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NSF Encourages ATE PIs to Pursue “Big Idea” Opportunities

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Three National Science Foundation (NSF) program directors are encouraging ATE principal investigators to become involved in The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (FW-HTF) and Harnessing the Data Revolution—two of NSF’s Ten New Big Ideas for Future Investment—because they have the potential to overlap with technician education.  

At the first convening of the Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work (PTFOW) project on December 13 in Washington, D.C., Jordan Berg, a program director in the Division of Civil, Mechanical & Manufacturing Innovation (ENG/CMMI),  said NSF program directors would “very, very much like to see people who have their sleeves rolled up and their arms plunged in to education playing major roles in the intellectual merit and research component of these proposals.” 

Berg and two other program directors—Robert Scheidt and Stephanie August—presented information about these funding opportunities to the 26 ATE center principal investigators who the PTFOW project had gathered as an ATE Leadership Caucus to help inform its work over the next four years. The project led by Principal Investigator Ann-Claire Anderson, vice president of special projects at the Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD), seeks to enable the ATE community to collaborate regionally and across disciplines with industry partners to transform associate degree programs to prepare US technicians for the future of work.  

The project’s 10 industry advisors also attended the meeting. At the meeting the ATE educators and industry advisors identified the following technologies as drivers of transformative workplace changes: artificial intelligence, the internet-of-things, cybersecurity procedures, advanced robotics, digital design, and prototyping.  See http://preparingtechnicians.org  for more information about the ATE Leadership Caucus meeting and the project’s podcasts, regional convenings, and workshops.

 

Scheidt, a program director in the Division of Civil, Mechanical & Manufacturing Innovation (ENG/CMMI), provided details about The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (FW-HTF) as an opportunity for ATE principal investigators to work with developers and researchers to examine the impact of technological innovations on technicians.

NSF is seeking a third round of proposals for FW-HTF (Solicitation 19-541) for projects that encourage innovators to anticipate the technological, cognitive, social, and economic impact of new technologies while they are developing products. To improve understanding of the relationships between technology and people, projects must have a mix of disciplines and can be led by educators at any postsecondary level. Proposals for research grants ($1.5 to $3 million for up to four years) and planning grants to build teams ($150,000 for one year) are due March 6, 2019.

August, a program director in the Division of Undergraduate Education who is also on the FW-HTF working group, said attending the 2018 ATE Principal Investigators’ Conference added to her awareness that the ATE community is doing cross-discipline work.  She said, It’s really exciting to see the two communities coming together and we would like to see more symbiosis there.  

She then gave two examples of ATE projects that are working at a high level with developers of emerging technologies:

  • Learning Program for Cobots in Advanced Manufacturing Systems (#1601454) is teaching community college students to use cobots and secondary teachers to teach about robotics; and
  • The Associate of Applied Science in Dynamic Reality Technologies Program: Training Technicians to Use Extended Reality to Develop Workforce Training Simulations (#1800942) that is using extended reality for workforce training simulations.

Scheidt shared information about four FW-HTF collaborative research projects “to give snapshots of where technologists, economists, and social scientists believe we are headed:”

  • Pre-Skilling Workers, Understanding Labor Force Implications and Designing Future Factory Human-Robot Workflows Using a Physical Simulation Platform (#1839971) is designing future factory human-robot workflows using a physical simulation platform to understand labor force implications.
  • Enhancing Human Capabilities through Virtual Personal Embodied Assistants in Self-Contained Eyeglasses-Based Augmented Reality (AR) Systems (#1840131) is developing  an embodied Intelligent Cognitive Assistant (GLASS-X), an eyeglass-based 3-D mobile telepresence system with integrated virtual personal assistant to amplify the capabilities of workers.
  • Whole-body Exoskeletons for Advanced Vocational Enhancement (WEAVE) (#1839946) is exploring industrial applications of powered exoskeletons.
  • Augmented Cognition for Teaching: Transforming Teacher Work with Intelligent Cognitive Assistants (#1840120) is testing an artificial intelligence system that monitors students’ attention and provides real-time information to teachers.  

