EDUCATION IN THE BRADENTON AREA
Students seeking academic challenge to prepare for college will find it in the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs in Manatee Schools. Wakeland Elementary, Johnson Middle and Southeast High School offer the rigorous, globally-recognized program. Accredited by the IB foundation based in Geneva, Switzerland, the program of international education develops the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world.
School District of Manatee County seniors in the Class of 2016 earned more than $15.5 million in scholarships and were accepted into more than 190 colleges and universities across America. A sampling of those institutions includes Brown, California Berkley, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Georgia Tech, Johns Hopkins, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York Film Academy, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rice, Tulane, Michigan, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Yale and the United States Air Force Academy. Numerous colleges and universities throughout Florida also opened their doors to Manatee County graduates.
The Collegiate School at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCFCS) is Manatee County’s only college preparatory charter school and the first college-operated charter middle school where students have an opportunity to study on a college campus. The school offers grades 6-12, and graduates have been accepted into dozens of colleges across Florida and the nation. In 2016, five SCFCS students studying economics/finance each won $20,000 scholarships in a financial literacy challenge sponsored by H&R Block. The contest teaches teenagers how to manage the financial life of an adult through a real-life simulation. SCFCS students finished in the top 22 nationally.
Most of the county’s high school career and technical education programs have articulation agreements with Manatee Technical College and with the State College and University Systems. These seamless career pathways make it possible for students to dual enroll and earn post-secondary credit while still in high school.
Manatee District Schools offer an intentional, innovative pathway exposing K-12 students to engineering disciplines and other STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields of learning and careers. At each level, from elementary to middle to high school, academic and hands-on learning become increasingly sophisticated. By graduation, high school students are prepared to opt for higher education or technical skills training – or both. They may also earn college credit and industry certifications while in high school to accelerate their career goals.
Exposing children to engineering starts at the elementary level with Inspiring Elementary IE2 where students rotate through hands-on labs staffed by full-time teachers. Students learn about design and solving real-world technical problems through group learning and competitions. They study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through machines, robotics, transportation, structures, manufacturing, power and energy, force/motion and inventions using a locally developed and tested curriculum based on Florida State Standards.
Middle school programs push the envelope further with computer numeric controlled (CNC) machining used with industry-leading manufacturing software tools and machines. Students gain skills in robotics, pneumatics, electronics and materials and processes. Many programs focus on innovations and inventions where students research an idea that can be developed into a marketable product or solution to a problem. The process mirrors that of business and industry. For example, middle school students pass the rigorous SolidWorks industry certification exam mastering the software used in today’s manufacturing industries.
Manatee schools offer an astonishing array of skill-building Career Academies and Smaller Learning Communities at the middle and high school levels. Manatee County is home to the first nationally accredited academy in the United States and provided the basis for national standards that accredited academies must meet. The 22 high school academies and five middle school academies focus on themes such as Arts, Business, Communications, Design, Engineering, Global Studies/Leadership, Health/Medical, Science and Technology. Six are national award-winning Model Academies: the Medical Academy at Manatee High, Visual and Performing Arts at Southeast High, and all four academies at Braden River High: Arts and Communications; Business and International Studies; Science, Technology and Health; and Engineering, Design and Leadership.
For the tenth year in a row, School District of Manatee County students captured more event trophies and top 10 finishes than any other school district in the nation during the 2016 national Technology Student Association conference. Over 6,000 middle and high school students from across the country competed in more than 70 technology-based contests. Over 220 middle and high school students, along with their advisors from Manatee County – representing 11 Manatee County schools – brought home 14 first-place event trophies; 15 second-place trophies; and nine third-place trophies. Plus, a grand total of 88 top 10 conference event finishes.
At approximately 500 students per year, the agriscience program at Braden River High School is one of the largest in Florida. The program is strongly focused on technology related to today’s agribusinesses, combined with fundamentals and extensive hands-on experience. Students analyze genetic traits to breed desirable qualities into the school’s beef herd. Since 2012, students have hydroponically cultivated and donated enough lettuce to feed 5,000 people through the local Salvation Army kitchen. Crops from raised beds and hydroponic stacks provide fresh produce to the school’s faculty and staff through a purchasing co-op.
“We appreciate the work (Manatee Schools) are doing to help prepare students for the workplace.”
