ATE PI Eric N. Wooldridge Earns the National Science Board’s Science and Society Award


Somerset Community College Professor and ATE PI Eric Wooldridge received the NSB’s 2024 Science and Society Award.

Eric N. Wooldridge, principal investigator (PI) of four Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grants at Somerset Community College in Kentucky, received  the Science and Society Award from the National Science Board (NSB) on May 1 with Sheri McGuffin, the STEM coordinator at AdvanceKentucky, an initiative of the Kentucky Science Technology Corporation.

Wooldridge and McGuffin were honored for their work since 2020 spreading high impact and accessible additive manufacturing education to community colleges and high schools across Kentucky. The award recognizes “their successful effort to support and encourage people in Kentucky to join the STEM workforce.”

During a panel discussion with NSB members and other award winners on May 2, McGuffin reported that their AdvanceKentucky Influencer Model had trained 201 community college, secondary, and elementary school educators and introduced 3D printing concepts to 5,000 students. Their collaboration has also resulted in the first state-endorsed career and technical education pathway for additive manufacturing.  

In response to follow-up questions from NSB members, Wooldridge suggested the model could be replicated to help the nation grow its semiconductor fabrication workforce, especially given the advancements in low-cost virtual reality technologies. This is the focus of one of his current ATE grants.

“Community colleges are truly nexus points that have the power to directly affect K-12 educators, students, and even the economic profile of a region,” Wooldridge said. (See his comments and McGuffin’s to the NSB at 1:08 of this recording of the board's meeting on May 2.)

The National Science Board advises the president and Congress and sets the policies of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the independent science agency. NSF’s largest investment in two-year colleges is the ATE program, which focuses on improving technician education.  

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Maximizing Conference Impact with Greg Kepner


A photo of the inside of a conference center, with booths and people milling about

Having a strong presence at conferences can make a big impact on your project and center work – helping support your outreach efforts, connecting you with colleagues, and creating partnership opportunities. In this blog post, Greg Kepner, PI of the ATE Collaborative Outreach and Engagement Project (ACOE), shares his insights for creating a memorable conference booth.

As part of the ACOE during 2022-23, Greg hosted the ATE Community Exhibit Booth at 28 national, regional, or state conferences and gave presentations, hosted roundtable discussions, or poster sessions at 17 conferences. As a follow up to the ACOE project, the NavigATE project was recently awarded to continue hosting the ATE Community exhibit to increase awareness and visibility of the ATE program, the ATE centers and projects, mentoring initiatives, and educational materials and resources developed through the program. Greg is also the Co-PI of the ATE-funded Micro Nano Technology Education Center(MNT-EC) with over 30 years of experience as a faculty member and administrator at Indian Hills Community College. His expertise spans Robotics, Automation, Control Systems, Electronics, CAD, and more.

Crafting an Attention-Grabbing Booth Setup

Greg emphasizes the importance of visually appealing booth setups. "The key elements for an attention-grabbing booth setup include interesting images and text on banner stands or backdrops," he says. Offering practical items like pens, USB flash drives, and even candy can also enhance the booth's draw.

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Needed Math Framework Helps Tech Educators Add Workplace Problems to Lessons


Needed Math Logo with NSF grant number 2100062

From its identification of 40 important math skills for manufacturing technicians to know, the Needed Math Project has developed a framework for instructional scenarios. The team hopes that technical educators will use the framework with their local industry advisors to create scenarios that teach math skills in the contexts of the advanced technology workplaces where their students are likely to work.

The project website ( also has nine sample scenarios. However, at conferences and in journal articles this year the team is directing attention to the open-ended framework.

During a lively Zoom interview for the ATE Impacts Blog, Principal Investigator Dr. Michael Hacker and the project’s four co-principal investigators shared their hope that community college educators will use the framework for conversations with industry advisors in order to inform lessons.

This emphasis on the framework is also because the team members have found during their collective decades of professional experience that educators are more likely to adjust what and how they teach if they are involved in developing the instructional materials.

Hacker put it this way in comments that referenced the work of Dr. Gerhard Salinger, co-principal of the Needed Math project and former co-lead program director of the Advanced Technological Education program at the National Science Foundation (NSF):

“Gerhard led for years the instructional materials development program at NSF, and so much good stuff came out of that. But, you know, some turned into shelf ware ... without a lot of sustained promotion, a lot of professional development work, much of this good curriculum,  much of this great stuff that really is well-conceived, pedagogically brilliant, sits on shelves. It just does not get translated. And what teachers want to do is they want to develop their own stuff for their own students—that fits their own interests, in their own communities.

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ATE Impacts is also a book! Copies are available upon request or at the annual ATE PI Conference in Washington, DC.

ATE Impacts also has a video series, that tells the stories of students, educators, administrators, and industry partners who have had their lives positively impacted by the work of the ATE program.
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