Career Pathways

Advanced Manufacturing

Advanced Manufacturing Consists of: Agribusiness, Aircraft & Aviation Components, Aerospace & Defense Maintenance & Repair, Metal Products & Machinery and Defense Technologies.

Learn more about the Advanced Manufacturing industry and jobs in Northeast Florida.

Industry Resources

Spotlight on Success

Northeast Florida is one of the largest manufacturing regions in the state, creating products required in aviation, automotive, food and beverage, rail, and medical equipment.

Earn Up

Robotics and Manufacturing Academy

Preparing Students for the Workforce and Higher Education

Russell Henderlite, MSSC, CPT, is an instructor of Advanced Manufacturing & Robotics Technology at Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology, a public magnet career and college preparatory high school in Jacksonville.

The outlook for advanced manufacturing and technology is strong fo rboth industry growth and job growth with the need for skilled workers.  In Jacksonville, advanced manufacturing employment is outpacing the national average.

Henderlite is a dedicated supporter of advanced manufacturing and technology education, recognizing it as essential to providing a skilled workforce.  He is the founding instructor for the robotics and advanced manufacturing academy at Frank H. Peterson, where he introduces and attracts students to manufacturing careers and educational pathways.

Prior to becoming a high school teacher, Henderlite served 21 years in the U.S. Navy, where he was involved in nuclear power plant operations and maintenance.  His experiences, first as a nuclear prototype instructor and later as a nuclear repair coordinator, inspired his decision to become a teacher when he retired from the Navy.

"I was always teaching and training in my Navy positions, and I was able to take these skills and move into a position in education," Henderlite said.

At Frank H. Peterson, Henderlite is the Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program's lead teacher.  The program, which provides students with a foundation of knowledge and technically oriented experiences in the study of the principles and applications of robotics engineering, helps students develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving ability and communication skills.

The CTE Program includes coursework in safety, quality and measurement, pneumatics, hydraulics and welding.  Students learn the skills and expertise necessary so that they are prepared to take the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) national certification exam.

"The MSSC national certification exams are challenging," Henderlite said. "Our school is one of only nine schools in Florida that teaches this program."

Students at Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology earn a Career and Professional Education (CAPE) certification and a high school diploma.  Students graduate prepared to enter the workforce and/or pursue higher education.

Advanced Placement courses are also offered.  In addition to their high school diploma, students may earn an Associate of Science Degree in Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering from Florida State College at Jacksonville.  The partnership provides students with mentors, hands-on work experience and consideration for employment opportunities at the end of the program.

Henderlite's enthusiasm for manufacturing and technology education and his students' success extends beyond the classroom.  He serves as a coach in the FIRST Tech Challenge competition and has been actively involved with FIRST Robotics with Renaissance JAX.  These and other after-school initiatives create excitement and engagement, helping students learn valuable skills for the future.

"I encourage students to be open to opportunties and not to limit themselves," Henderlite said.  "The skill sets are transferable from one career to another."

The knowledge, training and MSSC certifications earned from the CTE program have prepared Henderlite's students for employment and their future careers.  The success stories include a paid student internship at Johnson & Johnson Vision, a position as a 3-D printing engineer at SAFT after earning a college engineering degree and employment at Special Tools Solutions, a Jacksonville machine shop.

Read More

Earn Up

Nakia Jackson

Ship Superintendent at BAE Systems Jacksonville

Nakia Jackson began her maritime career as a firewatch stander, observing welders and grinders perform hot work, and standing by in case a fire broke out.  In time, she learned more about shipyard work earned her certification as a paint/coating inspector, and began working for BAE Systems Jacksonville Ship Repair in the QA Department.  She was a temporary employee at the time, but one of the program managers could see her drive and skill.  Nakia was offered a position as a ship superintendent whose duties involve coordinating the work of several different departments for several contractural work items.  Nakia recently completed her undergraduate degree and is now a project manager currently working on her PMP certification and MBA.

Read More

Earn Up

BAE Systems

Jacksonville Ship Repair

BAE systems Jacksonville Ship Repair is part of BAE Systems, Inc., a company with international operations.  In Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Ship Repair Team completes vessel repair and maintenance for a variety of vessels and customers. While Jacksonville Ship Repair services many U.S. Navy ships, they also service yachts of all sizes, such as Bono's yacht from the musical superstar group U2.  Located nearly two miles from the Atlantic Ocean, Jacksonville Ship Repair is positioned at the intersection of the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway and the St. Johns River.  This permits easy access for a variety of water vessels.

To offer premier services in this market, Jacksonville Ship Repair requires a variety of skilled workers to maintain their reputation of excellence.  A variety of custom shops make up the shipyard's expansive facilities, such as carpenter, insulation, sheet metal, pipe, paint, rigging, and steel fabrication shops.

