ATE Impacts

Connecting with ATE Central’s Outreach Kit

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Whether you're starting out on your first grant proposal or have already secured funding from the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program, outreach and dissemination activities are pivotal to the success of your project or center. Our blog post explores the significance of outreach and dissemination in the ATE program and introduces a valuable resource – the re-vamped Outreach Kit and accompanying Template – designed to guide you and your project/center through the process of developing a strategic outreach plan.

Understanding the Importance of Outreach and Dissemination:
NSF mandates that grantees demonstrate the broader impacts of their work, aligning with the mission to advance science, national health, prosperity, and welfare. Outreach and dissemination play a crucial role in meeting these broader impact requirements while achieving the specific goals outlined in your ATE grant.

In the ATE program, outreach and dissemination encompass activities like knowledge sharing, community building, recruitment, and knowledge transfer. These activities should be thoughtfully designed to serve the goals and objectives of your project or center.

Introducing the Outreach Kit and Template:
To assist ATE projects and centers in their outreach endeavors, ATE Central developed an Outreach Kit and accompanying Templates. Our resources aim to guide you through a comprehensive process, considering core ideas, primary audiences, stakeholders, partners, resources, and issues like branding and messaging.

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3 Projects Share Strategies for Recruiting & Retaining Females in Advanced Technology Programs

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A BCTC instructor explains lockout-tagout procedures to middle school students during a Girls Can, Too! workshop.

 

Many of the 36 projects featured in ATE Impacts 2024-2025 are testing strategies to recruit and retain populations historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. Today’s blog highlights the work of three projects that focus on encouraging women and adolescent girls to embark on advanced technology careers.

“We decided to focus our projects on recruiting females and non-binary students for STEM-related educational programs to increase gender equality and overall diversity in conventionally male-dominated careers. Traditionally, female students were not encouraged to excel in math and science, which limited their access to careers that utilize these skills. Today, STEM-related careers are some of the fastest growing and highest paid jobs and our programs seek to recruit females into these academic programs,” Jacequeline I. Mitchell, director of the Business and Entrepreneurship Career Pathway at Durham Technical Community College, wrote in an email. She is principal investigator of the  Power of Us: Increasing Female Enrollment and Retention in Career and Technical Education Programs at the Durham, NC, college. Power of Us offers a speaker series, female mentors, and week-long summer camps.

The Advanced Manufacturing: Girls Can, Too! Project at Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) in Georgetown, KY, is driven by these data: “70% of all high school dual credit students are female, however, only 7% of those are taking industrial maintenance courses. Meanwhile, only 12% of maintenance workers are female and 70% of maintenance workers are over 40.” Hannah Green, co-principal investigator, and Shelby Cox, administrative assistant, provided the data and reported that the project is beginning to see changes. “We have had some students enrolled in dual credit courses through their high schools, as well as some students from the Girls Can, Too! program that enrolled full time in BCTC last fall. We have found that female students excel in the courses, and we feel like we are on the right path in bridging the gender gap,” they wrote in an email.

ATE Impacts 2024-2025 will be released this spring. It is part of an Advanced Technological Education project led by the Internet Scout Research Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with funding from the National Science Foundation. Keep reading for more excerpts from the book and insights about effective recruitment strategies from the project teams.

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Insights into Online Behavior and Platform Preferences

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A screenshot of a chart from Pew showing the majority of teens visit TikTok daily

Pew Research Center's recent study on U.S. teens' digital habits offers critical insights for organizations, particularly those in STEM fields, looking to engage with this demographic through social media for outreach and recruiting. As teens continue to embrace online platforms, understanding their preferences and usage patterns becomes essential for effectively reaching and connecting with the next generation of STEM professionals.

Key Considerations for STEM Outreach and Recruiting:

1. Platform Preferences:

Recognizing the dominance of YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram among teens is crucial. Tailoring outreach strategies to align with content consumption on these platforms can enhance visibility and engagement.

2. Decline in Facebook and Twitter Usage:

The decline in Facebook and Twitter usage suggests that these platforms may be less effective for reaching younger audiences. STEM organizations should focus on platforms where teens are more active to maximize the impact of their outreach efforts, such as TikTok or YouTube. Creating short videos like ATE's Student Success Stories can grab attention more quickly than a static image. 

