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Developing UDL Classroom Resources

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Many within the ATE Community are knowledgeable about the importance of creating accessible classroom documents, but even the most experienced among us can benefit from a few practical tips. Those in search of guidance on developing Universal Design for Learning (UDL)-aligned materials may benefit from the resources assembled by the NSF-funded AccessATE project and the National AEM Center at CAST, an AccessATE project partner.

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MVCC Prepares Students for Careers Emerging with Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems

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After operating “bad guy” drones during a training exercise at the New York State Emergency Preparedness Center, Mohawk Valley Community College students and faculty met with law enforcement officers in fall 2018. Student Annie Born, in red coat in left photo, repairs a small, flight-trainer drone in the right photo.

“There’s a lot of cool stuff going on,” is Tim Thomas’s apt summary of the numerous ways that Mohawk Valley Community College’s (MVCC) overlapping ATE grants address the workforce needs emerging with advances in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), which are also known as drones.

For the college’s $557,487 ATE grant (#1800296) to develop five micro-credentials, Thomas, associate dean for Physical Sciences, Engineering, & Applied Technologies, and Bill Judycki, professor of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), followed industry advisors’ guidance to certify short sequences of courses in cybersecurity, GIS, and data analysis, and to strengthen its AAS degree curriculum.

“Micro-credentials are the sweet spot of up-skilling the incumbent workforce,” Thomas said. They’re also a promising vehicle for bringing high school students into the degree program that prepares technicians to pilot, manufacture, program, and repair RPAS as well as analyze the multitude of data the unmanned aircraft gather during flights. A $300,000 Empire State Development Grant the college received in 2015 laid the groundwork for the RPAS degree.

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I AM ATE Interview with Tynisha Ferguson

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ATE Central is pleased to announce a new feature in both the ATE Impacts blog and the ATE Central Connection (our monthly newsletter) called "I Am ATE," 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: Tynisha S. Ferguson, MA
Title: Communication & Technology Specialist    
Institution: Florence-Darlington Technical College
Center name: SCATE Center/Mentor-Connect
URL: https://www.scate.org and http://www.mentor-connect.org


ATE Central: How did you become involved with ATE?

Ferguson: After I completed my service as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), I realized I wanted to continue a career in public service. I wanted to work within the grant world and work within a program that would give me national exposure to various industries, initiatives, and projects. I am also extremely good at utilizing technology and had previous experience covering STEM-related topics, and from the time I was in high school have loved all things communications. Because of my background and interests, I felt inclined to apply for the Communication & Technology Specialist position at the South Carolina Advanced Technological Education (SCATE) Center of Excellence. Prior to this, I had no knowledge of the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program or the National Science Foundation (NSF), but after only a few months, I was really impressed by how much the ATE program has essentially impacted almost every industry with its research projects.


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

Ferguson: I work for SCATE Center, located on the campus of Florence-Darlington Technical College in the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology facility in Florence, SC. My center has various initiatives that have been implemented and sustained, such as the Mentor-Connect, Teaching Technicians, and Build Your Own (BYO) Video initiatives. Each initiative has their own goals. However, the main goal of the SCATE Center is to expand excellence in technician education locally, regionally, and nationally by working alongside students, educators, and industry leaders to promote quality education that prepares workforce-ready technicians in advanced technologies that drive the American economy.

Mentor-Connect is our biggest initiative and our overall goal is to offer transformational professional development experiences for two-year college STEM faculty. Mentor-Connect offers one-on-one STEM faculty team mentoring, curated technical resources, and instruction to help two-year college faculty prepare competitive proposals to the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) program. Mentor-Connect recently begin offering Second Chance Mentoring and Moving up Mentoring along with the New-to-ATE mentoring for STEM Faculty. To learn more about the SCATE Center and its initiatives, click here.

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Renewable Energy Technician Program Utilizes Unique Campus Resources

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Florida Keys Community College student Cody Moore uses a 3-D printer as he helps with prototype development at Hydrokinetic Energy Corp. The paid internship at the company in spring 2019 is the capstone experience of his Engineering Technology-Renewable Energy Technician degree.

