Beginning in 2018, a few qualified members of the ATE Community will serve each year as Mentor Fellows. The individuals selected as Mentor Fellows will receive financial support and guidance as they engage in activities that prepare them to be Mentor-Connect mentors for potential ATE grantees.
The fellowship program is one facet of Mentor-Connect's regenerative leadership development effort. The main thrust of Mentor-Connect, an ATE project of the South Carolina Advanced Technological Education Center, is diversifying the two-year colleges and educators who obtain ATE grants. Mentor-Connect mentees are faculty from two-year, associate-degree-granting institutions that are eligible for Small Grants for Institutions New to ATE.
Mentor-Connect leaders plan to offer three fellowships during 2018 to individuals who are interested in eventually serving as Mentor-Connect mentors. Those selected as fellows will shadow experienced Mentor-Connect mentors as they guide two-year college educators through Mentor-Connect's nine-month process for preparing competitive proposals to the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education program.
Nominees must have three-to-five years of involvement in the ATE program and recommendations from two current ATE principal investigators or co-principal investigators in addition to the nomination from another member of the ATE community. Experience developing projects and writing grant proposals for the ATE program is a key qualification. Fellows receive a stipend of $1,750 plus travel support to attend two Mentor-Connect workshops.
The application and details about the fellowship opportunity are available at www.mentor-connect.org. Mentor Fellow applications are due by 11:59 p.m. EST, September 30, 2017.
Mentor-Connect Fellows Share Their Experiences
Jim Hyder, who was a 2017 Mentor-Connect fellow during a pilot year of this new program, said the experience boosted his confidence. "It served primarily as a validation of what I thought I knew, in a safe environment—testing, challenging those assumptions of what I thought I knew,” he explained. He shadowed mentor Vincent A. DiNoto, Jr., when he interacted with his two groups of mentees at two Mentor-Connect workshops. He also joined in DiNoto's monthly calls with his mentees. DiNoto is director of the National Geospatial Technology Center of Excellence.
From his experience as an internal evaluator for the Southwest Center for Microsystems Education and industry liaison for Seattle's Hub for Industry-driven Nanotechnology Education, Hyder could occasionally offer suggestions to mentees. However, he devoted most of his attention to learning from DiNoto about the nuances of writing a proposal's content and creating a project budget. Hyder is now approaching the end of his Mentor Fellows training, and he has accepted Mentor-Connect's invitation to be a mentor in 2018.
Pamela Silvers, the other Mentor-Connect fellow during the pilot year, said shadowing mentor Ann Beheler, and listening to other Mentor-Connect mentors' interactions helped her understand that the mentor's role is different from her role as a principal investigator (PI). Silvers has been the PI of two ATE grants awarded to Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. Beheler is PI of the National Convergence Technology Center and executive director of Emerging Technology Grants at Collin College.
"For me it's been really beneficial watching how people go through the process, and giving them the input as I'm letting them find their own way," Silvers said.
During her fellowship she learned it was of paramount importance to find out what mentees want to do. Mentor-Connect mentors give suggestions, but let mentees drive their projects, Silvers said. The approach she plans to use as a Mentor-Connect mentor in 2018 involves asking mentees lots of questions, particularly about where they want their colleges to be at the end of their three-year ATE grants. After hearing what they say, she will offer advice and, when appropriate, connect them with other people in the ATE community who can help them achieve their goals.
Mentor-Connect Application Info
The Mentor-Connect Fellows' application is due by 11:59 p.m. EST, September 30, 2017 and requires the following:
- The nominee's resume
- A letter from the nominee explaining his/her interest in becoming a Mentor-Connect mentor
- Recommendations/references from at least two ATE PIs or Co-PIs
- An affidavit verifying that the nominee's anticipated workload during 2018 allows for the time and commitment necessary to meet the expectations for a mentor
- A summary statement (no more than 100 words) capturing the significance of the nominee’s contributions to his/her STEM field and the ATE Program in the context of preferred Fellows criteria below.
- A completed Mentor-Connect Fellowship application
Mentor-Connect's selection process will consider the following preferred criteria (selection does not require that all criteria be met):
- Demonstrated knowledge of the NSF ATE program expectations as evidenced by significant, active involvement in a successful ATE project or center
- Experience writing or contributing significantly to a minimum of two successful ATE proposals
- Three to five years of experience directing and/or implementing successful ATE projects as a PI, Co-PI and/or Project Director/Manager
- Contributions to and/or meaningful engagement with the ATE Program beyond implementation of a specific, funded project or center (e.g., partnership with /contribution to an ATE project or Center at another institution, serving as a Mentor-Links Mentor, contributing content to a webinar for the ATE Community, serving as an ATE project evaluator)
- Experience building and maintaining partnerships with either high schools, a community college, four-year college, industry, or labor
- Experience as a peer reviewer for ATE proposals
- Recent, meaningful experience mentoring others in an academic context
- A minimum of two years of academic program, curriculum and/or course development experience at the associate degree level and/or two-year college
- A baccalaureate or higher-level credential in a STEM or STEM-related field is preferred, but not required.