ATE Impacts

Mentor-Connect & Working Partners Reconfigure Buffy Quinn’s Career


Buffy Quinn, an assistant dean at OCC, credits Mentor-Connect and Working Partners with her recent promotion.
Since her days as a high school student working with researchers who had National Science Foundation (NSF) grants, Buffy Quinn had dreamed of obtaining her own grant from the federal science agency.  

So, she immediately replied “Yes” in 2018 when a grant professional suggested she apply to Mentor-Connect for help with an application to NSF’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. At that point she was a full-time instructor at Onondaga Community College (OCC). She began teaching at OCC after working for 20 years as a geographic information system analyst whose specialty was modeling remediation plans for Super Fund sites.

“NSF is paying me to teach me how to get more money. This is amazing. This is an opportunity I cannot pass up,” she remembers thinking about Mentor-Connect’s stipend and travel support to work with a mentor while preparing an ATE grant proposal.    

Quinn attributes her 2020 ATE grant award and her 2022 promotion to assistant dean of Natural and Applied Sciences at OCC to the knowledge she gained through Mentor-Connect and the support she received from the people Mentor-Connect introduced her to in the ATE community.

Those contacts led to her participating in Working Partners, an ATE applied research project that helps faculty develop strategies to improve community college-industry partnerships. The model programs Quinn learned about through Working Partners and the plans she developed to cultivate industry support for her ATE project informed her job interview responses and are now influencing her approach to her duties as an administrator. She also recently became an assistant director and senior team member of the GeoTech Center, which is led by her Mentor-Connect Mentor Vincent A. DiNoto, Jr.      

“It is not hyperbole to say that experience [becoming a Mentor-Connect mentee] has changed my life. It has completely changed the trajectory of my career,” she said.



Mentor-Connect is an ATE project based at Florence-Darlington Technical College that provides faculty-led community college teams with a mentor and technical resources for nine months while they prepare an ATE grant proposal to NSF. The American Association of Community Colleges is a Mentor-Connect partner.  

Like many Mentor-Connect mentees Quinn applied to Mentor-Connect after experiencing what she calls the “heartbreak” of having an NSF grant proposal declined. But she didn’t want to abandon her dream, and recruited Justin Fiene, associate professor of biology, to work with her on a proposal for a project that integrates a credential for unmanned aerial vehicle data analysis into a geospatial science and technology degree program.

The Mentor-Connect Winter Workshop that Quinn and Fiene attended in New Orleans in 2019 was “overwhelming,” but in a good way, Quinn said. They worked face-to-face for hours with DiNoto and Ken Mays, a professor of automotive technology at Central Oregon Community College who was then a Mentor-Connect Mentor Fellow.

DiNoto asked specific questions about outcomes in ways that helped Quinn think through the activities she wanted the grant to support. 

“Vince taught me how to think and write like an NSF researcher, not like a grant writer, not a proposal writer for industry, not a press release. He taught me how to think and write like an NSF person,” Quinn said. She is currently using DiNoto’s approach to assist an OCC colleague who is writing an ATE grant proposal.

Presentations by Mentor-Connect leaders at workshops and webinars during the nine-month period of Mentor-Connect’s formal mentoring helped Quinn learn NSF’s terms and processes, which were distinct from what she had known as an industry project manager. Now in the third year of her ATE project, Quinn still attends Mentor-Connect webinars – that are free and public – to stay up to date on NSF procedures.

Beyond the mentoring and technical resources, however, Quinn says interacting with the other mentors and mentees was the start of the professional network she has developed within the ATE community and that has been as important as “the nitty-gritty, one-on-one help.”    

“I didn’t realize there were so many people like me who just wanted to be a part of NSF, who were dedicated to students, to their success, to getting them careers with family-sustaining wages, just wanting to sort of revamp something happening in their community colleges to help out students” she said.

At the first Mentor-Connect workshop Quinn said she “felt like all our moral compasses were all pointing in the same direction. We all had similar personal mission statements.” Quinn’s personal mission is to use GIS to help students enter high-tech careers. She said that is what majoring in geography and learning cartography skills did for her.  

Working Partners

This goal influenced her decision to participate in Working Partners in 2021.

Working Partners is an ATE project led by Mary Slowinski, associate professor and chair of the Digital Media Arts Department at Bellevue College, in collaboration with the Internet Scout Research Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Following a sequence of eight virtual meetings that teach two-year college teams about the strategies ATE initiatives have used to develop effective industry partnerships, participants receive guidance to develop unique action plans to meet their colleges' needs.

In addition to informing the GIS curriculum, Quinn said interacting with employers as well as students and teachers at the Public Service Leadership Academy at Fowler High School made her aware of the importance of getting into the community. She gained new appreciation for the broader impact college administrators can make.

During the interview for the assistant dean post, her Mentor-Connect experiences informed how she talked about grants and project management. Her knowledge of Working Partners’ research about model programs influenced the ideas she shared for creating a central relationship center at OCC to reach out to industry and boost the partnerships that each of the college’s associate of applied science degrees has.  

