Advanced Manufacturing

Northeast Florida is one of the largest manufacturing regions in the state.

Advanced Manufacturing offers modern, technologically advanced career options for those interested in Aircraft & Aviation Components, Aerospace & Defense Maintenance & Repair, Metal Products & Machinery as well as Defense Technologies.  The region also manufactures automotive, food and beverage, rail, medical equipment, as well as many other products.


Advanced Manufacturing Career Pathway


Industry Deep Dive

Advanced Manufacturing Companies in the Region

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

Shannon BeechumFleet Readiness/SHR State Apprenticeship Student

If high school graduates have interest and motivation to learn and work in a shipyard, they can begin at better than minimum wages with great benefits.

Ernie AglugubBAE Systems Training Specialist

We are always looking to attract and retain great talent…in high-demand-good paying careers in manufacturing.

Lake RayPresident, First Coast Manufacturers Association

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.

Shannon Beechum

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.

Frank H. Peterson Robotics 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.

Jacksonville Shipyard 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 completing 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 also 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 stated, “If high school graduates have an interest and motivation to learn and work in a shipyard, they can begin at better than minimum wage and be eligible for great benefits. While many grads 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 committed to helping its employees continue to grow their skills and advance on their career pathways. The company has utilized our Customized Training program to offset some of the cost of upskilling their employees. 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 Resource 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.