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Celebrating Twenty Years of Progress and Innovation
in Advanced Technological Education

ATE@20

ATE at 20

3 Years After Graduation, LCCC Wind Energy Alumnus Becomes Supervisor

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Wind energy technology students at Laramie County Community College work on yaw motors, the AC induction motors with planetary gears that turn turbines into the wind so they produce maximum electric energy.

Just three years after earning a wind energy associate degree from Laramie County Community College (LCCC), Travis Ford has been promoted by NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, from technician to associate wind site supervisor. Among his first supervisory tasks is the hiring of nine technicians to maintain the expansion of the company's Limon Wind Energy Center located about 90 minutes from Denver, Colorado.

Ford said strong mentors and his education helped him advance quickly. "Definitely my background, the schooling at LCCC helped me prepare for being a good wind technician and being able to step into leadership roles as needed," he said. Ford graduated from LCCC's two-year degree wind energy degree program in the spring of 2011. He was promoted in April 2014.

Demand remains strong for graduates of LCCC's wind energy program, which has received two Advanced Technological Education grants from the National Science Foundation since 2008. Six of the eight wind energy students who will graduate from LCCC in May already have jobs lined up, according to Bryan Boatright, the wind energy instructor at the public two-year college in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He expects the other two students to have jobs in some aspect of power generation before they graduate.

The starting salaries of new LCCC wind technology graduates range from $45,000 to $60,000 annually, Boatright said. A technician who travels for work assignments receives a per diem allowance for expenses along with a pay rate of about $17 per hour.

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ATE Centers Impact Publication Spotlights Centers' Work

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The cover photo of ATE Centers Impact is a mosaic that represents the 40 ATE centers and two large projects featured in the national publication. It is inspired by a photo of a technician performing gas tungsten arc welding that was provided by the National Center for Welding Education and Training (Weld-Ed).

ATE Centers Impact, which debuts this week at the annual convention of the American Association of Community Colleges in Washington, D.C., summarizes the accomplishments and activities of 40 Advanced Technological Education Centers (ATE) and two large ATE projects.

U.S. President Barack Obama points out in his introduction to the 114-page, full-color publication that during its 20-year history the National Science Foundation's ATE program has been part of the nation's proud tradition of ingenuity. "By building strong partnerships in education and industry, government and the non-profit sector, this program helps prepare students for their careers. And by building the technical workforce, it contributes to our Nation's security and economic competitiveness," President Obama wrote.

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ATE@20 Highlights Discoveries, Opportunities & History of ATE Program

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Most of the people who responded to the ATE@20 usage survey are ATE principal investigators who have shared the book with colleagues, administrators, and industry partners.

ATE@20: Two Decades of Advancing Technological Education offers a glimpse into the discoveries and opportunities generated by Advanced Technological Education projects and centers during the past two decades.

A recent survey of readers found that in the four months after the book was released at the ATE Principal Investigators Conference in October 2013, its content has been reused and shared to reach key audiences beyond the ATE community.  

ATE Central's goals for the publication and its companion ATE@20 blog include informing students and their relatives about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) career opportunities; directing educators to ATE resources and professional development opportunities; and facilitating ATE principal investigators' connections with potential industry partners.

Single and multiple copies of the free book are available by emailing ate20@atecentral.net.

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ATE Biotech Program Graduate Assists with Cancer Reserach at Mayo Clinic

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Davitte Khauv has worked as a laboratory technician at the Mayo Clinic since an internship there in 2007.

Davitte Khauv's internship in a Mayo Clinic research lab went so well that she was hired full time in 2007 when she completed her associate degree in biotechnology at Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ).

Khauv, whose family immigrated to the United States from Cambodia when she was 18 months old, was influenced by her cousins' success in computer science and initially started work on a bachelor’s degree in this field before deciding she was more interested in laboratory work. She's happy she learned about FSCJ's biotech program during an internet search.

The college based its program to prepare technicians for careers in research labs on ATE initiatives in North Carolina, Texas, and California.

Khauv's advice to people considering biotech careers is: "Go for it! What you learn will be with you always and what you think you won’t need to learn will surprise you."

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ATE Community Explores Use of Digital Badges

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Mozilla's Open Badge Infrastructure offers a uniform, open-source process for documenting badges.

Nationwide, more and more employers say that they want to know what students have learned, what they have accomplished, and what they can do. One way to document and verify that information is digital badges, a solution gaining nationwide attention. And the ATE community is paying attention.

MATEC NetWorks has made public a one-hour webinar about Mozilla’s Open Badges Infrastrusture, which is a free, open source program for uniformly documenting digital badges of skills and accomplishments. The GeoTech Center and Broadening Advanced Technological Education Connections (BATEC) are exploring the use of digital badges, which they are currently calling micro-credentials, in their curricula.

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ATE PI Wins U.S. Community College Professor of Year Award

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In a WGBH video Robert Chaney, award-winning Sinclair Community College math professor, (on the right) teaches algebra with the SAM vehicle that he and Fred Thomas developed with ATE grant support.

Discoveries that Robert A. Chaney, the 2013 Outstanding Community College Professor of the Year, made as an Advanced Technological Education principal investigator influence his teaching.