When Patrick H. Rice looks out his office window at the pristine waters of the Florida Keys, lapping at the edge of Florida Keys Community College and surrounding the island campus, he sees more than a fabulous view: he envisions an open-air, controlled lab for students to conduct authentic research on renewable energy.  

“We are surrounded by hydrokinetic power. We’ve got plenty of wind—sometimes way more than we want—and we’re the sunshine state. So it just makes sense to have a renewable energy program down here. The whole goal is to build the program, and, at the same time, have students help us build the program and build those industries,” Rice says. He is the college’s Chief Science & Research Officer and principal investigator of its Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant (Award # 1601440).

Three of the 11 students in the Engineering Technology-Renewable Energy Technician program, which Rice started with ATE grant support, are in the process of completing capstone internship experiences.

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From the Archive: Industry Partnerships in the ATE Community

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Industry partnerships play a vital role in the way that many ATE projects and centers plan for, design, and implement their various programs, projects, research, and more. Industry partners might act in an advisory role; assist with curriculum or professional development; offer student opportunities for growth and innovation; support instruction, program costs, or research; or offer workplace-based learning opportunities. In this month’s From the Archive blog post, we look at resources, created by ATE project and centers like yours, that help describe a variety of industry partnerships models and explore how one might develop or sustain such a partnership.

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ATE Central Seeks Projects to Feature in Next Edition of ATE Impacts Book

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The BigBadTech YouTube channel logo pops up whenever Jim Pytel mentions a previous lecture during a video. “It helps remind students the channel serves as a path through the forest. If they ever wander too far off the path the previous lectures will hopefully get them back on track,” he explained.

As the team at ATE Central ramps up to create the ATE Impacts 2020-2021 publication, it is asking the ATE community for nominations of projects with promising outcomes or interesting activities to spotlight.

Nominate your project or someone else’s at https://www.research.net/r/ProjNom.

The book is a great opportunity to increase awareness of the innovations developed by principal investigators of Advanced Technological Education (ATE) projects and centers and to promote technician education in general.

In addition to informing people who read the book, the dynamic photos and compelling data that projects and centers have provided for previous editions have often been re-purposed for other technician-education outreach.

The American Association of Community Colleges, a partner on the ATE Collaborative Outreach and Engagement (ACOE) project that includes the ATE Impacts book and blog, has used ATE Impact photos in its digital and print publications, website, and ATE Principal Investigators’ Conference displays. The ACOE project has displayed large versions of ATE Impact photos at education and industry conventions. The National Science Foundation, which funds the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program and the ATE Impacts book and blog, has reprinted ATE Impact photos too.

Jim Pytel, principal investigator of the Flipped Classroom Resources for Electrical Engineering Technicians project, reports that being one of the 28 projects featured in ATE Impacts 2018-2019: 25 Year of Advancing Technological Education may have contributed to more people accessing his BigBadTech videos. From October 2018 to March 2019 the project’s YouTube channel with 600 instructional videos gained 5,000 subscribers for a total of 27,600 people.

“I’ve got no direct evidence tying the increase in interest to the ATE Impact book, however, both the book and the ATE Principal Investigators’ Conference are a great way of disseminating this work among my peers,” Pytel wrote in an email.

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Soft skills prove to be a highly desirable trait among new graduates

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This recent article by the Community College Journal reveals that employers are always interested in new graduates’ technical skills but, according to a survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), new graduates’ problem solving skills, abilities to work in a team, and communication skills are among the top attributes employers are looking for.

John Kinney, head of claims at The Hartford Insurance, said that one of the most dramatic shifts over the last ten years has been the rise in customer expectations. “Not only must our claims employees satisfy the technical aspects of the job, but they also have to serve as the face of our company in people’s time of need,” Kinney says. “How do we provide a level of service to our customers that will encourage them to promote our brand to their friends and family? You need somebody who is really good at building rapport.”

This shift is true in a variety of different trades and industries, not just insurance and sales. Similar sentiments are echoed by Stan Sherrill, Vice President of utility company Duke Energy. Duke recently transitioned their electrical grid from an analog to a digital infrastructure and needs line workers that not only possess the technical skills to do the job, but have good problem solving and communication skills as well. "One of the main roles of a line worker is to troubleshoot potential issues with a customer," says Sherrill. "They must be able to assess the situation, identify and diagnose the issue, and find solutions to the customer’s concern. This process takes independent problem solving and critical thinking skills to be successful."

