ATE Impacts

From the Archive: Classroom Activities in Micro- and Nanotechnologies

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A person wearing a cleanroom suit works on a computer in a lab.

Over the past few months, so much of our work has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic--many of us are working from home, teaching online, and/or reaching out to our audiences in creative new ways. A number of our institutions are also working hard to support our communities beyond the classroom, perhaps by manufacturing personal protective equipment, supporting local testing efforts, and so much more.

While much could be said about the ongoing contributions of our community members both inside the classroom and out, this month’s From the Archive blog post is inspired by the global attention that nanotechnology-based approaches to diagnosing and treating COVID-19 have received. Highlighted below are an assortment of learning modules and lab activities that ATE grantees have created to support their work in teaching nanotechnology principles in the classroom.

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Virtual Labs Help Sustain Biomanufacturing Program during COVID-19

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The Virtual Single-Use Biomanufacturing Lab improves in-person lab efficiency and helps with remote instruction.

Virtual biomanufacturing lab lessons developed by Quincy College faculty with a U.S. Department of Labor grant—and recently updated with an Advanced Technological Education grant— have helped sustain the Massachusetts college’s Biotechnology and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For eight years students have accessed the Virtual Single-Use Biomanufacturing Lab from desktops, phones, and tablets, to practice procedures for operating single-use bioreactors before handling expensive equipment and materials in the campus lab. The virtual lab’s tutorial option provides text, audio, and video instructions. Its practice option requires students to move through each step independently, and it points out errors that students must correct in order to proceed.  

The virtual lab is now available on the website of InnovATEBIO, the National Biotechnology Education Center at Austin Community College in Texas.

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I Am ATE: Mandy Briggs

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Photograph of Mandy Briggs.

Name: Mandy Briggs

Title: Assistant Chief Flight Instructor / PI for UCID project

Institution: Parkland College

Project/Center Name: UCID-UAS Curriculum for Industry Demand

URL: https://aviation.parkland.edu/EXPLORE/National-Science-Foundation

ATE Central: How did you become involved with ATE?  

Briggs: I first started with ATE in 2017 as a co-PI for another ATE grant, the PACE project. One of the goals of the PACE project was updating the curriculum for Parkland's precision agriculture program. As the co-PI, I helped implement the use of drones in existing curriculum for the agriculture department. Seeing the need for additional training in our region, this lead to a second grant application with ATE, the UCID project, to create a UAS program at Parkland College. I currently serve as the PI for the UCID project.       

ATE Central: Tell us about the goals of your project/center.  

Briggs: The UCID project has three primary goals. The first goal is to create new UAS courses and credentials to meet industry demand in Central Illinois. We have successfully created three new courses and two new certificates. Promoting the recruitment of minorities for the Parkland UAS program is our second goal. Through targeted marketing and recruitment, female enrollment is increasing in our program. Our third goal is to connect Parkland’s UAS program to area high schools along with universities offering UAS degrees. To connect with area high schools, we have offered training events to high school teachers to help them implement drones in their classrooms as well as workshops for guidance counselors about our program and career opportunities. We are currently pursuing articulation agreements with several universities to offer our students a path for a four-year degree.   

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AACC Offers ATE Connects to Spark Interactions at Virtual PI Conference

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2020 ATE Principal Investigators' Conference Banner

In the spirit of experimentation, the 2020 Virtual ATE Principal Investigators’ Conference is launching ATE Connects. The live session from 2:45 to 4 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, October 20, is an attempt to create opportunities for virtual networking and connection at the conference hosted by the American Association of Community Colleges with support from the National Science Foundation.

Through the ATE Connects platform everyone attending the conference remotely will be able to explore the work underway in the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. To facilitate navigation, projects and centers will be grouped by STEM category (e.g., biotech, advanced manufacturing, etc.) and information, resources, and materials will be keyword-searchable.

Best of all, as individuals view a video or read grantees’ one-page handouts they will be able to join group chat channels by discipline using the Slack app within ATE Connects. People will be able to direct message ATE principal investigators (PIs) through the app, too.

 “The goal is to create connections and conversations around the materials,” Ellen Hause said during an ATE Central Office Hours webinar on September 30 where she fielded questions. As AACC program director for Academic and Student Affairs, Hause is leading the planning for the 27th ATE PI Conference.

To help conference attendees maximize their engagement in the virtual meeting, AACC is offering the ATE Virtual Conference Orientation Webinar from 1 to 2 p.m. (EDT) on Wednesday, October 7. For more information about ATE Office Hours email info@atecentral.net.

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Select Education Resources for Writing, Communicating, and Teaching

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Image of a person writing with a pen.