New Roles

Since she became the assistant dean in June 2022, Quinn has been working with program coordinators and subject-matter experts on creating interactive career maps for the programs in OCC’s Division of Natural and Applied Sciences. The goal is to show students what courses they need for various career paths, for access points for different jobs and programs, and completion time estimates.

She also continues to work on her ATE project. However, declining college-wide enrollments mean that OCC will not build the associate degree program Quinn envisioned as a Mentor-Connect mentee.  Instead, she is devising plans to teach GIS skills in “tiny little bites” for which students will receive micro credentials.

Quinn said her NSF program officer’s understanding about the modification of her project’s objectives is emblematic of the ATE community’s kindness and NSF’s flexibility when circumstances change.

During 2022-2023 her ATE project activities will serve an additional purpose as a pilot test for a State University of New York-funded project that she and OCC colleagues are working on with Cayuga Community College to develop a “campus-wide ecosystem of alternative credentialing.” Quinn hopes the alternative system will allow students to obtain credit for workforce courses and even briefer programs to stack toward degrees.

“With our declining enrollment, we’ve got to get more clever and more sort of proactive about bringing students in,” she said, adding that this includes exposing enrolled students to STEM programs through technology demonstrations. 

Ever the doer, Quinn plans to use data about this test of micro-credentialing for her doctoral dissertation.

This year she has also became an assistant director and senior team member of the GeoTech Center that DiNoto, her Mentor-Connect mentor, leads. Her focus will be the center’s professional development programs, particularly its annual GeoEd Conference, Virtual GIS Conference, and Earth Observation Day.

DiNoto anticipates that her high energy and commitment – which comes through in even casual conversations with Quinn – and her unique blend of industry experience and classroom teaching will help GeoTech.

“The thing Buffy brings to every experience is that enthusiasm,” DiNoto said. 

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ATE Project Creates Summer STEM Fun


Several students laugh together while controlling a robot arm

Impacts of the ATE program and ATE projects and centers extend throughout the  year. The ATE-funded NextGen Technicians project provides evidence that summer is a perfect time to show young children the benefits of STEM education.

Last summer, NextGen Technicians hosted two summer camps for North Iowa students, which included building robot arms! NextGen Technicians  is based at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) and aims to increase the number of industrial technicians in North Iowa and to ensure that they are well-qualified to work with robots. The two camps run by the project last summer were offered to provide practical experiences that showcase the benefits of STEM technician career opportunities.

NIACC’s two camps offered were designed for students from elementary through high school. First was Mind Mania, for grades 3-8, and second was Minds On! Hands On!, which introduced high school girls to industrial careers using hands-on activities.

Two sessions of Mind Mania were offered, with a total of 31 campers attending. Anthony Riesen, the Innovation Workspace Coordinator at the NIACC John Pappajohn Center, led both sessions. Mind Mania’s Robo Rukus session introduced students entering grades 3-5 to robotics, the capabilities and limitations of robots, the mechanical construction of robots, sensors versus actuators and the wiring connecting these components, and the basic programming concepts. Campers constructed a tin can robot and a mBot in addition to utilizing languages designed to program them: Blockly-Primary, Python, and Arduino C. 

A second session, Next Level Robots, was aimed at students entering grades 6-8. The goals for this were similar to Robo Rukus— encouraging students to delve further into the construction and programming of robots, which included adding grabbers and sensors. Vex and Tetrix robotics equipment were borrowed from the local high school robotics team for participants to create a robot. The Vex and Tetrix kits are designed to link two Android phones together—one phone takes commands from a game controller. It relays these directions to the other phone that receives the signal and controls the robot. This framework has been utilized in the nationally acclaimed FIRST Tech Challenge for many years.

The second camp, Minds On! Hands On! was held for high school-age girls from North Iowa the following week. CoPI Brian Mason assisted in the planning of the three-day event and aided, Anthony Riesen, who instructed the camp. PI Bob Franken spent a day with the campers explaining the Universal Robots (UR) housed in the NIACC Robotics Lab.

The campers were introduced to the basics of robotics, including the structure, electronics, and programming of robots. They built and programmed their own 3D Printed Robotic arms that utilize control software. Maestro Control Center and PolyScope were used for the 3D Robotic arms. All 3D Printed parts were made with PLA plastic filament on a Flash Forge Creator Pro Printer. Campers took their robot arms home when camp concluded.

Many thanks to the NextGen Technicians project for sharing a write up about the camps with the ATE Central team that formed the basis for this post.  Visit the project’s website to learn more about their work!

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Journal of Advanced Technological Education Aims for Big Outcomes


The Journal for Advanced Technological Education releases its first print edition at HI-TEC in July 2022.

The Journal of Advanced Technological Education (J ATE) began publishing articles online this year and will release its first print edition at the High Impact Technology Exchange Conference later this month.

