News & Updates
The Award represents a joint effort between FLATE (Florida Advanced Technological Education Center), FloridaMakes and FAITE (Florida Association for Industrial and Technical Educators) to recognize contributions of educators and industries in advancing technician education and training on a regional and statewide level.

The 2021 FLATE Award Winners will be recognized at both the FloridaMakes MakeMore Manufacturing Summit during the virtual Talent Development segment, July 27-28 and the Florida Association of Career and Technical Education (FACTE) Annual Conference & Trade Show in Orlando, July 19-21, where they will serve as panelists on the Best Practice Award Winners Panel. The awardees will also serve as “manufacturing ambassadors” across the state during the coming year.  
2021 Distinguished Manufacturing Secondary
Educator-of-the-Year Award Winner
Selena S. Lewis

Selena Sharnell Lewis, a Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) educator for Project Lead the Way at Young Middle Magnet School in Tampa, began her journey as an educator nearly 30 years ago when in 1995, she became heavily involved with STEM-based initiatives. She has worked relentlessly to empower middle and high school girls and is recognized for her exceptional contributions to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at the secondary education level. According to Lewis “a teacher is the facilitator of learning, but the students are actually the ones filled with knowledge. They become stewards of their own learning.”

Striking a strategic partnership with local organizations such as SOFWERX, Suncoast Credit Union, Hillsborough Community College, Florida Department of Health, City of Tampa and the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center, Lewis organized and hosted the FIRST ‘All Girls’ STEM Day featuring STEM-related activities presented in an interactive and engaging environment. To date more than 500 middle and high school students from across Hillsborough County have attended the free event. She also works with the Verizon Innovative Labs, Project Lead the Way and SOFWERX to provide STEM camps for elementary and middle school students that are completely free.  

Lewis is also an active USF Stavros Center BB&T Fellows and serves on the NFTE Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, the Young Middle Magnet School STEM Advisory Board, the Girls STEM Day Advisory Board and the City of Tampa STEM Initiatives Advisory Board. She is a professional development coach for the Tampa Bay Alliance for Entrepreneurship which is a collaboration with Hillsborough County Public Schools, Hillsborough Community College, Pinellas County Public Schools, and St. Petersburg College  Lewis views success as a thirst and need for lifelong learning. She hopes her efforts “leave a legacy that empowers students to achieve anything they set their minds to.”  
2021 Distinguished Manufacturing Post-Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award Winner
Michael D. Cannon
Mike Cannon, program coordinator and lead instructor for the Mechanical Design and Fabrication program at Pensacola State College (PSC), has been working at PSC for the past 29 years and has played a prominent role in building an automated manufacturing training that is currently considered best in the southeast region.

In 2003, he worked closely with the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center to develop curriculum frameworks for the statewide A.S. degree in Engineering Technology. Cannon was instrumental in developing four college credit certificates: CNC machining and fabrication, CNC composite fabrication and programming, CNC machinist operator and programmer, and Mechanical Design and Programming. He also implemented state-of-the-art CAD/CAMM training, AutoCAD, Fusion 360 Design and Manufacturing, MasterCAM and SolidWorks as part of the curriculum. Additionally, Cannon developed coursework in production welding processes, Sheetmetal fabrication and aircraft riveting, metal fabrication, CNC machining operations, setup, programming, CNC router, and plasma & laser processing.  
Cannon is a big proponent in building crosswalks between industry and education to enhance the experience of manufacturing education for students. He was recently featured in an article published by Autodesk and was a scheduled speaker at the 2020 Autodesk Virtual Conference to discuss issues surrounding technology in the classrooms, including his adaptation of online curriculum for his program. Through advisory committee meetings, Cannon ensures that PSC is providing training that leads to jobs while incorporating industry-recognized technology and certifications into his manufacturing education programs. For information on the Mechanical Design and Fabrication program at PSC visit  
2021 Distinguished Manufacturing Partner Service Award Winner
Peter M. Cirak

