Archive for December, 2009

ATETV Episode 15: From Protecting the Environment to Protecting Data Online

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009



This week, we’re looking at three fields that are absolutely vital to our modern infrastructure. This is the stuff that has to work so the rest of us can get to work.

First, we visit the Engineering Technology program at Bristol Community College, where students can specialize in Environmental Technology – “essentially, any type of technology designed to enhance or protect our environment,” according to BCC’s Anthony Ucci. That includes working on the wastewater and freshwater treatment systems that keep our water supply clean and drinkable.

Next we head to the College of the Mainland to learn more about Process Technology – “taking material and turning it into something useful,” according to program director Jerry Duncan. Process Technology covers everything from making oil into gasoline, or malt and hops into beer. Student Zachary Bundy is doing an internship through the Process Technology program there; he considers it an extended job interview for a position after he graduates.

If Environmental and Process Technology each keep our physical infrastructure humming, then Information Security is what keeps our virtual infrastructure safe and online when we need it. That’s one of the majors offered at Springfield Technical Community College. With more data going online – including financial transactions – Information Security is a growth industry. And according to STCC’s Andrew Maynard, the sensitive nature of the information being protected means that security jobs are less likely to be outsourced than others.

Check back next week for the next episode of ATETV. Until then, have a happy new year!

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!

Starting Early: Bringing Biotech to High Schools

Monday, December 21st, 2009



One of the hottest tech fields right now is biotechnology, especially around San Diego. The need for trained technicians is so great, in fact, that the biotechnology program at nearby Southwestern College (SWC) has begun reaching out to area high schools to bring more young people into the field.

We reached out to Nouna Bakhiet, head of SWC’s biotechnology program and an ATETV advisor, for more details — and for some tips for educators looking to do something similar.

How did the program get started?

The collaboration started when an SWC counselor began working with the principal at nearby Eastlake High School; it then expanded to include two other schools in the Sweetwater Union High School District. SWC collaborated with all three schools and the district superintendent when making its grant application for the program.

How does the program work?

One secret to the program’s success has been the close interaction between college and high school teachers. “The teachers complete a summer workshop to prepare for receiving the outreach in their classrooms,” explains Bakhiet. “SWC Biotechnology Program participants act as teaching assistants to the high school teachers during outreach. SWC college faculty supervise the outreach.”

As for designing the curriculum, Bakhiet says the trick is knowing the existing guidelines and working within them. “There are already in place high school course standards that are aligned with college requirements,” she explains. “We researched these high school standards requirements and designed the outreach activities accordingly. The rigor of the college program remains unchanged.”

And because the SWC biotechnology program has several different tracks, it has been able to accommodate students of varying levels without having to make major changes to its courses.

How is it funded?

SWC’s program is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Biotechnology Education and Training Sequence Investment (BETSI) Project. Additional funding to provide equipment to the high schools has come from federal Perkins grants, and from private philanthropy from the LIPP Foundation.

The program is also exploring other innovative funding models. “Starting in 2010, SWC will launch a not-for-profit, student-run business initiative to sustain the BETSI outreach model,” says Bakhiet.

While the NSF remains the single best source of funding for programs of this kind, Bakhiet also notes that special sources of funding are available for historically black institutions and for schools serving hispanic population. “Bio-Link is an excellent source for funding information.”

Has the program succeeded in attracting students to biotechnology?

Yes, and Bakhiet points to the student success stories on SWC’s Web site to prove it. Among them is Marina Watanabe, who has been featured previously on ATETV. Other SWC alums include April Weissmiller, now a graduate student at Stanford; Alberto Rodriguez, who collaborated on a paper published in the science journal Nature; and Amber Perry, who works for Cibus Global, a firm that engineers environmentally friendly crops strains.

What practical advice does Bakhiet have for starting one of these programs?

Start early. “Allocate about one year to research the needs of the region,” Bakhiet advises. She also suggests engaging an experienced grant writer when seeking funding for a collaboration, and to allow three to six months to complete a proposal.

Bakhiet also suggests educators look into serving on the committee of a grant-making institution before applying, so as to observe the process and see what works and what doesn’t.

Educators interested in biotechnology outreach to high schools, and in setting up internships for biotech graduates, should check out the BETSI program model online.

Thanks so much to Nouna Bakhiet for her help this week!

