Archive for the ‘Students’ 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.

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 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.

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.

ATETV Episode 16: ATE in Virtual and Real Worlds

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Technology is changing the way we interact with the physical world; it even lets us create entire digital realities that exist only within a computer. This week we look at three ATE programs operating at different spots on the spectrum between reality and virtual reality.

First, we visit the simulation and game development program at Wake Technical Community College, where students are immersed in virtual worlds of their own design. The curriculum is intense; student Ryan Snell recalls a class where he had to make a new video game every two weeks. “It was the greatest experience I’ve ever had,” he says. Another student, Aisha Eskandari, is adding a side project to her course load, coding a simulation to teach people CPR. Her work is a good example of virtual reality having a positive impact on the real world.

Another blending of the real and virtual is geospatial technology, which creates digital maps of the physical world. Central Piedmont Community College is spreading the word about this growing field by reaching out to high school students. “Students can take our courses free of charge while in high school, and get college credit as well as high school credit, and earn a certificate before they ever come here as a college student,” says Central Piedmont’s Rodney Jackson.

If geospatial technology straddles the real and the virtual, civil engineering is all about building the infrastructure that makes the real world work. That’s the appeal for Bristol Community College student Vittorio Pascal, who’s come back to school to change careers. “I like the possibility of a work environment where I’m not necessarily crammed into a four-by-four cube.”

Whether you want to work out in field like Vittorio or are more comfortable in front of a computer, chances are there’s an ATE program that will appeal to you.

ATE and This Year’s Hottest Gifts

Monday, January 4th, 2010

We talk a lot on this blog about the practical, real-world application of ATE programs. In keeping with the holiday spirit, we’re going to do that this week by taking a look at some of the loot you might be playing with this winter break.

GPS: Perhaps you got a GPS device for your car this year, or a new smartphone with GPS capabilities. If so, you’re part of the growing number of consumers making use of Geospatial Information Services (GIS), a hot field that keeps coming up on ATETV. GIS has major industrial applications as well, from agricultural technology to environmental engineering.

3-D & CGI: One of the hottest movies this holiday season has been Avatar, which is pushing the boundaries of 3-D and computer-generated imagery (CGI). The same can be said for the hottest video games, which every year get closer and closer to photorealism. If you’re a sci-fi fan or avid gamer, you might considering enrolling in an ATE program in game design, simulation design or drafting and graphics engineering at your local community college. New technology is even letting students “print” their designs as 3-D models.

Gadgets: When it comes to geek gifts, Internet connectivity is the latest trend. From smartphones that can surf the Web to e-readers that download books wirelessly to HDTVs that can plug directly into a home network, the hottest gadgets rely on the ’Net for their killer features. In Information and Communications Technology (ICT) programs like the one at Springfield Technical Community College, students learn how to keep networks online and secure.

Science Gifts: Then there are the classic gifts for the science-minded: microscopes, chemistry sets and remote-control robotics kits. If you received one of these gifts, you might enjoy an ATE program. Biotechnology student Shain Eighmey got his first microscope when he was five, a gift that sparked a lifelong interest in biology. More mechanically inclined? At Bristol Community College, students graduate from Erector sets and radio-controlled cars to building fully functional underwater robots.

So as you’re enjoying your gifts from this past holiday season, think about the science and technology that goes into them. Maybe you’ll be inspired to look into an ATE program!

ATETV Episode 14: Biotech in High School; Drafting and Graphic Engineering

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Only two stories in this holiday week episode, but they’re good ones. First, we visit Southwestern College near San Diego to learn about an innovative program that is bringing biotechnology into high school science classrooms. Biotech is a booming field, so much so that Southwestern heard from companies in the industry that the supply of technicians wasn’t keeping up with demand. That’s why the college started reaching out to students at local high schools. We were so impressed with the results that we did a separate post about the program; you can read it here.

Ashley, the subject of this week’s second segment, also got an early start on her career plans. “When I was in high school, we took a drafting program and that started my ambition for architecture,” she tells us. “Then my father, he noticed that I was really good at it, so he kind of steered me in the right direction.” That direction led to the engineering technology program at Florence-Darlington Technical College, where Ashley will earn in two years a degree that will let her work for an architect. “I am so happy that I made this choice,” she says.

On behalf of everyone here at ATETV, we wish you and your family a very happy holidays!