Peter Cirak, Quality Assurance Director at Seal Dynamics in Tampa has been a longtime leading advocate for manufacturing. A cornerstone of his strategy to build a pipeline of skilled workers has been an active and intentional effort to build crosswalks between education and industry. Cirak is a member of the Bay Area Manufacturers Association serving on several of its committees. He also serves on the Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Leadership Council for FloridaMakes and recently joined FloridaMakes’ Adopt-A-School committee.
Cirak currently serves on the academic advising committees for the engineering technology programs at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) and at St. Petersburg College (SPC) as well as the academic advising committee for the Honors Program at HCC. His rationale is guided by a personal conviction that it is incumbent upon the manufacturing industry to aid educators where and when needed to facilitate quality education to the next generation of manufacturers. 
Cirak’s engagement with the manufacturing community also extends into his partnership with the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center. He has been an active member of FLATE’s Industrial Advisory Committee since 2011 and served as its Chair, and recently taught the first FLATE Tech Talk in coordination with SPC. The Tech Talks represent FLATE’s endeavor to incorporate industry-led instruction into the two-year A.S. degree in Engineering Technology (ET). He has been working with the A.S. ET program at HCC in various capacities and in 2008 received the HCC Outstanding Alumni award and the Boston University Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009. 
2021 Distinguished Manufacturing Organizational Partner Award Winner
Thomas A. Mudano
Thomas A. Mudano, President & CEO of AmSkills, Inc., has been named the first recipient of this award. AmSkills was established in 2014 as an Economic Development Initiative for the Tampa Bay Region with a mission to transform lives & strengthen communities through workforce training and apprenticeships. Mr. Mudano leveraged his skills/experience in business, nonprofits and government to become a leading voice for workforce training and apprenticeships. He has been at the helm of the AmSkills organization since 2016, listening to the needs of manufacturers then developing and implementing creative program solutions based the employer’s needs.  

Mudano is credited with creating the AmSkills Mobile Workshop and Career Discovery Bootcamp, which is a fast-track, pipeline building program designed to recruit and train vetted candidates into entry-level positions for industry. He also converted AmSkills Apprenticeships into a competency-based model and helped save the only Manufacturing Academy in Pinellas County at Northeast High School. Mudano was instrumental in establishing the first Florida Department of Education Registered Adult Manufacturing Pre-Apprenticeship Program; and in 2020, he launched the first Manufacturing Academy at Anclote High School in Pasco. Mudano is currently working on implementing a High School Pre-Apprenticeship. He believes if you first focus on the person, providing them with skills and confidence to succeed, it will result in launching careers into the manufacturing industry that have long-term, positive effects. 

Mudano states that “Many people do not understand the vast career opportunities available in the manufacturing industry”, and points to past negative public perceptions and a lack of an effective recruiting strategy as some of the gridlocks the industry faces in addressing the shortage in finding skilled workers.  “In today’s world many of our youth and young adults don’t know what careers to pursue, because there is no opportunity to explore."  Mudano's next project is a regional workforce training facility in Holiday, FL to help low to mid income families explore careers and increase their skills through innovative ways including the virtual reality VR Bar, outdoor Makerspace areas, advanced manufacturing training workshops and a startup entrepreneurs co-working space. 
Upcoming Events
Join FLATE at the second session of the 2021 MakeMore Manufacturing Summit, Talent Development, on July 27 & 28. The two-hour virtual sessions 8:30am - 10:30am each day will bring together manufacturing leaders, statewide decision-makers, and economic development and workforce professionals for vibrant discussions about the current state of the manufacturing ecosystem, the challenges, strategies and opportunities manufacturers are facing and how to leverage industry advantages to improve the talent pipeline.

