Advanced Technological Education Program Brings Two-Year Colleges and Industry Together to Educate New Workforce
Report describes the impact of NSF's premier initiative with two-year colleges on efforts to maintain U.S. lead in competitive technological marketplace
To keep up with increasing competition in science and technology, the United States is seeking ways to prepare a technically savvy science and engineering workforce.
The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program is one example of an approach that's achieving solid results. By providing collaborations between two-year colleges and industry, the program equips current and next generations of science and engineering technicians with the latest skills and tools to compete in the global marketplace.
In ATE Centers Impact 2006-2007, a recently released report, the NSF-supported centers present an overview of the program, along with an analysis of the ATE centers' impact on business and industry, and highlights from more than 30 centers around the country.
"Through this report, I invite you to explore the success of the ATE Centers," said NSF Director Arden L. Bement, Jr. "The centers are national resources for training technicians in strategic advanced technology fields. They ensure that technicians are prepared to be vital contributors in complex, modern workplaces. They accomplish this by creating partnerships among educators, industry and government. This report provides a clear picture of the value of such coordinated public and private collaborations."
According to the report, the ATE program reached 48,000 secondary school students, 320,000 two-year college students, and 6,000 students at baccalaureate institutions from 2000-2005. ATE-supported programs were offered at about 800 locations during that same period.
"The ATE Centers, described in this publication, constitute a tremendous effort by our nation's community colleges," said Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, who also serves as chair of the National Governors Association. "They have taken leadership roles with their partners in industry, government, and other education sectors to address workforce challenges. We all realize our ability to compete and lead in local, national, and global marketplaces is strongly dependent on the knowledge and skills of our workforce. The centers have risen to this challenge."
An example of the success achieved by the NSF-funded ATE Centers is that of the Center for Advancement of Process Technology (CAPT) in Texas City, Texas. CAPT has worked with 43 partner colleges to produce 5,726 highly skilled technicians who are working in companies vital to the United States economy, such as BP, Conoco-Phillips, Dow Chemical, Shell and Exxon Mobil. CAPT reports that 73 percent of students who undertook internships with industry partners were hired as full-time employees within six months after graduation with a yearly salary range of $40,000 to $60,000.
Established in 1992, the congressionally mandated ATE program seeks to improve the quantity, quality and diversity of the nation's science and engineering technicians at a variety of institutions. In the beginning, the program supported three centers around the nation. Today, there are 33 centers and more than 200 other technician education projects supported by the program.
"This is a one-of-a-kind program because it offers pathways to technician careers for students and the workforce at all levels," said Elizabeth Teles, NSF lead for the ATE program in the Division of Undergraduate Education. "We are educating students to be highly qualified technicians for today's labor force and offering them tools that will help them adapt as the marketplace changes."
The ATE Centers highlighted in the ATE Centers Impact report (available at www.atecenters.org) focus on agricultural technology and biotechnology, chemical and process technology, engineering technology, environmental technology, information technology, and manufacturing technology and nanotechnology. The American Association of Community Colleges plans to publish a companion volume in 2007, highlighting ATE projects.
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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