Creating a high-quality periodical that disseminates peer-reviewed findings about technician education is just one of Peter D. Kazarinoff’s goals as J ATE’s editor-in-chief. He wants the new journal to “build capacity within community college faculty for advancement success.”

Being able to cite “a body of work in peer-reviewed journals is your record of research and your record of success,” Kazarinoff said, pointing out that authoring articles or serving as a reviewer could be a positive factor when educators seek grants, new jobs, or tenure.

An experienced community college faculty member, Kazarinoff notes, “We constantly want to be better at what we do and this is one of the ways that you can be, by publishing in peer-reviewed journals.”

To assist community college educators in this pursuit, J ATE offers professional development through its monthly online meetings for aspiring authors and reviewers. It is also offering a three-day, virtual workshop from September 12 to 15, 2022, that will cover how to write, submit, review, and edit articles for peer-reviewed journals. Stipends are available for qualified faculty.


J ATE Builds Faculty Capacity for Advancement

“We are not just trying to increase J ATE submissions. We are trying to help community college faculty be able to publish in any peer-reviewed journal that they think is applicable,” Kazarinoff explained. He is also a co-principal investigator of the Micro Nano Technology Education Center (MNT-EC) and as a full-time faculty member at Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon, teaches engineering, materials science, and manufacturing courses. MNT-EC’s Advanced Technological Education grant from the National Science Foundation supports J ATE’s electronic and paper editions.

Kazarinoff gained experience in academic publishing while working on his doctorate in materials science and engineering at the University of Washington. There were times in graduate school when preparing academic articles felt like a burden to him. “But it was something that l needed to do, and it was something that was important to do. My research was funded partially through the National Science Foundation, and if the results of that research weren’t shared with the greater scientific community then all that time, effort, and money, what is it good for?”

J ATE Peer Review Process Helps Authors Prepare Manuscripts   

That experience motivates him to make J ATE a vehicle for improving technician education and a positive educational experience for aspiring authors.

“It only takes 10 minutes to write a title and have an idea and send it to one of us,” Kazarinoff said referring to himself and the journal’s associate editors.

“We try to help authors to be able to publish their work at whatever stage of readiness they are,” he said.

Kazarinoff considers the informal review of article ideas, abstracts, outlines, and full manuscripts to be a vital aspect of J ATE’s peer-review process.  

He has set up many meetings to go over article ideas and has spent considerable time reviewing drafts. Of course, authors must invest time and effort to flesh out ideas to prepare full articles that pass muster with two to three subject-matter experts. But Kazarinoff notes it is a priority of J ATE editors to help authors through the steps of creating a high-quality article that informs technical and community college faculty about innovations and research findings that can be used within specific disciplines or across disciplines.  

“If the manuscript is coming from community college faculty and staff who are working in the areas of technician education, we want to work with those authors to build it into something which can eventually be published. That might mean the review process takes longer and there are a bunch of different revisions to be done, but if the idea is good and it is within scope, we work as hard as we can to eventually get that article published,” he said.

J ATE Works toward Sustainability

Although J ATE is in its first year of operation, Kazarinoff and the journal’s editorial board of ATE center principal investigators are planning for a future without NSF funding through MNT-EC.

“I see J ATE as a long-term project, not something that is part of the life of just one center. So next year we’re going to be looking at a bunch of different ways that we can potentially have the journal be self-sustaining, self-supporting,” he said.

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From the Archive: Producing Quality Content Video


Image of a library's curving wall of books

ATE grantees have long embraced a wide variety of delivery methods for both instruction and training. Beyond traditional classroom activities, faculty have developed podcast series, designed interactive games, utilized virtual reality simulations, and even built custom lab environments. Not surprisingly though, the creation of home-grown video content remains one of the more popular delivery methods, with affordable digital video cameras and smartphones enabling grantees to quickly produce and disseminate their own content. 

In this From the Archive blog post, we first highlight a four-part video series that walks viewers through pre-production, production, post-production, and the dissemination phrases of creating engaging video content. Next, we offer up a printable tip sheet on making your video content more accessible to users with disabilities. This tip sheet also provides links to additional resources on captioning and audio description. Lastly, we explore a workshop on creating educational videos, which offers insights on budget smart equipment and methods of reducing post-production time. 



Producing Engaging Content Video Series

With their project Preventing “Digital Dust,” Pellet Productions, Inc.—a long-standing member of the ATE community and home to ATE-TV—sought to support ATE grantees as they “plan, produce, disseminate, archive, and measure the outcomes of their own accessible digital videos.” Check out this four-part video series and learn how you, too, can develop your own video content, whether for teaching, recruiting, or professional development purposes.

