From the Executive Director's Desk: #MFGDay17 is ON

Wow – As of today, May 3, we have just 156 days, or 23 weeks, or 5 months until Manufacturing Day/Month 2017! We still have the end of spring, all of summer and start the fall season. But MFG DAY is such a big event in Florida, we all know that now is the time to start planning for 2017 events. There are many MFG DAY/Month events in Florida, but the focus today, and for FLATE and its network of statewide partners has and will always be on student industry tours. In looking back post manufacturing day/month data, MFG DAY/Month in Florida has experienced exponential growth, both in the number of tours and statewide uptick in participating and enthusiasm to participate in this national event that celebrates the spirit of innovation and excellence in American manufacturing/manufacturers. Even last year, when Hurricane Matthew’s unscheduled visit to Florida last on October 2 closed nearly 80% of the schools in Florida, most tours were re-scheduled and more students and educators than ever experienced manufacturing first hand across Florida.

FLATE’s statewide MFG DAY/Month efforts began in 2013 when we developed the “recipe, a streamlined strategy and targeted techniques” that outlined an approach to organizing regional student tours for middle and high school students to high-tech manufacturing
facilities across the state. We had been doing industry tours for students for several years and had documented a significant impact on students. FLATE’s strategy for conducting Manufacturing Day tours on a single day was geared to amplify the effort, the effect, and the impact of industry tours on ALL participants, and also increase exposure and excitement in Manufacturing/STEM related opportunities in the community. FLATE started with the idea that we wanted LOTS of student tours on the first Friday of October (MFG DAY) and planned to schedule others on different days to accommodate companies and schools. We understand industry tours are challenging to set up, execute and assess. Looking at the challenges, we developed the techniques to address some of the most challenging obstacles. Here is the list we brainstormed:
  • Working with local/regional school districts in getting student permission forms signed and turned in!
  • Tour logistics (lots!) that included pairing schools with industry partners, funding and arranging buses/transportation with local/regional school districts, working with manufacturers to provide food for tour participants
  • Providing debrief time for Q &A at manufacturers 
  • Getting manufacturers to sign up as industry hosts
  • Devising a survey strategy to survey ALL MFG Day participants from students, educators, parents to industry tour hosts in capturing feedback and tabulating surveys for each of the regional manufacturing partners
  • Getting kids interested 
  • Ensuring impact
  • Continuing the conversation afterwards and all year round
  • Engagement from all participants would help provide maximum impact. Additionally, our recipe included commitment from all participants and some supporters. 
  • School districts (or individual schools) would provide bus transportation
  • Companies would host student tours, provide giveaways, and student lunches
  • Professional organizations would support giveaways and student lunches 
  • FLATE would provide manufacturing education resources (lesson plans, tour tips, posters, etc)
  • FLATE would develop, distribute, collect, aggregate, analyze, and distribute survey data
  • FLATE would help coordinate and work with regional tour coordinators 

In many regions this recipe, or local variations thereof, has worked pretty well for us with some coaching. Regional coordinators (volunteers) typically come from Regional Manufacturing Associations, EDC’s, educators at state colleges, or other manufacturing focused organizations. There are various ways to start the process. Its good for the regional coordinators to host a conference call with the districts CTE leaders to check on transportation, check on possible number of buses school districts can allocate per school/tour/students (typically MS and HS CTE programs). Some start with recruiting industry hosts, asking them to host a tour and provide lunch (and other giveaways). A quick pizza lunch provides a little time for students to interact with manufacturing professionals on a one –to-one basis and ask questions as well as provide time for students to take the post tour survey. Surveys are managed several ways: teachers are provided copies to take to the tour and have students fill out the forms and mail it back to FLATE; or the company gets the survey file printed at the tour site and sometimes FLATE mails packages to new industry tour hosts. Hosts typically return them by scanning and emailing, or returning by USPS.

Florida companies hosted nearly 5,000 students for MFG DAY/Month each of the past two
years. From over 250 tours, more than 1500 surveys were returned to FLATE each year. The impact of these tours on students is significant. You can review the impact in a 2015 FLATE White Paper summarizing the written comments we got back from students after
the 2014 tours. The White Paper is published on our website and can be accessed at: Manufacturing Day Tours: Student Feedback Shows Huge Impact. Certainly, this is just a snapshot, but a longitudinal study of specific students are very expensive, long term, and takes special expertise related to this kind of survey that FLATE does not have the resources for.