Greg Glass, Human Resources, Sun Hydraulics
“Having (Sun Hydraulics) advising our students is changing their lives and the world.”
Richard Platt, Engineering Teacher, Southeast High School
“Our graduates go on to careers that help to feed the world. Our program’s success hinges on powerful support from parents; local farms, ranches and agribusinesses; and agencies like the Florida Farm Bureau.”
Karly Cohenour, Agriscience Teacher, Braden River High School
- The percentage of third graders reading at higher levels rose during the second year of the Florida Standards Assessment.
- Students in grades 3-8 performing at a Level 3 or above increased a percentage point in all mathematics on state assessments.
- Four high school seniors were named National Merit Scholars.
- The high school graduating class of 2016 earned $15.5 million in scholarships and acceptance into universities across America, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brown, Notre Dame and Columbia.
- Technology Student Association (TSA) competitors from the School District of Manatee County captured more event trophies and Top 10 finishes than any other school district in the nation at the 2016 TSA National Conference in Nashville.
- Students in Southeast High School’s television production program were named national champions at the 2016 SkillsUSA competition for the sixth time since 2009.
- Two teams from Braden River High School win dozens of awards at the VEX World Robotics competition including the world championship “Build Award”.
- Members of Health Occupations Students of America from five Manatee district schools won prestigious awards at International Leadership Conference, including a first-place finish.
- Members of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America received gold, silver and bronze medals at the National Leadership Conference.
- Braden River High football coach Curt Bradley was named the Class 7A “Coach of the Year”.
- Lakewood Ranch High School athletic programs were named overall Academic Team Champions by Florida High School Athletic Association for the sixth consecutive year.
- Manatee High School JROTC won the 2016 Florida Best Raider Competition competing against teams from throughout the state.
The Bradenton area is home to top-notch private schools. IMG Academy is a world-famous athletic and sports performance training academy that includes post-graduate offerings. The college preparatory schools Saint Stephens’ Episcopal School and The Out-of-Door Academy have campuses in the Bradenton area, as do Bradenton Christian Elementary School and Bradenton Christian High School. Click here to see a full list of private schools in Manatee County.
CROSS COLLEGE ALLIANCE
Six colleges and universities in the Bradenton area have joined forces to leverage the collective strength of unique but complementary institutions and establish the Bradenton-Sarasota area as a college town with enhanced opportunities for students and businesses.
The Consortium of Colleges on the Creative Coast was formed by leaders of Eckerd College; New College of Florida; Ringling College of Art and Design; State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota; Florida State University/The Ringling; and University of South Florida Sarasota Manatee.
More than 15,000 students arrive on local campuses annually to take advantage of the region’s array of higher education offerings including university transfer, traditional four-year degrees, technical and career training, creative arts, individualized study at the state’s honors college, and master’s and doctoral programs.
The consortium’s collaboration on cross-registration allows students to take courses at a consortium institution and earn credit at their home college. Expanded internship collaborations strengthen ties with business partners. Lifelong learning and social exchanges – such as free admission to Ringling Underground, a lively event held after hours in the Museum of Art Courtyard – foster a more vibrant, college town atmosphere.
The Consortium of Colleges on the Creative Coast leverages the collective strength of unique but complementary area institutions and fosters a college town atmosphere in the Bradenton area.
Leaders of major schools in the Bradenton area continue a local tradition of partnering on innovative initiatives to expand options for students and promote the local economy.
The Bradenton area’s colleges and universities create more choices in higher education by pooling resources of their institutions’ unique identities and attributes.
The University of Florida (UF) and State College of Florida (SCF) responded to a growing demand for engineers with Gator Engineering at SCF, a collaboration that allows local students to be admitted to the UF engineering college while starting their education at SCF.
The “Artist-to-Teacher” program was created by the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM) with State College of Florida (SCF) and Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) to give arts students a seamless transition to teacher preparation programs.
A cooperative relationship between New College of Florida (NCF) and State College of Florida (SCF) professors allowed SCF biotechnology students to gain practical experience in a summer program by generating DNA for an NCF student’s senior thesis.
Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) and State College of Florida (SCF) partnered to facilitate the admission of SCF associate degree graduates with an emphasis in studio art to be accepted into RCAD’s bachelor of fine arts degree program.
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) and State College of Florida (SCF) partnerships include granting early acceptance for qualified SCF students into the LECOM pharmacy school, as well as an agreement facilitating admission to LECOM’s Bradenton-based master’ degree in health services administration program for graduates of SCF’s bachelor’s program in the field.
