ATE Impacts

Master of E-books & Interactives Receives HI-TEC Educator of the Year Award


Brookdale Professor Michael Qaissaunee (center) with his networking students at NJ Governor

Brookdale Community College Engineering & Technology Professor Michael Qaissaunee brings a fine-tuned awareness of students’ needs and strong commitment to educational equity to his work as an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) principal investigator.

Qaissaunee received the 2020 HI-TEC Educator of the Year Award for his development of electronic textbooks for technician education and web-based interactive explainers that have lowered students’ costs and increased their understanding of complex science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts.

 “These have really made a difference in my classroom and I’ve heard from teachers from across the country that … these animated learning snippets and interactive activities have really transformed their classrooms. It has really enabled us to reach a broader diversity of learners. They’ve provided a great teaching environment and enabled students to master content and skills that they’re studying,” John Sands said in his introduction of Qaissaunee at the 2020 HI-TEC Conference awards ceremony.  Sands is principal investigator of the National Support Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance and a subject matter expert on Qaissaunee’s E-MATE 2.0: Building Capacity for Interactive Teaching and Learning (Award # 1601612) ATE grant.

Many of the 50 E-MATE interactives on electronics, networking, and cybersecurity topics that Qaissaunee and Sands and his team have built are available at Brookdale’s STEM Institute; all of them will eventually be posted on CSSIA’s website. Other Brookdale College departments are the current hosts of E-MATE interactives that cover challenging concepts in chemistry, environmental science, and physics.

All the E-MATE interactives are free, and, because they use HTML5, do not require an internet connection nor Flash nor Java software. Educators and students can download and access them from flash drives, which, pre-COVID, Qaissaunee distributed at conference presentations and now sends to people who contact him at

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I Am ATE: Donna Lange


Image of Donna Lange.

In this feature ATE Central continues our "I Am ATE" series, 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: Donna Lange
Title: Associate Professor / PI & Center Director, DeafTEC: Technological Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students
Institution: Rochester Institute of Technology
Center Name: DeafTEC: Technological Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students

ATE Central: How did you become involved with ATE?

Lange: My first grant with ATE was in 2000 while I was chair of the Applied Computer Technology department at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), a two-year technical college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and one of the nine colleges of the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. At that time, we were looking for funding to support an information technology workforce development project. It was the NTID's grants coordinator who found the solicitation for the ATE program and encouraged us to submit a proposal. We are so grateful to have found ATE and have been part of the community ever since.
ATE Central: Tell us about the goals of your project or center.

Lange: In 2011, after eleven years of several successful ATE funded projects, we were awarded an ATE National Center of Excellence, DeafTEC: Technological Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students which is currently in its first year as a resource center.

The goal DeafTEC is to increase the number of deaf and hard-of-hearing (deaf/hh) individuals in highly skilled technician jobs in which there continues to be underrepresentation and underutilization of such individuals in the workplace.

To achieve this goal DeafTEC is providing resources to: (1) advance the career self-efficacy and career awareness of deaf/hh high school and college students related to STEM technician careers, (2) improve access to learning for deaf/hh high school and community college students in STEM classrooms, (3) improve access to learning for student veterans with hearing loss in STEM programs at community colleges, and (4) raise employers' awareness of deaf/hh individuals as an untapped pool of skilled technicians and how to hire, onboard, and create an inclusive work environment for these individuals. 

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Epilogue Project Finds ATE Centers’ Ideas Persist


Rebecca Zarch’s research into the legacy of nine Advanced Technological Education centers has found that significant aspects of the centers’ work are continuing years after their National Science Foundation funding ended.

While looking for what has been sustained, Zarch is gaining insights into the leadership practices that led to successful operations and enduring impact.

“The biggest finding is nobody is doing this alone. The partnerships really make a difference and developing that network of partners—the broad-based support—is something that needs to be done intentionally and [to] start early,” Zarch said during a recent phone interview. She is principal investigator of the Epilogue Project (ATE Award #1821248) at the Sage Fox Group of Amherst, Massachusetts.  

The report scheduled for release in 2021 will focus on what has been sustained and will trace the processes that facilitated continuation of efforts. It will not be a comprehensive history or evaluation of the centers.  

“Sustainability here does not mean buildings and people. Sustainability is ideas,” explained Gerhard Salinger, who as co-principal investigator serves as project advisor. Salinger was a co-lead program director of the ATE program at the National Science Foundation from 1993 to 2012. He likens Zarch’s work to that of a historian who examines the intellectual output that flowed from a civilization rather than the physical structures that remain standing.