Working at Jacksonville Ship Repair requires diversified skills to meet the challenges of the industry, but also allows workers to use the same technology used in the energy and aerospace industries to do so.  Specialized welding using mirrors allows workers to weld completely around pipes.  Massive equipment permits lifts of entire ship modules with its thirteen-ton payload.  Specialized equipment allows for the precision cutting of up to 6 inches of steel and cutting large steel sheets with plasma cutters.

Currently, Jacksonville Ship Repair has 800 staff including temporary agency employees.  They offer various shift options, such as a night shift and an overnight shift.  The shipyard will be full throughout 2020 and 2021.  As a result, they would like to expand their footprint to take on more vessels simultaneously.  They are exploring options to make it a reality.  If successful, the workforce may expand as well.  The Jacksonville division looks forward to assisting the community with establishing apprenticeships to support the maritime industry.

According to Ernie Aglugub, Jacksonville Ship Repair's first training specialist, there are two paths to employment:  directly with the company through the website and through the "Master Service Provider" NSC Technologies.  NSC is their interface with several temporary employment agencies who provide both skilled and unskilled labor. Those employees who rise above the rest are sometimes offered permanent positions on the Jacksonville Ship Repair team.

Entry level positions are known as helpers.  Ernie states, "If high school graduates have an interest and motivation to learn and work in a shipyard, they can begin at better than minimum wages and be eligible for great benefits.  While many grads are just entering our community's workforce often start through NSC, it's not uncommon for them to be hired directly."

Ernie indicated that "Our Talent Acquisition does a great job living up to its namesake...acquiring talent.  But I assist our shipyard by helping to bridge the gaps between the workforce pipeline of the community, the entry-level welding helper, the seasoned ship fitter and the master welder.  Our new Henry S. Jordan Welding Technology Scholarship for select high school students is a great example of one of those bridges."

Jacksonville Ship Repair also works closely with Career Source Northeast Florida (CSNEFL) to upskill existing personnel using Customized Training Grant Funds.  Roben Faircloth, Industry Manager at CSNEFL said, "BAE Systems is working to ensure the company and its employees are ready to fulfill the requirements of its customers today and tomorrow, and CareerSource NEFL is happy to help support them."

BAE Systems is a strong and successful advocate of diversity and inclusion, illustrated by award-winning Employee Resources Groups (ERG). Every employee is invited to join any ERG, which are run by volunteers throughout the company.  ERG's include Abilities Beyond Limits, African Americans Committed to Excellence, Asian/Pacific Islander ERG, GENerations & [email protected], OutLink, Hispanic Organization for Leadership Advancement, Veteran's Support Network, and Women's Inclusive Network.  Jacksonville Ship Repair regularly takes part in several community events and sponsors many local organizations as well.









Read More

Earn Up


Manufacturing Day

According to the MFG Day website linked below, Manufacturing Day, which is held annually on the first Friday in October, “helps show the reality of modern manufacturing careers by encouraging thousands of companies and educational institutions around the nation to open their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders.”

In Northeast Florida, this opportunity transcends one day and encompasses an entire month of manufacturing company tours. In 2019, High school students from Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns Counties engaged in tours of companies typically located within their home county.  A planning committee under the First Coast Manufacturers Association (FCMA) made connections between schools and companies they thought would be closest in proximity to the school and/or relevant based on Career & Technical Education (CTE) or related curriculum offered at that school.

Advanced Manufacturing companies are excited to attract talent to the industry; this is one touch point to begin doing so. Approximately three hundred students had the opportunity to experience company tours, as well as hands-on activities.  Students heard from individuals at various points in their career pathways to gain a better understanding of the industry and what it takes to achieve specific jobs in the industry.  Nearly 30 schools participated in tours at host companies, exceeding the number of tours in recent years.

Additional community partners engaged in this work with FCMA included Remedy Staffing, Templeton Manufacturing Solutions, CareerSource NEFL and JAXUSA Partnership.

Read More

Earn Up

First Coast Manufacturers Association

Manufacturing, Measuring & Math

FloridaMakes-Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE) Community of Practice Workforce Development challenged institutions such as the First Coast Manufacturers Association and partners to create a project that increases awareness of manufacturing careers, pathways and earning potential with high school seniors to be implemented by December 1, 2019.

Manufacturers from the First Coast Manufacturers Association such as Vac-Con and Kaman Aerospace, along with community partners such as Remedy Staffing, Templeton Manufacturing Solutions, Career Source NEFL, and JAXUSA Partnership collaborated on this project. Overall, the team wanted to increase awareness of manufacturing career opportunities in Northeast Florida.