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA SARASOTA-MANATEE
Businesses’ increasing reliance on technology and “big data” is helping to propel a high demand nationally and regionally for qualified accountants who can sort and analyze data. The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM) is responding to that need with highly qualified, workforce-ready accounting graduates.
“Today’s CEOs need more than financial statements,” said Byron Shinn, managing partner at Shinn & Co., a Bradenton-based accounting and business consulting firm. “Forward-thinking accountants are data-diving analysts who study numbers and help business owners create solutions.”
To assist his diverse roster of clients, which ranges from government to manufacturing and healthcare to entrepreneurs, Shinn looks for accountants with nimble minds and honed technical skills.
“We need professionals that can help business owners strategize about how to make their companies more productive in a competitive global environment,” said Shinn.
To find accountants that fit the bill, Shinn recruits at USFSM. A USF graduate and long-time supporter of USFSM, Shinn’s strong relationships with professors helps ensure students are up to date on industry trends and are workforce-ready at graduation.
The industry-education link clearly works. USFSM accounting graduates have an 87 percent employment rate, the highest employment percentage in the State University System’s undergraduate accounting programs.
The in-demand profession has higher-than-average earnings potential, and in the Bradenton area, according to Shinn, the economic payoff comes with a quality of life bonus.
“An accounting career here offers exciting work for bright minds in paradise,” he said.
- University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM) offers more than 40 bachelor’s and master’s degrees and certificate programs in four colleges: Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, Business, Science & Mathematics, and Hospitality & Tourism Leadership.
- A masters degree in Cybersecurity with a concentration in cyber intelligence prepares students to acquire and assess the intentions, capabilities, and activities of potential adversaries and insiders.
- Locally inspired and one-of-a-kind, the Center for the Partnership for Arts-Integrated Teaching (PAInT) at USFSM is the official statewide resource for arts-integrated instruction.
- The new Bridge to Engineering program, launched in fall 2016, is a partnership between USFSM and USF’s College of Engineering in Tampa. The program gives local students the opportunity to take general education courses at USFSM their first two years and transfer to USF in Tampa to finish their degrees. The program offers a welcome option to students and supports USFSM’s goal to meet evolving workforce needs by expanding the campus’ science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.
- Students have more than 200 internship and research opportunities at USFSM.
- Accounting graduates have an 87 percent employment rate, the highest employment percentage in the State University System’s undergraduate accounting programs.
- The USFSM biology program collaborates with Mote Marine Laboratory, a world-renowned aquarium and research center that is home to USFSM’s biology and chemistry research labs. The collaboration allows students to be immersed in ongoing research and community engagement in the marine sciences and work one-on-one with scientists through USFSM’s internship program with Mote.
- The five-star Resort at Longboat Key Club is the official “teaching hotel” for USFSM’s signature program, the College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership. The Culinary Innovation Lab at USFSM is a state-of-the-art teaching facility that serves as the program’s culinary home, providing a fully-equipped teaching center for students in the Hospitality Management program as well as an inviting venue for USFSM events, both public and private.
- USFSM’s College of Business holds a distinction earned by less than 10 percent of the world’s business programs with the award of separate accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the hallmark of excellence in business education.
- About 180 student veterans are enrolled at USFSM.
- The Global Engagement Office (GEO) coordinates with USF World to provide support to faculty and students interested in studying abroad.
- The USFSM School of Education received accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE), the nation’s foremost accrediting organization for teacher education.
- Originally established as a regional campus of USF, USFSM gained separate accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate and master’s degrees.
STATE COLLEGE OF FLORIDA
- The first and largest public college in the region, SCF is among the top 100 associate degree producers in the nation.
- Eight workforce baccalaureate programs include the bachelor’s in nursing degree whose graduates are lauded by regional hospitals, and the health services administration online degree’s low cost, student success and curriculum were cited as factors for being ranked fourth nationwide on the Healthcare Administration website’s 2016 top 10 list.
- Nationally ranked athletics, award-winning student clubs, and music, art and theatre offerings offer a complete college experience for SCF students and the community.
- SCF is one of 25 colleges and universities nationwide to participate in Yale University’s Small World Initiative, which engages microbiology students in research that addresses antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
- SCF associate degree graduates successfully pursue advanced degrees at every institution in the State University System as well as prestigious colleges including Harvard, Columbia, and Stanford.