“We’re not about the bricks and mortar; we’re about the ideas....A lot of people in the program think that sustainability means that the people are still there after the money has left. And that doesn’t happen. It’s really the ideas. How did the world change because these people were there?” Salinger said.

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Tips for Organizing and Attending Conferences & Meetings Remotely


Image of a person in business attire attending a conference call meeting on their laptop.

In response to social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, many professional conferences and large meetings are exploring a move to remote, asynchronous, and online convenings – including the HI-TEC Transformed 2020 conference taking place next week, on July 29-30. While many in the ATE community have experience collaborating and networking remotely, remote events can be stressful to organize and attend at the best of times. Here are some tips to aid in creating and participating in conferences and meetings during social distancing:

Organizing a Remote Conference or Meeting:

  • Use an online program or agenda that can be easily updated. This makes it easy to add and alter sessions or segments as you negotiate the transition from a planned in-person event to an online event. The event program or agenda should be hosted on a public page or website for easy access.
  • Build in time to test streaming and A/V procedures and have an alternative plan in mind. Conferences and meetings may bring together a large number of organizers, participants, and presenters with varying tech backgrounds. Before the day of the event, be sure to test all streaming technology and make sure you have a backup plan in case any elements of video conferencing or screen sharing go awry. Ideally include tech support as part of your team, ready to aid attendees or presenters if they have technical issues. 
  • Designate moderators and provide them with instructions in advance. Just like an in-person event, remote conferences and meetings have a lot going on. Ensure that sessions do not run too long or become a negative experience for attendees and presenters by appointing a moderator to facilitate the event. Provide moderators with clear, well-communicated instructions in advance of the conference date.
  • Explore options for asynchronous sessions. Some participants may not be able to present or attend live streams. Pre-recording some sessions and hosting video recordings on the conference or meeting site, and notifying attendees via email of their availability can offer a viable and useful alternative for presenters. You may also choose to record streamed events so that attendees can tune in asynchronously.
  • Make all conference social media handles and hashtags widely known. Social media is an even more vital arena for networking when it comes to remote conferences. Be sure that conference attendees have social media handles and hashtags so participants and presenters can share and connect before and after sessions.
  • Offer the most widely-accessible experience possible. This may include, for example, live-captioning presentations, or adding captions to asynchronous conference material. If distributing digital conference or meeting packets, make sure they follow W3C Accessibility Standards.

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ATE Project Informed the Pivot to Online Science Courses in COVID’s Wake


Hybrid bioscience courses developed with an ATE grant will be offered to all North Central State students this fall.

An Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant helped to reconfigure biotechnician degree courses for online delivery and imbued two North Central State College educators with knowledge they used to help colleagues cope with the massive curriculum shift required by COVID-19.

In September 2018 Justin Tickhill and Jason Tucker began curriculum revisions funded by the Mansfield, Ohio, college’s first ATE grant from the National Science Foundation to convert six bioscience courses for online delivery of lectures and in-person labs for a specific audience:  employees of Charles River Laboratories who wanted to advance in their biotechnology careers.  

In March 2020 as COVID-19 forced colleges around the country to cease on-campus operations, Tickhill and Tucker became the go-to guys among their science and health sciences colleagues as they made the quick conversion from in-person to online instruction.    

This fall, the General Biology I course and five other hybrid courses that Tickhill and Tucker developed for the Bioscience Technician Expansion Project (Award #1800850) will be available to all North Central students. 

 “The ATE [program] has benefited our entire college with this one grant—more so than we could have ever imagined,” Tickhill said during a recent phone interview. He is associate professor of biology.

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Select STEM Education Resources for Accessibility


Image of a student writing in a notepad next to a laptop.

Equitable access to information and technology is a basic human right, and accessibility is a core tenant of ATE’s mission. This blog post highlights resources that will assist ATE community members in continuing to create materials that are accessible to all. Do you have some favorite STEM sites or online resources you’d like to share with the ATE community? We’d love to help – email us at!

Develop accessible lesson plans with the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials.

The National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM Center) is a nonprofit initiative that provides resources and technical assistance for “educators, parents, students, publishers, conversion houses, accessible media producers, and others interested in learning more about AEM.” Here, instructors will find a wealth of well-organized information and resources for accessible education. The Supporting Learners section categorizes this information by age group, including higher education and workforce development resources, and contains a directory of AEM contacts for each state. Educators who create their own resources may want to explore the Creating AEM section, which includes information on the Best Practices for Educators & Instructors.

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ATE Grant Facilitates Award-winning Project & Wider Use of Additive Manufacturing


Even before graduating in May, Rick Heuer’s formula for success was featured in CVTC ads.

