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8 Things You Should Know About HI-TEC

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The High-Impact Technology Exchange Conference (HI-TEC) is a national conference focused on defining advanced technical education systems that are streamlined to meet the demands of a 21st century workforce. The conference is held annually as part of the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Centers’ (NSF ATE) effort to promote excellence in career and technical education. Attracting secondary and postsecondary educators, career counselors, industry professionals, trade organizations, and technicians, HI-TEC has become an essential conference for those involved in training the future workforce for careers in the high-tech sectors that drive our nation's economy.

For HI-TEC veterans and novices alike, the list below provides fun facts, details, and information about this ATE community staple:

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New ATE Grant Creates Contextualized Math Course and Interactive STEM Activities

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The Electrical Power Technology program at Palm Beach State College provides the context for an Integrated Math course that faculty are developing with ATE support.

The contextualized math program for secondary and postsecondary students that Palm Beach State College (PBSC) is launching with a new Advanced Technological Education grant fits with the college's strategic goal of boosting student retention and completion.

The new Intermediate Algebra course for postsecondary students will incorporate tactile experiences and authentic math problems from the college's Electrical Power Technology (EPT) and Engineering Technology (ET) associate of science degree programs.

Jay Matteson, principal investigator of the InnovATE project supported by the ATE grant, hopes the contextualized math will assist students—both teens and older adults—entering the EPT and ET programs with intellectual scaffolding that ignites their interest in STEM careers and fortifies their learning so they can succeed in college.

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Planning to Preserve: Data Management and Archiving in ATE

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As most ATE community members are aware, the National Science Foundation has, since early 2011, required that all grant applicants provide a one- to two-page supplementary document, known as the Data Management Plan (DMP), to describe how a grantee’s proposal will meet NSF guidelines on the dissemination of grant-funded research.  More recently, NSF has added a new requirement to the ATE RFP; namely, newly funded ATE projects and centers are now required to work with ATE Central to archive the valuable deliverables they create. Luckily, these requirements go hand-in-hand, as archiving with ATE Central may very well already be a strategy outlined in your DMP. Even if it isn’t, you may still choose to archive with us as a means to support your project or center goals.

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Employer Finds Graduates of ATE Program Have Right Combination of Technical Skills & Teamwork

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Mark Jones, drafting supervisor at Nucor Vulcraft-SC (on the left), checks the work of Dean Mann, a 2015 graduate of Florence-Darlington Technical College. Mann is one of two 2015 spring interns from the two-year college to receive a full-time job offer from Nucor.

Nucor Vulcraft-SC Drafting Supervisor Mark Jones likes the combination of technical skills and behavioral attributes he sees among the technicians graduating from his alma mater, Florence-Darlington Technical College (FDTC).

His department just made full-time job offers to two of the four FDTC students who interned in the Drafting Department at Nucor Corporation's Florence, South Carolina, facility this spring.

Jones, who earned a civil engineering technology associate degree from FDTC in 1996, and this spring's Nucor interns were all taught with the problem-based curriculum that the South Carolina Advanced Technological Education Center (SC ATE) at FDTC refined and disseminated with support from National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education program. SC ATE's curriculum uses a just-in-time format that blends academic core courses and hands-on technical skills with instruction about self-management and teamwork that many employers call soft skills.

"When we hire those students coming out of Tech, with two-year associate degrees, they have a really great foundation to start building on. It really shows through," Jones said.

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SFAz Scales Successful STEM Pathways Model at Rural Arizona Colleges

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SFAz's STEM Pathways Model

Success leads to more success.

And that is what eight rural community colleges hope to achieve by utilizing the STEM Pathways Model developed with ATE support by Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) and tested at Cochise College.

From 2012 through 2014, Cochise College's promising results from the STEM Pathways Model included

  • new, industry-funded internships for Cochise students;
  • ATE-funded internships that led students to full-time employment;
  • increased industry participation in the college's STEM outreach programs; and
  • more secondary school students participating in Cochise's Early College Academy and continuing in postsecondary STEM education programs.

With a new ATE project grant, SFAz and Cochise are leading the Rural Community College STEM Network that is helping rural two-year colleges throughout Arizona implement the STEM Pathways Model.