  • Module 1: Pre-Production focuses on the pre-production process and the importance of identifying video goals and objectives, defining and understanding your audiences, developing a target Audience Profile, and conducting research to identify if there is existing video content that can be used.
  • In Module 2: Production, viewers are taken step-by-step through the process of securing proper permissions, setting up equipment, reinforcing the message(s) of the video with supplemental footage or b-roll, lighting and audio considerations, and backing-up one’s work. 
  • In Module 3: Post-Production, viewers learn how to select an editing application and import footage, how to organize clips and cut between types of shots to create a video, and how to enhance it with narration, on-screen text, and music. Other topics include using third-party content, minimizing background noise, adding closed captions, and calls-to-action. 
  • In Module 4: Dissemination and Archiving, viewers learn how to publish a video so that it reaches the intended audience and how to archive the video. 

To learn more about Preventing “Digital Dust,” visit the ATE Central resource portal. 

Creating Accessible Videos

This tip sheet from the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) provides guidelines for creating accessible video content. It covers the topics of captioning, writing narrative descriptions, and choosing an accessible media player. The tip sheet also offers links to additional resources for creating captions and audio descriptions. 

For more archived resources by AccessATE, visit the ATE Central Archive.

Video Capture Workshop

This workshop on instructional video capture was held by the National Center for Autonomous Technologies (NCAT). The "workshop introduces budget smart tools for the production of educational videos." Tools and resources are discussed and are intended to offer faculty ways to reduce post-processing production. The tools that are covered should "generate quality instructional videos while saving time in production."

For more archived resources by NCAT, visit the ATE Central Archive.

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Alaska Tech Learners Project Puts Web Engineering in Hands of Rural Alaskans


Alaska Tech Learners (ATL) is featured in ATE Impacts 2022-2023, with this photo of students learning web engineering.


Alaska Tech Learners (ATL), an Advanced Technological Education project that prepares rural Alaska students to become technician-level web engineers, is growing in multiple directions.

Seventy-six students participated in the asynchronous, dual enrollment program in spring 2022. In early June two more high school teachers joined the current group of four high school teachers who participate in the “shared teaching model” for offering ATL courses from Prince William Sound College  at their high schools. The Alaska Tech Summer Camp for teens was fully booked with 20 students well in advance of its June 20 start.

In a recent STEM for All presentation, ATL Principal Investigator Steve Johnson summarized the six-course, 16-credit ATL program that he teaches via movies that are loaded onto thumb drives along with labs and study guides. The thumb drives are mailed to students’ homes, putting the students in control of when they learn and avoiding the hefty cost and time that would be involved in downloading the 6 gigabyte file for each week’s class via internet servers.   

“I think this [model for delivery] could be used anywhere, particularly rural [places] because urban settings you wouldn’t need to go through some of these hoops. I think anyone in the Western half of the United States could do the same thing fairly easily,” he said in a recent interview.

Alaska Tech Learners is one of 33 projects featured in ATE Impacts 2022-2023.


Alaska Themes Woven Into ATL  

All the ATL instructional content is Alaska themed so that the rural students, who are mostly Native Alaskans, are learning with examples that are relevant to them and their future employers who are most likely to be Native Alaskan corporations, non-profits, and various types of government agencies.

For the teachers’ professional development, Johnson uses place-based pedagogy, such as fish run data and global positioning system plotting of routes between remote villages, so that the teachers’ lessons fit the traditional focus of students’ lives.  Twenty-five teachers who teach information technology and usually one or more STEM subjects have participated in the summer workshops that Johnson has offered with ATE grant support to improve the quality of computer science instruction in Alaska high schools.

From this group, six have taken on the larger commitment involved in the ATL shared teaching model.  

Johnson has purposefully structured the entire program to align with how Native Alaskans have historically learned specific life skills from Elders who teach youngsters in small groups or one-one-one.

“The amount of time it took to do something was not important. Mastery of the skills was important. You can’t earn a B in survival, food gathering, or food processing and expect to live. When teachers use place-based instruction they can get out of that purely Western model of mass learning and industrial education and get more into the model that they [students] grew up in as little kids,” he said.

In the ATL model, Johnson provides the theory-based instruction with the thumb-drive movies that students can access whenever it fits their schedules, repeating and rewinding sections as necessary.  The teachers who participate in the shared teaching model blend this content with their own lessons.

Prince William Sound College in Valdez is an extended campus of the University of Alaska Anchorage. To meet the university’s standards for college credit, the ATL students are expected to view the movies, do the applied laboratory assignments that they submit for Johnson to grade, take a weekly quiz online, and write weekly posts on the discussion boards of each course they are taking.

ATL Students Are 10% of College's Enrollment

This spring’s ATL cohort of 76 students shows just how asynchronous the ATL program is.

Thirty-eight of the students were enrolled in the university’s College of Engineering. Johnson says these students report being happy with their computer science programs but are aware that employers look for specific skills. Being able to show that they have practical web engineering skills enhances their career options.

About half of the remaining 38 students are home schooled, and most of the remaining students are taking the ATL courses alone or with just a few other students on their own in remote high schools. Even when high school teachers facilitate the ATL courses at public high schools the classes are very small, ranging in size from two to 10 students.