Rick Heuer has been welding, reading blueprints, and sketching designs for tools since he was a kid. After 30 years of self-employment in a physically taxing line of work he enrolled in 2018 at age 58 in Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in Eau Claire, WI, to learn how to leverage his mechanical ingenuity for a new career.

In his two years as a full time CVTC student, Heuer has been part of two teams that took first place awards (each with a $1,500 prize) in the American Technical Education Association 3-D Futures Competition.

“When I compare his first day when he joined the program and now, it’s amazing. He’s very fast, very efficient,” Mahmood Lahroodi, mechanical design instructor and coach of the two teams, said of Heuer. Heuer’s academic success and competition victories have made him a campus celebrity. He is featured in college marketing and was to speak at the spring graduation. Unfortunately, the in-person ceremony was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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From the Archive: Workplace-Based Learning in the ATE Fields


Image of two hands shaking.

In the 2017 ATE Annual Survey conducted by EvaluATE, supplemental questions submitted by the Working Partners Project inquired about industry/college partnerships within the ATE community. Data showed that 11 percent of respondents employed workplace-based learning models at their respective institutions. Other more common partnership models included the use of advisory boards (26 percent), curricular development and review (17 percent), program support (14 percent), and instructional support (13 percent).

For those programs that offered internships, apprenticeships, co-op learning, job shadowing, and other workplace-based learning opportunities, respondents reported a variety of benefits, including better preparedness of graduates as they transition into the workplace and more meaningful ties with industry partners. For this reason, this month’s From the Archive blog post calls attention to some of ATE Central’s archival materials surrounding workplace-based learning within ATE. 

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Report Suggests Ways to Expand Undergraduate Research Experiences; Supplemental ATE Grants Available


Community College Undergraduate Research Experience Summit Report Cover

The proceedings report from the Community College Undergraduate Research Experience Summit is now available on the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) website. The report contains recommendations for scaling and sustaining undergraduate research experiences (UREs) at two-year colleges, developing partnerships for UREs, ensuring equitable access to UREs in STEM, and measuring the impact of UREs.

The summit’s planning committee defined UREs as experiences that use the scientific method and/or the engineering design process to promote student learning by investigating a problem where the solution is unknown to students or faculty. Examples of UREs currently offered by community colleges include course-based research, internships, STEM design challenges, independent studies, honor projects, competitions that blend technical academic and technical skills, and mentored research that is part of a larger project.

The recommendations were developed during facilitated small group discussions and a deliberative process that involved the 120 thought leaders in attendance at the summit, which was convened by AACC with support from the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program on November 20 to 22, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

In March 2020, ATE announced new funding for novel UREs developed by principal investigators of active ATE grants.  Proposals for supplemental funding are due May 15.

The report also features the stories of six individuals whose research experiences as community college students profoundly influenced their STEM career paths.   

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I Am ATE: Elodie Billionniere


Image of Elodie Billionniere

In this feature ATE Central continues our "I Am ATE" series, 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: Dr. Elodie Billionniere

Title: Associate Professor

Institution: Miami Dade College (MDC)

Project Name: Dade Enterprise Cloud Computing Initiative (DECCI)


ATE Central: How did you become involved with ATE?

Billionniere: At the time, I was following hi-tech trends and the latest report was about cloud literacy as an absolute must-have skill to acquire for upskilling or reskilling. Although I am already familiar with the concept of web services, I attended an immersion day on Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud technology and I recognized, immediately, an opportunity for an academia-industry partnership. After further discussion with AWS Academy leadership, we reached a common goal: to prepare underrepresented minorities for the multitude of cloud industry careers emerging in the computing and information technology fields. As I was having these conversations with AWS, the NSF ATE solicitation was forwarded to me by my department chair. The stars lined up in my mind and I moved forward with great confidence in my grant proposal idea. With ATE, I could solidify an industry partnership with the leading cloud provider, while providing resources, funds, and support to build today's talent with future skills. This project would not have been possible otherwise.   

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

Billionniere: The program is designed to provide fast-track cloud training for students and professionals in Miami-Dade County, while strengthening existing career pathway programs at Miami Dade College.As such the project aims to (1) provide faculty professional development to certify faculty members in cloud technology utilizing project-based learning methodology; (2) create an academic pathway in partnership with industry cloud leaders that aligns a college credit certificate in Enterprise Cloud Computing to associate and baccalaureate degrees in information systems technology; (3) increase recruitment, retention, and graduation of students in the newly developed certificate program; (4) develop a K-16 pipeline by offering a Cloud 101 summer high school bootcamp for traditionally underrepresented populations that will result in industry certification and dual enrollment pathways; and (5) advance knowledge about student success and degree attainment in technology fields to improve retention of (STEM) students at Hispanic-serving institutions. 

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