Advanced Technological Education · May 2012

Welcome to the ATE Central Connection! Published the first Monday of each month, the ATE Central Connection is meant to disseminate information to and about ATE centers and projects, providing you with up-to-date ATE news, events, reminders, as well as highlighting new centers, projects, and resources. In addition, we will also highlight an educational topic with complementary resources found within ATE Central to help illustrate how ATE resources can be used in the classroom.

We want the ATE Central Connection to be a valuable tool; please e-mail with any suggestions about how to make the ATE Central Connection more useful for you or to suggest any information you would like to see in an upcoming issue.

Upcoming Events

May 7-9 Micro Nano Technology Conference 2012 State College, PA
May 8-10 MFG4: Solutions in Surprising Places 2012 Hartford, CT
May 11 Bridge to Technology Online
May 12 Hands-on Introduction to Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Albuquerque, NM
May 14-18 Pacific Region Learning Summit 2012 Pearl City, HI
May 16 How Well are we Serving our Female Students in STEM? Online
May 17 Managing Group Dynamics Online
May 18 VMware vSphere Install, Configure, Manage (ICM) V5.0 Paducah, KY
May 21 iPhone/iPad Applications Development using iOS version 5 for Teachers Madison, WI
May 21 Linux Server for Teachers Madison, WI
May 21-24 Inspecting 'Wicked Problems' with Geospatial Goggles Atlanta, GA
May 24 How Safe is Nanotechnology in Our Lives? Online
May 24-25 Pathways to Prosperity: Innovation for the 21st Century Workforce Boston, MA
May 29 Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL): 1-Day Workshop San Francisco, CA
June 1-2 Integrating Innovation and Entrepreneurship Experiences into Non-Business Courses New York, NY
June 1-3 The Teaching Professor Conference Washington, DC
June 2-10 2012 Seattle Science Festival Seattle, WA
June 4 Android Application Development for Teachers Madison, WI
June 4 Center for System Security and Information Assurance (CSSIA): VMware Certified Professional on vSphere 5 for Teachers Madison, WI
June 4 Network Security Design CISSP Gainesville, FL
June 4-6 Digital Sketchbooking Rochester, NY
June 4-8 14th Annual Bio-Link Summer Fellows Forum Berkeley, CA

For more events, please visit the ATE Central Events page or, if you have any upcoming events that you would like posted on ATE Central or in the ATE Central Connection, please send them to

To add a continuously-updated list of ATE and STEM education events to your web site, use the ATE Event Widget.

Featured ATE Resources

Here is a sample of the valuable resources in ATE Central that focus on Problem-Based Learning:

From NetWorks:

Problem-Based Learning Clearinghouse

The Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Clearinghouse offers collection of problems and articles to assist educators in using problem-based learning. Problem-based learning is an instructional method that challenges students to "learn to learn," working cooperatively in groups to seek solutions to real world problems. Problems and articles in this clearinghouse are peer reviewed by PBL experts in the disciplinary content areas. Teaching notes and supplemental materials accompany each problem, providing insights and innovative, classroom-tested strategies. Users may search by keyword or browse the collection, and may also add resources to a collection of favorites for future reference. Access to the Clearinghouse collection is limited to educators who register via an online application, but is free and carries no obligation.

From Making Learning Real with Problem-Based Case Learning:

The Problem-Based Learning Cycle At-a-Glance

Research findings present instructors with a conundrum: because of the highly structured, instructor-focused nature of traditional learning environments, students may fail to acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required in today's workforce. On the other hand, because of the lack of structure in non-traditional, student-focused learning environments, students may fail to acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes assessed in most educational settings. The Problem-Based Learning Cycle (PBCL) is designed to resolve this conflict by describing a nine-stage process through which instructors, students, and business partners reap the benefits of PBL. Each stage is accompanied by a description of student, instructor, and business partner roles as well as a short video. This resource will be especially useful to instructors who want to employ innovative pedagogy without losing out on important content and understandings.

From the National Center For Manufacturing Education:

How About a Quick One?

This article discusses the advantages of active teaching and learning methods vs. chalk and talk traditional teaching with particular relevance for technical courses. Though it is short, it is full of examples that instructors will be able to use and expand upon. In addition, it suggests formats and strategies for small-group in-class exercises and producing the one-minute paper.

Social Media & Outreach

You've probably heard that social media can be a powerful outreach and dissemination tool. You might even be considering incorporating social media into your project or center's outreach efforts. But with the overwhelming amount of information out there — how often to post, what to post, how to find followers — where do you start? How do you find resources that guide ATE social media use, rather than general resources that may not cover the information you need?

Here at ATE Central, we're dedicated to providing you with information you can use, so you can deploy your time and resources in the way that best supports your mission. To that end, we've tracked down projects and centers that are using social media and created an ATE Social Media Directory. Clicking on the social media links in this directory will connect you to some of the great examples set by other projects and centers. For those of you already involved in social media, the directory offers information about what other projects and centers are doing. It may even inspire you to start your own social media campaign!

If you want to know more about social media in an ATE-specific context, check out the Social Media section of ATE Central's Outreach Kit. Here you will find information on some of the post popular social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google+), along with some pros, cons, and best practices for each. This section also covers blogging basics and options to analyze and track your social media impact.