Strong communication and writing skills are an asset across STEM fields, for both those teaching and learning. And it’s important to note that the majority of employers actively search for candidates with solid communication skills, particularly a track record of strong written communication. With the fall semester underway, this blog post highlights resources that will assist ATE community members and their students in honing a variety of valuable skills related to these topics. Do you have additional resources focused on teaching or communicating that you’d like to share with the ATE community?  We’d love to hear from you – email us at info@atecentral.net!

Work on your writing skills (even remotely) with Purdue OWL.

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) has always been a highly regarded resource for educators and students. The timely addition of their Remote Teaching Resource Portal offers those engaged in remote instruction a handy tool. The section highlights a variety of internal and external writing resources for all age levels, including the Conference on College Composition and Communication’s “Teaching Resources for Writing Instructors” guide, which is geared towards college educators. Many of the other resources are aimed at K-12 educators, though adaptable to higher education settings. For example, the “Professional, Technical Writing” page provides guidance on producing reports, memorandum, and scientific papers. Want even more content from OWL? Check out their YouTube Channel.

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Master of E-books & Interactives Receives HI-TEC Educator of the Year Award

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Brookdale Professor Michael Qaissaunee (center) with his networking students at NJ Governor's Cyber Security Challenge.

Brookdale Community College Engineering & Technology Professor Michael Qaissaunee brings a fine-tuned awareness of students’ needs and strong commitment to educational equity to his work as an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) principal investigator.

Qaissaunee received the 2020 HI-TEC Educator of the Year Award for his development of electronic textbooks for technician education and web-based interactive explainers that have lowered students’ costs and increased their understanding of complex science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts.

 “These have really made a difference in my classroom and I’ve heard from teachers from across the country that … these animated learning snippets and interactive activities have really transformed their classrooms. It has really enabled us to reach a broader diversity of learners. They’ve provided a great teaching environment and enabled students to master content and skills that they’re studying,” John Sands said in his introduction of Qaissaunee at the 2020 HI-TEC Conference awards ceremony.  Sands is principal investigator of the National Support Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance and a subject matter expert on Qaissaunee’s E-MATE 2.0: Building Capacity for Interactive Teaching and Learning (Award # 1601612) ATE grant.

Many of the 50 E-MATE interactives on electronics, networking, and cybersecurity topics that Qaissaunee and Sands and his team have built are available at Brookdale’s STEM Institute; all of them will eventually be posted on CSSIA’s website. Other Brookdale College departments are the current hosts of E-MATE interactives that cover challenging concepts in chemistry, environmental science, and physics.

All the E-MATE interactives are free, and, because they use HTML5, do not require an internet connection nor Flash nor Java software. Educators and students can download and access them from flash drives, which, pre-COVID, Qaissaunee distributed at conference presentations and now sends to people who contact him at mqaissaunee@brookdalecc.edu.

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I Am ATE: Donna Lange

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Image of Donna Lange.

In this feature ATE Central continues our "I Am ATE" series, which showcases an ATE PI, staff member, industry partner, or other ATE stakeholder. We are excited to help spread the word about the wonderful people who are at the core of the ATE community and the innovative work everyone is doing.

Name: Donna Lange
Title: Associate Professor / PI & Center Director, DeafTEC: Technological Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students
Institution: Rochester Institute of Technology
Center Name: DeafTEC: Technological Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students
URL: https://deaftec.org

ATE Central: How did you become involved with ATE?

Lange: My first grant with ATE was in 2000 while I was chair of the Applied Computer Technology department at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), a two-year technical college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and one of the nine colleges of the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. At that time, we were looking for funding to support an information technology workforce development project. It was the NTID's grants coordinator who found the solicitation for the ATE program and encouraged us to submit a proposal. We are so grateful to have found ATE and have been part of the community ever since.
 
ATE Central: Tell us about the goals of your project or center.

Lange: In 2011, after eleven years of several successful ATE funded projects, we were awarded an ATE National Center of Excellence, DeafTEC: Technological Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students which is currently in its first year as a resource center.

The goal DeafTEC is to increase the number of deaf and hard-of-hearing (deaf/hh) individuals in highly skilled technician jobs in which there continues to be underrepresentation and underutilization of such individuals in the workplace.

To achieve this goal DeafTEC is providing resources to: (1) advance the career self-efficacy and career awareness of deaf/hh high school and college students related to STEM technician careers, (2) improve access to learning for deaf/hh high school and community college students in STEM classrooms, (3) improve access to learning for student veterans with hearing loss in STEM programs at community colleges, and (4) raise employers' awareness of deaf/hh individuals as an untapped pool of skilled technicians and how to hire, onboard, and create an inclusive work environment for these individuals. 

