ATE Impacts

Four Newly Funded Projects


Two student technicians from the CAAT Center look over a car. Photo taken from the latest Impacts book

The National Science Foundation (NSF) annually funds approximately 12,000 new awards, with an average funding duration of three years. Each year some of those new awards are supported by the ATE Program, which focuses on improving and expanding educational programs for skilled workers in high-tech STEM fields. ATE grantees concentrate on a range of fields, including advanced manufacturing, agriculture and environment, bio and chemical, information and security, and micro and nanotechnologies and are based primarily at two-year institutions across the nation. This year we wanted to celebrate our new grantees by highlighting four newly funded projects from the 2022 funding cycle. 

Access to Careers in Advanced Building Technology

The Milwaukee Area Technical College created this project to connect underserved populations with education and careers in advanced building technology. Access to Careers in Advanced Building Technology's goals are to meet the industry's need for skilled technicians and increase the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students. They plan on doing this in collaboration with the City of Milwaukee and local industry partners. Building needs in Milwaukee and the larger area face numerous challenges, including increased health concerns, energy efficiency goals, management of new technologies, and high workforce attrition. The project seeks to increase the pool of skilled technicians ready to solve these challenges.

The project is developing a diploma program, four digital badges, a pre-apprenticeship program, and an apprenticeship program. These opportunities give students the skills for multiple entries into employment. The project's partnerships have already proved successful, with local industry organizations committing to hiring program students with paid internships. Access to Careers in Advanced Building Technology will also provide workshops with hands-on lab activities, career information, and job prospects.

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Mentor-Connect & Working Partners Reconfigure Buffy Quinn’s Career


Buffy Quinn, an assistant dean at OCC, credits Mentor-Connect and Working Partners with her recent promotion.

Since her days as a high school student working with researchers who had National Science Foundation (NSF) grants, Buffy Quinn had dreamed of obtaining her own grant from the federal science agency.  

So, she immediately replied “Yes” in 2018 when a grant professional suggested she apply to Mentor-Connect for help with an application to NSF’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. At that point she was a full-time instructor at Onondaga Community College (OCC). She began teaching at OCC after working for 20 years as a geographic information system analyst whose specialty was modeling remediation plans for Super Fund sites.

“NSF is paying me to teach me how to get more money. This is amazing. This is an opportunity I cannot pass up,” she remembers thinking about Mentor-Connect’s stipend and travel support to work with a mentor while preparing an ATE grant proposal.    

Quinn attributes her 2020 ATE grant award and her 2022 promotion to assistant dean of Natural and Applied Sciences at OCC to the knowledge she gained through Mentor-Connect and the support she received from the people Mentor-Connect introduced her to in the ATE community.

Those contacts led to her participating in Working Partners, an ATE applied research project that helps faculty develop strategies to improve community college-industry partnerships. The model programs Quinn learned about through Working Partners and the plans she developed to cultivate industry support for her ATE project informed her job interview responses and are now influencing her approach to her duties as an administrator. She also recently became an assistant director and senior team member of the GeoTech Center, which is led by her Mentor-Connect Mentor Vincent A. DiNoto, Jr.      

“It is not hyperbole to say that experience [becoming a Mentor-Connect mentee] has changed my life. It has completely changed the trajectory of my career,” she said.

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ATE Project Creates Summer STEM Fun


Several students laugh together while controlling a robot arm

Impacts of the ATE program and ATE projects and centers extend throughout the  year. The ATE-funded NextGen Technicians project provides evidence that summer is a perfect time to show young children the benefits of STEM education.

Last summer, NextGen Technicians hosted two summer camps for North Iowa students, which included building robot arms! NextGen Technicians  is based at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) and aims to increase the number of industrial technicians in North Iowa and to ensure that they are well-qualified to work with robots. The two camps run by the project last summer were offered to provide practical experiences that showcase the benefits of STEM technician career opportunities.

NIACC’s two camps offered were designed for students from elementary through high school. First was Mind Mania, for grades 3-8, and second was Minds On! Hands On!, which introduced high school girls to industrial careers using hands-on activities.

Two sessions of Mind Mania were offered, with a total of 31 campers attending. Anthony Riesen, the Innovation Workspace Coordinator at the NIACC John Pappajohn Center, led both sessions. Mind Mania’s Robo Rukus session introduced students entering grades 3-5 to robotics, the capabilities and limitations of robots, the mechanical construction of robots, sensors versus actuators and the wiring connecting these components, and the basic programming concepts. Campers constructed a tin can robot and a mBot in addition to utilizing languages designed to program them: Blockly-Primary, Python, and Arduino C. 