 Are you ready? Are we all ready? FLATE is, but not without a slight shift. Starting this year, our coordinating role is being handed over to our statewide partner, FloridaMakes who worked closely with FLATE in 2016 to make it a big success. FLATE will be working closely with their consortium of Regional Manufacturing Associations and many others to make the transition as seamless as possible. There is no reason that Florida cannot remain at the front of the pack for activities for MFG DAY/Month if we continue to work together to focus on industry tours for student, and the many other special events in Florida aimed at celebrating what is Made in Florida.

Let’s do this again. Let’s make Florida Number 1 again! #MFGDay17 

I now invite you to read the rest of the articles in the May edition of the FLATE Focus. This month we have articles highlighting recent graduates from across Florida, as well as information about our upcoming summer camps! Please send us your thoughts by emailing or commenting below each story here. Also, please connect with us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Successful Robotics Open House sparks student interest in STEM

On Thursday, April 13 FLATE hosted a Robotics Open House as way to celebrate National Robotics Week, which took place April 8-16. The open house featured a number of activities and stations geared to spark students and parents’ interest in robotics, STEM, and manufacturing related career pathways. The event lasted from about 3-6 p.m., and approximately 97 people (including hosts and visitors) attended the open house.

The open house featured eight stations. Two local schools, McLane Middle School and
Middleton High School, showed demonstrations of some robots they created and use in competitions. Hillsborough Community College engineering technology students displayed a robotic arm, 3D printer, and an electric car. FLATE staff created a presentation that featured a NAO humanoid robot. FIRST LEGO League prepared a display table that featured hands on activities.

Additionally, there were several industry and educational partners from our Tampa Bay community that provided resources. Special thanks to these organizations for aiding in the success of FLATE’s Robotics Open House: FIRST, FIRST LEGO League Robotics, HCC Engineering Society, McLane Middle School, Middleton High School, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at University of South Florida (USF), and USF Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

The goal of the Robotics Open House was to excite students and interest them and the community in STEM related educational and career pathways. The FLATE team seemed to achieve this goal, since attendees were very pleased with the evening. Several members from the FLATE team received high praise for organizing the event. 

“It was great learning what degrees and programs are available, and how to pursue education and experience in these fields,” one participant stated. 

“The best part of the open house were the interactive displays and friendly presenters,” said another visitor. 

Additionally, one lucky student attendee won a FREE week of FLATE summer camps! Congratulations to Aidan from Stowers Elementary School, we can’t wait to see you next month! To enroll your middle or high schooler in FLATE summer camps, please visit FLATE’s 2017 Robotics Camps webpage here and contact Janice Mukhia at

 Attached below is an infographic that highlights some interesting data points and comments. All information on the infographic was obtained from a survey that was completed by attendees of the open house. As noted on the infographic, the favorite stations were the demonstrations by McClane Middle School and Middleton High School, followed by the NAO Humanoid Robot and FIRST Lego League.

Click here to see FLATE’s online album of photos from the Robotics Open House! 

For more information about FLATE’s events, please contact Janice Mukhia, FLATE’s Project and Outreach Manager, at, or Dr. Marilyn Barger, FLATE’s Executive Director, at

STEMtastic Summer: Enroll now for FLATE's Summer Camps

FLATE has new and exciting camps available for middle and high school students this summer! The summer camps will run Monday- Friday from 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m., and will be hosted at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) Brandon campus in the Student Services Building, room 218 (BSSB 218). There will be three different camps:

June 5-9: Intro EV3 Robotics Camp for middle school.

June 12-16: Intermediate EV3 Robotics Camp for middle and high school.

June 19-23: Engineering Technology Camp for high school.

At the Intro and Intermediate EV3 Robotics Camps, students will have the opportunity to build and program the all new LEGO MINDSTORMS® EV3 Robot system, participate in team challenges, tour an advanced manufacturing facility, and learn about the science, technology, engineering and math used in today’s high-tech industries. At the Engineering Technology Camp, high school students will have the opportunity to use 3D modeling and CAD to design a functional robotic device, engage in 3D printing process using additive manufacturing techniques, and tour an advanced manufacturing facility. In addition, students will be able to keep the Arduino microprocessors and servo monitors.

The Intro and Intermediate EV3 Robotics Camps will cost $175 per week. The Engineering Technology Camp will cost $200 per week. Registration forms can be downloaded here. For more information, visit FLATE’s 2017 Robotics Camps webpage here.

For more information about FLATE’s Robotics and Engineering Summer Camps, please contact Janice Mukhia at or 813-259-6581, or Dr. Marilyn Barger at

Check out some photos from last year’s camps below: