Archive for the ‘ATE Community’ Category

Stay Tuned: It’s Never Too Early to Get Started

Monday, August 8th, 2011

It’s never too early to start thinking about college and in the new fall season, ATETV will focus on some of the programs and preparations that can help high-school students start paving their way to a successful college experience.

The “From High School to College” series will provide viewers with firsthand accounts from students, teachers and guidance counselors. Here’s a preview of what’s to come:

Dual-enrollment programs. Did you know that many community colleges offer students the opportunity to take classes while they’re still in high school? Dual enrollment provides a head start on earning credit hours and getting a taste of college life, and ATETV will talk with students and their teachers at various high schools about the experience. In one video for example, we’ll visit a college-level Web Design class where students are simultaneously earning high-school and college credits. We’ll also share resources and information to help viewers learn about dual enrollment opportunities in their communities.

Making the transition.
ATETV will also visit programs like one community college “bridge” program that is helping students make the transition from high-school to college – and preparing them for success in technology and STEM fields. Through the videos and blogs, we’ll also share tips and ideas with students and their families to help with the college-preparation process: where to go for background materials, suggestions for informational interviews and ways that students can start developing the skills and habits that colleges – and employers – value and expect.

Stay tuned – a new season is just around the corner!

Stay Tuned for Tech Tips

Friday, July 29th, 2011

No matter what STEM career you choose to pursue — Information Technology, Precision Agriculture, Marine Technology, or any of the many other options available to STEM graduates — there are many basic skills that are expected of employees.

Next fall, ATETV will focus on these various important aspects of employment through a series of segments called, “Tech Tips”.

Tech Tips will cover the need-to-know information: What certifications do I need to advance in my career? How do I develop the written and verbal communications skills that are critical to every industry? It will also provide critically important reminders — such as the need to keep your online Web reputation professional.

Throughout the season, blog posts will further expand on these and the soft skills that are needed for job success. If the term is unfamiliar, “soft skills” refers to the cluster of personal qualities and habits that employees bring to the job. We’ll talk with human resource experts to learn more about time management, problem-solving skills and the need for flexibility and adaptability in today’s rapidly changing marketplace. And, we’ll provide background tips for putting together a resume, conducting a job search and getting references.

Whether you’re career-hunting, new to the career, looking to advance — or still deciding on a career — you can always use a few tips.

Inside Industry: Reality TV for Tomorrow’s Technicians

Monday, July 25th, 2011

If you want to train students in the technologies of the future, who better to turn to than the industries that will employ these future technicians?

One of the hallmarks of the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program has always been the close collaboration ATE has established between community colleges and industry to produce the up-to-date curriculum necessary to produce a job-ready workforce.

That’s why we’re excited to tell you about a new series of ATETV programs coming up this fall. Called “Inside Industry,” the segments will take viewers behind the scenes of some of the country’s leading industries, including manufacturing, welding, and information technologies.

These in-depth “job descriptions” will go beyond employer interviews to provide a real-life look at work environments, equipment, skills and people — presented from the perspective of recently hired technicians and their supervisors. You’ll see inside an advanced-tech manufacturing plant. You’ll watch a welder work with laser precision. You’ll hear firsthand from some of the country’s biggest leaders in the IT field.

Stay tuned –through “Inside Industry,” prospective students and educators alike will get a glimpse of the work life of today’s technicians and will hear straight talk from their employers about the opportunities and challenges that are part of today’s rapidly changing workplaces.

Talk about reality TV!

Teamwork Pays Off

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Teamwork is integral to any successful career, and ATE programs help students develop important team-building skills. This week’s blog is from Laura Floyd of Florence-Darlington Technical College and her ATE English 260 students who shared their insights on the importance of teamwork.

The class submits:

More and more often the workplace looks for workers who have been trained in teamwork or who have had experience working in teams. Students in the ATE program at Florence-Darlington Technical College work in teams to complete group assignments. In their first semester, students learn ways to make a team function most efficiently.

Florence Darlington 1 Specific lessons focus on making rules and procedures for the team, having assigned roles and responsibilities, developing good interpersonal skills, and making checklists and timelines. Because faculty members “team-teach” the ATE curriculum, we often model the same basic teaming procedures that we’re teaching.