“One hundred eighty-eight students by New York City standards isn’t much, but it’s 10% of Prince William Sound’s total enrollment,” Johnson said in an interview. He reported that in addition to the 76 ATL students in the spring semester there were 67 in fall 2021 and 45 in the summer.

“Tech learners is very transformational,” he said, explaining that since the program started with ATE support in 2018 it has shown there is demand for dual enrollment STEM programs and has provided a process for the developing a “middle college for the middle of Alaska.”

Johnson is currently seeking funds to expand the professional development program and create a residential, intense 12-week, middle college program at Prince William Sound College. Johnson is the college’s computer science professor, director of Academic Affairs, and grant writer.

His plan for the middle college is to have the high school students reside on campus in Valdez for 12 weeks during the regular fall or spring semesters. He wants the students to take intense information technology courses in the morning and communications and graphics art classes in the afternoons.  

“I want them to take persuasive writing or technical writing to building toward a web engineering degree,” he said.

COVID interfered with Johnson’s in-person recruiting of ATL high school educators, but he is proud of what he’s been able to accomplish and the enrollment growth that ATL has sparked at Prince William Sound College. And he wants to build on that.  

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ATE Impacts 2022-2023 Book Showcases Work of ATE Community


: The front cover of the 2022-2023 ATE Impacts Book, featuring pictures of ATE community members

We are excited to inform you about the upcoming release of the new ATE Impacts 2022-2023 book! You can order copies of the ATE Impacts book online  - and digital copies of the book can be accessed once available on the ATE Impacts site as well. The digital copies will be viewable across all devices via any web browser.

The ATE Impacts 2022-2023 book showcases the work of the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education Community. This edition includes a foreword from United States President, Joseph Biden, and features the work of 33 projects and 28 centers across the seven ATE areas, as well as targeted research. By highlighting ATE’s centers and projects successful and innovative work, the book encourages broader participation in the ATE program by academic institutions, educators, and industry partners. Dissemination of the ATE Impacts book advances understanding of the importance of technicians to the strength of high-tech industries that drive the economy.



For over 25 years, the NSF's Advanced Technological Education program has improved educators' teaching, broadened students' knowledge, and enhanced technicians' skills. Through the ATE program, NSF has influenced the career paths of individuals from historically underrepresented populations in STEM fields and added diversity—of thought, perspective, and experience—to the technical workforce. The book supports and complements outreach activities conducted by ATE PIs and staff in broadening their audiences and sharing their stories with various partners and stakeholders.

We hope that the digital and print versions of the book will be helpful to those of you within, and beyond the ATE community.  Here are some ideas for how you might use copies of the ATE Impacts publication with campus colleagues, your industry partners, students, and others.

  • Promote STEM Education and the ATE program to deans, department chairs, and other colleagues. 
  • Give students a sense of the depth and breadth of the STEM fields available to them.
  • Emphasize the long-term benefits of education and industry collaboration by sharing the book with industry partners.
  • Distribute among new faculty and staff members to help them better understand the outcomes and opportunities offered by NSF and the ATE program.
  • Showcase the impact of STEM education and ATE by sharing the publication with local journalists, government officials, or campus marketing staff.

We also encourage you to visit the ATE Impacts blog for more stories, statistics, and ATE-related content. If you have any questions or feedback, please email us at, or visit the ATE Impacts contact page.

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Kendra Joyner Gains Career Foothold through Women in Technology Club


Positive student club experiences led Kendra Joyner toward an information technology career at A-B Tech.

Kendra Joyner joined the Women in Technology club a few weeks after starting digital media courses at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (A-B Tech) in Asheville, NC.

It was 2015 and at 40, Joyner, who had previously earned one bachelor’s degree and other postsecondary credentials, was in the midst of a career reset following a divorce.

Talking with other women about their STEM classes, hearing presentations by female technicians, and learning career tips during biweekly Women in Technology meetings became integral to Joyner’s success. It also sparked Joyner’s interest in working for the college, which she has now done for about five years. 

Computer Technologies Instructor Pamela Silvers started Women in Technology as part of her Skilled Workers Get Jobs Advanced Technological Education (ATE) projects that developed strategies to recruit and retain women in STEM careers with support from the National Science Foundation.


3 ATE Projects Spread Recruitment & Retention Strategies in Appalachia

Silvers’s first ATE grant Skilled Students Get Jobs: Recruiting Women and Engaging ALL Students (1204797) began in 2012 and led to the use of problem-based learning throughout A-B Tech. The project also developed marketing materials to recruit women. The project documented improvements in female retention in four of the seven STEM programs it targeted.  

Beginning in 2015, Silvers used a second ATE grant ‒ Skilled Workers Get Jobs 2.0: Appalachian Impact (1501535) ‒ to spread and adapt the Skilled Students Get Jobs recruitment and retention strategies at six other colleges in Appalachia. Silvers reported that “Over the course of the project, female retention in programs exceeded male retention, often by significant numbers. Creating an invitational classroom which included engaging activities for all students proved to be important for achieving the retention goals.”