August, who also works in the Harnessing the Data Revolution program, shared information about the Data Science Corps (Solicitation 19-518) that seeks proposals for building capacity for data science. The deadline for proposals is February 4. She suggests reading Data Science for Undergraduates, a National Academies of Science report published in 2018.

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ATE Central Interviews Farra Trompeter, Vice President of Big Duck

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Part of our focus at ATE Central is to create pathways to information and experts that can support and strengthen the work of ATE grantees. ATE Central recently sat down with Farra Trompeter, VP of Big Duck, a communications firm that works exclusively with nonprofits based in Brooklyn NY, to discuss how branding and marketing can enhance the work of projects and centers.

Please tell us a little bit about Big Duck and your role there.

Big Duck (www.bigducknyc.com) develops the voices of determined nonprofits by creating strong brands, campaigns, and teams. We specialize in working with nonprofits experiencing significant growth and change. I’ve been a member of Big Duck’s team since 2007. As Vice President, I guide organizations through major brand overhauls, fundraising campaigns, and much more. I also speak around the country, training nonprofit professionals on marketing, online fundraising, and donor engagement. You can learn more about me here and connect directly via Twitter via @Farra.

What exactly is branding and why should ATE grantees be concerned about branding their project/center work?

A brand is your project or center’s voice. It’s what your audiences hear, see, experience, and feel—and the impression that is formed as a result of their experiences with you. Your voice may be disjointed, murky, and barely louder than a whisper. Or your voice can ring out, differentiate, and reverberate.

A strong brand isn’t just a temporary fix or a website update. It’s built for the long haul, often to embody a new strategic plan, the vision of a new leader, or other seismic shifts. Rebranding means expressing that vision deeply and authentically, internally and externally.

For a project or center, a strong brand can help you reach and engage with students, faculty, program partners, and other key audiences. It can also help you build relationships with funders and donors for programmatic sustainability.

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Mid-Life Pursuit of Technical Degree Leads Woman to New Career as College Educator

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Colleen Day (second from right) and Caryn Truitt (far right) presented results from their survey of cybersecurity students during the student poster session at the 2018 ATE Principal Investigators Conference. Day earned an associate degree at Highline College and is now teaching at Renton Technical College. Caryn Truitt is a student in the cybersecurity bachelor’s degree program at Highline. Amelia Phillips (first on left), professor of computer information systems and computer science at Highline College,  and Simone Jarzabek (second from left), computer information systems instructor at Highline, shared information about the International Collegiate Cyber Defense Invitational (ICCDI) Competition during the ATE conference’s showcase session.

Three years after enrolling in Highline College’s networking associate degree program, Colleen Day is teaching networking as a tenure-track faculty member of Renton Technical College in Renton, Washington.

The mid-career change is still a bit of a surprise to Day who was initially seeking an associate degree. She thought this credential would help her get a networking job with a medium or large business. She had taught herself networking skills while running several small businesses, but other employers were not convinced she had information technology skills.  

Amelia Phillips, professor of computer information systems and computer science at Highline College in Des Moines, Washington, noticed Day’s computer skills and teaching talents during her first semester at Highline in 2015. “She was in my Networking Intrusion Detection class and my Linux Administration class, and she was helping the other students. That’s what it was. I could see. She would figure it out, and then she would figure out what the other students needed … students help each other, but not at that level,” Phillips said.

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From the Archive: Education and Careers in Renewable Energy

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A special thanks to Rachel Flynn for contributing this month’s From the Archive blog post. Rachel is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison iSchool.

Daniel Burman had a prosperous career in real estate but was left unhappy and unfulfilled. In his ATE Success Story, Burman explains how he went to school to obtain an associate degree in applied science for photovoltaics. This, in turn, enabled him to make a career change that allows him to work in the renewable energy sector, make a good living, and find a fulfilling career as a solar energy contractor.

