FLATE’s Executive Director Discusses the Role of Innovation in the Workplace

On November 9, 2017, FLATE partnered with the Gus A. Stavros Center for Free Enterprise and
Economic Education at the University of South Florida (USF) to present a workshop focused on the role of innovation in the workplace for all members of the workforce. The workshop program was entitled “Design Thinking and Decision Making: Creating the Entrepreneurial MINDSET Students Need to Succeed in the Global Economy.” A panel of six of FLATE’s Tampa Bay industry partners shared how and why their companies encouraged creativity and innovation for all employees and what businesses in the 21st century expect from all workers. The panelists started with brief introductions about themselves, their companies and products they make, or services they provide to industry. Following those introductions, the 30 plus K-12 educators from the Tampa Bay region eagerly quizzed the panel members about what their students could expect in the modern workplace, how much and how they used 3D printing, and how employees work together. They also asked for tips on how to help students acquire these kinds of skills.

All the panelists emphasized that employees, up and down the company’s organizational chart

are expected to contribute to “continuous improvement” by thinking “outside the box” and finding solutions to both simple and complex problems. Students from a young age should be encouraged to take the “tools” they learn in school and apply them to new situations, new problems, and new ideas. The session went on for nearly 90 minutes with panelists encouraging the educators to challenge students to be inventive, take their students out into the workplace, bring employers to the classrooms, and to keep talking with different employers and employees. After the panel session, the Stavros Center team shared a number of resources for educators on design thinking that could be easily incorporates into their classrooms. Information on these resources can be accessed here.

In their session evaluation forms the educators raved about the energy and passion expressed by all the panel members. “This has been one of the BEST workshops I have attended! Every panel member and speaker had some perspective on innovation and creativity that will fit every grade level,” was just one of those very positive comments. We definitely appreciate the panelist sharing pieces of their everyday work lives with these teachers.


Al Card
Southern Manufacturing Technologies
Quality Engineer / Six Sigma Black-belt
Joe Paciella
Southern Manufacturing Technologies
Production Supervisor / Manager
Peter Cirak
Seal Dynamics
Quality Assurance Director
Reese Thompson
Adams Air & Hydraulics, Inc.
Vice President
Ken Jurgensmeyer
MiTek USA Tampa Stamping Plant
Director of Manufacturing Operations
Paul Schnitzler

College of Engineering, USF
Retired Senior Telecommunications Management Bell and RCA Laboratories


















For FLATE, educating all K-12 teachers, especially the non-STEM teachers is an important recruitment strategy. Most teachers who are not in STEM fields know little about STEM occupations and careers, or the growing number of opportunities that will be available for their students for high-skill, high-wage STEM careers including those in manufacturing. Arming these teachers with real world information, contacts and examples helps them to provide real education and employment options to their students.

FLATE and the Stavros Center are now planning to take this workshop “on the road” to bring

manufacturers to teachers in other Tampa Bay counties next spring with the same focus on innovation in the workplace. The mission of the Stavros Center is to advance the effective teaching and integration of free enterprise, financial literacy, and economic education into the K-20 curricula. The Stavros Center is now in its 38th year at USF. FLATE’s mission as an NSF-ATE Regional Center for Advanced Technological Education, is to be the go-to organization for manufacturing and advanced technical education, best practices and resources supporting the high performance skilled workforce for Florida’s manufacturing sectors. Together we are working help teachers better prepare today’s students for the future. For more information on FLATE and its extensive array of professional development and curriculum resources visit the FLATE Wiki and the Made in Florida website, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org/813.259.6578.

I now invite you to read the rest of the stories in this special holiday edition of the FLATE Focus. Don't forget to take a stab at cracking this month's special "#RudolphEdition" of the sTEm puzzle! (Spoiler Alert: It's hilarious!) We’d love to hear from you so be sure to drop us a comment below the blog post(s), or connect with us socially on Facebook and LinkedIn, or Tweet us @Made_InFlorida using the hashtag of the month #IndustryEducationPatnerships. From all of us at FLATE have a holly, jolly Christmas and a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2018!

Databytes from 2017 Manufacturing Day/Month in Florida

Every year as October rolls around manufacturers in Florida and across the country come
together to celebrate, what is dubbed as, the biggest event to mark the strength and excellence in American manufacturing. Those of you who have been involved and/or been following MFG Day over the years, are aware that MFG Day/Month is BIG in Florida. Florida held the #1 spot for a number of years in hosting and organizing MFG Month industry tours and events. Since the inception of MFG Day in 2013, MFG Day has been a statewide cohesive effort with FLATE initially taking a leading role in formulating a statewide strategy for MFG Day/Month. This effort enabled Regional Manufacturers Associations (RMAs), School Districts, Government and Community Organizations to collectively assume the role of MFG Day coordinators, and built in-roads for them to take on the task of hosting and/or organizing MFG Day industry tours and events.