The college’s second-semester students recently completed their first group project, and as part of their assignment, they posted their comments about teamwork to the college’s discussion board. As many of the students commented, there is a need to feel a sense of unity within the team.

Corey S. : The purpose of a team is to pull together to get the job done and if any team can do that then that team is successful.

Thomas: I completely agree with what Corey said. The purpose of a team is to come together to solve a problem, allowing each others’ strengths to compensate for weaknesses. The only way a team can work is by removing the mindset of “how will this affect me?” and start thinking in a way that says, “How will this affect the team?” Teams are made and destroyed by this ability to remove oneself from the equation and think about the good of the team.

Research has shown that students who feel a sense of belonging are more likely to Florence Darlington 2succeed and less likely to drop out. Here’s what one student noted:

Caleb: The concept of teamwork is extremely important to the success of any team. All coaches talk about working as one unit, as a unified team. Teamwork and unselfishness create the backbone of a great team; without them, a team cannot realistically compete. You can have a group of superstars, but if they do not work well as one unit, chances are they are not going to be as successful as you would think. The working as one cohesive unit is going to be the key in their success.

Another key component of working in teams is developing good interspersonal skills:

Greg: [Teamwork] not only prepares you for the workplace, but helps your people skills. I also agree with Corey and Thomas on the fact that the groups help maximize your better strengths and improve your weaknesses. Last semester was the first time I ever worked in groups, and I enjoyed the experiences overall. People skills are required to work well in groups and I think I work really well with others no matterFlorence Darlington 3 their background.

Most of the students emphasized the “two heads are better than one” value of teamwork:

James: Last semester we had to build an assembly line to prcess different styles of radios. These radios were placed on a chute and then conveyed to a point in the system where they wer processed onto one of five lines to be loaded onto trucks and shipped to the customer. Our team of three, with different backgrounds and experiences, proved to be beneficial because we were able to divide the problems into sections that each person was familiar with. One member figured the velocity of the radios moving down the chute while a second member designed a box to transport the radio, and I designed a turntable to position the radio from the conveyor onto the correct processing line.

Although the comments on working in teams were mostly favorable, students also noted the hard parts of teamwork — being dependent on other students, having teammates who don’t do their part.

Reade: Good teamwork skills are something that everyone should have. Working in teams is a good way to complete large-scale projects. Sometimes your teammates may fall short on completing their work and it puts a heavier load on everyone else.

Brent: I completely agree with Reade on teamwork. All members of a team must perform together and work with each other to get the job done. I believe that every member needs to get an equal amount of the project so one member can’t complain to another; also teamwork calls forFlorence Darlington 4 a lot of communications among team members.

Scott: Like anything else, teamwork has its ups and downs. Some of the good things about teamwork are less work for the individual person, better ideas since there are more people, and skills that the people in your team have. Some downfalls of teamwork are stress [resulting] from team members not doing their parts, people not showing up for meetings, and not agreeing on ideas.

Usually, the “A” students are the most reluctant to rely on others.

Steven: Teamwork is a big part of the ATE program here at Florence-Darlington Tech. In real-world engineering situations, we are going to be a part of a team working together. Team projects prepare us for our future careers. At first I was concerned that a bad teammate could possibly affect my grade, but everyone here is serious about achieving his or her goals and is really dependable when it comes to work required for projects.

Brian: I am sometimes an individual when it comes to certain things, wanting to accept my total reward for my work without sharing the lime light. I have also been in groups where everyone didn’t carry their weight as a team player, making it harder for others in the group, and affecting the team’s grade, or accepting recognition for work they did not do. Florence Darlington 5

Even the students who dislike working in teams, recognize its value. They know that the skills that come from being a part of a team will be useful to them in their next big venture — the workplace.

India: Teamwork is an essential asset in today’s workforce. It allows individuals to obtain better communication skills, complete the job faster and meet new people.

Thanks to Laura Floyd and all of the Florence-Darlington students in her ATE English 260 class for their comments and insights — great teamwork!

ATETV Episode 22: More on Green Jobs and Industry Partnerships; Plus, Computer Careers

Monday, February 15th, 2010

This week, we’re continuing with a couple of topics from recent weeks: industry partnerships and green jobs. We’re also profiling a young father who’s fitting in his own homework in computer security between helping his kids with theirs.