- SCF has assisted in obtaining Quick Response Training grants that help relocating or expanding businesses cover training expenses for new employees at Bradenton-area companies like BrightHouse Networks, JRL Ventures/Marine Concepts, Voalte, and Air Products and Chemicals Inc.
- Prominent Bradenton-area companies receiving customized training through SCF’s Workforce Solutions include Tropicana, Sun Hydraulics and Key Packaging.
- New degrees and certificates at SCF, developed in response to local industry needs, include live event media production, entrepreneurship, risk management, insurance services, technology project management, database administrator, web development specialist, and network security.
- Answering the demand for more engineers, the new Gator Engineering at SCF program is a collaborative initiative that offers a pathway for students to be admitted to the University of Florida engineering college while starting their education at SCF.
- SCF’s advanced manufacturing basics course is a pathway to the nationally recognized Manufacturing Skill Standard Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician certificate that can earn 15 credit hours toward an associate degree in engineering technology.
- Students’ pass rates on certification exams exceed national and state averages in all nationally accredited SCF health programs—dental hygiene, nursing, occupational therapy assistant, physical therapist assistant, and radiography.
- Statewide data shows 100 percent of SCF associate-level career and technical education graduates were successfully employed in their chosen fields or continuing their education.
- Professors and Career Resource Center advisors help make internships a win-win for students and employers, as demonstrated by nursing, biotechnology, and graphic design technology student interns who consistently turn internships into payroll positions.
- Five students at SCF Collegiate School, a college-preparatory public charter school on the SCF Bradenton campus, each won $20,000 scholarships in a financial literacy challenge sponsored by H&R Block.
- The SCF Brain Bowl and Model United Nations teams consistently bring home state and national awards, often besting peers from larger universities and private colleges.
Dale Dixon, co-founder of Benchmark Enviroanalytical, a Palmetto life sciences company that analyzes water samples, needs well-prepared candidates to fill highly technical jobs in his growing company.
To assure a skilled pipeline, Dixon’s company was one of the first to sign on as an industry partner with the Biotechnology associate degree program at State College of Florida (SCF).
Taught by molecular biologist Matt Thomas, Ph.D., the program operates like a research and development laboratory with a workforce training twist: The primary focus is on giving future workers the skills to land jobs in the region’s growing number of labs.
Dixon affirmed that SCF’s job-ready focus is effective.
“SCF students come in lab-ready,” he said. “They are conscientious, dependable, smart, and get the job done.”
Thomas, a veteran in the biotechnology field with research and industry backgrounds, saw firsthand that most job candidates were poorly equipped. “In starting this hands-on program at SCF, our vision was to give students superior skills they can put straight to work in a laboratory or industrial setting,” he said.
Skill sets include cell culture, DNA/RNA and protein isolation, genomic characterization and sequencing; genetic modification of organisms; bioinformatics training; and more.
In addition to Benchmark, a lengthening list of SCF Biotechnology industry partners includes Rapid Pathogen Screening, Lakewood-Amedex, Environmental Biotech, Osprey Biotechnics, Cambryn Biologics, Wellspring Pharmaceutical, Enzymedica, Roskamp Institute, Sarasota Medical Products, and Natural Immunologics.
SCF’s biotechnology program operates like a research and development laboratory with a workforce training twist: The primary focus is on giving future workers the skills to land jobs in the region’s growing number of labs.
Manatee Memorial Hospital chief nursing officer Candace Smith is on a mission: To hire and retain well-educated, experienced nurses who deliver superior
To ensure a pipeline of qualified caregivers and increase the number of bedside nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, Smith and Manatee Memorial administrators developed a close relationship with State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF), which offers both associate and bachelor degrees in nursing. The bachelor’s program is designed to accommodate working nurses’ schedules.
The hospital’s long-time partnership with SCF includes a course that introduces student nurses to the operating room setting.
“We created this course with SCF because it’s a priority at Manatee Memorial to prepare confident operating room nurses who are ready to fill vacancies as more experienced nurses retire,” Smith said.
All SCF health programs are nationally accredited, and graduates’ pass rates on certification exams exceed the national average. In fact, SCF’s registered nursing program ranks sixth out of 136 programs in Florida, according to RegisteredNursing.org.
