From the Executive Director's Desk: New Frameworks and Resources for Florida’s Machining Programs

Over the past 18 months, FLATE has been working with post-secondary and high schools machining
programs, machining professionals and the Florida Department of Education (FL DOE) to re-write, revise and update the frameworks for machining, now called Machining Technologies. These two documents can be accessed on the FL DOE website for Manufacturing Curriculum Frameworks. The new post-secondary program is “Machining Technologies (J200100)” and new high school program is “Machining Technologies (9202100)”. Both are available for implementation in the 2015-2016 academic year.

The goals of these activities were multifold:
  • Update the standards and benchmarks to better represent modern machining skills
  • Define a seamless pathway between high school program and the more advance program courses offered at Florida Technical Colleges
  • Define a program that is aligned to NIMS (National Institute of Metal Working) credentials
  • Define a high school program that is affordable for high schools to add
  • Provide a solid foundation for the machining workforce
  • Provide a foundation that will have good articulation opportunities to Engineering Technology College Credit Certificates in the machining area.
The Florida Curriculum Frameworks are rich documents that define all aspects of career and technical education in Florida. In addition to the workforce skills, and knowledge in defined occupations, the High School curriculum frameworks include alignment to academics (literacy, mathematics, science) and the new Florida standards. These standards enrich the skills-based training the students get with applied foundational knowledge of principles and processes used in the technologies providing a strong base for career advancement and life-long learning.

The improved alignment between secondary and post secondary programs comes from re-defining the post secondary programs to be the same length as the high school programs. A typical high school course is 150 contact hours during a year. To align with high school programs, the post secondary adult vocation frameworks should be of the same length or be of an integer multiple of 150. The entire program is divided into multiple courses to provide opportunities for students to take a one or more courses, go to work, and come back to complete more advanced courses.

It is important to note that the educational frameworks should include all of the industry skills and knowledge standards. However, Florida frameworks must also include reading, writing, literacy and mathematics standards at all levels and in all programs including career and technical education programs (CTE). All CTE programs must also include Common Career Technical Core – Career Ready Practices, common to all career pathways.

These secondary and post-secondary frameworks have now been cross-walked by the FLATE team to the NIM Machining Level 1 standards. The alignment to the NIMS will make it easy to move forward with a strongly aligned secondary/post-secondary to community college program articulation using the NIMS credential. We anticipate that this work with be completed by September and submitted to the FDOE for approval later in the fall. The high school crosswalk documents will be published and posted on the FLATE website later this month, and the college credit certificate (currently offered at several Florida colleges) later this year.

As you prepare for spring break do enjoy the extensive line-up of stories in the March edition of the FLATE Focus. This is truly a student-centric edition where we bring you updates about regional and statewide robotics competitions, outline a story about the guitar building workshop & a local teacher's endeavor to make STEM education music to his students' ears. We also have highlights from Harris Corporation's grand celebration of EWeek in Florida. In our mini 'Where are They Now' series, the spotlight is on two of our past FLATE awardees & the impact they continue to have on technology education in Florida. The dates for summer robotics camps are finalized! Do share the information with middle and high school students who are looking forward to a fun, exciting and #STEMtasticSummer, which is also our newsletter #hastag of the month! Tweet us @Made_InFlorida. Mark your calendar for the upcoming Florida Colleges Energy Education Forum and Yes! check how you fared in cracking the answer to last month's sTEm puzzle! 

Enroll Now for the 2015 Summer Robotics Camps

Summer is right around the corner, which also means it is time to enroll in one of FLATE’s, highly coveted, robotics camps.
FLATE will offer several camps this summer including one exclusively for girls. Given the rave response received last year campers will once again have the opportunity to build and program a Lego® Mindstorms® EV3 Robot. Each camp is focused on ‘hands-on, minds-on’ exercises/challenges that showcase the application of STEM and robotics concepts in everyday, high-tech manufacturing settings.

All camps will be held in the student services building at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon. Cost for each, week-long camp is $175. This year’s schedule and list of camp offerings include:

  • June 15- 19:     Introductory EV3 Robotics Camp for Middle School GIRLS ONLY!
  • June 22-26:      Introductory EV3 Robotics Camp for ALL Middle School students
  • July 6-10:         Introductory EV3 Robotics Camp II for ALL Middle School students
  • July 13-17:       Intermediate EV3 Robotics Camp (A) for middle school students
  • July 20-24:       Intermediate EV3 Robotics Camp (B) for middle school students
  • July 27- 31:     Engineering Technology Camp for High School students

The camps are fun, educational and offer different level of challenges. The introductory and intermediate camps serve as a launching pad for students to learn the basics of EV3 robots and how to program them. During this exciting program, students learn how to reconfigure LEGO® Mindstorms® EV3 robots and program them to follow specific commands. They will be part of several ‘robotic team challenges,’ learn design techniques using software programs, see demonstrations of a 3D printer, and write programs to operate the NAO humanoid robot.