First, we head to Bristol Community College to profile the partnership between the ATE program there and the local environmental and mechanical engineering industries. At Bristol, that partnership translates to input on curriculum via an industrial advisory board, and access to valuable internships like the one student Mike Poitras completed at a desalination plant.

Mike’s position at the plant is the kind of job that can’t be outsourced. The same goes for the energy technician jobs that Sinclair Community College is training its students to fill. The demand for these positions making buildings more energy efficient already outstrips the supply of workers, and the gap is widening. “The problem is not going to be a market” for these service, predicts Mike Train of Certified Energy Raters LLC. “It’s going to be having boots on the ground to service that market.”

One reason energy conservation is becoming a hot topic is the amount of electricity that our computers and other digital devices are consuming. At Springfield Technical Community College, student Francisco Nofal studying computer security, another hot career in our increasingly wired world. Francisco enrolled at STCC after a layoff. Now he’s balancing his studies with being a husband and father. “I get homework, they get homework, so I can’t do mine when I get home. I gotta wait, help them with theirs.”

Hopefully for Francisco all that homework will pay off, for him and his kids. Tune in next week for three more ATE success stories like his!

Lesson Plan: Building Trebuchets and Teamwork

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

As we saw in this week’s episode, community colleges and industry have come together to prepare students for in-demand jobs. But as we’ve been hearing from many ATETV viewers, employers are looking for more than just technical know-how. They’re also looking for employees who know how to communicate and who can work well in a group.

To that end, this week we’re presenting a lesson plan used by Jerry Duncan, head of the Process Technology program at College of the Mainland featured in this week’s episode. In this exercise, teams of students work together to build trebuchets — a kind of catapult that uses a counterweight to launch its ordinance.

“Each team is given the same plans and material to build a trebuchet, then the competition begins,” explains Duncan. “The team with the most accurate, longest throwing trebuchet receives the highest grade. The students are also peer graded on their work and contribution to the team.”

But what does a medieval siege weapon have to do with Process Technology? It all comes down to teamwork and the changing workplace. “Modern manufacturing sites have computerized and modernized their work processes so that many layers of supervision are gone,” explains Duncan. “The employees typically work in teams. They have few supervisors, so they have to work together with minimal direction to meet their production and quality goals.”

Duncan reports that the lesson is a big hit with his students. “They spend hours building, testing and refining their trebuchets,” he says. “They have learned teamwork skills, mechanical skills and basic troubleshooting skills, all of which will help them in their new careers in Process Technology.” And although Duncan uses this plan with community college students, it’s easily adaptable to high school classes.

Click here to download the lesson plan. Thanks to Jerry Duncan for his help with this week’s blog entry!

ATETV Episode 21: Industry/Community College Partnerships

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Last week we focused on the demand for technician jobs, green and otherwise. This week we’re looking at how community colleges are teaming up with industry leaders to meet that demand.

“We couldn’t exist without the technical college,” says Jill Heiden of ESAB Welding and Cutting Products in South Carolina. “They create the students that help us produce our products.”

And because these students are so vital, industry has taken an active role in their education. “Industry partners are valuable at helping you develop curriculum in the college,” says Elaine Craft, head of the South Carolina ATE Center. “You discuss what it is that they need and how you can best meet those needs.”

That industry/education partnership is going strong in South Carolina, but it’s an important part of ATE programs across the country. At The College of the Mainland in Texas, Process Technology students like Umair Virani are learning how to use the same equipment in the field at major oil refineries. Umair actually has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, but he decided he wanted hands-on experience that would let him work in an environment outside the lab.

Finally, we visit the Video Simulation and Game Development program at Wake Technical Community College, which is located near the Research Triangle in North Carolina, a hotbed of the game industry. Wake Technical’s Kai Wang says one of the missions of the program is “trying to meet local industry demand” from those game makers.

To accomplish that, the school asks the industry for input. “We work very closely with industry representatives, advisory committees, and they really drive what we train individuals on,” explains Wake’s Robert Grove. “When students are finished with us, they are ready to enter the workforce because we have designed that program based upon what they have told us to do.”

Whether it’s video game design, oil refining or high-tech manufacturing, employers are looking for specific skills. By working with them directly, community colleges are making sure that the lessons they are teaching are preparing students for the real world.