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Epilogue Project Finds ATE Centers’ Ideas Persist

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Rebecca Zarch’s research into the legacy of nine Advanced Technological Education centers has found that significant aspects of the centers’ work are continuing years after their National Science Foundation funding ended.

While looking for what has been sustained, Zarch is gaining insights into the leadership practices that led to successful operations and enduring impact.

“The biggest finding is nobody is doing this alone. The partnerships really make a difference and developing that network of partners—the broad-based support—is something that needs to be done intentionally and [to] start early,” Zarch said during a recent phone interview. She is principal investigator of the Epilogue Project (ATE Award #1821248) at the Sage Fox Group of Amherst, Massachusetts.  

The report scheduled for release in 2021 will focus on what has been sustained and will trace the processes that facilitated continuation of efforts. It will not be a comprehensive history or evaluation of the centers.  

“Sustainability here does not mean buildings and people. Sustainability is ideas,” explained Gerhard Salinger, who as co-principal investigator serves as project advisor. Salinger was a co-lead program director of the ATE program at the National Science Foundation from 1993 to 2012. He likens Zarch’s work to that of a historian who examines the intellectual output that flowed from a civilization rather than the physical structures that remain standing.

“We’re not about the bricks and mortar; we’re about the ideas....A lot of people in the program think that sustainability means that the people are still there after the money has left. And that doesn’t happen. It’s really the ideas. How did the world change because these people were there?” Salinger said.

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Tips for Organizing and Attending Conferences & Meetings Remotely

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Image of a person in business attire attending a conference call meeting on their laptop.

In response to social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, many professional conferences and large meetings are exploring a move to remote, asynchronous, and online convenings – including the HI-TEC Transformed 2020 conference taking place next week, on July 29-30. While many in the ATE community have experience collaborating and networking remotely, remote events can be stressful to organize and attend at the best of times. Here are some tips to aid in creating and participating in conferences and meetings during social distancing:

Organizing a Remote Conference or Meeting:

  • Use an online program or agenda that can be easily updated. This makes it easy to add and alter sessions or segments as you negotiate the transition from a planned in-person event to an online event. The event program or agenda should be hosted on a public page or website for easy access.
  • Build in time to test streaming and A/V procedures and have an alternative plan in mind. Conferences and meetings may bring together a large number of organizers, participants, and presenters with varying tech backgrounds. Before the day of the event, be sure to test all streaming technology and make sure you have a backup plan in case any elements of video conferencing or screen sharing go awry. Ideally include tech support as part of your team, ready to aid attendees or presenters if they have technical issues. 
  • Designate moderators and provide them with instructions in advance. Just like an in-person event, remote conferences and meetings have a lot going on. Ensure that sessions do not run too long or become a negative experience for attendees and presenters by appointing a moderator to facilitate the event. Provide moderators with clear, well-communicated instructions in advance of the conference date.
  • Explore options for asynchronous sessions. Some participants may not be able to present or attend live streams. Pre-recording some sessions and hosting video recordings on the conference or meeting site, and notifying attendees via email of their availability can offer a viable and useful alternative for presenters. You may also choose to record streamed events so that attendees can tune in asynchronously.
  • Make all conference social media handles and hashtags widely known. Social media is an even more vital arena for networking when it comes to remote conferences. Be sure that conference attendees have social media handles and hashtags so participants and presenters can share and connect before and after sessions.
  • Offer the most widely-accessible experience possible. This may include, for example, live-captioning presentations, or adding captions to asynchronous conference material. If distributing digital conference or meeting packets, make sure they follow W3C Accessibility Standards.

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ATE Project Informed the Pivot to Online Science Courses in COVID’s Wake

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Hybrid bioscience courses developed with an ATE grant will be offered to all North Central State students this fall.

An Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant helped to reconfigure biotechnician degree courses for online delivery and imbued two North Central State College educators with knowledge they used to help colleagues cope with the massive curriculum shift required by COVID-19.

In September 2018 Justin Tickhill and Jason Tucker began curriculum revisions funded by the Mansfield, Ohio, college’s first ATE grant from the National Science Foundation to convert six bioscience courses for online delivery of lectures and in-person labs for a specific audience:  employees of Charles River Laboratories who wanted to advance in their biotechnology careers.  

In March 2020 as COVID-19 forced colleges around the country to cease on-campus operations, Tickhill and Tucker became the go-to guys among their science and health sciences colleagues as they made the quick conversion from in-person to online instruction.    

This fall, the General Biology I course and five other hybrid courses that Tickhill and Tucker developed for the Bioscience Technician Expansion Project (Award #1800850) will be available to all North Central students. 

 “The ATE [program] has benefited our entire college with this one grant—more so than we could have ever imagined,” Tickhill said during a recent phone interview. He is associate professor of biology.

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