In this month’s From the Archive blog post, we’re highlighting the work of three ATE projects and centers that support the education of technicians working in the renewable energy industry. Resources featured include a webinar that discusses the employment trends in clean energy jobs, a report that considers the educational needs of technicians working in the renewable energy industry, and a renewable energy technology curriculum that trains students in four different certificate programs. For more information, explore the links provided below. To find more resources in the ATE Central portal related to education and careers in renewable energy, try browsing by ATE Area: Agricultural and Environmental Technologies -- Energy technologies.

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DeafTEC Shares Top Ten Things Student Veterans Would like Faculty to Know

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Veterans enjoy Saddleback College graduation ceremony.

As part of its effort  to bring more people who are deaf and hard of hearing into the STEM workforce, DeafTEC’s Project Good to Go works with California community colleges to provide resources for faculty who teach large numbers of military veterans.

“Hearing problems—including tinnitus, which is a ringing, buzzing, or other type of noise that originates in the head—are by far the most prevalent service-connected [disabilities] among American veterans,”  according to the Office of Research and Development of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  

The list of Top Ten Things Student Veterans Would like Faculty to Know was developed by DeafTEC, the Technological Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, to raise educators’ awareness of the challenges student veterans face on college campuses and to share universal design for instruction practices that benefit veterans and other students.

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2018 ATE Principal Investigators' Conference

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From October 24-26 the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), with support from NSF, will hold the 25th National ATE Principal Investigators’ Conference at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. The annual conference offers a chance to share, collaborate, learn, and meet with other innovative members of the ATE community, including PIs, select project and center staff, and NSF program officers. ATE Central is particularly excited about this year’s meeting; after all, ATE only turns 25 once!

Along with other projects and centers, ATE Central is gearing up to host and assist with a number of events at this year’s conference. In getting ready to head to DC, many of us will be double checking website material, creating handouts or workshop material, and generally making sure that our project and center information is up to date. A number of ATE Central services and tools may be helpful in your efforts, as you get ready for the 2018 Conference:

  • ATE Impacts 2018-2019: 25 Years of Advancing Technician Education. This year the new ATE Impacts book launch was received by the community with an exorbitant amount of enthusiasm. Whether you received free copies of the book to promote your project or center’s efforts and need more, or you never got around to ordering some but would like to push them out on your campus or to industry partners now, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Visit the order form on the ATE Central site to place your order, or stop by booth #002 to pick up extras at the PI Meeting. 
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Principal Investigators Encourage Faculty to Utilize ATE Program

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Environmental health and safety technicians practice with simulated hazardous materials during ATEEC environmental education programs.

As the Advanced Technological Education program marks 25 years of existence within the National Science Foundation, three community college educators who were among the first cohort of ATE principal investigators (PIs) were asked to reflect on the program’s evolution and their experiences as STEM leaders.  

The three ATE program veterans—Ellen Kabat Lensch, Elaine L. Craft, and David Harrison—urge all community college STEM educators to utilize the many instructional resources and professional development opportunities created and offered by ATE projects and centers. (Visit ATE Central for program-wide information and links, and to access the database of ATE materials for use in specific fields and technologies.)

The principal investigators also encourage two-year college faculty members to consider how their ideas for improving STEM technician education align with their institutions’ strategic goals, and then explore the ATE program solicitation (http://nsf.gov/ate) to see if their ideas meet the criteria for ATE funding.

There is not much time before this year’s October 15 deadline for proposals. But it is never too early to begin preparing a proposal for next year. ATE proposals are next due October 3, 2019 and October 1, 2020.

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From the Archive: Cybersecurity

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A special thanks to Rachel Flynn for contributing this month’s From the Archive blog post. Rachel is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison iSchool.