A second session, Next Level Robots, was aimed at students entering grades 6-8. The goals for this were similar to Robo Rukus— encouraging students to delve further into the construction and programming of robots, which included adding grabbers and sensors. Vex and Tetrix robotics equipment were borrowed from the local high school robotics team for participants to create a robot. The Vex and Tetrix kits are designed to link two Android phones together—one phone takes commands from a game controller. It relays these directions to the other phone that receives the signal and controls the robot. This framework has been utilized in the nationally acclaimed FIRST Tech Challenge for many years.

The second camp, Minds On! Hands On! was held for high school-age girls from North Iowa the following week. CoPI Brian Mason assisted in the planning of the three-day event and aided, Anthony Riesen, who instructed the camp. PI Bob Franken spent a day with the campers explaining the Universal Robots (UR) housed in the NIACC Robotics Lab.

The campers were introduced to the basics of robotics, including the structure, electronics, and programming of robots. They built and programmed their own 3D Printed Robotic arms that utilize control software. Maestro Control Center and PolyScope were used for the 3D Robotic arms. All 3D Printed parts were made with PLA plastic filament on a Flash Forge Creator Pro Printer. Campers took their robot arms home when camp concluded.

Many thanks to the NextGen Technicians project for sharing a write up about the camps with the ATE Central team that formed the basis for this post.  Visit the project’s website to learn more about their work!

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Journal of Advanced Technological Education Aims for Big Outcomes


The Journal for Advanced Technological Education releases its first print edition at HI-TEC in July 2022.

The Journal of Advanced Technological Education (J ATE) began publishing articles online this year and will release its first print edition at the High Impact Technology Exchange Conference later this month.

Creating a high-quality periodical that disseminates peer-reviewed findings about technician education is just one of Peter D. Kazarinoff’s goals as J ATE’s editor-in-chief. He wants the new journal to “build capacity within community college faculty for advancement success.”

Being able to cite “a body of work in peer-reviewed journals is your record of research and your record of success,” Kazarinoff said, pointing out that authoring articles or serving as a reviewer could be a positive factor when educators seek grants, new jobs, or tenure.

An experienced community college faculty member, Kazarinoff notes, “We constantly want to be better at what we do and this is one of the ways that you can be, by publishing in peer-reviewed journals.”

To assist community college educators in this pursuit, J ATE offers professional development through its monthly online meetings for aspiring authors and reviewers. It is also offering a three-day, virtual workshop from September 12 to 15, 2022, that will cover how to write, submit, review, and edit articles for peer-reviewed journals. Stipends are available for qualified faculty.

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From the Archive: Producing Quality Content Video


Image of a library's curving wall of books

ATE grantees have long embraced a wide variety of delivery methods for both instruction and training. Beyond traditional classroom activities, faculty have developed podcast series, designed interactive games, utilized virtual reality simulations, and even built custom lab environments. Not surprisingly though, the creation of home-grown video content remains one of the more popular delivery methods, with affordable digital video cameras and smartphones enabling grantees to quickly produce and disseminate their own content. 

In this From the Archive blog post, we first highlight a four-part video series that walks viewers through pre-production, production, post-production, and the dissemination phrases of creating engaging video content. Next, we offer up a printable tip sheet on making your video content more accessible to users with disabilities. This tip sheet also provides links to additional resources on captioning and audio description. Lastly, we explore a workshop on creating educational videos, which offers insights on budget smart equipment and methods of reducing post-production time. 

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Alaska Tech Learners Project Puts Web Engineering in Hands of Rural Alaskans


Alaska Tech Learners (ATL) is featured in ATE Impacts 2022-2023, with this photo of students learning web engineering.

Alaska Tech Learners (ATL), an Advanced Technological Education project that prepares rural Alaska students to become technician-level web engineers, is growing in multiple directions.

Seventy-six students participated in the asynchronous, dual enrollment program in spring 2022. In early June two more high school teachers joined the current group of four high school teachers who participate in the “shared teaching model” for offering ATL courses from Prince William Sound College  at their high schools. The Alaska Tech Summer Camp for teens was fully booked with 20 students well in advance of its June 20 start.

In a recent STEM for All presentation, ATL Principal Investigator Steve Johnson summarized the six-course, 16-credit ATL program that he teaches via movies that are loaded onto thumb drives along with labs and study guides. The thumb drives are mailed to students’ homes, putting the students in control of when they learn and avoiding the hefty cost and time that would be involved in downloading the 6 gigabyte file for each week’s class via internet servers.   

“I think this [model for delivery] could be used anywhere, particularly rural [places] because urban settings you wouldn’t need to go through some of these hoops. I think anyone in the Western half of the United States could do the same thing fairly easily,” he said in a recent interview.

