ATE Impacts

Select Resources for Outreach 

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An image of a person in an orange sweater using a computer

Many ATE community members are aware of the importance of disseminating information and findings, but how can you effectively reach your audience when promoting your project or center’s work? Here are four new outreach tools that you could incorporate into your existing outreach program.

See where your website shines

We access hundreds of websites a day but usually only briefly. According to Klipfolio Metrics, the average time on a website is just 52 seconds. Your website has less than a minute to make an impact. Knowing this, Hotjar is a free online tool that creates a heatmap of your site. It shows where most users linger or scroll on. Users of Hotjar can see what is of most interest to website visitors, what buttons they click, and also what they ignore. Using Hotjar allows you to spot problem areas and areas working well. 

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ATE PI Chris Delahanty Joins NSF as Rotator

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Bucks County Community College Professor Christine Delahanty begins work in January as a temporary NSF program officer.

Christine Delahanty, a Bucks County Community College (Pennsylvania) physics, engineering, and engineering technology professor, is excited to begin work on January 16 at the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a temporary program director, also known as a rotator.  

“I’m very willing, and happy to participate and serve my duty as long as they need me,” Delahanty said of her initial one-year contract with NSF and leave of absence from Bucks. NSF rotators’ terms may be extended for up to four years.

Delahanty led two NSF Advanced Technological Education grant-funded projects at Bucks. “I love competition. I love to write. I found this to be a great opportunity for me,” Delahanty said of being an ATE principal investigator. Her other NSF-funded activities include coaching  student teams that qualified for the final rounds of the Community College Innovation Challenge in 2016 and 2017 and serving as a Mentor-Connect Mentor Fellow in 2022.

She describes each as a positive learning experience. Her sunny perspective and outgoing personality may be surpassed only by her tenacity.

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The Importance of Digital Archiving

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An image from the ATE Impacts book, from COMPASS, an instructor and student discuss code on a computer

Needing an archiving refresh? Check out the information on our website about ATE Central's Archiving Service!

Whether you’re just getting started with ATE, or you’ve been part of the community for a while, the information provided will help guide your archiving efforts. As you may know, archiving with ATE Central is an NSF requirement for grantees but also supports sustainability, ensuring your project or center’s deliverables are available beyond the life of your ATE funding.

During a discussion with Kendra Bouda, ATE Central's Metadata and Information Specialist, we asked her a series of five questions about archiving.  The answers provide an overview of the archiving service, and a general outline of how the process works.

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Success of Industry Credentials in Montcalm Robotics Program Leads to Their Addition Elsewhere

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Montcalm’s robotics curriculum delivers skills that align with industry standards and meet employers’ needs.

Montcalm Community College’s robot technician education project has ushered in a new era of credentialing at the Michigan college.  

Successfully incorporating industry credentials into the automation maintenance degree program for robot technicians has “spring-boarded” the addition of industry certifications to the college’s welding and machining programs, according to Deborah Dawson-Gunther. She is the principal investigator of the Educating Robot Maintenance and Repair Technicians to Address Workforce Gaps in Automation and Skilled Trades project funded with an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant and is a faculty member of the automation and advanced industrial technology department at Montcalm.

Rather than diminishing the college’s associate degrees and certificates, Dawson-Gunter said the industry credentials are encouraging students to enroll and addressing employers’ expectations. “The employers are happy about it,” she said.   

“The world is changing around us....We need to change or die,” Rob Spohr said during a presentation at the 2022 ATE Principal Investigators’ Conference. Spohr was then the vice president for academic affairs at Montcalm. During the session on Industry 4.0 he and Dawson-Gunther explained why and how the college is tying as many courses as possible with industry credentials from various sources.

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From the Archive: Using Interviews to Spotlight Career Pathways

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Advanced technology fields offer a breadth of opportunities for those interested in pursuing them. However, many potential STEM students need to be better informed about the various career paths, what a STEM career could look like, or how to get started. Hearing from students and professionals in these high-tech fields is a practical approach for reaching those who want to learn more.

