From the Executive Director's Desk: 2017 Florida Sterling Manufacturing Business Excellence Awards

The Florida Regional Manufacturers Associations (RMAs) met last week at the 25th Annual Florida Sterling Conference. The conference is recognized as one of the best in the nation for practical learning in all areas of leadership and management systems. The RMA’s half day meeting and workshop was facilitate and hosted by FloridaMakes. FloridaMakes is a public private partnership supported by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) within the Department of Commerce with the mission to strengthen Florida’s manufacturing companies. The meeting focused on values and strengths that could be shared and leveraged amongst the associations to grow their organizations. Association directors, business advisors, and current officers worked and networked with one another together and with the FloridaMakes staff. Summaries of strengths and action items will be distributed and the RMA’s will use them for focus topics at their monthly conference calls.

FLATE works closely with the RMAs for community and educational outreach and provides
information about the manufacturing educational programs at High Schools and State/community colleges in their areas. This new and evolving community of Florida’s RMAs will be yet another integral part of Florida’s manufacturing ecosystem and therefore be linked tightly to our ET Forum, community of colleges offering programs that offer the ET degree. FloridaMakes and the Florida RMA’s are critical partners in FLATE’s sustainability plan as the key organizations to continue FLATE’s work to build a sustainable talent pipeline within Florida’s Educational system. This work includes outreach activities like student tours for MFG DAY, providing professional development for STEM educators and working with the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) on curriculum development, review and credential alignment to keep the school and college programs focused on preparing the manufacturing workforce.

Many of the workshop attendees stayed for an evening reception for the first ever Manufacturing Business Excellence Awards (MBE). This rigorous Award system starts with company nominations, which are open to all Florida’s manufacturers from anyone. All nominees are asked to submit a small portfolio of facts and figures. All companies that submits a complete portfolio have a screening call with a panel of judges and examiners. The 30-minute screening call leads to some being recommended for half day site visits. The sit visits narrow the field to the finalists in categories in company size groups. A single lead judge, Mr. Phil Centonze, organizes the calls and site visits and manages the volunteers for each call and each site visit. Eventually, over 40 judges and examiners worked on a three hour conference to review the results of the site visits to recommend the finalists and, ultimately the winners. FLATE was there to celebrate with many of their manufacturing partners from around the state that were finalists in one of the four 2017 categories. All are winners and will enjoy increased statewide exposure and feedback from the review process to continue to improve their businesses. I am pleased to share the winners with our FLATE readership!

Florida Sterling Manufacturing Business Excellence Awards

Up to 40 employees
Under 100 employees
EEI Manufacturing Services
Under 200 employees
Southern Manufacturing Technologies, Inc.
Over 200 employees
Nautique Boat Company
National companies up to 500 employees
Rayonier Advanced Materials
Fernandina Beach
National companies over 500 employees (TIE!)
Johnson & Johnson Vision, Inc.
Lockheed Martin

If you recognize a winner in your region, reach out to them with a congratulatory note!

FLATE also announced its annual Manufacturing Educator awards this week. We are proud of these educators who work tirelessly in their classrooms to develop the talent pipeline Florida manufacturers need. Stay tuned for an article about those champions of Manufacturing and STEM education!

I now invite you to read the rest of the articles in our June newsletter. In this edition, we have a story highlighting Middle and High schooler's involvement in STEM, as well as information regarding upcoming webinars and teacher's workshops. We hope you enjoy, and from all of FLATE staff, Have a STEMtastic Summer!

Join FLATE’s Lego Mindstorms Workshops and FANUC Robot Training for Teachers

FLATE offers several professional development opportunities that are designed to strengthen teachers’ skills and provide them with educational resources for their students. This summer, FLATE is offering hands-on training workshops for middle and high school teachers. These workshops will cover Lego EV3 processors, functional robot building instructions, programming with EV3 software, programming with EV3 sensors and logic, and NAO robot programming demonstrations.  All workshops are free of charge.
The first workshop for teachers was hosted on May 31 and was an introductory lesson in Lego Robotics. The next teachers workshops will be on July 13 (Intro to Lego Robotics), and July 14 (Intermediate Lego Robotics). All workshops will run from 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. and will be hosted at Hillsborough Community College Brandon Campus in room BSSB 218. Teachers located in Hillsborough County may register for the workshops on the district website, and teachers outside of Hillsborough County please contact Dr. Marilyn Barger to register.

Additionally, FLATE will be hosting FANUC Robot Training for teachers on June 15 and 16 at Central Florida College. This workshop is also hands-on and will provide basic training, specifically with FANUC industrial robots.  This is a great opportunity for teachers that have these robots in their schools to learn more about these amazing tools and how to use them in their classrooms.  Teachers will also learn about local resources and network with others that have this equipment.

If you are interested in participating or would like more information on the Lego Mindstorms Teacher Workshops or FANUC Robot Training, contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at For more information, visit FLATE's Teacher Materials webpage here or Made in Florida's Educator's Page here.

MSSC Partnership Workshop Gives Educators Chance to Collaborate on Curriculum Opportunities

On May 11 and 12, FLATE hosted a Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) Partnership workshop which was designed to give educators from across the state and MSSC members the chance to collaborate on curriculum opportunities. The two day teacher workshop was very informative. Nine instructors from high schools and colleges across the state participated. FLATE’s Curriculum Coordinator, Jesse Kokotek was the workshop facilitator, with three guest speakers which included Ted Norman, State Supervisor for Engineering & Technology Education Neil Reddy Executive Director of MSSC, and Steve Meints Service Department Manager at DC Jaeger Corporation. The educators were also engaged in hands on activities around measurements, precision and accuracy led by Danielly Orozco, FLATE's Associate Director, which they can take back to their classrooms. Quality and measurements are challenging for many students and often require regular practice but is very important skills in all manufacturing processes.

At the conclusion of the event, the instructors gave positive responses about the workshop. The instructors said that receiving their Certified Production Technician (CPT) certification will lead to better outcomes with student testing scores. In addition, the information they received during the two day workshop helped identify and create solutions from the various types of challenges that go along with teaching inexperienced high schoolers (hands-on activities and teaching strategies). Another benefit from the workshop was the networking opportunities and getting to meet with other instructors.
Shirley Dobbins, an engineering technology instructor at Hillsborough Community College, stated that the workshop was a good way to meet high school instructors and “hear about their programs and learn about the challenges they face, and how that compares to our college programs.” Ms. Dobbins will also be taking the MSSC CPT certification exams as part of this program.

FLATE is working with educations and industry across the state to increase implementation of the MSSC CPT certification in high schools, technical colleges and the workforce as a strategy to improve the state’s entry level manufacturing workforce. In Florida, the MSSC CPT also provides an accelerated pathway for the Associate in Science Engineering Technology Degree. Current MSSC CPT credentials articulate for 15 credit of the 60-credit degree. The Engineering Technology Degree is offered at nearly every state and community college in Florida and supports manufacturing industry with manufacturing technicians with strong technical skills.

For more information about FLATE and MSSC’s partnership, please contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE, at