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Clarifying ATE Careers with the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook

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Students who participate in ATE projects and centers are serious about their careers. They often seek a clear picture of their future work life, including a cost-benefit analysis of how much they will have to give (in terms of money and time), and how much they will get (in terms of salary, job satisfaction, security, and other measures). ATE grantees need data to help support a variety of project and center initiatives, whether its for tracking progress, gaining institutional support, or helping students understand employment opportunities. This is where the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, which is fully available on the BLS website, can help. Students, parents, ATE grantees, and their collaborators may search the handbook in a number of convenient ways. 

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New $4.9 Million Biotech Lab Expands Student Internship Opportunities

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The authentic biotech lab experiences Sonja Lopez-Tellez had as an Austin Community College student will become more plentiful when the college opens a $4.9 million biotech research wet lab in 2016.

The small, but real, work projects Sonja Lopez-Tellez completed as a biotech student at Austin Community College (ACC) in Texas helped her succeed in two internships, with the second at XBiotech leading to a full-time job.

Authentic work experiences are something ACC biotech students will get a lot more of when the college opens a new $4.9 million biotech research wet lab with business incubator space.

ACC is the first two-year college to receive such significant funds from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund Research Award program. The ACC Biotech Department's application with the support of a dozen community and corporate partners is a bold effort to address the shortage of wet labs that biotech start-up companies need to fine tune their new products and production processes for them.  

"Once a company has discovered the value of using our interns to do projects, they ask for more. That is the bottom line ... because we get things done for them that would normally cost them quite a bit of money. And we can accelerate their product development," said Linnea Fletcher, chairman of the ACC's Biotechnology Department. Fletcher has been the principal investigator of two National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grants and the co-principal investigator of ATE grants for Bio-Link, a National Advanced Technology Education Center of Excellence focused on Biotechnology and Life Sciences at City College of San Francisco.

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New Survey Reveals the Contours of Online Education

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For its 12th annual survey concerning the development of online education in the United States, the Babson Survey Research Group received responses from over 2,800 Chief Academic Officers (CAOs) who develop instructional plans for a range of higher education institutions. The sample included a range of institutions, including public universities, not-for-profit private colleges, and for-profits, such as the University of Phoenix and DeVry University. The results of this survey can inform ATE projects and centers around the country as we make our resources accessible to students, administrators, instructors, and industry partners:

1. Growth Continues

While growth in distance enrollments has slowed somewhat in recent years, there was still a 3.7 percent increase in distance enrollments between 2012 and 2013. Interestingly, the trends were not consistent among the three classes of institutions surveyed. While private not-for-profits saw an increase of 12.6 percent, private for-profits witnessed a 7.9 percent drop in their online class numbers. With an increase of 4.6 percent, public universities steered the middle course between these two extremes.

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BAVC Discovers Strength of Peer Mentoring with Bridges Project; Builds on It for Fellowships

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During a tour of Twitter's office, Bridges students learned about social media etiquette and how to converse with industry influencers.

The peer mentoring was so dynamic during the Bridges to STEM Careers project at the Bay Area Video Coalition that the San Francisco non-profit will give peer mentors more prominent roles in its new Next Generation Bridges Fellowship.

The fellowship program, which begins this summer, will sustain peer mentoring along with other successful aspects of the recently concluded Bridges to STEM Careers project that was funded by the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education program.

For the mentors' take on Bridges see BAVC's "The Role of Peer Mentors" video.  It is one of nine three-minute video vignettes that BAVC produced with ATE grant support to inform underrepresented students and their families about media arts and technology careers, and the process for gaining entry to them.

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Pew Research: Social Media Update 2014

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Over the past several years, social media has become an essential marketing tool for many ATE projects and centers. Still, it’s not always easy to know how to effectively reach out. The Pew Research Center’s Social Media Update 2014, published early last month, can help. The report tracks how people are using social media, providing valuable insight for all of us in the ATE community who want to reach targeted audiences - whether they are students, industry partners, or other educators. 

Here are the top five tidbits that ATE PIs need to know about how social media is trending, based on the Pew Report:

1. Facebook is still king

Despite some bad press in 2014, Facebook easily maintained its lead as the most popular social media platform in the world. According to the Pew Report, 71 percent of Internet users subscribe to a Facebook account, and more than half of those account holders interact with their pages multiple times daily. Compare these numbers to LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter, who all capture the interest of between 23 percent and 28 percent of Internet users, and there is no doubt that Facebook is still the social media platform of choice for must users – something to consider when posting information about your ATE project or center.

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