Student nurses at SCF receive education and acquire hands-on clinical skills that prepare them to handle patients’ medical needs, said Vernon DeSear, vice president of Manatee Healthcare System.
“They are compassionate and nurturing caregivers from within the community, and we are proud of their local ties,” DeSear said.
For more information about nursing programs at SCF, visit scf.edu/nursing.
NEW COLLEGE OF FLORIDA
New College of Florida, the State’s Honors College, Nationally Recognized for Scholarship and Value
- NCF ranks sixth in the United States for percentage of students who go on to graduate programs within a year of graduation.
- Surveys show that 18.5 percent of NCF graduates receive Ph.D.s in STEM fields (not including medicine), placing NCF fifth in the nation and ahead of MIT.
- NCF ranked No. 1 in the State University System in producing graduates in Globalization/Economic Development fields in 2015.
- More than 50 percent of NCF’s 2015 graduates graduated with no debt, the highest percentage in the State University System.
- S. News & World Report – For 11 consecutive years NCF has been ranked one of the nation’s top 100 liberal arts colleges overall and in the top six among public colleges, including military academies.
- The Princeton Review – Outstanding scores for its professors and its overall academic environment earned NCF another listing among the country’s top undergraduate colleges.
- Kiplinger’s 100 Best Values in Public Colleges — NCF ranked sixth among public colleges for lowest total debt at graduation and marked the 13th consecutive time that NCF has placed among the nation’s top public colleges on the Kiplinger’s list.
- Fiske Guide to Colleges — NCF consistently has been named a “Best Buy School” in a guide including public and private colleges.
- Over the past 10 years, 35 Fulbright Student Grants for a year of overseas study were awarded with NCF comprising more Fulbrights than Harvard, Yale or Princeton.
- The National Science Foundation–Research Experiences were awarded for 46 undergraduates’ summer grants over the past 10 years.
- Graduating seniors earned a year abroad via 15 teaching assistantships from the French government and seven from the Spanish government.
- Additional study abroad opportunities awarded to NCF students include 11 Benjamin A. Gilman grants for undergraduate study abroad for Pell Grant holders; seven Chinese government grants for study in China; and six U.S. Department of State critical language scholarships for summer study overseas.
- NCF’s distinguished alumni include a Rhodes Scholar, a Fields Medal winner, two Gates Cambridge Scholarship recipients, a NASA scientist, an Emmy-award winning television writer, a Federal Reserve Bank CEO, concert pianists, White House news correspondents, physicians, inventors and entrepreneurs.
Norm Worthington has always been willing to make the daring career move.
At New College of Florida, he concentrated in environmental studies, but after graduating in 1982 went to law school. Next he taught himself programming and started a software company, sold his interest in his company, co-founded another software firm and took it public, eventually left that company and started yet another. After a failed attempt at retiring, he launched his most successful company yet.
After several years as a venture capitalist, he’s now back in the boardroom as the CEO of Star2Star Communications, a cloud-based telecommunications company that lists Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Pizza Hut, KFC, and Michael’s among its thousands of customers. Star2Star has won several awards and has been recognized by Forbes, Deloitte and Inc. Magazine as one of America’s most promising and fastest-growing companies.
His appetite for creative opportunities began at New College, he said.
“If I’d gone to a more conventional school, I don’t know if this entrepreneurial urge could have taken root and flowered.”
And Worthington knows one place to look for the creative, change-friendly employees his company needs: More than 20 New College graduates work at Star2Star.
“New College students are the perfect fit for Star2Star because they share the drive for innovation, which is the company’s bedrock,” he said.
Recent New College of Florida (NCF) graduate Nicole Saltiel was working on her senior thesis about the effects of estrogen on Alzheimer’s patients when she discovered a fortuitous link: A study on the same topic published by scientist Rena Li of the Roskamp Institute.
The Roskamp Institute, a world-renowned research center devoted to neurological disorders, happens to be based locally, its headquarters a few miles from the NCF campus.
A meeting with Li led to Saltiel’s internship at Roskamp. Three months later, Saltiel was hired as a research assistant and continues to work under Li, director of Roskamp’s Center for Hormone Advanced Science and Education.
“In the field of science research, mentorship is an important component,” Saltiel said.
Roskamp’s scientist-student partnerships allow students to assist with cutting-edge life sciences research while being trained by noted scientists.
