ATE Impacts

Support for Women and STEM Recruiting Efforts


A woman works on her laptop in an office

This special series of posts is being created in collaboration with Donna Milgram from the National Institute for Women in Trades, Technology & Science (IWITTS) to provide a series of practical strategies that can enhance your recruiting efforts and help increase your student enrollment numbers. While the focus of IWITTS is on increasing female enrolment, data from the project indicates that overall enrollment for both female and male students increase for those educators who employ the techniques espoused by IWITTS.  

In fact, Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) shared data that showed that after participating in an IWITTS WomenTech Training they increased female enrollment in the introductory courses in their Cybersecurity AS Program by 20 female students from 12 to 32 women in five months. They also increased male enrollment from 58 to 101 men.  

A critical part of the success of these efforts as they worked with IWITTS began with the creation of a WomenTech Leadership Team of Key Stakeholders for the Cybersecurity program. FTCC brought together a team of 12 key individuals in Cybersecurity education—including the Chair of the Networking Department and 6 instructors. Including a diverse pool of key stakeholders brought more ideas to the table, more people who could contribute time and efforts to events and activities, and provided more support to the Department Chair. The group worked collaboratively to develop a recruitment plan with specific goals, strategies, and activities aimed at bringing more female students into their program.

One key strategy employed by the stakeholder group to help with their recruiting was creating a female-focused career event on Women & Cybersecurity. In this case the team repurposed a “Monthly Tech Talk” event at the college and turned it into a recruitment event. They shifted the focus of the event to recruiting women and promoted it as a “Women in Technology Tech Talk.” The 2-hour event  featured female role models in Cybersecurity. The keynote speaker was in the military reserve and a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton. The keynote speaker and other female role models spoke about their experiences and their career pathways. They also encouraged participants to register for the introductory courses and spent time answering questions and interacting with the prospective students who attended.    

As you consider your own recruitment needs, it is worth thinking about how you might employ both proven strategies in your efforts.  Are you bringing together the right stakeholders: industry partners, key faculty and staff, and others on campus who could provide a pipeline of female students, or otherwise support your efforts?  Sit down and make a detailed list of everyone you could involve and consider bringing them together to create a recruitment plan.  Secondly, how can you create one or more female focused recruitment events for your STEM career pathway? Like FTCC can you take advantage of existing events and activities on campus or in your community?  Some other examples that have worked include FTCC’s Construction Team creating a Women in Construction panel within an all-day Construction event and San Diego Mesa Community College creating a Women in GIS workshop within their annual GIS Day.    These two ideas – bringing together key stakeholders and creating specific female focused events in your STEM Career Pathway – can make a dramatic difference in your recruiting efforts.  

Have you used either of these strategies successfully in your own work to recruit women to STEM? Do you have a different proven strategy that has worked for your program or ATE-funded project or center in recruiting more female students?  Please write us and share your ideas, comments, or questions at 

To learn more about the work of the National Institute for Women in Trades, Technology & Science (IWITTS)  and Donna Milgram, as well as upcoming training opportunities, please visit the project’s  website at: The project has been  working with educators nationwide  to close the gender gap for women and girls in technology since 1994.  

Keep an eye out for more blog posts that feature strategies from  Donna and  the IWITTS team. 

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PI & Co-PI Enjoy National Honors


Marilyn Barger is the only community college educator among the 122 inductees to AIMBE’s College of Fellows in 2023.

Marvelous things happened this spring to the principal investigator and co-principal investigator of Industry 4.0 Skills for Manufacturing Technicians (NSF Award 2148138)—both won national accolades for their work as community college engineering technology educators.

Marilyn Barger, principal investigator (PI) of the Industry 4.0 Advanced Technological Education (ATE) project and senior educational advisor to the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE) that she led for 17 years, was inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows.

The honor recognizes her work as a registered environmental engineer, inventor of a reverse osmosis membrane, and her influence on improvements to engineering technology programs. She was the only community college educator among this year’s 122 AIMBE inductees who were from industry or research universities.

