a local team in your area or possibly judging the finalist competition.

 To watch the 2021 finalist competition, check the HSHT webpage in the weeks ahead.

To read more about “love the launch” launcher, click here.

To learn more about the Able Trust’s High School High Tech program visit their website.