By Tamas Mondovics

Under the phrase “Made in Florida,” more than 1,200 students in the greater Tampa Bay area had the opportunity to tour dozens of high-tech manufacturing facilities across Florida earlier this month as part of the National Manufacturing Day. Held on October 4, the Made in Florida 2013 tours were made possible by Florida Advanced Technological Education (FLATE), the National Science Foundation Center of Excellence at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon, the Manufacturers Association of Florida, Bay Area Manufacturers Association, the Sarasota Manatee Manufacturers Association and manufacturers/educators across the state.

According to FLATE spokesperson, Janice Mukhia, each tour presented students with a chance for a closer look at how these companies function and their effects on the state’s economy.

“The day was a resounding success,” Mukhia, said. “It was truly an educational opportunity for students to expand their knowledge about high-tech careers and educational pathways in manufacturing and celebrate the more than 14,000 manufacturers across Florida.”

Earlier, Florida Governor, Rick Scott, issued a state-wide proclamation naming October 4 a Manufacturing Day for all Floridians while also mentioning FLATE’s involvement with the program.

On Thursday, October 3, Hillsborough County Commissioner, Mark Sharpe, issued the Hillsborough County Manufacturing Day proclamation at Middleton High School.

Speaking highly of the importance of the day, FLATE Outreach Manager, Desh Bagley, said that the goal is to let young people know of the advanced manufacturing careers that do exist in the state.

“Manufacturing Day 2013 was successful because students were able to see that manufacturing happens in their own backyards,” Bagley said. Industry tours for Hillsborough County included: Southern Manufacturing Technologies; Chromalloy; Vulcan Machines; Sypris Electronics; Plastipak Holdings, Inc. and Heat Pipe Technology Inc.

Tomlin Middle School in Plant City visited Plastipak which produces millions of containers for Fortune 100 companies every year. Students learned about career opportunities in advanced manufacturing and manufacturers were able to showcase their companies to their future workforce. FLATE is a multi-million dollar NSF grant-funded organization housed at HCC Brandon. For more information about FLATE, please visit


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