ATETV Episode 20: It’s All about Jobs

Monday, February 1st, 2010

ATETV hits a milestone with its 20th episode this week, and we’re marking the occasion by focusing on the issue of jobs and the needs of our workforce. In particular, this week we look at how ATE programs are training students for work in the new green economy, and to meet the high demand for technicians in many fields.

First, we head out to Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where Jonathan Terry is studying to be a wind turbine technician. Jonathan actually has a bachelor’s degree in international business, but he went back to school because he saw that wind energy is a growing industry.

Jonathan’s story illustrates a larger issue we cover in our second segment this week: the need for skilled technicians in many industries, from green tech to lab work. “The ability for the two-year community colleges to deliver these workers as quickly as they can, this is an area that has become critical to the United States economic position in the world,” says Ellen Bemben of the Regional Technology Corporation.

Finally, we take a look at one specific type of green job that’s in high demand. Sinclair Community College is partnering with affordable housing groups to conduct energy audits and weatherize homes. “It creates an awareness about what can be gained from energy efficiency,” says Sinclair’s Bob Gilbert. “And the possibilities for our students in the job market just keeps increasing and increasing.”

As the country continues to focus on creating more opportunities for the future, students should look into community colleges as a fast, cost-effective way to prepare for secure, in-demand careers.

ATETV Episode 19: On the Cutting Edge

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

When people think high-tech, they often think of laser beams and white lab coats. Well, we have both of those represented this week, but we start somewhere unexpected: out on the farm.

Joe Tarrence, a second-year student at Kirkwood Community College, is studying how to use GPS to help farmers increase their yields. Joe’s already out in the workforce, selling equipment to farmers and advising them on how to use it. “The sky’s the limit with this precision farming,” he says.

Next we meet Jazmine Murphy, a student in the lasers and photonics program at Central Carolina Community College. CCCC has made a concerted effort to recruit students, particularly young women with an interest in science and engineering. And with applications ranging from telephone lines to the military, Jazmine’s experience with lasers should serve her well after graduation.

Finally, we learn about biomanufacturing, which is the use of living organisms or parts of them to produce drugs like vaccines or insulin. It’s “using cells that you genetically modify to act as factories for your biomanufactured product,” explains Sonia Wallerman of the Northeast Biomanufacturing Center and Collaborative.

Whether they involve lasers, living cells or tractors, ATE programs are helping students stay on the cutting-edge of technology. And that will help them find jobs in these high-tech industries coming out of school.

Gary Beasley: Recruiting for the Future

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

As head of the lasers and photonics program at Central Carolina Community College, Gary Beasley spends much of his time recruiting students, speaking at local high schools and putting on laser workshops.

When he meets prospective students, Gary asks them a series of questions to judge whether they would be a good fit for the program: “Are you interested in science? Technology? Learning just how things work? Do you enjoy problem solving – any type of problem solving? Do you enjoy helping people with problems? How do you feel about math? Do you like it? Are you comfortable with it?”

If you answered yes to these questions, you might be exactly the type of student that Gary – and other ATE program heads – are looking for. Students like the ones in these stories Gary shared with us:

“One of my students worked his way through the program at a chicken &
barbeque restaurant that I frequently visited,” he recounts. “During his second year, he landed a job as a technician, making $40,000, working second shift while he finished school. Upon graduation, he was lured to another company at $50,000.”

Another former student has his name on two patents for optical systems, just four years after graduating!

Then there is the mother and daughter who both went through the program. Originally, the mother attended a laser workshop with her youngest daughter and was so impressed that she enrolled for herself. Her oldest daughter, an accounting major, was so taken with her mother’s success that she switched over, too. Now both women work at a major laser manufacturer and love their careers.

With success stories like these, it’s no wonder that enrollment in the program is up the past couple of years!

If you are considering lasers and photonics as a career path, Gary recommends a two-year associate degree over a four-year degree. In addition to its lower cost and hands-on approach, Gary sees the two-year program as the best route to further education. “You will be able to get a high-paying, high-tech job in two years and can continue your education while making high pay,” he says. “And more than likely, the company you work for will cover the majority of your continued education toward higher degrees.”

Like many ATE programs, CCCC’s laser and photonics program is a gateway to a lucrative career and to further studies in the field. With advantages like that, it’s a program that practically sells itself.