In this month's From the Archive blog post, we highlight career videos ATE grantees created. Our first collection of videos spotlights the work of technicians in the expansive field of advanced manufacturing. In contrast, our second calls attention to the expectations of students enrolled in a nuclear energy program and their reasons for choosing this industry. Last up is a promotional video featuring recent graduates, who describe their experiences and advice for pursuing a career in photonics.

For those interested in creating their own career videos, check out this past From the Archive blog post on producing quality video content.

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With Biotech Certificate Ignacio G. Rivera Lands Job with His Dream Employer

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Ignacio G. Rivera

As a teenager Ignacio G. Rivera helped his dad – who has worked for a commercial window washing company for more than 30 years – set up equipment to clean the exterior windows at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. At one point he told his dad, “I want to work here one day. I want to be on the inside. I want to know what it’s like.” 

In his late 20s Rivera had a plan to become a nurse and if all went well to be involved in patient care at Cedars-Sinai. He had saved money while taking classes part time at Los Angeles Mission College in California and working full time. In fall 2021 he started arranging things to enroll in an accelerated nursing baccalaureate program at a private college. But, when he saw his first tuition bill with $2,400 per course charges and lots of fees, he reconsidered.

He was feeling defeated in January 2022 when an LA Mission College email with biotech in the subject line caught his attention. “It was a one-semester thing. I was like, ‘Why not? I’ve been in school so long, let me try biotech’ ... That did change my life. I’m really happy with where I’m working at today,” he said.

Today he is a research lab assistant for Cedars-Sinai’s Medically Associated Science and Technology Program (MAST) team. He began work in June, right after finishing the laboratory assistant biotechnology certificate program. When his dad saw his employee ID badge, “He was just the proudest,” Rivera said.

Rivera is grateful to Chander P. Arora, Ph.D., the biotechnology instructor at LA Mission College and principal investigator of the Expanding the Biotechnology Pipeline to Adults Seeking Reemployment Advanced Technological Education (ATE) project.

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Three Video Series Highlighting the ATE Community

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An image from the ATE Impacts book,. The image shows two students preparing their underwater robot in a pool

ATE Central serves as an information hub for the ATE grantee community alongside promoting the work of ATE grantees and sustaining their work through ATE Central’s archiving services and resource collection. ATE Central also creates a number of tools, services, and resources that are freely available to those within and beyond ATE and are designed to support the work of educators. In this post, we wanted to share some of our work done collaboratively with others to create several different video series. These include the ATE Student Success Stories, the Achieving Sustainability series, and four new videos that showcase the impact of the ATE programs and are a companion to the ATE Impacts book.

The Student Success Stories highlight a diverse set of students' struggles and triumphs in community and technical college settings and showcase the impact of the ATE program on their lives, education, and career paths. The ATE Impacts videos reveal the impact of ATE on a variety of stakeholders—Principal Investigators, administrators, students, and industry partners.  

And finally, the Achieving Sustainability series was created in collaboration with the American Association of Community Colleges to help support ATE grantees as they endeavor to sustain their activities and impacts beyond National Science Foundation (NSF) funding. Read on to learn more about each video series. 

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Two ATE Center Leaders Explain How They Obtain NSF Funding for Student Research Experiences

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MNT-EC interns conduct research in a cleanroom at the University of New Mexico.

Offering community college students genuine research opportunities through the Advanced Technological Education centers they lead is a priority of Jared Ashcroft at the Micro Nano Technology Education Center (MNT-EC) and Kapil Chalil Madathil at the Center for Aviation and Automotive Technological Education Using Virtual E-Schools (CA2VES).

Their approaches to obtaining financial support are different but effective. Ashcroft has obtained funding by submitting proposals in response to “Dear Colleague Letters” from the National Science Foundation (NSF) while Chalil Madathil has accessed support through NSF’s Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) supplements.

