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Frontiers
NSF Helps Two-Year Colleges Train Tomorrow's Technicians

March/April 1998

In 1995, the Department of Labor predicted that 80 percent of the nation's new jobs in upcoming years would require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. Clearly, two-year colleges have a place in the future.

At Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, the future lies in high-tech manufacturing, according to David Harrison, manager of an NSF Advanced Technology Education (ATE) grant. He is working to develop a two-year degree program that includes physics, chemistry, math and computer programming. "We want to break down some of the myths," Harrison says, "and show that manufacturing is in fact a high-tech career choice."

As one of the first programs to address the educational needs of science and engineering technicians specifically, NSF's ATE program also sponsors two-year programs in aerospace technology, biotechnology, computer technology, electronics, geographical information systems and physics.

ATE started as part of the 1992 Scientific and Advanced Technology Act. Congress was concerned that U.S. industry would lose its competitive edge without highly trained technicians; NSF was charged with creating an educational program to address the needs of science and engineering technicians.

The primary focus is on two-year college students, but most ATE programs go beyond that. They create teacher development programs, support curriculum development, and cooperate with four-year colleges and universities in program development.
[October 1995]


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