Special Event: On Tuesday, July 27th, the Talent Development Segment will be hosting the Awards Ceremony for the 2021 FLATE Manufacturing Education Awards Recognition Ceremony.
Join FLATE at the 2021 Florida Association for Career and Technical Education-FACTE 55th Annual Conference and Trade Show, hosted at the SeaWorld Renaissance in Orlando, Florida, on July 19 - 21.
HI-TEC 2021 Virtual will feature live keynotes, sessions, and panels on Wednesday and Thursday, July 21–22, beginning at Noon EDT. The conference will also feature 50+ “on demand” pre-recorded sessions. These can be viewed at your convenience and will be available for six months beginning on July 21.
Fall 2021 ET Forum registration opening in August. 
FloridaMakes Network News
Join us in Congratulating the Winners of the
2021 Florida Sterling Manufacturing Business Excellence (SMBE) Awards
SMBE Gold Winners
  • CAE Healthcare, Inc. Sarasota 
  • Fleet Readiness Center Southeast, NAS Jacksonville
  • Lockheed Martin Aerostructures, Pinellas Park
  • Pierce Manufacturing, Bradenton
  • Slice Engineering, LLC, Gainesville
SMBE Silver Winners
  • BAE Systems – Jacksonville Ship Repair, Jacksonville
  • CMC Steel Florida, Jacksonville
  • Easy Foods Inc., Kissimmee
  • MAG Aerospace, Fort Walton Beach
  • RND Automation & Engineering, Lakewood Ranch
  • Q'Straint, Oakland Park
  • Team Solutions Dental, Sanford
  • Trane Lynn Haven, Panama City
SMBE Bronze Winners
  • Cavaform International LLC., St. Petersburg
  • Kira Labs Inc., Pompano Beach
  • Made in Space, Inc. (RedWire), Jacksonville
  • Stellar Energy Americas, Inc. Jacksonville
  • Veethree Electronics, Bradenton
Apprentices could be solution to filling state's lack of manufacturing workers
Art Hoelke, Vice President and General Manager of Knight’s Armament Company and Guest Columnist for this article in Florida Today, acknowledges there is not a simple solution for the massage shortage of skilled employees in manufacturing, but he believes that increasing training and education will play a critical role in helping our state close these employment and skills gaps. Education and training of employees at his company has been beneficial not only to the employees, who can earn more money and do their jobs better, but also to the company in recruiting and developing a diverse and highly skilled workforce, improving productivity and loyalty, reducing turnover and investing in the local community.

He states "We need to change the perception that “a good education” has to mean a college education. Vocational training and apprenticeships are an often-overlooked form of education and pathway to employment, even though for many students they may be the best option. Apprenticeship programs like FloridaMakes’ IMT allow businesses to invest in their employees’ future with hands-on training and extensive online courses they can complete outside of work hours. The program offers employers a consistent way to recruit, train, and retain talent, designed with a specialized focus on the unique needs of a specific job. Apprentices receive one-on-one mentoring, earn a nationally recognized credential, learn necessary skills to further their careers, and earn a wage that increases with experience — all while avoiding student loan debt. Apprenticeship programs are a proven solution to creating and retaining a pipeline of specialized talent that allows businesses to succeed."

Learn more about FloridaMakes' Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) Apprenticeship Program by visiting
FANUC America and the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Collaborate to Meet the Shortage of Skilled Industrial Robotics Operators
On June 7, 2021, FANUC America and the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC), announced their decision to co-market the stackability of their respective industry-recognized certifications to meet the acute shortage of skilled industrial robotics and automation operators. This partnership creates a streamlined approach for schools and industry partners when administering certifications.

The objective is to align students and job seekers on a pathway to become advanced automation operators, technicians, systems integration specialist, or engineers. Says Paul Aiello, Director, CERT Education Group at FANUC America, “The collaboration between FANUC and MSSC will provide a major benefit to employers looking to fill industry 4.0 robotics and CNC technical positions. Adds Neil Reddy, CEO of MSSC, “Given the close fit between these FANUC and MSSC Certifications, we will encourage our entire nationwide network to use both to prepare individuals to build a robust pipeline of world-class robotics operators. 

For further information on these programs, please contact the following: FANUC America, Cathy Powell, Public Relations and Communications Manager at; and MSSC, Catherine Feeney, Senior Marketing Manager at or at 703-739-9000 x2222 
Able Trust Launches Countdown Campaign for Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) in October
Disablity Employment Awareness Month is part of a national initiative highlighting career paths and industries to students and job seekers with disabilities; providing tools and resources to businesses to support their efforts in employing people with disabilities; and creating awareness of and advocating for an underutilized talent pool.