Their distinct undergraduate research initiatives have another thing in common: they engage students in authentic research to broaden their thinking and career aspirations.

“Telling them research is not something that certain people can do. Everyone can do research,” is Chalil Madathil’s key point with the community college students who participate in summer internships with CA2VES.

Both educators encourage their colleagues in the ATE community to leverage their NSF grants to provide community college students with research experiences. In separate interviews they explained how they have done it.   

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Preparing for the 2022 ATE PI Conference: Reconnecting & Advancing the Skilled Technical Workforce

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The PI Conference banner with dates and locations

Fall is here, and so is the 2022 ATE Principal Investigators Conference, from October 26th to October 28th, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. This year, the conference is back in-person with a virtual participation component. For projects and centers old and new, the annual PI Conference offers a chance to share experiences, collaborate, learn, and meet other members of the ATE community. While you have probably been preparing already, now is an excellent time to double-check and ensure your project or center is ready for the big event.

This year's theme is Reconnecting & Advancing the Skilled Technical Workforce. The conference will focus on critical issues related to advanced technological education across the United States. There will be two virtual ATE Connects kick-off events for different discipline areas on Thursday, October 20th, and Friday, October 21st. Additionally, there will be post-conference virtual events in November.

This PI Conference may be the first time some projects and centers have attended in person! With that in mind, we have provided sometips and information for first-time conference goers and pertinent reminders for those experienced attendees. To support your preparation efforts here is some information that you may find helpful:

ATE Central Centers and Projects Map

The Centers and Projects map is a great way to learn about possible collaborators in your field or region and identify who may be at the PI conference. With the map, you can search through projects and centers by area of the country or by general subject area. While browsing the map, now is also a good time to ensure that your project or center's record is up to date. Let us know if you have new resources, a new project description, or other social media outlets. We can best support and amplify your efforts with up-to-date information about your project or center and related deliverables.

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Columbus State Faculty Test Ways to Accelerate Welding Education

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Scott Laslo is a welding instructor and ATE principal investigator at Columbus State Community College.

Why is there a shortage of qualified welders in America? For Scott Laslo, a welding instructor at Columbus State Community College in Columbus, Ohio, the main reasons are welding technicians’ retirements, recruiting difficulties amid rising industry demand, and the “long, long time” that it takes to develop the skills of a welder.

He and his colleagues can’t do anything about retirements and they’ve had some success with targeted recruiting campaigns. To address the third point—to educate a new generation of welders, as efficiently as possible—Laslo is leading an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) project funded by the National Science Foundation that uses digital welding trainers and virtual tracking systems to provide students with more personalized feedback to accelerate their learning.

“The old way of teaching welding is too slow. We have to find a way to get it done faster…The stakes are very high. The standards are very high. We cannot change those standards. They are there for life safety. What we do as a welding professional, it affects the life of every person on the planet, so we have to do our job to the highest skill possible,” Laslo said.

He and the other welding instructors at Columbus State Community College, are partnering with Weld-Ed, the National Center for Welding Education and Training at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio, on the project that began in October 2020 with faculty professional development.  

Now at Columbus State, not only are instructors’ lectures and demonstrations recorded, but students record their own work during multi-hour welding labs. Welding instructors review the videos and data about their welding techniques from the trainers, and provide students with written critiques using a rubric the project has created. “This assessment-driven approach is expected to contribute the development of standardized welding practices,” according to the project’s NSF award abstract (2000535).

Laslo explained that during a typical four-hour lab with 10 students, a welding instructor can spend only five to 10 minutes observing and talking to each student about his or her work. “That’s not a lot of contact with the content expert,” he said, pointing out that for the other three hours and 50 minutes, a student could be doing something incorrectly.

Now with the data and recordings, instructors and students can focus on correct welds and what exactly is happening when errors occur.   

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