The high school camp is poised to provide students with an invigorating experience. Students will use Solidworks and CAD
 to design a functional robotic arm. They will engage in 3D printing process using additive manufacturing techniques, and learn to program an Arduino microprocessor to operate servo motors. Students will gain an understanding about electronics and precision needed for building robots, learn entrepreneurial skills used by successful business owners and tour a local advanced manufacturing facility.

Desh Bagley, FLATE outreach manager and camp director says “the camps are designed to sharpen students’ skills in math, physics, witness the application of scientific principles and new technologies, and examine career and educational pathways
in manufacturing and engineering technologies.” Given FLATE’s sustained commitment to spark interest of girls in STEM, FLATE is once again partnering with Suncoast Credit Union Foundation to provide scholarships for girls from low income families to attend FLATE’s robotics summer camps. There are fourteen scholarships that will be distributed on a first come, first served basis. To qualify for the scholarship, please fill out the registration form that can be downloaded at Girls can receive a scholarship to attend the other weeks of camp; however, girls who select the “Girls Only” robotics camp from June 15-19 will receive first preference for scholarships. Due to the limited number of scholarships, only one girl will be awarded a scholarship to attend FLATE’s camp.

FLATE is also currently working with contractors to develop summer camp curriculum for the EV3. The curriculum package will include all challenges, lessons, and PowerPoints needed to run a five day camp. More information on this will be available later this year. FLATE will also be hosting several robotics camps offsite and around the state. Information about these camps, dates and locations will be available and posted on FLATE’s camp site at, and Stay tuned for those updates, or Desh Bagley, outreach manager & camp director at and Dr. Marilyn Barger at

The Light That Continues to Shine: FLATE Awardees Lead Locally, Impact Regionally

In our continuing series to highlight some of our past FLATE awardees, this month we highlight two educators who have made their mark in streamlining manufacturing education at the secondary and post-secondary education level. Both educators have made a significant impact on technology education and training in Florida, and were the FIRST recipients to be bestowed with the FLATE’s Secondary and Post-Secondary Educator of the Year awards.

It has been several years since Ted Norman was honored as the inaugural recipient of the FLATE Secondary
 educator of the Year award. Back in 2007 when he received the award, Norman was a teacher of the manufacturing career academy at Treasure Coast High School in Port St. Lucie, FL. He was the first to serve in that capacity, and attributes the honor to Kathy Schmidt, CTE director of St. Lucie County and Dr. Helen Roberts, principal of TCHS whose pioneering vision helped establish the manufacturing Academy at TCHS.

Much has happened in that time, both personally and professionally.

Firstly Norman switched gears and transitioned into the corporate world where he is currently the state supervisor for transportation, distribution and logistics for the Florida Department of Education. His primary mission at FL DOE is to manage, update and revise the curriculum frameworks for the manufacturing, transportation, distribution & logistics, engineering and technology education career clusters. “Keeping the frameworks relevant by aligning with business and industry expectations and technology ensures that secondary and post-secondary students will be given opportunities to be better prepared for college and careers” Norman said.

This past year working with teachers, administrators and business leaders, Norman also updated and revised the manufacturing curriculum and frameworks for welding, industrial machinery and maintenance, maritime repair/refinishing, electrical and instrumentation technology, industrial technology, aerospace, simulation and (most importantly machining technology programs.) “All of these programs support and contribute to a skilled workforce for Florida’s manufacturing industries” Norman said. Prior to working for the FL DOE, he enjoyed working for the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council in Indianapolis and Educational Testing Services in Princeton, NJ. In 2008, Norman was also recognized as a 2008 University of Florida Distinguished Educator awardee and the 2009 St. Lucie County Teacher. “I am proud and honored to be of service to the students, parents, educators, administrators, and business community of the great State of Florida.”

At the post-secondary level, Meer Almeer has been a relentless force in affecting changes that have made a positive impact on the A.S. degree in engineering technology at Eastern Florida State College. Almeer’s vision to introduce new courses, certificates and hands-on experiential learning mechanisms, has led to the overall growth of the A.S.E.T program at EFSC. “We are constantly changing the program to match the changing needs of local manufacturers.” Almeer started offering fiber optics and composites courses enabling students opportunities to build a career in several applied technology jobs such bas aeronautics, testing, fabrication, assembly, repair and almost every aspect of manufacturing. “I think we are creating an excellent workforce in the state of Florida by empowering students with relevant and transferable skills that will help them succeed across various industries” Almeer said.

