Northwest Florida Manufacturing News Monthly
Okaloosa Robotics Visits Kennedy Space Center
Robotics teams across Okaloosa County were recently able to visit Kennedy Space Center in Southeast Florida, allowing them to prepare for upcoming robotics competitions. Participating teams were from the following schools: Bob Sikes Elementary, Davidson Middle, Pryor Middle, Shoal River, and STEMM Academy. Donations from NWFMC, the Eglin Air Force Association, and the Doolittle Institute helped fund this trip.

Okaloosa schools compete in the yearly-themed FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competitions. This year’s theme, “Into Orbit,” centers on space travel. “This trip to the Kennedy Space Center will help students see the challenges of space travel and inspire students for the upcoming robotics season,” says Curt Palermo, the Pryor Middle School coach. “It’s an amazing opportunity for all of these students. Seeing a lot of exhibits that actually went to space is a once-in-a-lifetime event for some of our students.”

Using LEGO Mindstorm kits, students must build and program a robot to accomplish tasks autonomously. Teams must also identify and solve an issue that astronauts may face after long periods of living in space. “It’s always exciting to see what our teams pick for their projects. What people may not know is that there is a lot more going on than just robotics. Students have to learn to think, problem solve, and create,” says Jennifer Kiel, who has coached the STEMM Stingers for five years.

“Okaloosa robotics teams are consistently some of the best performing teams in the state,” states Dottie Holland, Rockin’ Robots coach. “Our Bob Sikes team earned an invite to the FIRST World Competition two years ago and every year we have multiple teams invited to the Regional and State Competitions. Some of the best teams are right here in Okaloosa County.”

Like any other team, students must work hard to fund equipment and entry fees. Laurie Allen, Shoal River Robotics coach, has gotten creative on her team’s fundraising. “We have done everything from running concession stands at events to hosting a 5K obstacle course mud run in Crestview for the last three years. Our season is all school year and paying for robots, travel, and tournament fees can add up. We are always looking for sponsors, experts, and even volunteers who can help and inspire our students.” Many teams have local sponsors that help support robotics in Okaloosa County. If you are interested in helping, please contact your local school.
FLATE Provides "Made in Florida" MFG DAY Resources
Manufacturing Day and Month is just a short few weeks away. We hope you are all planning student tours of your local and regional manufacturers. FLATE has developed several MFG DAY resources to help support your efforts and capture their impact.

These resources include:

  • 2018 student post-tour surveys as downloadable PDF files, links, or QR codes
  • Links to the 2018 tour host and teacher/parent surveys (these two surveys are available online only)
  • Excel file templates for collecting student tour-related data and information
  • A variety of all-level classroom lesson plans
  • Downloadable MFG DAY FL logo
  • Downloadable classroom MFG DAY FL 2018 poster
  • Downloadable MFG DAY FL web banners and buttons 
  • Downloadable MFG DAY FL student t-shirt graphic
  • Best practices and tips for tours
  • Guide to uploading your tours on the national MFG DAY website
  • MFG DAY proclamations template

Additionally, FLATE's wiki has other great educator resources.
Millions in Impact Reported by Manufacturers Working with FloridaMakes
We are excited to report that Florida manufacturers who received services through FloridaMakes have reported a combined total of over $742 million in measurable impacts (data through September 2018). The results break down to include:

  • Increased or retained sales: $504 million
  • Total cost savings: $70 million
  • Total investments: $168 million (equipment, new products, skills and other)
  • Jobs created or retained: 5,327 
The survey results represent data from 223 firms. On average, over $3.3 million in total impact and over 23 jobs were created or retained per firm. 

In the Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council/UWF region, the results break down as follows: 

  • Total Impact: $221.4 million
  • Sales: $167.2 million
  • Cost Savings: $21.1 million
  • Investments: $33 million
  • Total Jobs: 848

The survey results represent data from 40 firms. On average, over $5.5 million in total impact and over 21 jobs were created or retained per firm in this region. 

FloridaMakes is a great resource and can help your company address current challenges, create new opportunities for growth and achieve measurable results. To learn how FloridaMakes’ services can unlock growth opportunities and cost savings for your company, contact your FloridaMakes’ Business Advisor Daniel Krug at, (850) 612-5895 (cell), John Davis at, (850) 384-5275 (cell), or Mary Nutial at, (850) 426-9145.

The findings were reported directly by manufacturers through a third-party outside survey conducted on behalf of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

FloridaMakes is the official representative of the MEP National Network and NIST MEP in the State of Florida.
Training Opportunities for Fall 2018
Several training opportunities are available throughout the rest of 2018. The Quality Improvement Certifications page, housed on the NWFMC website, is a resource for upcoming training courses. Please consider taking advantage of the following opportunities. Each course title is a link that provides schedule and course detail and registration information:




BOD Conference Call
Friday, September 28
1 - 2:30 p.m.
Design Thinking
Wednesday, October 17
9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
UWF Innovation Institute
Manufacturing Day
Friday, October 5
9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Design Thinking
Wednesday, October 17
9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Gulf Coast State College
NFPA 70E Arc Flash Compliance
Tuesday, October 16
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
UWF Fort Walton Beach
Have an event you would like to add? 
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This newsletter was developed in collaboration with the University of West Florida.