One of the skills job seekers often lack is how to use a tape measure. The team set out to create a curriculum which allowed area manufacturers to teach a lesson in measurement to high school math classes, ideally those with a large percentage of seniors who may be seeking to enter the workforce following high school graduation. The curriculum would provide instruction on proper use of a tape measure as well as emphasize the importance of this skill on entrylevel jobs as well as others along a career pathway. Students would be given tape measures to continue practice outside of the classroom. This real world, hands-on approach, titled Manufacturing, Measuring and Math, was intended to serve as a pilot project that could be replicated throughout the region.

Fletcher High School in the Duval County Public School system was selected for the pilot. The overall goal was projected to reach 200 students in a total of 5 classroom periods among 2 teachers, showing an improvement in measurement scores following the Manufacturing, Measuring and Math activity and presentation. Over 240 students were reached during 7 classroom periods with an improvement in scores.

Fletcher High School teachers Ebun Bolujo and Sandy Simpson permitted the team to present to their classrooms. Students were given a warmup activity, engaged in an activity in which they measured scrap components from a Kaman Aerospace, given a cool down activity to gauge progress, and learned about the industry via a PowerPoint presentation. The presentation highlighted demand, wage trends, success stories, and total compensation package information.

The project team intends to involve additional manufacturers and schools throughout the region to expand the Manufacturing, Measuring and Math project’s reach. Ultimately, the team wishes to increase connectivity between schools and companies and expand the awareness of career pathways within the industry.

Read More

Earn Up

SJR State

Apprenticeship Program

Student's dream of being aircraft electrician takes flight Beechum benefits from SJR State's partnership with Fleet Readiness.

ORANGE PARK – Shannon Beechum's interest in airplanes and how they work inspired her dream of joining the Navy and becoming an aircraft electrician.

Although she didn't enlist in the Navy, Beechum, 19, is still living her dream of becoming an aircraft electrician via a partnership between St. Johns River State College and Fleet Readiness Center Southeast, a program that began a year ago as SJR State and FRCSE sought a means for training the artisans of the future.

Through this hands-on, paid training opportunity, students begin at a rate of $15.60 an hour and are guaranteed a federal job upon completion of the program. The apprentices are prepared for trade jobs such as electronics mechanic, machinist, sheet metal mechanic, painting and aircraft mechanic.

"I'm doing exactly what I wanted to do," said Beechum. "And I'm getting paid to go to school. It's unbelievable. It's a blessing."

Beechum attends classes at the Orange Park campus, and although the course content is challenging and keeps her quite busy, she remains thrilled about her career path and is grateful for the program's exceptional instructors as well as the tremendous support from her classmates. Beechum said that working together on the material with her classmates makes all the difference for her.

Another plus for Beechum is having daily, relatable conversations with her dad about the apprenticeship. Beechum's dad, Terry, retired from FRCSE after working for the company for nearly 40 years. He was the one who introduced his daughter to the apprenticeship. Beechum said it's hard to put into words what it means to her to be following in her dad's footsteps. "I can't even describe the level of joy I'm feeling doing something that I know my dad's so proud of," she said.

Beechum believes the apprenticeship program is also a wonderful opportunity for those not sure about their future. "I think it's great for people who aren't sure what they want to do in life, especially if the military was their intended route or they just have a simple interest in airplanes," she said. "You don't need any prior knowledge. You just submit an application, and they train you. It's definitely great for your future."

According to Anna Lebesch, Vice President of Talent Development at JAXUSA Partnership, "Advanced manufacturing, particularly in the area of aviation, is an industry that JAXUSA identified as one of our region's assets, needs and opportunities. Therefore, it is vital that we support new business and education partnerships, which strategically develop an ongoing talent pipeline. This program with FRCSE and SJR State is an excellent example of our region's employers, colleges and school districts working together to change the future of workforce development," Lebesch said.

For more information regarding the apprenticeship program, call FRCSE at (904) 790-7536 or email them at [email protected] For more information about additional engineering programs at SJR State, call 386-312-4232.

Read More


“I can't even describe the level of joy I’m feeling doing something that I know my dad’s so proud of."

Shannon Beechum
Fleet Readiness/SJR State Apprenticeship Student

“This successful partnership is employer-driven and demonstrates how schools and industry can partner to help students learn more about the Career Pathways available to them after high school.”

Roben Faircloth
Industry Manager, CareerSource Northeast Florida

"We are always looking to attract and retain great talent and are proud to push initiatives like Manufacturing Month to bring awareness to the high-demand, good-paying careers in manufacturing. We are preparing for the future by engaging with the workforce of tomorrow today.” 

Lake Ray
President, First Coast Manufacturers Association

"This is where manufacturing is heading...what's better for my future than learning more about how equipment works."

Georgia Pacific employee and SJR State Associate of Science Engineering student

"The future and the pace that technology is moving inspired me to make this move to be skilled, knowledgeable and prepared to succeed in the 21st century."

Georgia Pacific employee and SJR State Associate of Science Engineering student

Advanced Manufacturing COMPANIES IN THE REGION