high-tech manufacturing encompasses middle and high school students as well as educators from all points in the social continuum. In the current and past year, in particular, FLATE reached out to students in rural communities, minority students who face economic challenges, women and girls who remain underrepresented in the STEM based professions and even homeschooled students. FLATE’s efforts to ensure every student is exposed to STEM-based opportunities, be it through traditional classroom learning, problem-based learning, or through experiential learning has yielded strategic partnerships that have positively impacted students as well as educators.
(HSHT) program, Able Trust administrators and coordinators have been on several industry tours arranged by FLATE. The HSHT initiative is designed to provide high school students with disabilities the opportunity to explore jobs, or postsecondary education leading to technology-related careers. Last month, as part of the Able Trust HSHT Conference, FLATE coordinated a tour and luncheon for 70 people that included Education Commissioner, Pam Stewart, Able Trust Directors and HSHT Coordinators, to tour Southern Manufacturing Technologies—a high-tech manufacturer in Tampa. At the tour, Desh Bagley, outreach manager for FLATE gave a presentation about FLATE’s statewide STEM based programs and educational resources that the coordinators could access and incorporate as part of their HSHT teaching experience.
based careers in manufacturing. According to Allison Chase, vice president of youth programs at the Able Trust Foundation in Tallahassee, one of the HSHT groups even participated in the FLATE Toothpick Factory, simulation game to develop soft skills, in preparation for their tour. “Students have been surprised to learn about the variety of jobs available in the manufacturing industry and many have expressed an interest in learning more about manufacturing as a future career” said Chase. Some of the sites they visited in Orlando were Custom Metal Designs, Correct Craft Maker and Mitsubishi Power Systems of America. In addition to the tours in Orlando, 15 students from the Able Trust HSHT program in Tallahassee also attended the manufacturing open house hosted by the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center at Tallahassee Community College. “Students have been surprised to learn about the variety of jobs available in the manufacturing industry and many have expressed an interest in learning more about manufacturing as a future career” Chase said.
The State of Florida has the third largest population in country, with an official 2020 estimate of 21.5 million persons and approximately 58% of the population is in the civilian labor force (12,600,000).