Skilled Workers Get Jobs: High School Engagement to Increase Perception of Technology and Engineering Careers (1800920), which concluded in 2021, initially focused on presentations at high  schools to engage students and inform school personnel about two-year technology and engineering programs. When COVID eliminated in-person gatherings, Silvers shifted project funds to create “Quick Bite” YouTube videos for school personnel and a virtual Innovative Expo professional development workshop. The workshop led to virtual presentations in 13 classes with 403 students; the videos have become enduring resources for promoting science and math skills and directing people to community college technician education programs.

Joyner’s Fortuitous Engagement with ATE Projects

For Joyner it was particularly helpful to arrive at A-B Tech in the midst of these ATE projects.

“I wasn’t young and I was a full-time student and it was not easy to sit in class with these younger students and do everything I was trying to do,” she said. Networking at Women in Technology meetings and becoming a student ambassador for Women in Technology boosted her confidence.

Having to do all her assignments in the college’s lab because she did not own a computer was another challenge for Joyner during her first year on campus.

But her helpful replies to other students’ questions were noticed by the computer lab staff who hired her as a student lab worker.

Joyner continued as a part-time, computer lab aide for A-B Tech’s Information Technology Department after earning an associate degree in digital media technology in 2017 and an associate degree in software and web development in 2019.

Her outstanding work during the COVID-19 pandemic led to Joyner being named 2021 Part-Time Staff Member of the Year by A-B Tech. The award lauds Joyner for setting up socially distanced computer stations in the college’s conference center in the early days of the public health crisis and her effective responses to questions from faculty and students while staffing the college’s tech support chat line.

This year Joyner will become a full-time digital specialist and print administrator at A-B Tech.

“Transitioning to the full-time position will allow me to continue with my passion of helping others while also having benefits. Working at a college became a dream when I was a student. I like the open nature of community colleges – all students have a chance to succeed.  And if I can be part of their success, I am happy,” she explained in a recent email.

Her interest in working for the college began with Women in Technology. She wrote. “I believe my desire to work at the college is a direct result of being involved in Women in Technology. During that time, I started helping students who were unsure of their path – and I realized I liked the role. So when the opportunity to work at A-B Tech became available, it was a natural fit.”

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Looking Forward to HI-TEC 2022 with Executive Committee Chair Mary Slowinski


High Impact Technology Exchange Conference - Educating America's Technical Workforce

The 2022 High Impact Technology Education Conference (HI-TEC) will be held on July 25-28 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Recently, we asked Mary Slowinski, PhD, Chair of the 2022 HI-TEC Executive Committee, to share what attendees can anticipate about this year’s conference. Dr. Slowinski is PI of Working Partners Project & Workshops at Bellevue College in Washington state.

ATE Central: What is HI-TEC? How does it support the goals of Advanced Technological Education?

Mary Slowinski: HI-TEC (the High Impact Technology Education Conference) has provided a national forum for addressing critical issues in advanced technological education since its inception in 2009. The conference grew out of the NSF-ATE community and is produced by a consortium of ATE centers and projects in collaboration with industry and education partners. The conference is a marvelous gathering of this community, with opportunities for all to present, share and learn from one another and to acquire new skill sets, new understandings of industry needs, and new engagement with questions of diversity and inclusion, as well as gaining practical insights into improving technician education overall.


Who typically attends HI-TEC?

HI-TEC attendees are educators, industry representatives, workforce development personnel, technician-students, and educational researchers who share an interest in improving technician education at community colleges. In terms of numbers, HI-TEC historically has attracted 500-600 attendees of these like-minded folk. However, when the conference pivoted to a virtual environment for the last two years in response to the pandemic, many people attended who might not have been able to do so otherwise. For example, in 2020 alone, HI-TEC had 1000 registrants with over 700 people attending all or part of the two-day virtual event! But virtual or in-person, HI-TEC definitely brings together practitioners, policy and program administrators, technological experts and researchers, and educators and their students to learn from each other and to collaborate on finding solutions to core issues facing advanced technological education today.

What kinds of sessions will be featured at this year’s conference?

The conference focus is on pedagogy, technology and innovation, program/pathway building for workforce development, and increasing workforce opportunity and diversity. As such, many of the sessions highlight one or more of these topics in application to one or more industry sectors. Remember also that all of this occurs in an environment in which participants are encouraged to share and discuss their knowledge and skills. As a result, the 87 interactive workshops and sessions (along with poster sessions, keynote addresses and a packed exhibit hall) allow participants to follow their specific interests and engage with their peers concerning technician education in general, but also to explore overarching related topics such as recruitment of diverse and underserved student populations, integration of research into the classroom, best practices for managing instruction during disruptive times, faculty development techniques, and developing robust education-industry partnerships. Truly, there is something for everyone who is interested in advanced technological education at this year's HI-TEC!

What has been challenging and/or exciting about returning to an in-person format?

