ATE Impacts

From the Archive: Contextualized Math for College Students


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


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


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


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 

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

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2023 ATE PI Conference: Celebrating 30 Years of Advancing Technological Education


A graphic banner for the 2023 PI conference

The 2023 ATE Principal Investigators’ Conference, commemorating 30 years of advancing technological education, is coming up on October 25-27 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C!

Over 850 NSF ATE grantees and project partners from various educational sectors will convene to address critical issues in advanced technological education, spanning disciplines like information technology, engineering technology, and biotechnology. This year, the conference will introduce an extended agenda, including pre-conference workshops and affinity group meetings, along with opportunities for Congressional advocacy. 

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EdQuantum PI Hopes for Wide Use of 3 Quantum Technician Courses


An Indian River State College student demonstrates a quantum eraser at a community event.

As he develops three quantum technology courses—that he thinks will be the first formal curriculum for quantum workforce technicians—Mo Hasanovic is recruiting students and encouraging community colleges to “jump on the train much earlier” than they have previously with emerging technologies and add quantum technology programs as soon as possible.

Hasanovic is associate professor and chair of the Electrical Engineering Technology Department at Indian River State College (Florida) and principal investigator of EdQuantum, an ATE project.

The general public may not be aware of it, but advances in quantum computing, quantum networking, and quantum sensing have the potential for enormous, disruptive effects that are making attainment of quantum supremacy a strategic priority for the U.S. government.

“It’s almost like a patriotic duty to move the technology forward as an entire nation so we can continue to be a global leader in democracy in these technologies,” Hasanovic said.

The first quantum revolution began in the twentieth century and led to the development of lasers, LEDs, MRIs, solar cells, and Lidar.  Quantum Revolution 2.0, as Hasanovic refers to the commercialization of quantum research-enabled products, is expected in the next five to 10 years. There are predictions that the immense processing power of new quantum computers could put all passwords at risk while advances in quantum networking could make internet communications 100% secure.

Hasanovic said there are quantum sensing devices under development that will be so sensitive they can measure gravitational force underground, which will remotely differentiate between different minerals.

“The quantum is important,” he says emphatically.

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Four Newly Funded Projects


The logo for the National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) annually funds approximately 12,000 new awards, with an average funding duration of three years. Each year some of those new awards are supported by the ATE Program, which focuses on improving and expanding educational programs for skilled workers in high-tech STEM fields. ATE grantees concentrate on a range of fields, including advanced manufacturing, agriculture and environment, bio and chemical, information and security, and micro and nanotechnologies and are based primarily at two-year institutions across the nation. This year we celebrate our new grantees by highlighting four newly funded projects from the 2023 funding cycle. 

Integrating Data Science and Hands-on Experience into the Community College Biotechnology Classroom with Applications to Antibody Engineering

This project aims to integrate antibody engineering into Kapi'olani Community College's biotechnology curriculum, focusing on practical skills for students to enter the biotechnology workforce. With a particular emphasis on data science and artificial intelligence, the project seeks to enhance the undergraduate experience and showcase the importance of these disciplines in biotechnology and biomanufacturing. By introducing antibody design, production, and characterization using the Design-Build-Test approach, the project will expand the capabilities of the Monoclonal Antibody Service Facility and Training Center (MASFTC). The project's goals include creating educational modules for hands-on learning, developing data science components with a web-based interface, and establishing a database to document student and faculty activities within the KCC-Antibody Center of Excellence (KCC-ACE), ultimately contributing to workforce development, economic diversification, and increased diversity in STEM fields in Hawaii and beyond.

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Enrollment Growth from Mechatronics Grant Leads to Creative Approach to Add Faculty


Adjunct Instructor Brad Fitzgerald demonstrates concepts he taught in class while students tour Fleet Laboratories.

Central Virginia Community College Assistant Professor Marcella Gale is working with manufacturing and telecommunications companies to ease people with industry knowledge into teaching mechatronics at the college in Lynchburg, Virginia.

During their first semesters teaching, the adjunct instructors from industry contribute to the course content and share teaching and administrative tasks with a full-time instructor. This “on-boarding” arrangement allows the adjuncts’ expertise to shine with students as they learn college classroom management from a full-time faculty member.

This experiment at the core of Gale’s Manufacturing, Adjuncts, Partnerships, and Students (MAPS) project began in summer 2022, and by May 2023 five people with manufacturing experience had become newly minted adjunct instructors.

Gale describes the co-teaching model as “really working out great,” and adds that it’s happening because industry has “come along side us as a true partner.”

CVCC needs additional instructors because of the high demand for graduates from the mechatronics program that Gale’s first ATE grant improved with an enhanced focus on programmable logic controllers (PLCs).  That project, Improving Mechatronics Technician Training for the Advanced Manufacturing Industry, has resulted in braided manufacturing and information technology (IT) courses that count toward multiple stackable certificates and two associate degrees. Both programs prepare students for Rockwell Automation industry certification exams as well.

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I AM ATE: Sarah Belknap


A headshot of mathematics instructor Sarah Belknap

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: Sarah Belknap     
Title: Professor of Mathematics     
Institution: Westchester Community College 
Project/Center Name: HSI ATE Hub 2: Professional Development for Culturally Responsive Technician Education

Tell us about the goals of your project or center.

This faculty development project is guiding educators in translating and applying theory and research on culturally responsive education to implement effective practices that are guided by knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes to improve the diversity of the STEM technical workforce. Cultural responsiveness validates, affirms and acknowledges students’ diverse heritages.

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Project Builds Data Science Skills among Queensborough Community College Students & Faculty


Nine students who participated in the 2022 UCTDDAS boot camp with Yildirim, standing far left, and Danisman, far right.

The Using Cloud Technologies to Develop the Data Analysis Skills of Community College Students (UCTDDAS) project at Queensborough Community College (QCC) develops community college students’ data science/analysis and cloud computing skills to help them begin careers in finance, health care, or other high-tech fields.

During two joint interviews this spring via Zoom, Principal Investigator Monica Trujillo and Maria Mercedes Franco, key personnel for the Advanced Technological Education project, summarized what they and their colleagues—Esma Yildirim, co-principal investigator, and Yusuf Danisman, key personnel for the project—learned from the first cohort of 16 students. Trujillo is a professor in QCC’s Biological Sciences and Geology Department. Franco is a professor in QCC’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Sciences. Yildirim and Danisman are assistant professors in QCC’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Sciences.

The four QCC faculty members hope the information they learn through the project will provide ground work for starting an associate degree program in data science.

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