FLATE’s Awardees: A Testament to Florida’s High-Tech Future
|Source: Bradenton Times|
“The hallmark of my program is giving students the best possible experience they can have to reach their individual potential.” McGrew is a firm proponent of hands-on education that prepares students for the “real world.” From basic skills like reading a ruler to running a CNC mill, to using screwdrivers, cutting wood on a table saw, to engraving with lasers, or welding with a tig welder, McGrew incorporates as many hands-on skills as possible, with as many tools and equipment as possible that are used on a daily basis in manufacturing, construction, transportation and engineering fields.
Greg’s enthusiasm and love for teaching prompts him to constantly adjust his curriculum so his students are abreast with latest technology. His suggestion to other educators is to visit as many manufacturing plants, companies, businesses, and other schools so “you can be better informed which in turn makes you a better teacher.” He compliments FLATE’s “Made in Florida” outreach program for assisting students and teachers to gain real-world exposure to high-tech manufacturing. This award, he says, confirms that he is teaching is what his students need. “I know there are many other great teachers in the state of Florida. I am just lucky enough to represent them for this year.”
At the post secondary level, Robert Deckon, manager for operational excellence at Saddle Creek Corporation in Jacksonville, FL, and past director of engineering technology at Florida Gateway College (FGC) will receive the Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator of the year award. Deckon has been engaged in industry, engineering, and engineering technology (ET) education for over 25 years, and was instrumental in revamping the engineering technology program at FGC. He developed the new courses within the A.S.E.T. concentrating on the Quality Specialization including the six sigma black belt and green belt college certificates. The core of the program, he says, is problem solving. “Employers want and need employees who can solve problems, and the ability to apply these tools to a wide variety of situations.”
To that effect, he proposes educators to showcase the role technology plays in innovation. He says educators should coordinate placement of students at local companies so they can use their technical skills to work on real-world projects. Deckon also developed the first mobile ET laboratory in Florida. His lab equipment consists of electronic test equipment, programmable logic controllers, instrumentation and process control equipment, and hydraulics and pneumatics trainers, lodged within a large 52ft triple axel trailer that can be towed to any school, or company site for training. “Education needs to borrow from industry and implement many of the same cost cutting, process improvement methods to their processes and reduce costs, eliminate redundancies and waste.” He adds “Education needs fewer chiefs and more Indians.”
On the industry side of the continuum, Mark Snyder, vice president of global operations & supply chain at ConMed Corporation in Largo, FL, will receive the Industry Distinguished Service award. In this capacity, Snyder is responsible for the co-ordination and optimization of world-wide operations and logistics which includes procurement, manufacturing and distribution, as well assuring quality, delivery & cost to customers both within and outside the United States. “I am passionate about manufacturing and the need to stay competitive. Constant improvement has been a consistent theme throughout my manufacturing career.” Over the last 25 years, Snyder has been at the forefront of affecting positive changes in the manufacturing sector in Florida. Most of what he’s been involved in entails bringing jobs to Florida and moving work to low cost region manufacturing areas.
Snyder notes the manufacturing industry landscape is constantly in flux. In Florida, the pendulum has shifted from Department of Defense manufacturing to medical device manufacturing. In light of these changes, Snyder encourages current and incumbent workers to streamline manufacturing processes by increasing their understanding and practice of lean and six sigma. These he says “are methods that challenge the status quo of a process.” He also calls on manufacturers to focus on quality and delivery improvements. He says the most important asset we can allocate is time, not money. “This is why companies that embrace Lean and Six Sigma succeed” Snyder said.