Husam “Sam” Ajlani, co-PI on the Industry 4.0 ATE project and associate professor of engineering technology at the College of Central Florida, received the Dale P. Parnell Faculty Distinction from the American Association of Community Colleges. He was one of 42 community college educators to receive the 2023 recognition for “instructors who go above and beyond to help their students find academic success.”

Ajlani, who worked in industry for nearly 30 years before becoming a full-time community college educator, says he loves teaching. “It’s one of my favorite things to do. I see more impact in this than I did as an engineer … You can see impact daily. I mean somebody ‘gets it.’  You know some concept. The look on their face—the excitement they get when they understand something—is wonderful,” he said during a Zoom interview.

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HI-TEC Registration Now Open


An image of the HI-TEC Logo for the upcoming conference

The registration for the annual HI-TEC conference is now open! HI-TEC is an annual event that focuses on advancing technical education and promoting the development of a skilled workforce in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. This year, the conference will be held from July 24-27, 2023 at the Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center, in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Attendees for this year's conference will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of sessions, Special Interest Groups (SIG), tours, workshops, and keynote speeches, all aimed at providing the latest information and resources in STEM education. There will be over 95 sessions and workshops covering topics such as cybersecurity, robotics, data analytics, and more. Attendees will have the opportunity to network with peers and learn from experts in their field. 

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Three ATE Community Members Receive National Accolades


V. Celeste Carter receives the Truman Award at the 2023 American Association of Community Colleges Convention.

Three members of the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) community received prestigious national awards this spring.

Carter will be featured in this month’s blog post. Barger and Ajlani, who happen to be principal investigator (PI) and co-principal investigator respectively of the Industry 4.0 Skills for Manufacturing Technicians project, will be featured in the May 8th ATE Impacts Blog.

AACC selected Carter for the Truman Award in recognition of her commitment and positive impact on community colleges dating back to her role as a faculty member at Foothill College (Los Altos Hills, California), where she started the college’s biotechnology and bioinformatics programs, and for her service at the National Science Foundation.

In addition to leading an NSF-funded project at Foothill, Carter was a mentor in AACC’s MentorLinks program. MentorLinks receives ATE grant support to help community colleges develop or revamp advanced technology programs. Carter did two tours as a rotator or temporary program director at NSF during leaves from her Foothill teaching duties before joining the independent federal science agency full time in 2009 and becoming ATE’s lead program director. 

Since 1982 AACC has given the Truman Award to individuals and organizations that have had major, positive impacts on community colleges. Previous recipients include Barack Obama, when he was president of the United States; Barbara Bush, when she was first lady; Michael R. Bloomberg, when he was mayor of New York City; Jeb Bush, immediately after he was governor of Florida, cabinet officers, members of Congress, researchers, and foundation leaders. The award is named for President Harry S. Truman, who commissioned a study on higher education in 1947 that was the first to use the term “community college.”

“Celeste is completely dedicated to the success of community colleges in preparing students for the skilled technical workforce. She is an engaged and thoughtful leader and a tireless advocate who has helped to build the ATE community and to advance community colleges nationally. She inspires and supports community college innovation—and it is truly an honor to work with her,” said Ellen Hause, associate vice president of Academic and Student Affairs at AACC. Hause is also principal investigator of the Strengthening and Supporting the Community College Leadership Role in Advancing STEM Technician Education project, which supports multiple AACC initiatives that strengthen technician education and build the STEM capacities of faculty and two-year colleges. These initiatives include MentorLinks and the annual ATE Principal Investigators’ Conference.

Following the 2023 AACC Convention in Denver (April 1 to 4), Carter took the time to provide answers to questions about her national honor; her advocacy for two-year college students, faculty and institutions; and her hopes for the ATE program.  Her answers are in italics below.

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Janet Teng Makes the Most of Undergraduate Research Experiences


Janet Teng

In her first days at Pasadena City College (PCC) in fall 2020 Janet Teng told a STEM coordinator that she was interested in research. Most importantly she followed the coordinator’s recommendation that she talk with Jared Ashcroft. A natural sciences professor, Ashcroft leads PCC’s undergraduate research program and serves as principal investigator of the Micro Nano Technology Education Center (MNT-EC).

“I just went from there,” Teng said, modestly acknowledging the numerous research projects – including two undergraduate research experiences supported by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program – that have led to her winning national accolades.