With the increasing demand for knowledgeable, skilled cybersecurity technicians in the United States workforce, ATE projects and centers are creating materials that discuss and explore the ways in which educational programs can meet this need. What some may not realize, however, is the variety of industries in which a cybersecurity technician’s skills can be put to use. In this month’s From the Archive blog post, we’re highlighting the work of three ATE projects and centers that have supported the education of technicians working in various sectors of the cybersecurity industry. Resources featured include a series of presentations focused on the topic of autonomous vehicles, with an emphasis on the cybersecurity and ethical concerns surrounding this technology; a community college course for students who are preparing to enter the information technology field of healthcare; and a report that details the results of an effort to map cybersecurity curricula to the National Cybersecurity Workforce Framework 1.0 Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs). For more information about these specific resources, explore the links provided below.

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SMART Future Project Builds on Previous ATE Grant

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Andrew Kott, left, uses industry-grade equipment and a small-scale simulation of an automated distribution center in Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Mobile Manufacturing Lab to teach rural high school students about Industry 4.0 concepts and the Industrial Internet of Things.

Andrew Kott is the “perfect technician” to teach rural high school students about automated warehouses and supply chain technologies, according to Shamus Funk.

As principal investigator of the Smart Manufacturing and Resources for Transforming the Future (SMART Future) project, Funk hired Kott to teach students and to work with high school teachers in Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Mobile Manufacturing Lab.

“Students respond well to him,” Funk said, citing Kott’s youth, energy, and knowledge. Kott worked in industry after earning a two-year machine tooling diploma at Chippewa Valley Technical College in 2012. He’s currently taking courses to earn a bachelor’s degree in education.   

Laughing modestly about the compliment, Kott said, “I enjoy what I’m doing; I’m enjoying sharing this information with the students and seeing them grow.”  He credits the students’ engagement to the mobile lab’s “cool equipment.” For the SMART Future project the lab has been equipped with robotic industrial arms, a CNC vertical mill, a laser engraver, laptop computers, and a small-scale simulation of an automated distribution center.

The project’s goals for the high school students include having them demonstrate mastery in automation, networking, programming, and supply chain technologies to qualify for industry certifications and/or college credits. The project’s other ambitious goals include devising a sustainable system to gauge its impact on students’ career paths.  

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Video Presentations from the 2018 STEM For All Video Showcase

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This May, 713 presenters and co-presenters shared their videos that showed projects that are centered around STEM education. The showcase, which was funded by NSF and encompassed 214 video presentations, explored a plethora of diverse fields that involve teaching, research, and career pathways in STEM.

Many of the submitted videos focused on integrating STEM into young children’s lives and education. One such video, “STEM in the Playscape: Building Knowledge for Educational Practice,” submitted by a team of researchers from the University of Cincinnati, explores STEM concepts in relation to nature-based play in early childhood settings. The presentation shares how much of an impact a “playscape” can have on the burgeoning mind of a child, and how exploring the “science of living things,” can impact concepts such as inquiry skills and spatial cognition in children. 

“S-POWER Engineering Pathways for Transfer Students,” submitted by Claire Duggan of Northeastern University and Massachusetts Community College, explores the impact of a grant from NSF for transfer students from under-represented groups who are studying energy. S-POWER (Student Pathways Opening World Energy Resources) seeks to address two primary concerns: low persistence rates of under-represented transfer students in STEM-based programs and the need to train a new generation of students to work in STEM-based disciplines. 

The ATE community was represented in this video showcase. One such video, “A Peek at iCREAT Project’s Multi-Disciplinary Courses,” by PI Shamsi Moussaka and Co-PIs Giuseppe Sena, Susanne Steiger-Escobar, and Marina Bogrod at Massachusetts Bay Community College, looks at how classes on STEM topics such as coding and robotics can impact students from underrepresented groups. 

The STEM For All Video Showcase is a great resource for ATE projects and centers in terms of the diverse settings in which STEM-based principles and theories can be applied. This showcase, which is an annual event, provides a great example of how STEM concepts can be integrated into a multitude of settings and is an inspiration for teachers, researchers, and students alike. Visit the video hall to view the full archive of the 2018 showcase. 

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