Partnership with industry has greatly helped and is a key area Almeer has focused on in his efforts to strengthen the
 program. “Working with Harris Corporation we overhauled and redesigned the advanced engineering technology program to meet their needs” said Almeer. The program, according to Almeer, is a model for many other companies that have started following Harris’ lead in sending incumbent workers for additional training and/or earn certificates at EFSC. In fall 2014, Meer started offering the J standard industry certification class at a reduced cost of $300 (as opposed to $1300), and recently started offering a new IPC certification comprising of three credits soldering classes. “I would like to continue focusing on the program at EFSC and offer courses that will enable students to get decent jobs once they graduate from the program.” Additionally, he worked closely with local high schools and industry to coordinate manufacturing day tours in Brevard County, and partnered with Tallahassee Community College to host several workshops for high school students, local industries and college teachers to build composites skate boards. In 2014, he was also one of the EFSC Academic Discipline Award winners that recognize faculty members for their dedication, patience, enthusiasm and concern for students, the college, and community at large.

From the outset, Almeer has been a firm advocate not only of the statewide A.S.E.T degree, but in supporting FLATE’s mission to promote technician education and training. “FLATE has been leading the state in shaping the direction of engineering technology education, and has served as a guide for colleges to streamline their ET programs.” Almeer served as one of the mentors for students going to Spain on the FLATE-led global technician education program. He was part of the first faculty delegation that visited Spain in 2011 and went on a second trip with students, including four from EFSC who were enrolled in the alternative energy program.

To chat with Ted Norman and Meer Almeer and/or partner with them on current projects write to them at and For information on FLATE awards, or to submit a nomination for the 2015 FLATE awards visit, or email Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at

Guitar Building Project Inspires Future Rockstars of STEM

Music, as we all know, is a lure for many, but it can be a powerful tool when used as a “hook” to get students engaged,
interested and fired up about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Meet Kyle Thompson! Thompson is among a group of educators who are using innovative strategies to spark curiosity and stir students’ interest in STEM and manufacturing. The inspiration to use music as a backdrop to engage students in STEM was triggered by a week-long workshop that Thompson attended in 2014. This workshop, the National STEM Guitar Project for teachers was hosted by FLATE in partnership with Hillsborough Community College in Brandon and Erwin Technical Center in Tampa. The workshop was the first of its kind offered in the southeast and offered a unique opportunity for educators like Thompson to gain new insight about teaching STEM related subjects.

Fast forward a couple of months, and Thompson, who teaches traditional and engineering students in the construction
program at Middleton High School, a STEM-focused magnet school in Tampa, encouraged his students to participate in the guitar building workshop. Drawing upon his own knowledge & experience, Thompson developed STEM-based activities and a classroom curriculum. The idea “is for students to learn about common STEM based concepts that include construction, economics, design, manufacturing and technological set-up of an electric guitar.” Prior to working on the guitar building project, students are pretested on many STEM activities related to building guitars. There is also a post-test to assess students’ overall knowledge and understanding of STEM based concepts before moving onto the actual hands-on portion of building the guitar.

Since Thompson incorporated the guitar building project as part of his regular construction class at Middleton High School in Tampa, more than 140 students have signed up to be engaged in the guitar building project, each student contributing to some portion/aspect of building a real guitar. Inspiration to sign up and be engaged came in many forms. “I was watching American Idol and how some of the singers were playing the guitar and that got me thinking” said Neville Salmon, a 9th grader at Middleton. Debonte Ellison also in the same grade said he “always wondered how to make a guitar” and this project gave him deeper insight about STEM-related concepts involved in making a guitar functional.

According to Thompson, students use “hefty portion of mathematics to calculate fret spacing, guitar body geometry,
scale length, string tension and frequency. They also learn the economics related to supply and production of parts. Thompson states the most interesting part of the workshop is learning how to problem-solve and make decisions based on a carefully planned strategy. Students also work with computer-aided design to build the body and the neck of the guitar, and learn the function, design and eventually how to set up and fine-tune the guitar and its components. “Bringing a product to life was the most fun part of the project for me” said Debonte Ellison. For Quinton Vitelli-Hawkins, who is in 10th grade, the workshop provided an insight on the importance of measurement and precision in manufacturing a product.

Outside of the STEM focus, Thompson hopes students have a lot of fun learning about how things are made. He says making a final product not only gives students a sense of ownership, but helps connect them to the larger picture of how things are made and manufactured. Other takeaways include ‘collaborating with peers and working as a team’ which according to Quinton gave him a real-world view of how it is to work in a manufacturing/corporate environment.

Looking ahead Thompson plans to build additional guitars by working/collaborating with FLATE to set up camps later this summer. Thompson would also like to offer the guitar building project as a regular class during the academic year. “Coming up with a means to cover the financial cost would be the first hurdle, the rest would be pretty manageable” Thompson said.

For more information on the NSF-funded Guitar Building project visit, or contact Kyle Thompson at For information on FLATE’s 2015 summer camps for middle and high school students and teachers contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at, or visit and