In 2022 alone Teng was admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received a Barry Goldwater Scholarship, the U.S. government’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarship for sophomores and juniors who plan to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, math, and engineering. 

In late summer 2021 she won the Ignite Off! Competition hosted by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE). Federal agency interns – including university and graduate students – participate in the annual competition. Teng’s presentation “Understanding Corrosion One Atom at a Time,” summarized research she did as a summer intern at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. Her research there was included in a paper published by Cambridge University Press.

Upon her return to PCC in fall 2021 she started a yearlong, paid internship at the California Institute of Technology as MNT-EC’s first student in the Skills Training in Advanced Research & Technology (START) program. That initiative allows ATE projects to place community college students in paid internships at Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers, which receive National Science Foundation funding.

Teng recently learned she’s been selected for another prestigious internship. This summer she will be part of a research team that is modeling exoplanets at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

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Navigating Virtual, Hybrid, and In-Person Conferences


A person looking at another person over the computer screen

Conferences have always been an essential part of professional development for NSF ATE grantees providing opportunities for networking, learning about new developments and trends in industry, and expanding knowledge and skills.

With the advent of virtual and hybrid conferences, attendees now have more options to choose from when it comes to attending conferences. This post discusses the differences between virtual, hybrid, and in-person conferences and highlights some of the ATE centers doing all of the above. 

Virtual Conferences

Virtual conferences, also known as online conferences, are entirely online events. Attendees can access the conference from anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection. Virtual conferences can take many forms, such as live-streamed events, webinars, or pre-recorded sessions that attendees can watch at their convenience.

The Building Efficiency for a Sustainable Tomorrow (BEST) Center, which supports heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration, building automation, and energy/facilities management, pivoted to entirely virtual formats for their annual institute on high-performance building operations. The institutes have been a success with many speakers, events, and lots of knowledge sharing among participants. The BEST center also helps create networking opportunities for attendees by not only having impactful speakers but also providing  roundtable discussions so that attendees can connect online. The institute is always free to attend. The keynote presentation from their 2023 annual institute can be viewed here.

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NCAT Shares Lessons Learned from Experience STEAM


Teens recruited by Marnita’s Table meet with NCAT staffers before Experience STEAM. (Pine Peak Media)

Staffers at the National Center for Autonomous Technologies (NCAT) not only coordinated the massive Experience STEAM event at the Mall of America in August, they released a detailed 65-page Experience STEAM Impact Report of what worked and what didn’t to help principal investigators of Advanced Technological Education (ATE) projects and centers plan large-scale, collaborative outreach events.

“Experience STEAM was a first-of-its-kind-event with a tremendous amount of challenges and successes. We believe that between the best practices and lessons learned, a great framework for similar NSF ATE events in other markets has been built,” the report states. ATE projects and centers receive grants from the National Science Foundation’s ATE program.


Twenty-six ATE projects and centers were among the 57 corporations, nonprofit organizations, and academic institutions that partnered with NCAT on the dozens of hands-on learning experiences NCAT calls “activations” at the Minnesota mall that 394,120 people visited from August 10 to 14, 2022. (See “ATE centers show off their stuff at Mall of America”)

Jonathan Beck, NCAT executive director, calls Experience STEAM “a revolutionary approach to educational outreach. NCAT believes experiential learning provided by two-year technician education is a driving force in advancing social and economic mobility.”

The Experience STEAM event at the Mall of America “was created to spark excitement in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) concepts, education, and careers.”

Next Test of “Revolutionary Approach” to Outreach  

NCAT is testing this approach again—albeit on a smaller scale—with Experience Northland Aerospace on February 24 at Northland Community and Technical College, the host institution for NCAT. Beck says this iteration aims “to create deep connections” between the region’s residents and the technician education programs at Northland.

Based on pre-registration, this local event is off to a strong start. All 550 activity slots from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for students in grades 7 to 12 were filled by late January. The 86,000-square-foot aerospace facility will be open to the community in the evening (without reservations) for free activities like virtual reality drone races and lessons in programming, riveting joints, and constructing pneumatic systems.

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Select Resources for Outreach 


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


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


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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