Student Update: From Community College to a Four-year Degree

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

In this week’s first segment, we meet Shain Eighmey, a graduate of the biotechnology program at Great Bay Community College (GBCC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Shain is a great example of how a community college degree can give students a head start to a four-year degree; he’s currently finishing up his bachelor’s in microbiology at the University of New Hampshire.
“What I learned in the two-year program at Great Bay Community College really gave me a great head start at UNH,” Shain told us when we checked in for an update this week. “My credits all transferred, and I found that I had a much better understanding of biology and biochemistry than many of the other students I was taking classes with at UNH.”
Shain thinks GBCC’s hands-on approach has given him a leg up on his fellow UNH students. “I spent a great deal of my time at GBCC in the labs, working with real lab equipment using real lab techniques, and that’s an advantage that has really done great things for me,” he said.
His community college education has also helped Shain in the classroom, as he learned in his virology class his very first day at UNH: “The professor asked the class to describe the difference between transcription and translation, and the first few students who answered the question were incorrect! I was very surprised, as this was something that we had gone over in great detail in the Biotechnology classes at GBCC.”
Shain’s the rare student who knew in high school what he wanted to do for a career, but he says he’s been guided by some simple advice that he received from his grandparents. “Do what interests you,” he advises other students. “Studying, working, and paying attention in a lecture is much easier when the subject matter is something you have a passion for.”
Shain is planning on graduating from UNH this spring. He’s in the process of applying for master’s programs and other opportunities. Whatever comes next, his time at GBCC and his own work ethic have put him in a great position to succeed.

In this week’s first segment, we meet Shain Eighmey, a graduate of the biotechnology program at Great Bay Community College (GBCC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Shain is a great example of how community colleges can help propel students towards a four-year degree; he’s currently finishing up his bachelor’s in microbiology at the University of New Hampshire (UNH).

“What I learned in the two-year program at Great Bay Community College really gave me a great head start at UNH,” Shain told us when we checked in for an update this week. “My credits all transferred, and I found that I had a much better understanding of biology and biochemistry than many of the other students I was taking classes with at UNH.”

Shain thinks GBCC’s hands-on approach has given him a leg up on his fellow UNH students. “I spent a great deal of my time at GBCC in the labs, working with real lab equipment using real lab techniques, and that’s an advantage that has really done great things for me,” he said.

His community college education has also helped Shain in the classroom, as he learned in his virology class his very first day at UNH: “The professor asked the class to describe the difference between transcription and translation, and the first few students who answered the question were incorrect! I was very surprised, as this was something that we had gone over in great detail in the biotechnology classes at GBCC.”

Shain’s the rare student who knew in high school what he wanted to do for a career, but he says he’s been guided by some simple advice that he received from his grandparents: “Do what interests you. Studying, working, and paying attention in a lecture is much easier when the subject matter is something you have a passion for.”

Shain plans to graduate from UNH this spring. He’s in the process of applying for master’s programs and other opportunities. Whatever comes next, his time at GBCC and his own work ethic have put him in a great position to succeed.

ATETV Episode 13: Technology in the Lab and on the Farm

Monday, December 14th, 2009

This week we’re exploring how ATE programs are preparing students for work not only in traditional high-tech settings like medical laboratories and electronics shops, but also out in the fields of American agriculture.
First, we meet Shain Eighmey, a graduate of the biotechnology program at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Shain has turned his childhood passion for science into a two-year degree, a paid apprenticeship at a pharmaceutical company, and now a four-year degree at the University of New Hampshire. You can read an update about him here. [LINK]
Next we head to Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Kelsey Meyerhoff is working towards her own two-year degree in agricultural technology. Among other things, she’s learning to use GPS technology to track soil samples in the field, a skill she first learned in a workshop while still in high school. Her classes are predominantly male, but Kelsey says that doesn’t bother her. “It’s just a challenge you push through, and you don’t look at it as something that holds you back,” she says.
Finally this week, we meet a dedicated educator who is sharing what he learned during his long career. Richard LeBlanc is the head of the electronics department at Benjamin Franklin Technical Institute in Boston, where he teaches students to repair electronic equipment, including many of the advanced medical devices used in hospitals today. A graduate of the institute himself, LeBlanc knows the value of ATE programs firsthand. He also knows, from his industry contacts, that teaching students how to communicate effectively is just as important as teaching the technicaThis week we’re exploring how ATE programs are preparing students for work not only in traditional high-tech settings like medical laboratories and electronics shops, but also out in the fields of American agriculture.

First, we meet Shain Eighmey, a graduate of the biotechnology program at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Shain has turned his childhood passion for science into a two-year degree, a paid apprenticeship at a pharmaceutical company, and now a four-year degree at the University of New Hampshire.

Next we head to Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Kelsey Meyerhoff is working towards her own two-year degree in agricultural technology. Among other things, she’s learning to use GPS technology to track soil samples in the field, a skill she first learned in a workshop while still in high school. Her classes are predominantly male, but Kelsey says that doesn’t bother her. “It’s just a challenge you push through, and you don’t look at it as something that holds you back,” she says.

