Training Center's Opening Highlights Technological Workforce Needs
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The grand opening today of a new technology education center in the Seattle area marks a milestone for the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Program.
The new Northwest Center for Emerging Technologies (NWCET) was dedicated at a ceremony in Bellevue, Washington. This is the second major ATE center NSF has supported in the critical fields of information technology and telecommunications. NSF has funded 10 other such ATE programs on a smaller scale around the United States.
Dignitaries at today's ceremonial event included NSF Acting Deputy Director Joe Bordogna, Washington Governor Gary Locke, Boeing Corporation Chairman and CEO Phil Condit and Microsoft COO Bob Herbold.
NSF initiated the ATE Program in 1994 in an effort to meet the education needs of the expanding high-performance workplace through education programs at two-year and community colleges.
"The ATE program-exemplified by the NWCET-focuses on the needs of our future workforce, which will need to be more highly qualified and educated, more technically competent, and more versatile," said Luther S. Williams, assistant NSF director for education programs.
"Our nation's population of advanced technology workers and our educational pipeline that produces them have become major areas of interest in industry and government because of an acute demand on technical human resource supply in our increasingly high tech society," commented Williams said. "The NWCET was spawned three years ago, partly in anticipation of this growing demand and interest, and today we formally celebrate the opening of this important educational center that will help feed the workforce needs of the future."
The NWCET coordinates a network of collaborative partnerships between Bellevue Community College and the Boeing Corporation, Microsoft, and numerous other private-industry partners and educational institutions.
The purpose of the NWCET-coordinated network is to support high-quality advanced technological education for information technology and its application to existing and emerging technologies. The center seeks to strengthen mathematics, science, and technical curricula as well as teaching and student support systems. Curriculum templates have been designed to provide a model to articulate advanced technological education-from high school through the four-year college level. NWCET also is improving technological education through new courseware and coordinating professional development programs for faculty and professional technicians.
"An important accomplishment of the NWCET to date includes the development and validation of skills standards for information technology workers," says NSF's ATE program co-director Elizabeth Teles. "Another milestone in the center's evolution is the fact that many other institutions are now emulating NWCET's process for developing and validating skills standards."
A comprehensive recruiting system has been developed to attract and retain students and to monitor and assess their progress through core competencies, job placement and career advancement.
"Thanks to efforts of the NWCET, we are learning that increasing numbers of parents and students alike are taking seriously the notion that technician education leads to rewarding, open-ended careers and may be an ideal choice for many students making career choices after high school," said program co-director Gerhard Salinger.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
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