Finally, if you've set up some form of social media for your project or center, let us know. We'll add you to the directory so you can go on to inspire future generations of ATE projects and centers.

Community Connection

Tiny Technology: Big Implications for ATE

If asked to describe a sheet of paper, you would probably estimate its length and width, but would you even begin to think about its thickness? Probably not — unless you're a nanotechnician. At the nanoscale, which ranges from about 1 to 100 nanometers, that sheet of paper towers at about 100,000 nanometers.

According to the National Nanotechnology Initiative, nanoscience is the "study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering." Nanotechnology is behind many strides forward in information technology, energy, manufacturing, and other sectors relevant to the ATE community. In fact, you're probably the beneficiary of nanotechnology whether at work or play: it's used a variety of everyday products from clear sunscreen to cosmetics to scratch-resistant coatings.

In addition to being widely useful, nanotechnology is developing rapidly. Just this past month, a team of scientists from the University of Maryland Department of Materials Science and Engineering discovered that when electric current is run through carbon nanotubes, the tubes stay cool while nearby objects heat up. According to an article from, "understanding this completely unexpected new phenomenon could lead to new ways of building computer processors that can run at higher speeds without overheating." In other breaking nano news, arrays of carbon nanotubes could improve and cut the cost of dye-sensitized solar cells, or work like sponges to absorb oil spilled in water. That's three new potential uses for just one branch of nanotechnology in one month.

These new and developing uses for nanotechnology mean an expanding demand for well-trained technicians. ATE is stepping up to meet this need, with 25 current projects and centers in the Micro and Nanotechnologies area. Dr. Beverly Clark, III, Director of the Nanotechnology Education project at Danville Community College, says that "some of the rewards of educating technicians are seeing individuals transition into a sustainable job market and the positive affect that it has on their lives. It's also rewarding seeing the learning process that occurs for many students transitioning from another discipline." On the other side of the country, Seattle's Hub for Industry-driven Nanotechnology Education (SHINE) an ATE project based at North Seattle Community College, "acts as a regional hub to promote awareness of the principles of nanoscience among the public, middle and high school students, and STEM educators, while expanding the diversity and number of trained nanotechnicians entering the local workforce and/or transferring to pursue Nanotechnology at four-year institutions."

Another ATE project explores the social implications of nanotechnology. Dr. David Guston, Director of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society, describes emerging technologies as embodying high degrees of uncertainty, involving potentially enormous stakes in terms of jobs, economic development, and technology, and exhibiting what he calls "a politics of novelty — a debate over whether emerging technologies are truly novel and whether their debated novelty is sufficient for specific regulatory or other actions." This is where imagination comes in handy: "The scenario development process — a formal way of imagining in an interdisciplinary and collaborative setting what plausible futures might exist — can help us conceive of the how the choices we make now can influence the variety of outcomes we imagine," Guston says.

Still other projects and centers develop innovative pedagogy based on processing, nanostructure, properties, and applications, or support innovation and growth in the field in a range of ways.

By training the newest generation of technicians, developing new curricula and habits of mind, and making deep community connections, the ATE community is playing a central role in the emergence of this technology.

Visit ATE Central for more information on ATE projects and centers that focus on nanotechnology.

Did you know?

In 2010, ATE projects and centers educated more than 70,750 students at more than 1,250 educational institutions across the United States.

News & Reminders

Follow ATE Central on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all things new at ATE Central and in the ATE Community as well as in the world of STEM Education

Want to know which ATE Projects and Centers and ATE partners and collaborators are using Social Media? Check out our ATE Social Media Directory and follow them too!

ATE Central has an Outreach Kit to help with Your Project or Center's Dissemination and Outreach Plan

Are you interested in designing a more effective dissemination and marketing plan for your project or center? If so, then check out ATE Central's Outreach Kit at This online toolkit includes a Planning Guide to show you, step by step, how to build and execute a realistic and achievable outreach plan. Learn new and innovative ways to reach your audience and connect with the ATE community and beyond with the Social Media Guide. Use the Communications Guide to craft your project or center's message, discover new dissemination paths, and learn to build your own media kit. In addition, you will find a Resources section which will direct you to some best practices within NSF and ATE, other free and low-cost outreach tools, further helpful links, and some suggested reading. If you're ready to show Broader Impacts and ensure your NSF mission, then get started with the ATE Outreach Kit.

Digitally Enhancing America's Community Colleges: Strategic Opportunities for Computing Education

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) recently released a report that addresses a fundamental question about community colleges: why are so many of them unable to successfully secure federal funding for computing programs? The report, Digitally Enhancing America's Community Colleges, offers recommendations designed to spur new grant proposals, inventive initiatives, and dynamic partnerships that infuse innovation into community college computing courses and programs. The full 24-page report is available online here: NSF's release about the summit, ACM, and the report is available here: Printed copies of the report along with a strategic planning template are available for free via an online request form at

Can CWIS Software Help Support Your Project Goals?

CWIS is open source software, created with NSF funding, that can help your project or center showcase resources online. It's free and very easy to use. We'd be happy to provide you with more information about CWIS and give you a quick tour of its features — please e-mail to get started!

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