Alaska Tech Learners is one of 33 projects featured in ATE Impacts 2022-2023.

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ATE Impacts 2022-2023 Book Showcases Work of ATE Community


: The front cover of the 2022-2023 ATE Impacts Book, featuring pictures of ATE community members

We are excited to inform you about the upcoming release of the new ATE Impacts 2022-2023 book! You can order copies of the ATE Impacts book online  - and digital copies of the book can be accessed once available on the ATE Impacts site as well. The digital copies will be viewable across all devices via any web browser.

The ATE Impacts 2022-2023 book showcases the work of the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education Community. This edition includes a foreword from United States President, Joseph Biden, and features the work of 33 projects and 28 centers across the seven ATE areas, as well as targeted research. By highlighting ATE’s centers and projects successful and innovative work, the book encourages broader participation in the ATE program by academic institutions, educators, and industry partners. Dissemination of the ATE Impacts book advances understanding of the importance of technicians to the strength of high-tech industries that drive the economy.

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Kendra Joyner Gains Career Foothold through Women in Technology Club


Positive student club experiences led Kendra Joyner toward an information technology career at A-B Tech.

Kendra Joyner joined the Women in Technology club a few weeks after starting digital media courses at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (A-B Tech) in Asheville, NC.

It was 2015 and at 40, Joyner, who had previously earned one bachelor’s degree and other postsecondary credentials, was in the midst of a career reset following a divorce.

Talking with other women about their STEM classes, hearing presentations by female technicians, and learning career tips during biweekly Women in Technology meetings became integral to Joyner’s success. It also sparked Joyner’s interest in working for the college, which she has now done for about five years. 

Computer Technologies Instructor Pamela Silvers started Women in Technology as part of her Skilled Workers Get Jobs Advanced Technological Education (ATE) projects that developed strategies to recruit and retain women in STEM careers with support from the National Science Foundation.

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Looking Forward to HI-TEC 2022 with Executive Committee Chair Mary Slowinski


High Impact Technology Exchange Conference - Educating America's Technical Workforce

The 2022 High Impact Technology Education Conference (HI-TEC) will be held on July 25-28 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Recently, we asked Mary Slowinski, PhD, Chair of the 2022 HI-TEC Executive Committee, to share what attendees can anticipate about this year’s conference. Dr. Slowinski is PI of Working Partners Project & Workshops at Bellevue College in Washington state.

ATE Central: What is HI-TEC? How does it support the goals of Advanced Technological Education?

Mary Slowinski: HI-TEC (the High Impact Technology Education Conference) has provided a national forum for addressing critical issues in advanced technological education since its inception in 2009. The conference grew out of the NSF-ATE community and is produced by a consortium of ATE centers and projects in collaboration with industry and education partners. The conference is a marvelous gathering of this community, with opportunities for all to present, share and learn from one another and to acquire new skill sets, new understandings of industry needs, and new engagement with questions of diversity and inclusion, as well as gaining practical insights into improving technician education overall.

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ATE Is Part of Kapil Chalil Madathil’s Extraordinary Career Arc


As a graduate student Kapil Chalil Madathil, center, met ATE Co-Leaders V. Celeste Carter and Gerhard Salinger.

As a graduate student Kapil Chalil Madathil chatted with Gerhard Salinger and V. Celeste Carter after they shook hands during the session of the 2009 ATE Principal Investigators’ Conference where student participants were recognized.

“That was an exciting moment for me,” Chalil Madathil said recently explaining that he treasures the photo that captured his meeting with the two National Science Foundation program directors who then co-led the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. He considers the certificate his first student award.

He has since received other accolades including tenure and $20 million in funding for research utilizing virtual and augmented realities in technician education, healthcare, and other domains. His area of expertise is the application of human factors engineering to the design and operation of highly interactive human-computer systems. His work draws on qualitative and quantitative methodologies – including ethnography, contextual inquiry, and controlled behavioral experiments – to understand how humans perceive, make sense of, and interact with human-machine systems.

Chalil Madathil is now the Wilfred P. and Helen S. Tiencken Endowed Associate Professor of Civil and Industrial Engineering, director of technology for the Clemson University Center for Workforce Development, and co-principal investigator of  the Center for Aviation and Automotive Technological Education Using Virtual E-Schools (CA2VES). The principal investigator of CA2VES is Anand K. Gramopadhye, professor and dean of the College of Engineering, Computing, and Applied Sciences at Clemson in South Carolina.

It was Chalil Madathil’s graduate assistantship work at CA2VES that first connected him to the ATE program, which he says remains close to his heart: “NSF ATE paved the way for me to be a successful researcher.”

Chalil Madathil is the rare tenured university professor who began his career as a technician.

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