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BEST Institute Focuses on Less Carbon, More Action Strategies for Better Buildings & Tech Education

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Lustgarten said, “environmental changes are more extreme and they’re already unfolding more quickly” than in the past.

The Best Center’s 2024 National Institute on January 4 and 5 featured 28 speakers—many of them Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers—talking about new energy technologies and sharing climate data in the context of educating technicians to run energy efficient buildings.

The keynote speakers were Abrahm Lustgarten, author of On the Move: The Overheating Earth and the Uprooting of America, and Mary Ann Piette, a senior scientist and associate lab director in the Energy Technologies Area of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)—a U.S. Department of Energy-funded research and development center.

BEST, which stands for Building Efficiency for a Sustainable Tomorrow, is an Advanced Technological Education center at the University of California, Berkeley, that focuses on preparing educators to teach the advanced technical and cognitive skills that people need for careers in building automation systems, energy management, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC).

Recordings of the 12 hours of live webinar presentations with transcripts and PDFs of the speakers’ slides may be accessed for the next year at no cost from the institute’s event agenda.

BEST leaders also used the virtual institute as a forum to report on the High-Performance Building Operations Professional (HPBOP) certification they developed to meet international industry standards and accreditation guidelines. Center leaders hope that by hitting these benchmarks, the certification will become the national standard for the knowledge, skills, and attitudes for building technicians to operate and maintain high-performance commercial buildings for safety, health, and sustainability.

The center is currently seeking educators and technical professionals to participate in pilot tests of the certification exam to help the center finalize the bank of test questions it developed with industry partners and testing experts. For more information on the exam see https://hpbop.org.

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Utilizing LinkedIn with Evalu-ATE

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An graphic of corporate type design people standing around a LinkedIn logo

LinkedIn, with over 700 million professionals worldwide, presents a unique opportunity for connecting with individuals across various industries and organizations. According to a recent survey by ATE Central, 62% of respondents from the ATE community prefer LinkedIn as a social media platform for outreach, and 56% consider it the most effective platform for sharing out resources and deliverables. To shed light on effective LinkedIn strategies, ATE Central interviewed Samantha Hooker, Senior Marketing Specialist for Evalu-ATE  and the Evaluation Center, at Western Michigan University. 

Here are some key takeaways:

1. Strategic Shift to LinkedIn: 

Evalu-ATE made a deliberate move from Twitter to LinkedIn, driven by a desire for a more professional and aligned platform. Samantha emphasized LinkedIn's potential for reaching a professional audience in the field of evaluation. This shift reflects a strategic move towards a platform that better aligns with project goals and values. Samantha highlights this,

"LinkedIn can actually be a really, really great tool for building community... It's easy to connect with people and it's a really easy platform to use for sharing out information in a professional manner." 

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Students Enthusiastically Share What They Learned through ATE Initiatives

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Skylre Hine, left, and teammate Diandra Dietrich-Celotto, explain the operation of their self-energizing buoy.

How Advanced Technological Education (ATE) initiatives positively influence students’ entrée into advanced technology careers was evident at the student poster session at the 2023 ATE Principal Investigators’ Conference on October 25 in Washington, D.C. The annual conference is hosted by the American Association of Community Colleges with support from its ATE grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

In their own words on posters and in energetic response to questions posed by conference attendees who viewed the posters during the lively 90-minute session after the opening plenary, the students shared what they had learned as a result of the ATE-grant funded initiatives.

The posters created by 48 students and alumni documented a wide array of learning experiences, including classroom instruction, labs, internships, apprenticeships, undergraduate research projects, and competitions. Here are two of the outstanding projects featured at the poster session.

Team Develops Prototype of Self-Energizing Buoy for Sea Farms 

Skylre Hine, a mechanical engineering major at Connecticut State Community College Gateway, was part of a four-person, all-female team that created a buoy that harnesses kinetic energy from water movement and solar energy to power a battery for monitoring equipment used by sea farms.

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From the Archive: Contextualized Math for College Students

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An image of an archival hallway with tall stacks of file cabinets

In STEM education, mastering basic mathematics is both essential and challenging for many students. As a foundation for numerous scientific and technological disciplines, math is crucial, yet its abstract nature can often make even fundamental concepts seem elusive.

