Establishing an Environmental and Natural Resources Technology Center
Environmental Technologies (ET) is a career field that applies math, science, technology, economics, engineering, law and communication to manage, protect and sustain natural resources and to ensure human health and safety. Environmental technicians are a part of homeland security in the protection of our country's air, water and soil and an important part of the major environmental issues of global warming and water pollution. ET will also reshape pedagogy and hands-on delivery of learning in the post-COVID new normal, as well as become part of the solution for health and safety issues in the workplace following any other infectious disease pandemic. ET jobs cannot be outsourced and survive economic downturn. Major industries that employ environmental technicians include engineering services, local and state government, consulting services, public health agencies, manufacturing and remediation services, and there are immediate needs for Environmental technicians across all of these sectors. The Environmental and Natural Resources Technology Center will synthesize the cross-disciplinary efforts of ET-related sectors and collaborate with industries, government and public agencies, professional organizations, 2- and 4-year colleges, and high schools to define and disseminate the critical knowledge and skills required to provide leadership in ET education and support the environmental advanced technology industry.
To achieve this mission, the Center will pursue several objectives. First is to create a Leadership Network to support the development and sharing of best practices in ET workforce development. Second is to establish collaborations between existing and new ATE projects in ET fields to mentor prospective PIs and broaden the impact of ATE. Third is to provide models and leadership for collaborations among secondary, 2- and 4-year institutions, business and industry, economic development agencies and government. Fourth is to promote ET careers while also addressing the need to educate highly skilled technicians and to provide faculty professional development. Fifth is to develop institutionalization of Center functions to sustain activities in the post-award period. The Center will actively reach out to all learners, including women, those from minorities who are underrepresented in their participation in STEM, those facing economically challenging circumstances, first generation students, and those from Tribal and/or rural backgrounds. The Center's planned deliverables include DACUM charts with occupational competencies; a Defining ET Report; a Best Practices Guide for Recruiting, Retaining, and Completing Students in ET Fields targeting URM, female, military, and indigenous students; a set of interactive career websites; and AVR learning modules.