“Scientists advise students on the types of questions to ask in research and techniques for pathology, for example,” said Saltiel.
For their part, Roskamp scientists and educators view mentoring students as an investment in the future.
“Every research facility also is a teaching facility,” said Janette Girard, Roskamp’s clinical research coordinator. “It is incumbent on us to teach the next generation of scientists.”
Saltiel, as is the case with many students who are inspired by the Roskamp Institute connection, continues her quest for knowledge. She is applying to graduate school and will pursue her studies in neurobiology.
RINGLING COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN
Ringling College of Art and Design Shatters Myth of the Starving Artist
Excelling in education that prepares art and design students for careers in creative industries. Arts education adds STEAM to STEM.
“One of the top film schools in the U.S.” — The Hollywood Reporter.
- “The No. 1 computer animation program in North America.” — 3D World Magazine
- “A top 2016 design school” – Graphic Design USA and “No. 1 graphic design program in the South” – Animation Career Review.
- “The No. 2 game design school in the South, 2016; and No. 7 game design private school in the U.S., 2016 – Animation Career Review.
- “A top illustration school” – Niche.com
- Three Ringling students listed among “110 Students to Watch” – Variety Magazine.
- Ringling students placed in the top 3 of over 150 colleges — 2016 National Student Advertising competition.
- More than 40 local, district and national 2016 “Addys” awarded to Ringling students – American Advertising Federation.
- Art Network, Ringling College’s student-run TV channel, won four 2015 Telly Awards and two 2016 Communicator Awards.
- “One of the best undergraduate design schools for job placement” – LinkedIn.
- Google, Wall Street Journal, DreamWorks, Microsoft, Amazon, Disney, Hallmark, Ogilvy, Epic Games, HermanMiller, and MoMA are among illustrious companies that hire Ringling alumni.
- Ringling alumni have worked on every Academy Award-winning best animated feature since 2003.
- Two Ringling alumni are among the “30 Under 30” – Forbes Magazine.
- Ringling alumni won three 2015 Emmy awards.
Ringling College students gain valuable hands-on experience through partnership projects that benefit the community. A sampling of recent projects includes creating promotional videos for the SunCoast Blood Bank; partnering with the Sarasota Film Festival to live-produce their red carpet event on opening night; producing a “making of” segment on a film in partnership with WEDU, the region’s PBS station; rebranding the graphics package for a local government’s television channel; and working with the Ringling Museum of Art to live-stream and live-produce their Ringling Underground series.
Fresh, creative perspectives from student interns have helped ROBRADY deliver award-winning innovative design and product solutions to its global client base.
“We love the invaluable energy and uninhibited viewpoints that interns bring,” said Rob Brady, CEO and design director of the multi-disciplined product design and development company located in South Manatee County.
Dave Prager was introduced to ROBRADY while a student at Ringling College of Art and Design. Now the company’s graphic and interactive design director, Prager has remained at ROBRADY throughout his professional career.
“Ringling College taught me the foundations of graphic and interactive design and creative problem-solving that prepared me to enter the professional world and grow as a designer,” Prager said.
A solid education and inventive approach are essential at a company that provides design, production and capital solutions for start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. ROBRADY designs for a wide array of markets including medical, industrial, transportation, marine and consumer products.
“Prager has added many innovative and creative solutions to nearly every area of our team from client projects, sales, marketing, operations and capital ventures,” Brady said.
Bradenton area colleges, universities and major foundations have joined in a robust statewide and regional approach to expanding local options for pursuing an engineering degree.
The Bridge to Engineering program is a partnership between University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM) and USF’s College of Engineering in Tampa. Local students can take their first two years of general education at USFSM and transfer to USF in Tampa to finish their engineering degrees. The bridge program’s initial focus on mechanical engineering is expected to expand into other engineering fields.
“Recruitment and retention of first-class employees is a top priority for my company,” said Mike Bryant, president, Fawley | Bryant Architecture. “By cultivating local talent, the USFSM Bridge to Engineering program allows dynamic and well prepared individuals to be more accessible to employers like Fawley Bryant Architecture. This investment in the future workforce not only keeps bright, youthful minds local, it directly impacts the success of this region’s businesses.”
Another intercollegiate collaboration offers an additional pathway to engineering careers. State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) collaborated with the University of Florida (UF) College of Engineering to offer a pathway for local students to be admitted to UF’s prestigious engineering program while starting coursework at SCF.