Companies, including Duke Energy and The Hartford, are currently working closely with community colleges to develop curricula that reflects their rapidly changing industries and meet evolving needs. While addressing the technical aspects of their fields and what information their employees need to know is easy enough, teaching and assessing these soft skills is more challenging.

Ideas, such as micro-credentialing or awarding badges, are currently being explored at community colleges in order to help employers identify candidates who have the soft skills they’re looking for. The most widely applied method for helping students grow their soft skills is through experiential learning opportunities, like apprenticeships and internships. Lincoln Electric, a Cleveland-based manufacturer of welding products and equipment, frequently offers apprenticeships in trades such as welding, machining, and industrial maintenance and they’ve found this method works well for training potential new employees to replace those who are retiring and  to fill new roles. Geoff Lepnivicius, Senior Manager of workforce development at Lincoln Electric, says apprenticeships often lead to find those potential new employees. "We’re finding that it suits multiple purposes to have students come into our environment, work, and get some real experience," Lipnevicius says. "It gives both parties an opportunity to interview each other and determine whether it’s a good fit."

To learn more about what partnerships and opportunities are being explored in community colleges in the US, in addition to the survey results, read the article in full on the Community College Journal’s website.

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Teaching & Scientific Research Experiences Are Facets of Mt. SAC STEM Teacher Preparation Program

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STEM TP2 student Jonah Veliz, as part of his UC Irvine Introduction to Teaching Math and Science course, leads a math lesson for fifth graders at Workman Avenue Elementary School in West Covina, CA.

As Silvia Torrico explains it, she and her sister Evelyn were always strong math students so they enrolled at Mount San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) intending to become engineers. However, “there was just something about it that wasn’t working for us,” she said.

They read a flyer about the college's teacher preparation program and then went to an information session where they heard about the Mt. SAC STEM Teacher Preparation Program (STEM TP2). This Advanced Technological Education (ATE) project’s strategies for helping community college students become STEM teachers include hands-on teaching opportunities, two University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) courses, and authentic STEM research projects. 

At a subsequent meeting where they learned more about STEM TP2 from Iraj B. Nejad and Charles G. Newman, principal investigator and co-principal investigator respectively, Silvia Torrico said there was a pivotal moment when the professors talked about teaching as a way to change the future.

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From the Archive: Recruiting Female Students to STEM Fields

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Diversity and inclusivity are important goals of the ATE program; projects and centers--along with STEM educators, industry, and other community partners--work diligently to ensure the full participation of women, persons with disabilities, Veterans, underrepresented minorities, and others, as these groups pursue STEM education, workforce development training, and employment in STEM fields.

In this month’s From the Archive blog post, we highlight the work of three ATE projects and centers that are addressing the challenge of engaging female students in STEM disciplines. The resources below include one college’s plan to increase enrollment and retention of women in their engineering program, a best practices guide for recruiting and retaining girls, as well as a few case studies about successful strategies and practices. For additional resources about women in STEM, check out the ATE Central Resource Portal.

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Seethal Meda’s Scientific Poster Says So Much

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Seethal Meda, a graduate of the biotechnology certificate program at Montgomery County Community College, points to test results confirming deletion of the frataxin gene during a process she conducted for her research internship.

Seethal Meda’s poster summarizing the discoveries she made during a biotech internship illustrate both her biotechnology skills and the power of synergy within the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program.

The poster she presented during the student showcase at the 2018 ATE Principal Investigators’ Conference featured dazzling photos of differentiated cells illuminated with immunofluorescence as they responded to the “knock-out gene” that a start-up company agreed to have Meda investigate. Her slides and the text descriptions of procedures she executed in the lab at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, provide prospective employers with evidence of her advanced biotechnology skills.

The complex laboratory tasks that she carried out and described in the poster’s text can be traced back to ATE investments in curriculum and faculty development. And, now the standard operating procedures that Meda developed to conduct her research project are part of one of the modules accessible via the Instructor’s Portal that the Northeast Biomanufacturing Center and Collaborative (NBC2) offers as a free resource for high school and college educators.

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