Well, clearly, it is exciting to have our community coming back together in-person for the first time in almost three years. It will be genuinely nice to find ourselves face-to-face again and to reconnect in that "large event haphazard fashion," to run into each other during session breaks, to discover a shared interest with a new colleague, to grab a cup of coffee or a meal with old and new friends, and to find new and exciting ways to collaborate, to share and to learn from one another.

In terms of challenges, first would be the fact that the pandemic is not "over." The committee has had to keep "plan B" – or more like multiple "plan Bs" – on the table given the uncertainty of the times. Travel is still challenging, and costs continue to climb. There is also the fact that HI-TEC experienced a tremendous surge in participation when the conference was offered virtually; will we have those kinds of numbers – or even pre-COVID numbers – at the face-to-face conference this year? Time will tell, but we sure hope everyone who can come, does!

What are some “can’t miss” opportunities available to members of the ATE community at this year’s conference?

All of them! But seriously, we have two inspiring and innovative speakers who will provide keynote addresses, so I'd be sure to be in the audience for those. The exhibit hall is open throughout the conference and is a great spot for meeting, mixing, and learning about the tools and resources available to participants from ATE projects and centers and from vendors who are education-centric. Then there are the sessions and poster presentations… and the pre-conference meetings and tours… truly, I think that for each attendee, there will be numerous "can't miss" opportunities! And did I mention the caricature artist? Oh yes, don't miss getting your caricature drawn!!

Anything else you would like to share/highlight about HI-TEC 2022?

The organizing committee is really excited to be welcoming everyone back to our first face-to-face community gathering in almost three years. This is a very connected community, and we have missed seeing one another.  And I know I speak for all the committee members when I say we feel honored to be facilitating this particular gathering and very much looking forward to learning and celebrating each other in person once again. See you in Salt Lake City!

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ATE Is Part of Kapil Chalil Madathil’s Extraordinary Career Arc


As a graduate student Kapil Chalil Madathil, center, met ATE Co-Leaders V. Celeste Carter and Gerhard Salinger.

As a graduate student Kapil Chalil Madathil chatted with Gerhard Salinger and V. Celeste Carter after they shook hands during the session of the 2009 ATE Principal Investigators’ Conference where student participants were recognized.

“That was an exciting moment for me,” Chalil Madathil said recently explaining that he treasures the photo that captured his meeting with the two National Science Foundation program directors who then co-led the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. He considers the certificate his first student award.

He has since received other accolades including tenure and $20 million in funding for research utilizing virtual and augmented realities in technician education, healthcare, and other domains. His area of expertise is the application of human factors engineering to the design and operation of highly interactive human-computer systems. His work draws on qualitative and quantitative methodologies – including ethnography, contextual inquiry, and controlled behavioral experiments – to understand how humans perceive, make sense of, and interact with human-machine systems.

Chalil Madathil is now the Wilfred P. and Helen S. Tiencken Endowed Associate Professor of Civil and Industrial Engineering, director of technology for the Clemson University Center for Workforce Development, and co-principal investigator of  the Center for Aviation and Automotive Technological Education Using Virtual E-Schools (CA2VES). The principal investigator of CA2VES is Anand K. Gramopadhye, professor and dean of the College of Engineering, Computing, and Applied Sciences at Clemson in South Carolina.

It was Chalil Madathil’s graduate assistantship work at CA2VES that first connected him to the ATE program, which he says remains close to his heart: “NSF ATE paved the way for me to be a successful researcher.”

Chalil Madathil is the rare tenured university professor who began his career as a technician.

As a teenager in India he was interested in how things were made. “I was just wowed by the way technology was used primarily to build a lot of these things out there,” he said. After earning an associate degree from the Nettur Technical Training Foundation in Bangalore, India, he worked for a year and a half as an automotive tool and die designer. Finding the work monotonous and wanting to learn more science, he earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Vellore Institute of Technology in Vellore, India.  

Higher-level engineering work followed, but it did not come with the “freedom to make changes” that Chalil Madathil sought, so he followed the advice of senior-level professionals who recommended graduate school in the United States. He enrolled at Clemson in 2008.

In the early days of his graduate assistantship his technician’s perspective and systemic approach informed CAV2ES’s development of virtual reality simulations for instructing aviation technicians. “Because I’ve gone through a particular process, I understand what’s happening out there and what will make an impact,” he said. 

There are still times when that background as a technician comes in handy. He serves on workforce development committees that make recommendations to the National Academy of Engineering and Manufacturing USA Institutes. He’s found that in discussions of big problems and frameworks for addressing them, “You need someone to translate things and make those activities tangible in real-life situations.”

Chalil Madathil has been a principal investigator or co-investigator for more than 30 research grants and awards, generating more than $20 million in funding from NSF, the Office of Naval Research, Department of Defense, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, industry, and other federal and state agencies. He is the associate editor-in-chief of International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics  and has published 45 peer-reviewed journal papers, three book chapters, and 63 conference papers in several high-impact venues.