In November, the Sinclair Community College math professor received the national award for outstanding pedagogy from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. (View his acceptance speech at the award ceremony. See Chaney teach in Modules 3 and 5 of WGBH’s Getting Results.)

Chaney's pedagogy involves students using the math machines that he and Sinclair colleague Fred Thomas, now retired from the college's physics department, developed with the support of several ATE grants from the National Science Foundation. Details about their development of math machines and formation of a non-profit corporation to continue their innovative work are the subject of the February 10 ATE@20 blog.

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Colleagues Use Non-Profit Company to Spread ATE Innovations

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Robert Chaney, left, and Fred Thomas began working out their ideas for simple machines to teach math and science concepts as part of the Sinclair Community College faculty team developing curricula for the Dayton, Ohio, college's ATE manufacturing center in the 1990s. This photo was taken at a Learning with Math Machines Inc. workshop in 2013.

Sinclair Community College colleagues Fred Thomas and Robert Chaney took an entrepreneurial approach to their National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education project. 

They formed Learning with Math Machines Inc., a non-profit company that provides interdisciplinary professional  development workshops and sells their math machines. The machines are small robots and gadgets that facilitate adaptation of calculators, personal computers, and other readily available equipment to allow students to see and experience tactilely what happens when they manipulate algebra and other math and science concepts.

"If they [students] can express it algebraically they can see what happens immediately. It has an enormous effect on learning simply because they get immediate feedback. If it doesn't do what they want it to do, they don't have to wait for me to grade their paper," said Thomas. He's now retired from Sinclair and runs the day-to-day operations of the company as CEO.

Chaney continues to teach math at Sinclair using the math machines they developed with an ATE project grant. In November, he was selected as 2013 Outstanding Community College Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. His award-winning pedagogy will be the subject of the February 17 ATE@20 blog.

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4 ATE Centers Prove Concept of National Cyber League

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CSSIA's Virtual Data Center is the virtual gymnasium for the National Cyber League's competitions. It has more than 200 lab exercises for faculty and students to access. It is also one of four cyber gyms that ATE centers make available to National Cyber League competitors to develop and practice their cybersecurity skills.

With the completion of the first full season of the National Cyber League, the leaders of the four Advanced Technological Education cybersecurity centers who created the series of virtual competitions with George Washington University report they have attained proof of their concept.

The concept: students will pay a small fee to participate as individuals and teams in games that prepare them for industry certification exams. The next big step for the league will be getting employers to pay attention to the "scouting reports" that list how participants performed overall and on eight cybersecurity workplace competencies.

"It's exactly what industry wants—to be able to find students who have somehow been able to validate competencies around skills that industry has said they're looking for," said Casey W. O'Brien, director of the National CyberWatch Center (CyberWatch) at Prince George's Community College in Maryland. The founders of the National Cyber League hope that employers will eventually recruit new technicians from the scouting reports.

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KVCC's Energy Services Tech Program Prepares Students for 8 Industry Exams

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Energy Services & Technology students at KVCC learn advanced skills in multiple technical areas. The female student in the photo hopes to return to the program in the future; the male student is a veteran with a bachelor's degree who wants a more hands-on career.

Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) administrators and faculty crafted a versatile Energy Services and Technology program after Maine employers told them a stand-alone plumbing program would provide technicians with only a fraction of the skills that owners of energy efficient buildings and energy businesses need.

"We really need multi-faceted technicians with the licenses, to boot, and the experience, because their jobs are changing on a daily, weekly, monthly basis," Dana Doran said, summarizing industry's feedback to the college's initial idea of starting a stand-alone plumbing program. Doran is director of KVCC's Energy and Paper Programs.

The other "loud and clear request" from industry was that KVCC's new program teach critical thinking.

With the support of a $735,944 grant from the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education program, KVCC devised the Energy Services and Technology (EST) program. It teaches multiple trades and uses problem based learning (PBL) to develop students' critical thinking across academic  and technical courses. In addition to awarding students associate in applied science degrees, the EST program prepares students to take four state licensing tests and four separate national industry certification exams.

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College Collaborative Boosts Urban Agriculture in Seattle

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Agriculturalist Will Allen met with SAgE faculty members in November and discussed where they intend to install an aquaponics system at Edmonds Community College.

Faculty at a triad of community colleges in Seattle, suburban Seattle, and rural northwestern Washington are cultivating varieties of sustainable urban agriculture with an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant from the National Science Foundation.

The project aims to develop sustainable agriculture skills among the Puget Sound region's residents who will then be able to spur economic development by making existing small farms more viable, starting new agriculture operations in urban areas, working in new food distribution systems, pursuing agriculture research, or becoming sustainable agriculture advocates.  

Edmonds Community College (EdCC) created professional-technical courses on how to grow food crops in urban settings. Seattle Central Community College offers a more theoretical transfer degree in agroecology; while Skagit Valley College focuses on professional-technical courses for small farm agriculture. Washington State University, the land grant college in western Washington, provides its agriculture expertise to the project by providing research opportunities and outreach to diverse populations.  

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