The Gator Engineering at SCF partnership is a vital component of UF’s first outreach center, “Innovation Station.” Innovation Station is designed to work with local schools to bolster STEM education, give area companies more access to UF’s engineering program’s resources, and keep more engineering graduates close to home to fill the region’s talent pipeline. The Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation are supporting the project.
The opening of the Bradenton area campus of the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) established Manatee County’s first medical school and opened local pathways for training new primary care physicians, pharmacists, dentists and health care administrators.
LECOM’s customized collaborations and partnerships with Bradenton area colleges, hospitals, pharmacies, physicians and businesses pay off for the community.
The dental college operates at maximum capacity of 400 students and offers dental clinics for local residents.
LECOM’s special early acceptance programs with State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) provide qualified SCF students with direct entrance to LECOM’s School of Pharmacy and the Masters in Health Services Administration program. In addition, LECOM students and SCF nursing students participate in collaborative training exercises at SCF’s medical simulation center.
Manatee Memorial Hospital and Lakewood Ranch Medical Center also benefit by hosting residency and clinical rotation opportunities for LECOM primary care students.
Employers looking for a strong workforce education system will find it in Manatee County. From K-12 through post-secondary institutions, academics and skills training are delivering workforce-ready employees. Among the area’s post-secondary institutions, Manatee Technical College (MTC) is singularly focused on workforce readiness.
Training programs at MTC are custom-designed for careers in 10 of the 20 fastest-growing industries in Manatee County. MTC offers programs based on labor market priorities as demonstrated through regional demand, occupations lists from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Bureau of Labor Market Statistics Employment Projections, employer input, news articles, job ads and online data, CareerSource Suncoast and the Bradenton Area EDC. Employers help to advise on curricula and equipment, and may participate in training at the MTC campus. MTC offers more than 50 workforce readiness programs. The college’s industry certification pass rate is 96%, and job placement rates average 87%.
With more than 300 active members, MTC’s advisory committees are at the center of the college’s career and technical education programs. These business partners share their expertise with students and faculty, donate tools and equipment, and employ MTC graduates. Manatee Technical College provides them with highly skilled individuals with state and national industry certifications. In 2016, 92% of MTC’s programs offer licensure or industry certification. MTC’s industry certification pass rate is 96%. The majority of the secondary and post-secondary programs have articulation agreements with each other and with the state colleges, making it possible for students to earn college credit while in a career training program at MTC.
MTC students consistently win district, state and national competitive events — both in skills and in leadership areas. MTC students have captured 708 SkillsUSA medals since 1992, and the college leads the nation in the cumulative number of SkillsUSA medals won since 2003. More than 6,000 of the nation’s top high school and college students compete in over 100 different trade, technical and leadership team and individual contests. MTC students have amassed medals across a wide range of industry-defined competencies, from web design and broadcast news production to entrepreneurship and manufacturing.
MTC continues to create and implement new programs to meet the ever-changing needs of the Bradenton Area economy. Annually, MTC serves between 4,000 and 5,000 local students in almost 60 different programs and provides training for area companies. Cybersecurity is one of MTC’s newest programs, where students learn about solving real-world IT problems that are in the news almost daily. MTC also created a new Community Paramedic program. This innovative solution bridges the gap between non-emergency patients and the healthcare system and saves the community money.
American Torch Tip
American Torch Tip serves a global market with over 16,000 items including guns, torches, consumables and replacement parts for five platforms – Plasma, MIG, Oxy-fuel, TIG and Laser systems. The advanced manufacturing company needs highly skilled employees and has hired graduates from MTC’s industrial technology, drafting and machining programs.
“MTC has done an amazing job,” said Matt Merrill of American Torch Tip. “I’m very impressed with everyone. The people I’ve hired from MTC have been better prepared than many people working in the industry for 10 years, and they’re still open to learning more—I’m very happy with them.”
Merrill is spreading the word within his corporate family. “One of the sister companies we own is sending an employee to MTC in machining right now,” he said.
“Feld Entertainment has been very happy with hiring from MTC. Our dynamic partnership with their instructors and staff has provided us with a consistent pool of qualified graduates who successfully meet our needs, while enriching the skills and experiences of its graduates.”
Stephen Payne, Vice-President of Corporate Communications, Feld Entertainment