Finally this week, we meet a dedicated educator who is sharing what he learned during his long career. Richard LeBlanc is the head of the electronics department at Benjamin Franklin Technical Institute in Boston, where he teaches students to repair electronic equipment, including many of the advanced medical devices used in hospitals today. A graduate of the institute himself, LeBlanc knows the value of ATE programs firsthand. He also knows, from his industry contacts, that teaching students how to communicate effectively is just as important as teaching the technical skills.

ATETV Episode 12: Three Technologies that are Changing the World

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

This week, we explore three technologies that are changing the way we interact with the world, and how ATE programs are preparing students to work with them.

First off, we return to Times Square for another man-on-the-street segment. This week we asked, what does GIS stand for? Judging by the responses we got, it’s not quite a household name, but GIS — it stands for Geographic Information Sciences, by the way — is the technology behind the way we navigate the world. Whether it’s turn-by-turn driving directions or digital maps that help farmers plant their crops, GIS is already making a big impact, and it’s poised to get even bigger.

Next we go from mapping wide open spaces to the precision world of cutting-edge medicine. Biomanufacturing is the use of living cells to produce compounds that could be used to cure disease. Student Joseph Kiesel is learning how to do just that at Great Bay Community College, and he’s planning to transfer his knowledge — and his college credits — to a four-year program in biochemistry or molecular biology when he graduates.

Finally, we take a look at the technology that makes ATETV and this blog possible: Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). ICT is what lets all of our networked gadgets — from computers to televisions to phone and mobile devices — talk to each other and share information. And as the world gets more and more wired together, the job opportunities in ICT will only get bigger and more exciting.

Tune in next week for three more success stories on ATETV!

GeoTech Center GIS Lesson Plans

Monday, December 7th, 2009


As this week’s episode indicates, GIS — geographic information sciences — is a hot topic right now. But what is all the fuss about — and, more importantly for educators, how do you teach GIS to students?

To answer those questions, we turned to the The National Geospatial Technology Center of Excellence; an NSF-funded consortium of academics, government and industry dedicated to growing GIS education. GIS is booming because it has applications across many industries, from green energy and forestry to urban planning and even homeland security. “Any field that needs to know something about what is where, why is it there and how it has changed over time can benefit from using geospatial technology,” explains Ann Johnson, Higher Education Manager for ESRI, a GIS software company and a GeoTech Center partner.

Ann’s company hosts a GIS Education Community online that lets educators share their GIS lesson plans. On the site you’ll find everything you need to prepare a lesson on the real-world applications of GIS technology. Here are three examples of what’s available:

Landslides in Washington – 3D Investigations: Students use GIS software to explore the cause of a massive October 2009 landslide in Washington State.
Scariest Road in the World? Death Road, Bolivia: GIS shows why the notorious “El Camino del Muerte” between La Paz and Coroico, Bolivia is worthy of its name.
Water Use Analysis with GIS: Students learn valuable skills by analyzing actual data from the U.S. Census and other sources.

    You can also visit ESRI’s YouTube channel to see these lesson plans in action. Hopefully these materials will inspire educators reading this to consider adding GIS to their curricula. Thanks again to ESRI’s Ann Johnson and to GeoTech Center Director Phillip Johnson for their help with this post!

    ATETV Episode 11: Learning at Any Age

    Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

    This week we meet students with three different circumstances: a recent community college grad out in the workforce, a returning professional changing careers, and current students who got a jump start on their ATE classes during high school.

    First we meet Travis Blackwell, who’s putting his ATE degree to use as a field service engineer for ESAB, an international Swedish industrial company with welding and cutting equipment manufacturing facilities located throughout the world. Travis earned a 2-year degree in electromechanical engineering technology at Florence-Darlington Technical College.

    As part of his studies, Travis completed an internship, where he worked with the same equipment that he now maintains in the field. “College essentially taught me how to think for a higher level, problem solving and to do any sort of analysis whatsoever,” he says. “The hands-on training did help a lot with establishing good fundamentals for the lectures.”

    Next we meet Susan Clark, who has gone back to school to pursue a certificate in biotechnology. After the job that had kept her busy for 12 years ended, Susan decided to act on her love of science and study for a new career, and she says she’s not alone in doing so. “There were several people in my class who were just about my age. One was retired looking for something else to do. Another one, he was switching jobs, due to layoffs.” Susan’s biotech studies will prepare her for a new high-tech career, possibly in environmental quality monitoring.

    Finally we return to Florence-Darlington Technical College, where several of the current students actually started earning college credits while still in high school. “We need to begin to develop the technical expertise and the technical skills in a much younger child, so that they have the chance to help us create a global competitive environment,” says Jill Heiden of ESAB — the same company that now employs Travis Blackwell. By starting early, students are setting themselves up for successful careers like Travis’.