This month’s From the Archive blog post highlights creative methodologies that render mathematics more tangible by linking theoretical concepts to real-world contexts. Featured below are three ATE projects that exemplify this approach, each designed to meld mathematical concepts with practical applications in various STEM fields such as engineering, advanced manufacturing, and biotechnology.

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Rural Marion Tech Obtains Grants with Help of Nearby Urban College

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Marion Tech’s Smart Manufacturing grant provided process control trainers to help students learn manufacturing skills.

Several years ago Marion Technical College in Ohio had an impediment in its pursuit of big federal grants that is unfortunately an all-too-common problem for rural two-year colleges. The college wanted to hire a full-time grant writer, but none of the applicants had experience with large, competitive grants. President Ryan McCall said he thought if he hired an inexperienced person, the individual would learn just enough on-the-job to springboard to a larger organization in a few years.

Around that time Ohio compelled the state’s rural two-year colleges to work collaboratively on a program with the larger, urban community colleges in their respective regions. That experience was so positive it prompted McCall to ask David Harrison, president of Columbus State Community College, if Marion Tech could contract with Columbus State’s grants office for help writing a U.S. Department of Education Title III grant. Marion Tech had been declined for funding three times despite assistance from an expensive consultant.

The fee-for services arrangement that began in 2018 now includes grants management due to Marion Tech’s $5 million in awards, including a Title III grant, two Advanced Technological Education grants, and a federal TRIO grant.

“I have access to the whole team for less than half of what it would cost me to hire a grant writer,” McCall said.

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Recent Research and News Roundup

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A photo of a table with graphic organizers and post-it notes

Several significant research initiatives and strategies have been launched to address critical challenges in various fields. These endeavors have sought to advance technology, bolster the nation's cybersecurity workforce, support diverse student populations in community colleges, and expand apprentice programs. In the following summaries, we explore these initiatives in more detail, highlighting their objectives and contributions to their respective domains.

1. Advancing Semiconductor Technologies and Workforce Development:
The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has committed $45.6 million to fuel 24 research and education initiatives in the realm of semiconductor technologies and workforce development. This investment, made possible by the "CHIPS and Science Act of 2022," is part of the NSF Future of Semiconductors (FuSe) program, a collaborative effort involving industry giants such as Ericsson, IBM, Intel, and Samsung. The primary goals of this program encompass nurturing a skilled semiconductor workforce and catalyzing innovations in semiconductor technologies and systems. It's a critical endeavor aimed at ensuring a secure and reliable supply of semiconductor technologies in the United States.

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Mentor-Connect Mentoring Is Available to Faculty New to ATE, Even if Their Colleges Have ATE Grants

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With ATE grant support JCC developed curriculum to teach students how to operate distributed control systems.

Ryan Bradshaw feels fortunate that Mentor-Connect’s expanded mission provides mentoring to community college educators who are new to the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program, even if their colleges have had recent ATE grants.

Johnston Community College, where Bradshaw is chair of Business Education & Technology Department,  has had two ATE grants since 2018. But Bradshaw was not part of those projects that were developed with Mentor-Connect mentoring, nor had he worked on grants at other community colleges previously.

In September—months before he would learn reviewers’ ratings of JCC’s cybersecurity project proposal, Bradshaw called it a success because of all that he had learned. The four-person team he led was mentored by Pam Silvers, co-principal investigator of Mentor-Connect. Bradshaw praised Silvers and also described how Mentor-Connect’s in-person workshops affirmed and inspired his work.

“For a faculty member to have the opportunity to go to a national conference, to be a part of something that will elevate their program, it creates an excitement and anticipation for the good works they do. And then when you have students come in and see the interesting, fun, and exciting things that we’re bringing to their program, it actually draws students to the programs. It gives students a reason to stick around because we’re doing interesting, exciting things. I believe once you have enthusiasm in our programming it’s contagious. It spreads from faculty to students and throughout the community. And so I’m really positive about the things we’re doing with the program and with this proposal,” he said. 

To learn more about the various types of mentoring that Mentor-Connect offers, see the NSF ATE Program Opportunities & Mentor-Connect Orientation Webinar at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vbpxN2PyAo 

Applications for Mentor-Connect’s 2024 cohort are due Friday, November 10.

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