Here in Florida, Manufacturing Day is not just a one day event; it is a month-long celebration that is marked by industry tours, career fairs and open houses with many cities and counties across the state issuing proclamations to mark the kick off of MFG Day/Month. 2017 marked the first year as Regional Manufacturers Associations and Regional Coordinators across the state took the drivers’ seat in formulating and implementing a regional MFG Day strategy that was customized to suit the regional interests of manufacturers. This year with hurricane Irma hurtling down the state right around the kick off of MFG Day, many tours had to be rescheduled and/or cancelled. Then too, initial reports from across the state suggest there was widespread support of and participation in MFG Day/Month across the sunshine state.

Let’s take a closer look at stats and figures from 2017 MFG Day/Month industry tours.


Databytes from MFG Day

This year there were 159 tours and events for MFG Day/Month, out of which 148 were industry
tours and 11 were MFG Day events. And for the first time since the advent of MFG Day in 2013, Pasco and Hernando counties also offered five virtual tours of Alcoa—the world’s sixth largest producer of aluminum. In terms of students and educators, nearly 4,300 middle and high school students, 223 educators, 111 parents/chaperones from 149 middle and high schools in 32 Florida counties toured approximately 132 industry sites as part of the “Made in Florida” industry tours for 2017 MFG Day/Month.

On the local level, in Hillsborough County 439 students and 30 educators, parents/chaperones

from 13 middle and high schools toured eight industry sites for MFG Day/Month. In Pasco-Hernando County approximately 330 students from 16 schools toured 22 industry sites. In Polk County 307 students, 32 educators, parents/chaperones from 15 schools toured 14 industry sites, while in Pinellas County 271 students and 22 educators, parents/chaperones from eight middle and high schools toured 10 industry sites for MFG Day/Month. Counties and cities across Florida issued proclamations marking Oct. 6 as MFG Day and October as MFG Month.


Post MFG Survey Results

A defining component of MFG Day/Month, one that is exclusive to Florida, is the initiative spearheaded by FLATE to survey ALL MFG Month participants across the state. This year the RMAs took a leading role in surveying statewide industry hosts, educators, tour guides and students participating in the Made in Florida industry tours. FLATE took a leading role in providing resources and materials and posting them on the FLATE Wiki and the Made in Florida MFG Day page, to support RMAs, school district and regional organizations’ MFG Day initiatives. These included pre and post surveys, MFG Day posters, curriculum geared to support educators in their quest to get students engaged in MFG Day and excited about STEM related careers in manufacturing.

In looking at the preliminary post event tour surveys, a total of 2,567 student surveys were

received and tabulated. Out of the 2,567 surveys received and tabulated by FLATE, 1,064 were surveys from virtual tours at Alcoa, and 1,503 surveys from non-virtual tours across the state. Excluding the virtual tours) nearly 92% of surveyed students stated the tour helped them understand how STEM subjects are applied in advanced manufacturing industries. Over 97% of the students stated the tour helped them learn about technologies used in advanced manufacturing. Approximately 96% of surveyed students stated they would recommend other students have the same opportunity of this tour. Out of the student surveys received and tabulated by FLATE, nearly 96% said that the tour gave them new information about careers in advanced manufacturing. In taking a closer look at post event survey data and demographic breakdown, there was an approximately 85% change in girls considering a career in advanced manufacturing after the tour compared to approximately 62% boys.

Industry hosts also deemed the MIF industry tours as a valuable investment of their

company time. Of the industry tour hosts that responded to the FLATE’s surveys, 100% stated the tour was a good use of company time and resources. “Education, training and exposure is key factor in recruiting current & future workforce, and we appreciate the opportunity to be part of MFG Day” stated an industry host in a post event survey.

FLATE also surveyed educators and parents to gauge their overall experience and response to the MFG Month tours. Of the surveys received by FLATE, approximately 90% educators and parents stated they found the tour helpful in understanding Florida high-tech jobs and career opportunities. One hundred percent of the teachers/parents who responded to the online survey stated they would recommend other students have the opportunity to participate in a Made in Florida industry tour, and same percentage agreeing to promote a career in advanced manufacturing for students.


Social Footprints

Socially MFG Day was once again a hit with many organizations including FLATE posting
frequent updates and tweets across our social networking platforms. This year FLATE and FloridaMakes partnered with NIST to conduct a Facebook Live session to mark the kick-off of MFG Day/Month. Live videos were streamed from Southern Manufacturing Technologies on the Made in Florida Facebook page and was streamed for a national audience. NIST is currently working on compiling a video of national organizations that participated in the Facebook Live session. We will post the video on our website and/or social sites….so stay tuned!

Even as Manufacturing Month has concluded, tours and events are still being hosted through

December. Updated stats will be provided in upcoming editions of the FLATE Focus. MFG Month is special for manufacturers in Florida and across the nation as it provided a platform to showcase local, regional and statewide manufacturing to statewide stakeholders. Manufacturers, school districts, regional manufacturers’ associations, professional organizations, and many individuals contributed to make this a successful endeavor. FLATE would like to once again thank all partners involved for making 2017 Manufacturing Month a grand success!

For more information on FLATE’s statewide strategy for manufacturing day/month visit www.mfgday-fl.com. To host/organize a Made in Florida industry tour for your students, and other STEM-related initiatives during the regular academic year, contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org, or at 813.259.6578.