As a key leader in disability employment, The Able Trust's DEAM program is designed to connect and support Florida's businesses, local disability service agencies and people with disabilities. In the Countdown to DEAM, visit The Able Trust on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to:
  • Learn what innovations are happening in the world of inclusive employment
  • Meet some Superstars who mean business
  • And share your favorite stories
AmSkills Career Discovery Workshop & Bootcamp
AmSkills will be holding a Career Production Workshop in Hillsborough (July) and Pasco (September) on how to transition existing skills or learn new ones for the Advanced Manufacturing Industry. Those who participate in the 1-Day Workshop will be invited to attend the 2-Week Bootcamp July 19-20. The 2-Week Bootcamp consists of:

- Multiple Hands-On Projects
- Blueprint and Measurement Reading
- Intro to Soldering
- Tours of Local Manufacturer
- OSHA Safety Certificate
- Resume and Interview Coaching

All participants who successfully complete the Boot Camp will receive a Certificate of Completion and will be guaranteed a job interview on the last day. If you have manufacturing jobs and are looking for entry level talent, contact Amskills. 
Purdue University Techie Time Virtual Summer Camp
The Techie Times Virtual Summer Camp camp for 9-14 year olds takes place from July 26-30 and August 2& 3, with the session taking place at 12 Eastern Time for approximately 45-60 minutes. The program focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics through fun and engaging projects. It is entirely free of charge and all necessary supplies for 5 projects are shipped directly to the camper's home. If you have any questions, email
Raytheon looking for HVAC/R Technician
Raytheon Intelligence & Space in Largo, FL has an opening for an HVAC/R Technician (Technical Support Specialist Senior). The key requirements for the position are 1) HVAC/R experience and 2) State of Florida certifications. Please share if you know someone with these qualifications.
The New-to-ATE Two-Year STEM Faculty Mentorship Application is now Available
Faculty or colleges seeking NSF ATE funding who have not yet worked with a mentor to prepare an NSF ATE proposal may apply to participate in Cohort 10 (October 2021- October 2022).
Apply online and send required affidavit to by 11:59 p.m. EST, October 8, 2021 to be considered for this opportunity. Only one application per college is allowed in response to this Call for Applications.
Two-year college teams consisting of two STEM faculty from each applicant college and at least one administrator and/or grant writer will be selected to receive National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) grant proposal development and submission assistance. Colleges who participate in Mentor-Connect's Mentorship program can increase their chances of being awarded a grant up to $300,000, designated as a "Small Grant for Institutions new to ATE." 
Developing a Supply Chain Automation Program:
From Concept to Creation
Dr. James McDonald, Professor & Dean of Career & Technical Programs and Kevin Curley, Professor and Program Chair of Engineering at Valencia College presented at the NCSCA (National Center for Supply Chain Automation) 2021 Virtual Symposium about their journey in 2017 of creating a new Supply Chain Automation program at Valencia College with support from FLATE.

Use the links below to access their presentation to learn about the path Valencia took in this endeavor, the obstacles leaders encountered along the way, and how those obstacles were overcome. Hear the mission of Valencia’s STEM Awareness Taskforce and its recruitment techniques, which include unique strategies for 2+2 career awareness outreach to local high schools and the creation of a technician “Day in the Life” video.
EdgeFactor Toolkits: Summer Camp Experience &
Rock Manufacturing Day Experience
The Summer Camp Experience (July/August) equips you with media and interactive activities to engage and inspire students over the summer months to discover careers and STEAM. The The turnkey Summer Camp Toolkit includes programming for 5 days of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.

Pre-Register now for the 'Rock Manufacturing Day' Experience (September/October). This toolkit includes downloadable promo tools, "How To" Guides with step by step instructions on Why and How to host an engaging event and presentation tools (e.g. STEAM and Soft skills videos, quizzes and lesson plans.)
Food For Thought
Moving the needle: Lisa D. Cook on maximizing U.S. innovation through broader participation
From NSF's Science Matters blog: A conversation with economics researcher Lisa D. Cook about the 2021 Women, Minorities and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering report and what it means for inventors, the innovation economy and the future of American-made ideas.
 Study Finds Big Payoff for Community College
A new study provides strong evidence of just how valuable two-year colleges can be to students’ future employment and earnings. The study, sponsored by The Boston Foundation, Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, and the nonpartisan think tank MassINC, looked at the labor market experience of nearly 58,000 Massachusetts students who graduated from high school over a three-year period roughly a decade ago and had not gone beyond community college by 2018. 

Those graduating with a two-year associate’s degree from Massachusetts community colleges had earnings that were 31 percent higher than their peers who only completed high school while those obtaining a community college certificate — a credential in a specific field without a full, two-year degree — saw earnings that were 26 percent higher than high school graduates. The results show that community college education “really confers value,” said study co-author Ben Forman, the research director at MassINC, which is the publisher of CommonWealth.