Local manufacturers build STEM enthusiasm

9:09 PM, Feb 23, 2012   |    comments
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An employee at work at Southern Manufacturing Technologies.

Tampa, Fla. -- At Southern Manufacturing Technologies (STM) they make parts for the aviation industry. And some of their parts have certainly departed.

"We have parts in satellites, parts on Mars-the Mars Rover," says company president Roy Sweatman.

But what this company wishes it could manufacture is a better-trained workforce.

"We could hire a dozen people today with the right skills," says Sweatman.

Other local manufacturers have the same problem, so they've teamed up to create a new program announced Thursday called STEM Goes to Work.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Middleton High's robotics program is just one example of STEM learning in area schools.

And soon STEM students on both sides of the Bay will be touring companies like Southern Manufacturing Technologies. The aim of the program is to generate enthusiasm for Stem careers.

Larry Plank is the Director of STEM education for Hillsborough County Schools and he believes the field trips could indeed inspire students.

"When they're in a manufacturing center or engineering firm, really seeing the work that goes on, that gets kids excited," says Plank.

"We're talking STEM education, but here's where you put it to use," says Sweatman. 

For example, at Southern Manufacturing Technologies, before a part can be made, an engineer has to come up with plans using geometry and trigonometry.

Sweatman says there's a misconception that most manufacturing is done in China and through the student field trips, he's hoping to boost a workforce "Made in the USA".

The Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA) is promoting and paying for this program. For more information on STEM Goes to Work, you can contact Janet Bryant at jbryant@idatix.com.

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