TeCMEN Aerospace Cluster and UWF Training Solutions

The University of West Florida and the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County are committed to retaining and expanding its aerospace manufacturing and engineering related industries and maintaining a technologically skilled workforce to support continual growth.


West Florida's Emerald Coast is home to the 20-year old Technology Coast Manufacturing and Engineering Network, a regional aerospace cluster known as TeCMEN. This is a group of interconnected companies, municipalities, the Workforce Development Board of Okaloosa and Walton Counties, higher education centers, and research institutions linked formally by the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County and the University of West Florida.  A group of 37 firms meets monthly to discuss issues related to technology transfer, new business, contract-teaming, and training needs. Guest speakers at TeCMEN meetings include aerospace researchers and business leaders, most of whom live and work nearby.

The University of West Florida was awarded an Incumbent Worker Training Grant from the state of Florida. This provided almost half of the funding required to support training for TeCMEN firms in 2012. UWF provided scholarships to support TeCMEN trainees in the grant funded programs. In Total, TeCMEN members were provided with training sponsored by UWF and Workforce Florida valued at $107,260. Here are the programs funded under this award:

Course name: Six Sigma: Green Belt

University of West Florida Division of Continuing Education

  • Number of Trainees: (21) Managers and management trainees from (5) companies in Okaloosa and Walton Counties
  • Departments: Engineering, production, quality assurance, training, operations and manufacturing
  • Course nameSix Sigma: Green Belt; 44.5 hours
  • Training Provider: University of West Florida Division of Continuing Education Associate
  • Certificate of Completion: University of West Florida Six Sigma Green Belt

Six Sigma is a quality improvement methodology structured to reduce product or service failure rates to a negligible level (roughly 3.4 failures per million opportunities). Six Sigma companies typically spend less than five percent of their revenues addressing and repairing quality problems. To achieve these levels, the Six Sigma process encompasses all aspects of a business, including management, service delivery, design, production, and customer satisfaction. As a philosophy, Six Sigma drives business culture and requires a nearly flawless execution of key processes, making Six Sigma a high standard for companies and individuals to achieve. By reducing process variation, Six Sigma frees an organization to focus on improving process capability. As sigma levels increase, the cost of poor quality decreases and profitability increases. The UWF program provides participants an overview of the Six Sigma concepts and tools, including Six Sigma deployment practices, project development, and the DMAIC problem-solving approach. Once an associate completes this program, he/she will be ready to successfully participate in a Six Sigma team.

Course name: Lean Mastery

University of West Florida Division of Continuing Education

  • Number of Trainees: (23) Managers and management trainees from (4) companies in Okaloosa and Walton Counties
  • Departments: Engineering, production, quality assurance, training, operations and manufacturing
  • Course nameLean Mastery; 32 hours
  • Training Provider: University of West Florida Division of Continuing Education Associate
  • Course cost: $1,865 per trainee = $42,895
  • Certificate of Completion: University of West Florida Lean Mastery

Lean enterprise is a process designed to bring about rapid improvements to an organization's performance through an overhaul of the value stream. It is composed of a comprehensive set of elements, rules, and tools that focus on value, waste elimination, and continuous incremental improvement. As market forces dictate pricing and lead-time pressures, businesses need to focus on waste-free processes in order to grow margins and remain competitive. Lean uses specific concepts that are intended to provide excellent quality products, delivered on time, at the lowest total cost, and only on the specific demand of the customer. Companies transitioning to a lean culture are now seeing radical improvements in profitability, service levels, productivity, asset utilization, cash flow, inventory levels, product designs, quality, cycle times, and product costs. The University of West Florida Lean Mastery Program contains clear, concise information on transforming an enterprise to lean.

Links to student videos:

The EDC and UWF were awarded a WIRED grant to support several TeCMEN training programs between March 2010 and September 30, 2010. Education and training increases our region’s ability to attract, manage, and sustain a variety of contracts and projects on the Emerald Coast.  Improving the workforce increases the value of our region’s products and services.  Many aerospace engineering and technical organizations recognize the value of TeCMEN Training as an effective way to achieve business results for private and government contracts. This training compliments existing TeCMEN meetings that began more than 20 years ago. Here is a summary of several recent events funded by the WIRED Grant:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Supervisory Skills for Technical Teams
  • Professional Certification in Process Improvement with UWF and CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration)
  • Negotiations Skills for Team Leaders
  • Team Building for Supervisors and Managers
  • Dealing with Difficult Employees
  • Personal Organization and Time Management
  • Motivating Employees
Several national research institutions include TeCMEN in published reports:
  1. A Compendium of Clusters in Less Populated Places, Ford Foundation 2007.
  2. Clusters and Competitiveness: a New Federal Role for Stimulating Regional Economies; Blueprint for American Prosperity, Brookings Institution, Metropolitan Policy Program, April 2008.
  3. Beyond Clusters: Current Practices & Future Strategies, Duke University and Regional Technology Strategies, October 2005 by S Rosenfeld.
  4. Product and Service Innovation,The Georgia Institute of Technology, June 2006.
  5. Other States Incentives to Attract or Encourage Aerospace Manufacturing, Rosa Maria Moller, Ph.D., California State Library, June 1999.

For more information about UWF and TeCMEN training events, contact: Nicole Gislason (UWF) or Jim Breitenfeld (TeCMEN Manager)

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