The New Year Rings in New Executive Director at FLATE

Welcome everyone to a New Year (2022) and a new semester. I hope everyone had a restful relaxing winter break, stayed healthy, and enjoyed the holidays with family and friends. The start of a semester is always a time to look forward to the new and the improvements we plan to make in our professional careers. January 2022 rings in a new role for me and a new Executive Director for FLATE. Ernie Friend starts his tenure as the Executive Director of FLATE. And after 18 years serving as the Executive Director of FLATE, I am moving into another role.

My new position is Senior Education Consultant for FloridaMakes and FLATE. I will work closely with Ernie in 2022 to provide a bit of “corporate memory” to help FLATE continue on its steady path forward. In addition, I will provide advice to the FloridaMakes leadership on various education and workforce issues, lead some special projects, and stay involved with the national community college manufacturing education network including the NSF Advanced Technological Education grantees. Of course, I am still here to help FLATE and its partners with whatever they might need, but this is not about me, it’s all about Ernie.

Ernie Friend, FLATE’s new Executive Director assumed his new role as of January 3, 2022. Ernie comes to FLATE after 25 years at Florida State College at Jacksonville serving various administrative roles over IT, Manufacturing, and other related technology associate degree programs. Ernie and I have worked together on various projects since the early 2000’s. FLATE helped him transition his previous manufacturing program to the A.S. Engineering Technology Degree at FSCJ. Over the years, we worked together on several large and small U.S. Department of Labor and National Science Foundation (NSF) grants for manufacturing and other IT programs across Florida and the entire country. After Ernie was re-assigned to be an administrator over FSCJ’s IT and Cybersecurity degree programs, we continued to work together with shared Florida visions for better connections of ET and IT programs around the state, providing state-wide access to industrial and IT internships (both in-person and virtual), engaging more Florida industry professionals in technician education. It is always a great pleasure to work with someone like Ernie who is friendly to all, sincere in his passions, and enthusiastic for providing accessible opportunities for all students to learn skills and build their future careers.

Ernie and I are planning to visit all the ET programs in the state over the next several months and will be reaching out to many of you to schedule our visits. But today, please welcome Ernie as the new leader of FLATE and help him learn about your program, your industry, your partners, and your community. We look forward to seeing everyone this spring at Broward College for the Spring 2022 ET Forum. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

-Dr. Marilyn Barger

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