Practicality and the desire to make educational content are woven into his research on how humans and machines interact, and how to capitalize on the capabilities of each. The human-in-the-loop studies he and his team create are often reconfigured to teach things like safety.

“All these things go back to the CA2VES funding that we initially had,” he said.

“It’s just not creating these kinds of simulations primarily for research purposes; we try to have a practical application for that simulation as such,” he said, acknowledging this approach appeals to funders too.

So, Chalil Madathil’s studies utilizing virtual reality range from healthcare to cybersecurity to military service personnel training. For example, he and his team of graduate students, instructional designers, and virtual reality developers have investigated how people use data to make healthcare decisions, how telemedicine technologies and other equipment can be used in ambulances to connect emergency medical technicians with specialists to improve patient outcomes, and how the “contagion effect” of dangerous challenges on social media can be minimized.

Many of the 140 simulations he has created over the years for ATE and other programs have been incorporated into, a digital resource that Chalil Madathil says has been used by 10,000 students from around the country. 

“I feel that I’m making a small dent. Providing these resources to a wider set of students is simply amazing,” he said. EducateWorkforce’s arrangement of video lectures, virtual reality simulations, open texts, and interactive assessments grew out of the lessons the team learned through feedback to its CA2VES offerings, which were initially stand-alone virtual reality simulations.

And ATE continues to be a source of funding for new work.

Chalil Madathil serves on the national visiting committee of National Center for Autonomous Technologies (NCAT) and his team created the M8-R Sim, the virtual reality simulation of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that MATE Inspiration for Innovation (MATE II) utilized as part of its ROV competition in 2021. MATE II is a non-profit that grew from the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center, which was an ATE center for 23 years; MATE II is an NCAT partner.  

During 2021 Chalil Madathil also became the principal investigator of the ATE research project Exploring the Strategies Used by Two-year Colleges to Support Academic Continuity in STEM Education During the COVID-19 Crisis.

That project utilizes a resilience engineering framework to examine how educational institutions mitigated instructional challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Because this is not going to be the last pandemic, we need to prepare ourselves for the future,” he said.

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AccessATE Case Studies: Highlighting the Work of Three ATE Projects and Centers


A student and instructor discuss a textbook in a computer lab

AccessATE creates resources and materials designed to help support the ATE community as they work to make their deliverables and activities more accessible.  The project has a variety of information and events highlighted on their website including three unique case studies that focus on applying the principles of accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The case studies highlight ATE projects that collaborated with the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), a nonprofit education research and development organization. CAST’s specialty is expanding learning opportunities for all through Universal Design for Learning. For those who are not familiar with UDL, it is a framework developed to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all disciplines. It focuses on the why, what, and how brains learn. 

The first case study addresses accessibility in a robotics course. Students from Borough of Manhattan Community College worked together to create a more accessible robotics curriculum, including adding alternative descriptive text for each image. The students went through cycles of receiving feedback, revising the curriculum, and then asking clarifying questions. This case study includes a video of the project PI, Dr. Azhar, explaining the goals of the curriculum and his experience working with CAST to revise the lesson plans in the robotics course.


The Micro Nano Technology Education Center (MNT-EC) case study aims to create accessible webinar presentations. The MNT-EC went through cycles of feedback with CAST on the accessibility of their webinars. CAST staff watched each webinar and gave the hosts feedback on changing areas that would increase accessibility. One student from the MNT-EC found the feedback cycle helpful saying, “The more accessible you make your materials, the greater the reach of your materials, the greater the impact you can make with them.” Other highlights of this case study include the interview protocol for webinar feedback. 

Biofab Explorer: Invent Your Future was created by Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) and CAST. This career guidance tool is an open-source resource that allows students to explore the potential impacts of biofabrication technology on chronic diseases. It also shows individual patient experiences with medical treatments made possible by bioprinted tissues. A unique part of this case study is how the Biofab Explorer tool was created. Career and technical education students, educators, and guidance counselors co-designed the Biofab Explorer, which helped make the tool more accessible. This case study also includes a short video on the uses of the Biofab tool. 

The AccessATE project is led by Internet Scout Research Group, home to ATE Central, in collaboration with four partners who bring together a variety of content expertise to support the community.  Besides CAST (discussed in the post above) the other AccessATE partners include the National Center for Accessible Media, DeafTEC,  and the Human Engineering Research Laboratories. The National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) is a Boston-based research and development facility and part of WGBH, providing support for people with disabilities at home, school, and in their communities. The Center advocates for closed television captioning and Descriptive Video Service for the blind and visually impaired. 

DeafTEC (Technical Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students) is an NSF ATE Resource Center intending to increase the number of deaf or hard-of-hearing technicians in the workforce. DeafTEC also serves as a resource for high schools and community colleges. 

Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) based at the University of Pittsburgh continuously improves the mobility and function of people with disabilities through a variety of projects and programs.

More case studies are coming soon. Meanwhile, read about the case studies, explore tip sheets, and pursue more resources on AccessATE’s website.

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